in the woods stood a nice little Fir Tree. The place he had was a
one: the sun shone on him: as to fresh air, there was enough of that,
him grew many large-sized comrades, pines as well as firs. But the
Fir wanted so very much to be a grown-up tree.
did not think of the warm sun and of the fresh air; he did not care
cottage children that ran about and prattled when they were in the
looking for wild-strawberries. The children often came with a whole
full of berries, or a long row of them threaded on a straw, and sat
near the young tree and said, "Oh, how pretty he is! What a nice
But this was what the Tree could not bear to hear.
the end of a year he had shot up a good deal, and after another year
long bit taller; for with fir trees one can always tell by the shoots
many years old they are.
Were I but such a high tree as the others are," sighed he. "Then
able to spread out my branches, and with the tops to look into the
Then would the birds build nests among my branches: and when there
breeze, I could bend with as much stateliness as the others!"
the sunbeams, nor the birds, nor the red clouds which morning and
sailed above him, gave the little Tree any pleasure.
winter, when the snow lay glittering on the ground, a hare would
along, and jump right over the little Tree. Oh, that made him so
But two winters were past, and in the third the Tree was so large
hare was obliged to go round it. "To grow and grow, to get older
thought the Tree--"that, after all, is the most delightful thing
autumn the wood-cutters always came and felled some of the largest
happened every year; and the young Fir Tree, that had now grown to a
size, trembled at the sight; for the magnificent great trees fell to
earth with noise and cracking, the branches were lopped off, and the
long and bare; they were hardly to be recognised; and then they were
in carts, and the horses dragged them out of the wood.
did they go to? What became of them?
spring, when the swallows and the storks came, the Tree asked them,
know where they have been taken? Have you not met them anywhere?"
swallows did not know anything about it; but the Stork looked musing,
his head, and said, "Yes; I think I know; I met many ships as I
hither from Egypt; on the ships were magnificent masts, and I venture
assert that it was they that smelt so of fir. I may congratulate you,
lifted themselves on high most majestically!"
were I but old enough to fly across the sea! But how does the sea
What is it like?"
would take a long time to explain," said the Stork, and with
in thy growth!" said the Sunbeams. "Rejoice in thy vigorous
in the fresh life that moveth within thee!"
the Wind kissed the Tree, and the Dew wept tears over him; but the
Christmas came, quite young trees were cut down: trees which often
even as large or of the same age as this Fir Tree, who could never
always wanted to be off. These young trees, and they were always the
looking, retained their branches; they were laid on carts, and the
drew them out of the wood.
are they going to?" asked the Fir. "They are not taller
than I; there
one indeed that was considerably shorter; and why do they retain all
Whither are they taken?"
know! We know!" chirped the Sparrows. "We have peeped in at
the windows in
town below! We know whither they are taken! The greatest splendor and
magnificence one can imagine await them. We peeped through the
and saw them planted in the middle of the warm room and ornamented
the most splendid things, with gilded apples, with gingerbread, with
and many hundred lights!"
then?" asked the Fir Tree, trembling in every bough. "And
did not see anything more: it was incomparably beautiful."
would fain know if I am destined for so glorious a career,"
cried the Tree,
"That is still better than to cross the sea! What a longing do I
Were Christmas but come! I am now tall, and my branches spread like
others that were carried off last year! Oh! were I but already on the
Were I in the warm room with all the splendor and magnificence! Yes;
something better, something still grander, will surely follow, or
should they thus ornament me? Something better, something still
must follow--but what? Oh, how I long, how I suffer! I do not know
what is the matter with me!"
in our presence!" said the Air and the Sunlight. "Rejoice
in thy own
the Tree did not rejoice at all; he grew and grew, and was green both
and summer. People that saw him said, "What a fine tree!"
he was one of the first that was cut down. The axe struck deep into
very pith; the Tree fell to the earth with a sigh; he felt a pang--it
a swoon; he could not think of happiness, for he was sorrowful at
from his home, from the place where he had sprung up. He well knew
he should never see his dear old comrades, the little bushes and
him, anymore; perhaps not even the birds! The departure was not at
Tree only came to himself when he was unloaded in a court-yard with
trees, and heard a man say, "That one is splendid! We don't want
Then two servants came in rich livery and carried the Fir Tree into a
and splendid drawing-room. Portraits were hanging on the walls, and
white porcelain stove stood two large Chinese vases with lions on the
There, too, were large easy-chairs, silken sofas, large tables full
and full of toys, worth hundreds and hundreds of crowns--at
the children said so. And the Fir Tree was stuck upright in a cask
filled with sand; but no one could see that it was a cask, for green
hung all round it, and it stood on a large gaily-colored carpet. Oh!
