Great healing value of almonds - educational story:
THE TENDER ALMOND
“Be quiet! Do not make a sound!” shouted an old woman at three youths who were testing their strength in the castle courtyard. “You must understand that our prince is very sick.”
The youths obediently stopped their noisy antics and went out into the garden.
“Why can nobody do anything to help our grandfather?” asked the youngest of the three boys.
“You already know the answer,” replied the eldest. “He has enough money to buy every medicine there is, but there is not yet a treatment for his illness.”
“Money, of course, cannot buy health,” added the middle brother.
Suddenly, an unexpected voice joined the conversation.
“Could you spare me one of those apples? I have made a long journey to reach this place, and my throat is completely dry.”
The two elder brothers looked at the source of the voice – it was an unhealthily thin old man leaning on a crutch. The younger brother plucked a red apple off a nearby branch and offered it to the old man.
“Help yourself, old man. I'll pick you some more for your journey. Our apples are sweet and thirst-quenching.”
“You have a kind heart, my son,” replied the old man gratefully, handing the young man a sack filled with nuts.
“If you give all our apples away to the poor, there will be none left for us,” said the two elder brothers, scolding their younger sibling.
“But the old man paid for the apples,” argued the younger brother, carefully examining the canvas sack. “Look, there are words embroidered on this sack.”
On the bag, they read the following words:
Only the one whose heart is strong as an almond shell
shall find the cure for this illness on the pink mountain.
Pulling what looked like a cream-coloured stone out of the bag, the young man attempted to bite through it, almost breaking his teeth.
“That old man has slipped you a bag of useless shells,” said the elder brothers, shaking their heads.
The youngest said nothing, pondering over the possible meaning of the old man's gift.
“This may not be as useless as it seems,” he concluded. “We need to get the kernels from inside these shells and give them to our grandfather.”
With a tremendous effort, he broke open the shells and collected the solid brown kernels inside to deliver to his grandfather. His doctors were not impressed.
“What is the meaning of this?” asked the medical professionals. “The prince cannot even swallow soft foods. Your solid nuts will ruin him!”
“I will grind them down then,” suggested the young man.
“Let my grandson do as he wishes,” ordered the sick old man in a weak voice.
The youth ground the kernels into a fine powder, mixed them with spring water and ordered the doctors to administer the milk-coloured liquid to his grandfather. That evening, the prince stopped clenching his teeth in pain and quietly fell asleep. The following day, after drinking the nut potion, the prince even managed to sit up in his bed.
“My strength appears to be returning,” he pronounced in a voice which was as strong as it used to be.
However, once the nuts had run out, the old man became sick again. Across the kingdom, messengers were sent out with pictures of the shells to find another source, but nothing was ever found. One messenger returned with a letter from a doctor in the neighbouring kingdom, which read as follows:
The nuts are called bitter almonds, and they contain a terrible poison called hydrocyanic acid. Anyone who eats more than two of these almonds will fall ill and die.
Everyone began to look at the young man with suspicion, but his elder brothers made a suggestion.
“This is the old tramp's fault. We should go and see our grandfather and tell him the whole story.”
When the young man told the prince about the strange words embroidered on the sack, the old man spoke with a weak voice.
“The highest mountain on the eastern edge of our kingdom is called Pink. Whilst the entire range still sleeps in the dark blue gloom of night, this mountain's snowy peak turns pink from the early morning rays of the sun. It is said that a magnificent tree grows there. It is possible that this tree produces medicinal nuts.”
Having left their grandfather in peace, the youngest brother ordered horses to be saddled for an expedition into the mountains.
“You are not coming with us,” said the elder brothers to the youngest. “We will go in search of the pink tree, and you will stay here with our grandfather.”
When the two brothers reached the foot of the ridge, they had to leave their horses behind and continue on foot along the steep, rocky slopes. They walked for a long time, cutting open their feet on the sharp rocks. Ahead of them, in a crevice, they saw small tree covered with nuts, under which something was shining. As they got closer, they gasped with surprise, for under the tree was a trunk filled with gold and silver. Both young men completely forgot what they had come here for, and began to fill the bags with treasure instead of nuts. They worked in a frenzy, encouraging each other as they went.
