Told by Betty to Gwen and Joanne at bedtime in Reedley
(As remembered by Jo)
Mitveezel could hardly wait. Daddy had said that the first watermelon in their garden was ready to eat tonight. After Daddy got home from work, he would take Mitveezel and Kiddle J. Beans, her younger brother, out to pick it. Then they'd have the green bean soup that Mom was making for supper, and then......watermelon! Mitveezel pumped her legs hard, and went swinging high into the sky as she thought about the plump, dark green watermelon lying in the garden.
Mitveezel loved watermelon. It was her absolute-favorite summer treat--especially if it had just been picked and if you could have some rull koka with it. She hoped Mom was making rull koka.
As she thought about the watermelon, Mitveezel started to wonder if it really was ripe enough to eat. Maybe she should check it one last time to see if it was ready to pick. Daddy had been thumping it every evening for the last week, so by now she figured she knew what it should sound like. Anyway, someone should check to see that no one had stolen it. The kids down the block were always snitching stuff, and maybe they knew about the watermelon. Mitveezel waited until the swing was all the way forwards and then gave a leap. She landed in a heap, picked herself up and went running to the garden.
It was a hot afternoon, and the garden was quiet except for the buzzing of a few bees looking for nectar in the zucchini blossoms. Mitveezel hurried to the far end of the garden, being careful to step between the plants. She bent down to peer under the leaves, and there it was, half hidden from view--the perfect watermelon. No one had taken it.
Pulling it away from the vine a bit, Mitveezel gave it a soft thump, then a harder one. It sounded good---at least it did to her. What was a ripe watermelon supposed to sound like anyway? Hmmmm. Mitveezel started thinking about that. What if they cut the watermelon off the vine, took it in to eat and then found out it wasn't ripe after all? Everyone would be so disappointed. Maybe she should check if it really was ripe.
Mitveezel jumped up and ran back to the house. In her room she found just what she needed---her pen knife. Grabbing it, she dashed back out to the garden and squatted down by the watermelon. Carefully she cut a square chunk out with her knife, then pulled the piece out. The inside looked bright red and juicy. It seemed ripe, all right, Mitveezel thought, then bit off the red interior. Yum! It was ripe, all right.
But that was only on one side, thought Mitveezel. What if the other side wasn't ripe---the side that hadn't been in the sun. I'd better try that too, she decided. She carefully turned the watermelon over, cut out another chunk and tasted it. Mmmm. Good. But there were still more parts to check, so Mitveezel cut out another piece.....and another.....and another.....and soon she had forgotten why she was cutting out the pieces and spent the next twenty minutes just enjoying the delicious flavor of the watermelon. She ate and ate and ate; it was so good.
All of a sudden she stopped. Oh, no! What had she done? She looked at the watermelon, then turned it over, then over again. The watermelon was filled with big ragged holes. What should she do? There was no way to hide the holes, and soon everyone would be coming out to get the watermelon for supper. Oh, why did she ever think she should check to see if it was ripe? And why did she have to keep cutting out more and more chunks?
In desperation, Mitveezel looked around to see if anyone was watching. Seeing no one, she took her knife and sawed frantically on the stem of the watermelon until it had been cut all the way through. Then she pushed as hard as she could, and slowly she rolled the watermelon out toward the edge of the garden. Pushing some more, she managed to shove it under some nearby bushes, and then pulled down some branches to hide it. Tucking her knife into her pocket, Mitveezel started to run toward the house, but then slowed down and walked carefully around to the side door, quietly slipped into her bedroom and shut the door. Whew. At least Kiddle J. was over at a friend's, and she could hear Mama vacuuming in the front room. Maybe no one would know she hadn't been in her room all afternoon.
The afternoon dragged by. Finally Daddy was home and was calling her and Kiddle J. to come help pick the watermelon. Mitveezel came out of her room, rubbing her eyes. "I must have fallen asleep," she said as she joined her father and brother. "Let's go get the watermelon. I can hardly wait to eat it."
Together Daddy, Kiddle J. and Mitveezel went out to the garden. Kiddle J. was dancing around; he was so excited about having watermelon for supper. Daddy went straight to the place where the watermelon had been growing all these weeks. He stooped down and looked for the melon. It wasn't where it should have been. Puzzled, he looked around, then pulled back the leaves to check again. The watermelon wasn't there. By now Kiddle J. was over by Daddy and he began to search; Mitveezel joined them and pretended to search too. They could find some of the other watermelons, but none of them was the big, dark green, ready-to-pick watermelon that they had come to pick. It was nowhere to be found.
