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THE PINE TREE
BY HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (TRANSLATED)
WHEN IT WAS LITTLE
OUT in the woods stood such a nice little Pine Tree: he had
a good place; the sun could get at him; there was fresh air
enough; and round him grew many big comrades, both pines and
firs. But the little Pine wanted so very much to be a
He did not think of the warm sun and of the fresh air, he
did not care for the little cottage-children who ran about
and prattled when they were looking for wild strawberries
and raspberries. Often they came with a whole jug full, or
had their strawberries strung on a straw, and sat down near
the little Tree and said, "Oh, what a nice little fellow!"
This was what the Tree could not bear to hear.
The year after he had shot up a good deal, and the next year
after he was still bigger; for with pine trees one can
always tell by the shoots how many years old they are.
 "Oh, were I but such a big tree as the others are," sighed
the little Tree. "Then I could spread my branches so far,
and with the tops look out into the wide world! Birds would
build nests among my branches; and when there was a breeze,
I could nod as grandly as the others there."
He had no delight at all in the sunshine, or in the birds,
or the red clouds which morning and evening sailed above
When now it was winter and the snow all around lay
glittering white, a hare would often come leaping along, and
jump right over the little Tree. Oh, that made him so angry!
But two winters went by, and with the third the Tree was so
big that the hare had to go round it. "Oh, to grow, to grow,
to become big and old, and be tall," thought the Tree:
"that, after all, is the most delightful thing in the
In autumn the wood-cutters always came and felled some of
the largest trees. This happened every year, and the young
Pine Tree, that was now quite well grown, trembled at the
sight; for the great stately trees fell to the earth with
noise and cracking, the branches were lopped off, and the
trees looked quite bare, they were so long and thin; you
would hardly know them for trees, and then they were laid on
carts, and horses dragged them out of the wood.
 Where did they go to? What became of them?
In spring, when the Swallow and the Stork came, the Tree
asked them, "Don't you know where they have been taken? Have
you not met them anywhere?"
The Swallow did not know anything about it; but the Stork
looked doubtful, nodded his head, and said, "Yes; I have it;
I met many new ships as I was flying from Egypt; on the
ships were splendid masts, and I dare say it was they that
smelt so of pine. I wish you joy, for they lifted themselves
on high in fine style!"
"Oh, were I but old enough to fly across the sea! How does
the sea really look? and what is it like?"
"Aye, that takes a long time to tell," said the Stork, and
away he went.
"Rejoice in thy youth!" said the Sunbeams, "rejoice in thy
hearty growth, and in the young life that is in thee!"
And the Wind kissed the Tree, and the Dew wept tears over
him, but the Pine Tree understood it not.
CHRISTMAS IN THE WOODS
When Christmas came, quite young trees were cut down; trees
which were not even so large or of the same age as this Pine
Tree, who had no rest or
 peace, but always wanted to be off. These young trees, and
they were always the finest looking, always kept their
branches; they were laid on carts, and the horses drew them
out of the wood.
"Where are they going to?" asked the Pine Tree. "They are
not taller than I; there was one, indeed, that was much
shorter;—and why do they keep all their branches? Where
are they carrying them to?"
"We know! we know!" chirped the Sparrows. "We have peeped in
at the windows down there in the town. We know where they
are carrying them to. Oh, they are going to where it is as
bright and splendid as you can think! We peeped through the
windows, and saw them planted in the middle of the warm
room, and dressed with the most splendid things,—with
gilded apples, with gingerbread, with toys and many hundred
"And then?" asked the Pine Tree, and he trembled in every
bough. "And then? What happens then?"
"We did not see anything more: it beat everything!"
"I wonder if I am to sparkle like that!" cried the Tree,
rejoicing. "That is still better than to go over the sea!
How I do suffer for very longing! Were Christmas but come! I
am now tall, and stretch out like the others that were
carried off last year! Oh, if I were already on the cart! I
 wish I were in the warm room with all the splendor and
brightness. And then? Yes; then will come something better,
something still grander, or why should they dress me out so?
There must come something better, something still grander,—but
what? Oh, how I long, how I suffer! I do not know
myself what is the matter with me!"
"Rejoice in us!" said the Air and the Sunlight; "rejoice in
thy fresh youth out here in the open air!"
But the Tree did not rejoice at all; he grew and grew; and
he stood there in all his greenery; rich green was he winter
and summer. People that saw him said, "That's a fine tree!"
and toward Christmas he was the first that was cut down. The
axe struck deep into the very pith; the Tree fell to the
earth with a sigh: he felt a pang—it was like a swoon; he
could not think of happiness, for he was sad at being parted
from his home, from the place where he had sprung up. He
well knew that he should never see his dear old comrades,
the little bushes and flowers around him, any more; perhaps
not even the birds! The setting off was not at all pleasant.