All of a sudden, the a gust of wind overturned the trunk. The treasure was scattered all over the ground, but the brothers were too preoccupied to notice that they had turned to stone.
Back at home, the younger brother became tired of waiting for his elder siblings to return, and asked his grandfather for permission to go to the pink mountain himself.
After a long journey, the young man finally arrived at the same crevice and saw the young nut-tree, under which there was a trunk guarded by two stone figures.
“There is enough treasure here for three people,” he thought to himself with a smile. Then he remembered the words of his brother – that no amount of money will buy health. He moved the trunk to one side, and at that same moment, the two grey figures transformed back into his brothers. The three brothers were glad to have found each other again. They began to pick the nuts off the tree, scraping away the velvety rind to find the same cream-coloured shells that had helped their grandfather before.
With great haste, they filled their bags with the nuts and set off home, although the younger brother stayed behind for a moment.
“Thank you tree,” said the young man with a bow. “I am surprised that your fruits are considered poisonous. How can this be when they are medicinal?”
“It is not I who am poisonous, but my twin brother, the bitter almond,” explained the tree. “If you fry his fruits thoroughly the poison will be destroyed and will be replaced by a sweet taste. My fruits have been used since ancient times to treat cancer, and the oil from my almonds is a well-known treatment for gastritis.”
“Is it not difficult for you to grow on these rocky cliffs without water?” asked the young man curiously. “If you like, I can move you to our garden.”
“My roots are ten times my size and can collect water from deep underground. I do not want to leave my mountain slopes – there is plenty of sunlight here,” replied the tree, rustling its leaves.
The elder brothers called out to the young man as he conversed with the almond tree. After saying his farewell to the tree, he hurried after them. The brothers returned home to find their grandfather gasping for breath. They ground the nuts into a powder, mixed them with spring water, and gave the potion to their grandfather three times a day. After barely a month, the prince had recovered, and he ordered each one of his grandsons to plant a garden of almond trees so that other inhabitants of the kingdom could be treated in the same way.
The brothers obeyed his orders and selected the crevices in the mountains with the best soil to plant their almond gardens. Several years passed by and the almond trees grew tall and strong. One February, the brothers visited their gardens and were amazed by what they saw. The previously bare branches of the trees were covered with soft, dark pink flowers. Their joy did not last long, for that night as the mountains cooled, the flowers shrivelled from the frost. The elder brothers were angered by this, deciding that tree planting was not the job of young princes, and would be better left to gardeners. The younger brother, however, saddled a horse and set out again for the mountains to consult the magic almond tree.
“The truth is that I blossom too early, and the frost ruins my flowers,” sighed the tree after hearing what the young man had to say. “I think it would be better to plant the trees on the south-facing slopes. They will benefit from more sunlight and will be protected from the northerly winds.”
The young man followed the almond tree's advice and the gardens began to yield unprecedented harvests. Since that time, the inhabitants of the kingdom have been famous for their excellent health. They obtained medicinal oils from the nuts, which they used to heal wounds, burns and bites. They added nuts to their flour to make the region's well-known almond bread. People even began to make milk from almonds – the same liquid which had restored the prince's strength. Children were especially fond of this milk. Throughout the kingdom, every child in every family was told the story of how the sack of almonds was more valuable than the trunk of gold and silver.
Questions and exercises based on the story
- Think of a situation where a handful of almonds would prove more valuable than gold.
- Draw a picture of an almond branch during flowering.
- What is the most unusual feature of the almond tree?
- If you were the owner of an almond garden, how would you look after the trees to get the best harvest from them?
- Imagine that you have been appointed as the manager of a confectionery factory. Design a recipe for almond cake (including pastry, marshmallows, chocolate, etc.).
- Write a story in which the elder brothers become almond merchants, and describe how they introduce almonds to other countries.
The stories about honey, nuts and chocolate
page 5 of 5
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