The Blood Orchard of Micah Rood

For more than 200 years, the people in a small area of New London County, Connecticut, in what is now the town of Franklin, population 1,922, were thankful to have in their midst a fine apple orchard, like no other in the world. However, the beautiful, plump, juicy apples plucked from the trees of this orchard had a unique feature, never before or since seen - when cutting open any one of these apples, inside, and springing forth into view amidst the white flesh, would be bright red drops of blood!

For well more than two hundred years, the townsfolk admired the beauty and serenity of this magnificent orchard in the midst of their community, but seldom did they do more than admire the trees, or occasionally pick a choice-looking apple, with the hopes that it could be eaten. However, time after time, day after day, year after year, decade after decade, the people were disappointed, as once the peel was sliced away, once a knife was inserted into the apple's juicy flesh, once the apple's interior could be seen, what was always there, was one, two, three, or more, drops of deep scarlet blood. And no one dared to take a bite. Ever.

But how did this come about, why of all the apple trees in Connecticut, in the United States, why of all the apple trees in the world,
The Blood Orchard of Micah Rood
were those in the orchard in Franklin, growing the only apples containing blood?

The answer lies in an event that occurred many, many years earlier, just prior to the turn of the eighteenth century. The area was then known not as Franklin, but as Nine Mile Square, and perhaps its most infamous resident was one Micah Rood.

Rood had moved to the area with his family. His father was killed over a colonial conflict with a group of
Frenchmen, and so the story goes that the son Micah from then on fostered great hatred for anyone of foreign birth or who dressed in unfamiliar clothing. Not too long after his father's death, his mother also died, and various incarnations of the legend say he also had one or more sisters, and one or more brothers, all of whom predeceased him. He never married, and spent his last years on the family farm, tending the land, the orchard, and the house, by himself.

Rood was more than just irascible, he was all of the textbook definition of the term: irritable, short-tempered, testy, petulant, cross, surly, cantankerous, querulous, and more. The townsfolk knew not to speak to him, and most importantly, not to take apples from his orchard. Back then, the apples from his orchard were not just beautiful, but delicious, and most importantly, normal and blood-drop-free. Townsfolk, especially the younger ones, clamored for the chance at some of Micah Rood's apples.

However, should anyone, man, woman, or child, approach his orchard, Rood was at the ready, sitting, watching, waiting, with a
shotgun (or rather the late 17th-century equivalent) across his knee. There were even times when he was known to wait among the trees with his weapon and donning a witch's mask, jumping out at any apple-stealing intruders.

Each spring, the annual arrival of peddlers to the area was a major event. They provided not just the necessities of village life that the residents badly needed, but many had perfected amusing sales pitches that were a rare source of entertainment as well. In the spring of what has been said to have been 1693, one such peddler of European extraction arrived in Nine Mile Square, and spent the day entertaining the townsfolk, and selling his wares. He had a fine day of sales, and as evening came around, he had little left of his wares, and a full sack of coins. What he did not have, was a
comfortable place to spend the night.

The peddler inquired of his last few customers about where he might find lodging, and it seemed that the Rood household, home to only Micah, was the one place in and around the town where there might be room for a stranger. The peddler had little choice, and walked in that direction, eventually passing the magnificent orchard before finding the ramshackle and solitary abode that was home to Micah Rood.

While he was not akin to strangers invading his space, he was fond of the idea of making a few pence for the night's stay, and Rood agreed to let the peddler stay the night. It was not lost on Rood when the peddler turned away to remove as stealthily as possible enough of his bounty to cover both the bed and the extra cost he was charged for a taste of soup.

Rood actually spent time with the peddler that evening, but his motive was far from good fellowship or camaraderie. He had his sights set on the peddler's money sack, and he spent his time questioning the man about his wares, his sales, his prices, and the like. The peddler even related a harrowing tale of the prior evening when highwaymen had chased him from the road. Thought Rood, not only
The Blood Orchard of Micah Rood
did this peddler sell most of his wares brought to Nine Mile Square, but he already had a nice stash of coins prior to his arrival.

The next morning, passersby found the bloody body of the peddler thrown against the most beautiful and abundant of the Rood orchard's apple trees.

An investigation ensued, and Rood's home and land were searched, but no evidence of the crime was found. The peddler's murder went unsolved, and the killer unpunished. Or so it was thought. In fact, with his dying breath, the peddler had placed a curse on his killer, a curse that would reman for centuries after
Rood's own death, tied inextricably to his land, and to his beloved orchard.

Weeks after the peddler's death, apple blossoms began to grow throughout the orchard, but these were not the same blossoms of past years, these were not white and pink as normal apple blossoms, but were instead streaked with a vibrant scarlet color. The deepest,
reddest among them were found on the tree under which was found the peddler's mangled body.

Eventually as the blossom petals fell to the ground below and apples began to grow throughout the orchard, they also grew as never before - characteristically apple-like on the outside, but when cut open, they all possessed the bright red blood drops described above.

Micah Rood did not take this turn of events well, and turned even more sullen and withdrawn. He seldom left his house, his farm land turned to weed and dust from neglect, and anyone wishing to take apples from his orchard had free reign.

The townsfolk eventually viewed the scarlet blossoms and blood-stained apples as a sign, as a sign of the guilt of Micah Rood in the peddler's death. The local sheriff agreed, but when he and
his deputy came to question, and likely to arrest, Micah Rood, they found his dead body, on a chair facing a window looking out upon the orchard.

After his death, the trees in his orchard, and the descendants of those trees, and the descendants of those trees, and on, all continued to produce the brightest, most beautiful apples, gorgeous on the outside, and featuring bright scarlet drops of blood on the inside

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