THE FIR TREE
' That's an exceedingly poor story. Don't you know any about bacon and tallow candles—a store-room story ?'
c No,5 said the Tree.
6 Then we'd rather not hear you,' said the Rats.
And they went back to their own people. The little Mice at last stayed away also ; and then the Tree sighed and said,
c It was very nice when they sat round me, the merry little Mice, and listened when I spoke to them. Now that's past too. But I shall remember to be pleased when they take me out.'
But when did that happen ? Why, it was one morning that people came and rummaged in the garret: the boxes were put away, and the Tree brought out; they certainly threw it rather roughly on the floor, but a servant dragged it away at once to the stairs, where the daylight shone.
' Now life is beginning again ! ' thought the Tree.
It felt the fresh air and the first sunbeams, and now it was out in the courtyard. Everything passed so quickly that the Tree quite forgot to look at itself, there was so much to look at all round. The courtyard was close to a garden, and here everything was blooming ; the roses hung fresh and fragrant over the little paling, the linden trees were in blossom, and the swallows cried, ' Quirre-virre-vit! my husband 's come ! ' But it was not the Fir Tree that they meant.
* Now I shall live ! ' said the Tree, rejoicingly, and spread its branches far out; but, alas ! they were all withered and yellow ; and it lay in the corner among nettles and weeds. The tinsel star was still upon it, and shone in the bright sunshine.
In the courtyard a couple of the merry children were playing, who had danced round the tree at Christmas-time, and had rejoiced over it. One of the youngest ran up and tore off the golden star.
c Look what is sticking to the ugly old fir tree,' said the child, and he trod upon the branches till they cracked again under his boots.
And the Tree looked at all the blooming flowers and the splendour of the garden, and then looked at itself, and