Finally Daddy stood up. "It's gone. I can't figure it out---what could have happened to it?"
"Maybe someone took it," Mitveezel said quickly. "Maybe one of the kids down the street stole it when we weren't looking."
"Maybe......." Daddy didn't sound convinced. He looked thoughtfully at Mitveezel, then at Kiddle J. "Do either of you know anything about this?"
"Not me," said Kiddle J. quickly. "I've been at Eddie's house all afternoon."
"And I've been in my room, reading and playing dolls," answered Mitveezel. She tried to look Daddy straight in the eyes so he'd believe her.
Kiddle J. couldn't believe the watermelon wasn't there; he kept looking and looking, sure he'd find it any minute. He'd been waiting and waiting to eat it---he'd been thinking about it all day.
"Come on," Daddy said. "We'll just have to wait until another watermelon gets ripe."
Supper was very quiet. Mama tried to cheer things up by telling them it wouldn't be long before they'd have all the watermelon they wanted, but it didn't help. Mitveezel hardly said a word; she kept thinking everyone was looking at her and that they were suspecting she'd taken the watermelon, so she just looked down at her plate. She wasn't hungry at all, but she tried to eat some of the bean soup so no one would notice she wasn't eating much. Mama brought out the rull koka she had made and Daddy told her how good they tasted, but they all knew that the rull koka would have tasted so much better with watermelon.
After supper Mitveezel went to her room. She wasn't feeling very well, and she sure didn't feel like playing with Kiddle J. When it was bedtime, she went to bed without any arguing and Mama could hardly believe it---she usually gave so many excuses to stay up a few minutes more.
In the middle of the night Mitveezel woke up. Her stomach was hurting so badly. She began to cry. Why----oh, why had she eaten all that watermelon? Just thinking about it made her stomach feel even worse, and she raced to the bathroom just in time. All the watermelon came back up.
"Mitveezel! Why didn't you call me?" Mama had come into the bathroom, and she knelt down to hold Mitveezel's head. "Here, let me put a cool washcloth on your head." Mama wiped Mitveezel's face and then helped her back to her room. She tucked her in and pulled the blankets up around her.
"Is there anything you want to tell me?" Mama asked, sitting down on the side of Mitveezel's bed.
"No," Mitveezel answered in a small voice.
"Are you sure there isn't something you want to tell me," Mama asked again, smoothing Mitveezel's hair and looking down at her.
Mitveezel started to cry. Then in between sobs she told Mama the whole story .about wanting to check if the watermelon was ripe, about her plan to just check one little piece of the watermelon, and about how she got so busy checking the melon that she didn't even notice that she was eating and eating and eating.
Mama listened quietly. Then she said, "I can see how that could happen, Mitveezel, but you should have told us the truth about it. Kiddle J. was so disappointed not to have the watermelon, and it would have saved us all a lot of time trying to figure out what happened. I'm sure we'd have been mad at you, especially Kiddle J.---but we'd have gotten over it."
Mitveezel didn't say anything. She just leaned her head in close to her mother's hand.
"What do you think should happen so you'll remember never to do something like this again?" Mama asked.
"I could give you and Daddy some money to pay for the watermelon." Mitveezel was starting to feel a little better now that her secret was out. It felt much worse when she was trying to hide what she'd done. And at least it didn't sound like she'd get a spanking. "I could give you a dollar."
"Or maybe you could miss having some of the next watermelon that gets ripe," suggested Mama. "Since you already had so much of the first one."
Mitveezel gulped. She would much rather pay a dollar than to miss eating some of the next watermelon. Everyone else would be eating and eating the yummy, scrumptious watermelon and she'd have to just sit there and watch them.
"Okay?" asked Mama.
"Okay," Mitveezel said, and gave a deep sigh.
And that's what happened. A week later the rest of the family went out to get the second ripe watermelon and after supper, Daddy, Mama and Kiddle J. had some delicious ripe watermelon with rull koka. And as Mitveezel watched them she decided she would never, never, ever check to see if a watermelon was ripe again. At least if she did check it, she'd only thump it.