MR WASHINGTON: George. Do you know who chopped down the cherry tree?
GEORGE: As I recall, Sir, the yard was pretty much a disaster when we settled here.
MR WASHINGTON: True enough, son, the landscaping on our property has been an ongoing challenge. But, even so, there was a particular cherry tree growing right here in this yard. I enjoyed it's company this very morning, pausing on this spot to watch the morning sunlight flicker like firey little bees buzzing through it's hive of pink blossoms. A cherry tree. The whole of it blissfully engaged in the process of producing sweet plump cherries. And, now, as you can plainly see, that very same tree has been reduced to a sad stump.
GEORGE: That does appear to be a stump, although I must submit that I am not a botanist, so as to what type or nature of stump, I cannot with surety say. And as to whether or not it is sad or glad, I also cannot know without further study.
MR WASHINGTON: It is a tree stump. A cherry tree stump. Can you not see how the grass is still glazed with cherry blossoms?
GEORGE: A worthy theory. I wouldn't argue against it, though I might still hesitate to fully embrace it.
MR WASHINGTON: Well, there isn't much tree remaining to be embraced, and yet, a cherry tree it was. Do you know who chopped it down?
GEORGE: Chopping there was. Chopping indeed. And if it was chopping, unauthorized by you, then I can assure you that I am no fan of said chopping, which there strongly appears to have been.
MR WASHINGTON: Well. It wasn't plucked, was it? It was chopped. My question to you, son: Do you know whom it was who accomplished this chopping?
GEORGE: Knowing a thing, I agree, is much preferred. If one can know a thing about a thing, then one does certainly know at least that thing. And knowing in turn makes conditions very inhospitable for doubt or ignorance. No. I do not care for ignorance. I will not stand for it.
MR WASHINGTON: And here I stand, as yet unknowing. Son. My son. You were attendant this day. Can you, or can you not, give a name to the trespassing lumberjack who has laid waste to this cherry tree, and in so doing, robbed this family of uncounted seasons of cherry pie?
GEORGE: Sir, I am most certainly your son, and as such you are my Father. I believe this from the depths of my too human boy-heart and would climb this tree and shout the world deaf with the fact of it, were there still a tree here. As your son, know that this day does not contain within it hours enough for me to confess fully my fidelity to you, and to adequately express the passion with which I support both your right to admire trees and your inclination to enjoy pies. And the cherry tree is an honorable and beautiful fruit bearing tree. Lovely to look at. More lovely to eat. Fie this day that has denied you both!
MR WASHINGTON: George. Son. If a proper name is too lofty a reach for you, then can you at least provide some gauzy visage of a description that may, upon some ponderment, lead to a name?
GEORGE: There is something that does lead to a name. Leads if not directly to the name that gripped the axe - if, after all there was an axe. We must be careful not to leap to certainties, but to speak mainly in suppositions. Keeping our eyes on the surmise. After all, we cannot leave out an ambitious and well handled knife or spade. Anyway, a name can be approached with much earnest conjecture, and if that name is not the chopper of the tree, it may yet be the name that incited another to chop said tree in an act of proxy.
MR WASHINGTON: Anything.
GEORGE: There is a story being told in town of a certain lad who has taken it upon himself to litter the countryside with apple seeds.
MR WASHINGTON: Apples?
GEORGE: Apple seeds. Littering. Literally. Littering. The entire country.
MR WASHINGTON: Apple seeds?
GEORGE: Exactly. Apple seeds. Apparently the boy wanders about as a vagrant, unfettered by any purpose other than the casting of apple seeds onto whatever path his steps take him, not discerning whether that be a farmers field, a mayor's garden, or a pastor's churchyard.
MR WASHINGTON: And this leads us to our cherry stump, how?
GEORGE: Well, imagine the offences so sown? No one has asked this boy for apple trees, yet there he is planting wherever he pleases. Can you appreciate the concern of one finding an apple tree where one thought he had planted pumpkins, or had maybe hoped for an uninterrupted view of a lake, or even a cow? Strawberries? Nay. Apples. Corn? Not this day. Apples. Barn? No room. Apples. Gazebo? Rest elsewhere. Apples. Cherry Tree?
MR WASHINGTON: Are you proposing that this boy's discarded apple seeds swarmed up and consumed our cherry tree?
GEORGE: Not at all. What I'm suggesting - and it is only a suggestion - I would not venture the conceit of presenting a fact - although it is a very convenient and well fitting suggestion - that this boy has by his senseless, and yes, I'll call it - cruel - his cruel carelessness, has created a resentment toward trees. A resentment that has taken it's own root and spread from county to county. A resentment that has now cast it's shadow in our own village. It would not be a stretch to conjure a farmer, who upon encountering a third or fourth, perhaps even an eighth errant apple tree, in a place where he had gone out seeking hens, or even cherries, then took up his axe and went forth like a crusader to rid the countryside of apple trees. But when he was finished with the trees, he was no longer himself. No, he had become as a human locust, pushed beyond reclamation of his reason.
MR WASHINGTON: And chopped down our cherry tree.
GEORGE: Johnny. His name is Johnny. The apple seed boy.
MR WASHINGTON: Son. Please go in and tell your mother that there will be no cherries for a while, and then come out and meet me in the woodshed.