Tree quivered! What was to happen? The servants, as well as the young
decorated it. On one branch there hung little nets cut out of colored
and each net was filled with sugarplums; and among the other boughs
apples and walnuts were suspended, looking as though they had grown
and little blue and white tapers were placed among the leaves. Dolls
looked for all the world like men--the Tree had never beheld such
seen among the foliage, and at the very top a large star of gold
was fixed. It was really splendid--beyond description splendid.
evening!" they all said. "How it will shine this evening!"
thought the Tree. "If the evening were but come! If the tapers
And then I wonder what will happen! Perhaps the other trees from the
will come to look at me! Perhaps the sparrows will beat against the
I wonder if I shall take root here, and winter and summer stand
knew very much about the matter--but he was so impatient that for
he got a pain in his back, and this with trees is the same thing as a
candles were now lighted--what brightness! What splendor! The Tree
so in every bough that one of the tapers set fire to the foliage. It
Help!" cried the young ladies, and they quickly put out the
the Tree did not even dare tremble. What a state he was in! He was so
lest he should lose something of his splendor, that he was quite
amidst the glare and brightness; when suddenly both folding-doors
and a troop of children rushed in as if they would upset the Tree.
persons followed quietly; the little ones stood quite still. But it
for a moment; then they shouted that the whole place re-echoed with
they danced round the Tree, and one present after the other was
are they about?" thought the Tree. "What is to happen now!"
burned down to the very branches, and as they burned down they were
one after the other, and then the children had permission to plunder
So they fell upon it with such violence that all its branches
it had not been fixed firmly in the ground, it would certainly have
children danced about with their beautiful playthings; no one looked
Tree except the old nurse, who peeped between the branches; but it
to see if there was a fig or an apple left that had been forgotten.
story! A story!" cried the children, drawing a little fat man
He seated himself under it and said, "Now we are in the shade,
can listen too. But I shall tell only one story. Now which will you
about Ivedy-Avedy, or about Humpy-Dumpy, who tumbled downstairs, and
all came to the throne and married the princess?"
cried some; "Humpy-Dumpy," cried the others. There was such
and screaming--the Fir Tree alone was silent, and he thought to
"Am I not to bawl with the rest? Am I to do nothing whatever?"
one of the company, and had done what he had to do.
the man told about Humpy-Dumpy that tumbled down, who notwithstanding
the throne, and at last married the princess. And the children
hands, and cried. "Oh, go on! Do go on!" They wanted to
too, but the little man only told them about Humpy-Dumpy. The Fir
stood quite still and absorbed in thought; the birds in the wood had
related the like of this. "Humpy-Dumpy fell downstairs, and yet
the princess! Yes, yes! That's the way of the world!" thought
and believed it all, because the man who told the story was so
"Well, well! who knows, perhaps I may fall downstairs, too, and
a princess as wife!" And he looked forward with joy to the
hoped to be decked out again with lights, playthings, fruits, and
won't tremble to-morrow!" thought the Fir Tree. "I will
enjoy to the full
my splendor! To-morrow I shall hear again the story of Humpy-Dumpy,
that of Ivedy-Avedy too." And the whole night the Tree stood
the morning the servant and the housemaid came in.
then the splendor will begin again," thought the Fir. But they
out of the room, and up the stairs into the loft: and here, in a dark
where no daylight could enter, they left him. "What's the
thought the Tree. "What am I to do here? What shall I hear now,
And he leaned against the wall lost in reverie. Time enough had he
for his reflections; for days and nights passed on, and nobody came
when at last somebody did come, it was only to put some great trunks
out of the way. There stood the Tree quite hidden; it seemed as if he
been entirely forgotten.
now winter out-of-doors!" thought the Tree. "The earth is
with snow; men cannot plant me now, and therefore I have been put up
under shelter till the spring-time comes! How thoughtful that is! How
man is, after all! If it only were not so dark here, and so terribly
Not even a hare! And out in the woods it was so pleasant, when the
was on the ground, and the hare leaped by; yes--even when he jumped
but I did not like it then! It is really terribly lonely here!"
