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. The little fir-tree's greatest desire was to grow up. 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
1 Translated from the German of Hans Christian Andersen.