followed by a second. They sniffed at the fir-tree, and then crept between its boughs. 'It's frightfully cold,' said the little mice. ' How nice it is to be here! Don't you think so too, you old fir-tree ?'
'I'm not at all old,' said the tree; 'there are many much older than I am.'
'Where do you come from?' asked the mice, 'and what do you know? ' They were extremely inquisitive. ' Do tell us about the most beautiful place in the world. Is that where you come from? Have you been in the storeroom, where cheeses lie on the shelves, and hams hang from the ceiling, where one dances on tallow candles, and where one goes in thin and comes out fat?'
'I know nothing about that,' said the tree. 'But I know the wood, where the sun shines, and the birds sing.' And then it told them all about its young days, and the little mice had never heard anything like that before, and they listened with all their ears, and said: ' Oh, how much you have seen! How lucky 3-011 have been !'
'I?' said the fir-tree, and then it thought over what it had told them. ' Yes, on the whole those were very happy times.' But then it went on to tell them about Christmas Eve, when it had been adorned with sweetmeats and tapers.
'Oh! ' said the little mice, 'how lucky you have been, you old fir-tree !'
' I'm not at all old,' said the tree. ' I only came from the wood this winter. I am only a little backward, perhaps, in my growth.'
'How beautifully you tell stories!' said the little mice. And next evening they came with four others, who wanted to hear the tree's story, and it told still more, for it remembered everything so clearly and thought: ' Those were happy times! But they may come again. Humpty Dumpty fell downstairs, and yet he married a princess; perhaps I shall also many a princess! ' And then it thought of a pretty little birch-tree that grew out