The Tree only came to himself when he was unloaded in a
courtyard with other trees, and heard a man say, "That one
is splendid! we don't want the others." Then two servants
came in rich livery and carried the Pine Tree into a large
 and splendid room. Portraits were hanging on the walls, and
near the white porcelain stove stood two large Chinese vases
with lions on the covers. There, too, were large
easy-chairs, silken sofas, large tables full of
picture-books, and full of toys worth a hundred times a
hundred dollars—at least so the children said. And the
Pine Tree was stuck upright in a cask filled with sand: but
no one could see that it was a cask, for green cloth was
hung all around it, and it stood on a gayly colored carpet.
Oh, how the Tree quivered! What was to happen? The servants,
as well as the young ladies, dressed it. On one branch there
hung little nets cut out of colored paper; each net was
filled with sugar-plums; gilded apples and walnuts hung as
though they grew tightly there, and more than a hundred
little red, blue, and white tapers were stuck fast into the
branches. Dolls that looked for all the world like men—the
Tree had never seen such things before—fluttered
among the leaves, and at the very top a large star of gold
tinsel was fixed. It was really splendid—splendid beyond
"This evening!" said they all; "how it will shine this
"Oh," thought the Tree, "if it were only evening! If the
tapers were but lighted! And then I wonder what will happen!
I wonder if the other trees from the forest will come to
look at me!
 I wonder if the sparrows will beat against the window-panes!
I wonder if I shall take root here, and stand dressed so
winter and summer!"
Aye, aye, much he knew about the matter! but he had a real
back-ache for sheer longing, and a back-ache with trees is
the same thing as a headache with us.
CHRISTMAS IN THE HOUSE
The candles were now lighted. What brightness! What
splendor! The Tree trembled so in every bough that one of
the tapers set fire to a green branch. It blazed up
Now the Tree did not even dare to tremble. That was a
fright! He was so afraid of losing something of all his
finery, that he was quite confused amidst the glare and
brightness; and now both folding-doors opened, and a troop
of children rushed in as if they would tip the whole Tree
over. The older folks came quietly behind; the little ones
stood quite still, but only for a moment, then they shouted
so that the whole place echoed their shouts, they danced
round the Tree, and one present after another was pulled
"What are they about?" thought the Tree. "What is to happen
now?" And the lights burned down to the very branches, and
as they burned
 down they were put out one after the other, and then the
children had leave to plunder the Tree. Oh, they rushed upon
it so that it cracked in all its limbs; if its tip-top with
the gold star on it had not been fastened to the ceiling, it
would have tumbled over.
The children danced about with their pretty toys; no one
looked at the Tree except the old nurse, who peeped in among
the branches; but it was only to see if there was a fig or
an apple that had been forgotten.
"A story! a story!" cried the children, and they dragged a
little fat man toward the Tree. He sat down under it, and
said, "Now we are in the shade, and the Tree can hear very
well too. But I shall tell only one story. Now which will
you have: that about Ivedy-Avedy, or about Klumpy-Dumpy who
tumbled downstairs, and came to the throne after all, and
married the princess?"
"Ivedy-Avedy," cried some; "Klumpy-Dumpy," cried the
others. There was such a bawling and screaming!—the Pine
Tree alone was silent, and he thought to himself, "Am I not
to bawl with the rest?—am I to do nothing whatever?"—
for he was one of them, and he had done what he had to do.
And the man told about Klumpy-Dumpy who tumbled downstairs,
and came to the throne after all, and married the princess.
And the children
 clapped their hands, and cried out, "Go on, go on!" They
wanted to hear about Ivedy-Avedy too, but the little man
only told them about Klumpy-Dumpy. The Pine Tree stood quite
still and thoughtful: the birds in the wood had never told
anything like this. "Klumpy-Dumpy fell downstairs, and yet
he married the princess! Yes, yes, that's the way of the
world!" thought the Pine Tree, and he believed it all,
because it was such a nice man who told the story.
"Well, well! who knows, perhaps I may fall downstairs, too,
and so get a princess!" And he looked forward with joy to
the next day when he should be decked out with lights and
toys, fruits and tinsel.
"To-morrow I won't tremble!" thought the Pine Tree. "I will
enjoy to the full all my splendor! To-morrow I shall hear
again the story of Klumpy-Dumpy, and perhaps that of Ivedy-
Avedy too." And the whole night the Tree stood still in deep
In the morning the servant and the maid came in.
IN THE ATTIC
"Now all the finery will begin again," thought the Pine. But
they dragged him out of the room, and up the stairs into the
attic; and here in a dark
 corner, where no daylight could enter, they left him.
"What's the meaning of this?" thought the Tree. "What am I
to do here? What shall I see and hear now, I wonder?" And he
leaned against the wall and stood and thought and thought.
And plenty of time he had, for days and nights passed, and
nobody came up; and when at last somebody did come, it was
only to put some great trunks in the corner. There stood the
Tree quite hidden; it seemed as if he had been entirely
" 'T is now winter out-of-doors!" thought the Tree. "The
earth is hard and covered with snow; men cannot plant me
now; therefore I have been put up here under cover till
spring! How thoughtful that is! How good men are, after all!
If it were not so dark here, and so terribly lonely! Not
even a hare. Out there it was so pleasant in the woods, when
the snow was on the ground, and the hare leaped by; yes—even
when he jumped over me; but I did not like it then. It
is terribly lonely here!"