Squeak!" said a little Mouse, at the same moment, peeping out of
And then another little one came. They snuffed about the Fir Tree,
among the branches.
is dreadfully cold," said the Mouse. "But for that, it
would be delightful
old Fir, wouldn't it?"
am by no means old," said the Fir Tree. "There's many a one
than I am."
do you come from," asked the Mice; "and what can you do?"
They were so
curious. "Tell us about the most beautiful spot on the earth.
never been there? Were you never in the larder, where cheeses lie on
and hams hang from above; where one dances about on tallow candles:
place where one enters lean, and comes out again fat and portly?"
know no such place," said the Tree. "But I know the wood,
where the sun
and where the little birds sing." And then he told all about his
the little Mice had never heard the like before; and they listened
to be sure! How much you have seen! How happy you must have been!"
said the Fir Tree, thinking over what he had himself related. "Yes,
those were happy times." And then he told about Christmas-eve,
decked out with cakes and candles.
said the little Mice, "how fortunate you have been, old Fir
am by no means old," said he. "I came from the wood this
winter; I am in my
and am only rather short for my age."
delightful stories you know," said the Mice: and the next night
with four other little Mice, who were to hear what the Tree
the more he related, the more he remembered himself; and it appeared
times had really been happy times. "But they may still
come! Humpy-Dumpy fell downstairs, and yet he got a princess!"
at the moment of a nice little Birch Tree growing out in the woods:
Fir, that would be a real charming princess.
is Humpy-Dumpy?" asked the Mice. So then the Fir Tree told the
tale, for he could remember every single word of it; and the little
for joy up to the very top of the Tree. Next night two more Mice
on Sunday two Rats even; but they said the stories were not
vexed the little Mice; and they, too, now began to think them not so
you know only one story?" asked the Rats.
that one," answered the Tree. "I heard it on my happiest
evening; but I
not then know how happy I was."
is a very stupid story! Don't you know one about bacon and tallow
you tell any larder stories?"
said the Tree.
good-bye," said the Rats; and they went home.
last the little Mice stayed away also; and the Tree sighed: "After
very pleasant when the sleek little Mice sat round me, and listened
I told them. Now that too is over. But I will take good care to enjoy
when I am brought out again."
when was that to be? Why, one morning there came a quantity of people
to work in the loft. The trunks were moved, the tree was pulled out
hard, it is true--down on the floor, but a man drew him towards
stairs, where the daylight shone.
a merry life will begin again," thought the Tree. He felt the
first sunbeam--and now he was out in the courtyard. All passed so
was so much going on around him, the Tree quite forgot to look to
The court adjoined a garden, and all was in flower; the roses hung so
and odorous over the balustrade, the lindens were in blossom, the
flew by, and said, "Quirre-vit! My husband is come!" but it
Fir Tree that they meant.
then, I shall really enjoy life," said he exultingly, and spread
but, alas, they were all withered and yellow! It was in a corner
he lay, among weeds and nettles. The golden star of tinsel was still
top of the Tree, and glittered in the sunshine.
the court-yard some of the merry children were playing who had danced
round the Fir Tree, and were so glad at the sight of him. One of the
ran and tore off the golden star.
look what is still on the ugly old Christmas tree!" said he,
the branches, so that they all cracked beneath his feet.
the Tree beheld all the beauty of the flowers, and the freshness in
he beheld himself, and wished he had remained in his dark corner in
loft; he thought of his first youth in the wood, of the merry
and of the little Mice who had listened with so much pleasure
the story of Humpy-Dumpy.
over--'tis past!" said the poor Tree. "Had I but rejoiced
when I had
to do so! But now 'tis past, 'tis past!"
the gardener's boy chopped the Tree into small pieces; there was a
lying there. The wood flamed up splendidly under the large brewing
and it sighed so deeply! Each sigh was like a shot.
boys played about in the court, and the youngest wore the gold star
which the Tree had had on the happiest evening of his life. However,
was over now--the Tree gone, the story at an end. All, all was
tale must end at last.