The Pink Fairy Book
There was once a pretty little fir-tree in a wood. It was in a capital position, for it could
get sun, and there was enough air, and all around grew many tall companions, both pines
and firs. It did not heed the warm sun and the fresh air, or notice the little peasant
children who ran about chattering when they came out to gather wild strawberries and
raspberries. Often they found a whole basketful and strung strawberries on a straw; they
would sit down by the little fir-tree and say, 'What a pretty little one this is!' The tree did
not like that at all.
By the next year it had grown a whole ring taller, and the year after that another ring
more, for you can always tell a fir-tree's age from its rings.
'Oh! if I were only a great tree like the others!' sighed the little fir-tree, 'then I could
stretch out my branches far and wide and look out into the great world! The birds would
build their nests in my branches, and when the wind blew I would bow to it politely just
like the others!' It took no pleasure in the sunshine, nor in the birds, nor in the rose-
coloured clouds that sailed over it at dawn and at sunset. Then the winter came, and the
snow lay white and sparkling all around, and a hare would come and spring right over the
little fir-tree, which annoyed it very much. But when two more winters had passed the fir-
tree was so tall that the hare had to run round it. 'Ah! to grow and grow, and become great
and old! that is the only pleasure in life,' thought the tree. In the autumn the woodcutters
used to come and hew some of the tallest trees; this happened every year, and the young
fir-tree would shiver as the magnificent trees fell crashing and crackling to the ground,
their branches hewn off, and the great trunks left bare, so that they were almost
unrecognisable. But then they were laid on waggons and dragged out of the wood by
horses. 'Where are they going? What will happen to them?'
In spring, when the swallows and storks came, the fir-tree asked them, 'Do you know
where they were taken? Have you met them?'
The swallows knew nothing of them, but the stork nodded his head thoughtfully, saying,
'I think I know. I met many new ships as I flew from Egypt; there were splendid masts on
the ships. I'll wager those were they! They had the scent of fir-trees. Ah! those are grand,
'Oh! if I were only big enough to sail away over the sea too! What sort of thing is the sea?
what does it look like?'
'Oh! it would take much too long to tell you all that,' said the stork, and off he went.
'Rejoice in your youth,' said the sunbeams, 'rejoice in the sweet growing time, in the
young life within you.'
And the wind kissed it and the dew wept tears over it, but the fir-tree did not understand.
Towards Christmas-time quite little trees were cut down, some not as big as the young
fir-tree, or just the same age, and now it had no peace or rest for longing to be away.