The Complete Fairy Tales & Other Stories
By Hans Christian Andersen - online book

Oxford Complete Illustrated Edition all his stories written between 1835 and 1872.

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1055
THE GARDENER AND THE FAMILY
Four or five miles from the capital stood an old manor, with thick walls, tower, and pointed gables.
Here lived, but only in the summer-time, a noble family : this manor was the best and most beautiful of all the estates they possessed : outside, it looked as if it were newly built, and inside was very comfortable and cosy. The family coat of arms was carved in stone over the door, lovely roses twined themselves over the coat of arms and over the balcony, and a beautiful lawn stretched out before the house : there were red thorns and white thorns, and rare flowers even outside of the hot-house. The family had a very good gardener ; it was a treat to see the flower garden, the fruit and kitchen gardens. Up to this time there was still a part of the original old garden, with some box hedges, cut in the shapes of crowns and pyramids. Behind these stood two old trees : they were nearly always leafless, and one could easily believe that a wind storm or a water-spout had strewn them over with great clumps of manure, but every clump was a bird's nest.
Here from time immemorial a swarm of screaming crows and rooks had built their nests. It was a whole bird town and the birds were the proprietors, the eldest branch of the family, the real masters of the estate. None of the people down there concerned them, but they tolerated these low walking creatures, although they sometimes shot with guns, so that it gave the birds shivers along the spine, and every bird flew up in a fright and shrieked ' Rak ! Rak !' The gardener talked often to his master about cutting down the old trees, they did not look well, and if they were taken away, one would most probably be free from the screaming birds—they would search for another place then. But the master would neither be free from the trees nor the swarms of birds—it was something which the estate could not lose, it was something from the old times, and one ought not to wipe that out entirely.
' The trees are now the birds' inheritance, let them keep it, my good Larsen !'