The Story Girl
The Ordeal Of Bitter Apples
I could never understand why Felix took Peter's success in the Ordeal of Bitter Apples so
much to heart. He had not felt very keenly over the matter of the sermons, and certainly
the mere fact that Peter could eat sour apples without making faces did not cast any
reflection on the honour or ability of the other competitors. But to Felix everything
suddenly became flat, stale, and unprofitable, because Peter continued to hold the
championship of bitter apples. It haunted his waking hours and obsessed his nights. I
heard him talking in his sleep about it. If anything could have made him thin the way he
worried over this matter would have done it.
For myself, I cared not a groat. I had wished to be successful in the sermon contest, and
felt sore whenever I thought of my failure. But I had no burning desire to eat sour apples
without grimacing, and I did not sympathize over and above with my brother. When,
however, he took to praying about it, I realized how deeply he felt on the subject, and
hoped he would be successful.
Felix prayed earnestly that he might be enabled to eat a bitter apple without making a
face. And when he had prayed three nights after this manner, he contrived to eat a bitter
apple without a grimace until he came to the last bite, which proved too much for him.
But Felix was vastly encouraged.
"Another prayer or two, and I'll be able to eat a whole one," he said jubilantly.
But this devoutly desired consummation did not come to pass. In spite of prayers and
heroic attempts, Felix could never get beyond that last bite. Not even faith and works in
combination could avail. For a time he could not understand this. But he thought the
mystery was solved when Cecily came to him one day and told him that Peter was
praying against him.
"He's praying that you'll never be able to eat a bitter apple without making a face," she
said. "He told Felicity and Felicity told me. She said she thought it was real cute of him. I
think that is a dreadful way to talk about praying and I told her so. She wanted me to
promise not to tell you, but I wouldn't promise, because I think it's fair for you to know
what is going on."
Felix was very indignant--and aggrieved as well.
"I don't see why God should answer Peter's prayers instead of mine," he said bitterly.
"I've gone to church and Sunday School all my life, and Peter never went till this
summer. It isn't fair."
"Oh, Felix, don't talk like that," said Cecily, shocked. "God MUST be fair. I'll tell you
what I believe is the reason. Peter prays three times a day regular--in the morning and at