"Squeak! squeak!" said a little Mouse at the same moment,
peeping out of his hole. And then another little one came.
They snuffed about the Pine Tree, and rustled among the
"It is dreadfully cold," said the little Mouse. "But for
that, it would be delightful here, old Pine, would n't it!"
 "I am by no means old," said the Pine Tree. "There are many
a good deal older than I am."
"Where do you come from?" asked the Mice; "and what can you
do?" They were so very curious. "Tell us about the most
beautiful spot on earth. Have you been there? Were you ever
in the larder, where cheeses lie on the shelves, and hams
hang from above; where one dances about on tallow candles;
where one goes in lean and comes out fat?"
"I don't know that place," said the Tree. "But I know the
wood where the sun shines, and where the little birds sing."
And then he told his story from his youth up; and the little
Mice had never heard the like before; and they listened and
"Well, to be sure! How much you have seen! How happy
you must have been!"
"I!" said the Pine Tree, and he thought over what he had
himself told. "Yes, really those were happy times." And then
he told about Christmas Eve, when he was decked out with
cakes and candles.
"Oh," said the little Mice, "how lucky you have been, old
"I am not at all old," said he. "I came from the wood this
winter; I am in my prime, and am only rather short of my
"What delightful stories you know!" said the
 Mice: and the next night they came with four other little
Mice, who were to hear what the Tree had to tell; and the
more he told, the more plainly he remembered all himself;
and he thought: "That was a merry time! But it can come! it
can come! Klumpy-Dumpy fell down stairs, and yet he got a
princess! Maybe I can get a princess too!" And all of a
sudden he thought of a nice little Birch Tree growing out in
the woods: to the Pine, that would be a really charming
"Who is Klumpy-Dumpy?" asked the little Mice.
So then the Pine Tree told the whole fairy tale, for he
could remember every single word of it; and the little Mice
jumped for joy up to the very top of the Tree. Next night
two more Mice came, and on Sunday two Rats, even; but they
said the stories were not amusing, which vexed the little
Mice, because they, too, now began to think them not so very
"Do you know only that one story?" asked the Rats.
"Only that one!" answered the Tree. "I heard it on my
happiest evening; but I did not then know how happy I was."
"It is a very stupid story! Don't you know one about bacon
and tallow candles? Can't you tell any larder-stories?"
"No," said the Tree.
 "Thank you, then," said the Rats; and they went home.
At last the little Mice stayed away also; and the Tree
sighed: "After all, it was very pleasant when the sleek
little Mice sat round me and heard what I told them. Now
that too is over. But I will take good care to enjoy myself
when I am brought out again."
But when was that to be? Why, it was one morning when there
came a number of people and set to work in the loft. The
trunks were moved, the tree was pulled out and thrown down;
they knocked him upon the floor, but a man drew him at once
toward the stairs, where the daylight shone.
OUT OF DOORS AGAIN
"Now life begins again," thought the Tree. He felt the fresh
air, the first sunbeam,—and now he was out in the
courtyard. All passed so quickly that the Tree quite forgot
to look to himself, there was so much going on around him.
The court adjoined a garden, and all was in flower; the
roses hung over the fence, so fresh and smelling so sweetly;
the lindens were in blossom, the Swallows flew by, and said,
"Quirre-virre-vit! my husband is come!" But it was not the
Pine Tree that they meant.
 "Now, I shall really live," said he with joy, and spread out
his branches; dear! dear! they were all dry and yellow. It
was in a corner among weeds and nettles that he lay. The
golden star of tinsel was still on top of the Tree, and
shone in the bright sunshine.
In the courtyard a few of the merry children were playing
who had danced at Christmas round the Tree, and were so glad
at the sight of him. One of the littlest ran and tore off
the golden star.
"See what is still on the ugly old Christmas Tree!" said he,
and he trampled on the branches, so that they cracked under
And the Tree saw all the beauty of the flowers, and the
freshness in the garden; he saw himself, and he wished he
had stayed in his dark corner in the attic: he thought of
his fresh youth in the wood, of the merry Christmas Eve, and
of the little Mice who had heard so gladly the story of
"Gone! gone!" said the poor Tree. "Had I but been happy when
I could be. Gone! gone!"
And the gardener's boy came and chopped the Tree into small
pieces; there was a whole heap lying there. The wood flamed
up finely under the large brewing kettle, and it sighed so
deeply! Each sigh was like a little shot. So the children
ran to where it lay and sat down before the fire,
 and peeped in at the blaze, and shouted "Piff! paff!" But at
every snap there was a deep sigh. The Tree was thinking of
summer days in the wood, and of winter nights when the stars
shone; it was thinking of Christmas Eve and Klumpy-Dumpy,
the only fairy tale it had heard and knew how to tell,—and
so the Tree burned out.
The boys played about in the court, and the youngest wore
the gold star on his breast which the Tree had worn on the
happiest evening of his life. Now, that was gone, the Tree
was gone, and gone too was the story. All, all was gone, and
that's the way with all stories.