in the wood, and seemed to the fir-tree a real princess, and a very beautiful one too.
' Who is Humpty Dumpty ?' asked the little mice.
And then the tree told the whole story; it could remember every single word, and the little mice were ready to leap on to the topmost branch out of sheer joy! Next night many more mice came, and on Sunday even two rats; but they did not care about the story, and that troubled the little mice, for now they thought less of it too.
' Is that the only story you know ?' asked the rats.
' The only one,' answered the tree. ' I heard that on my happiest evening, but I did not realise then how happy I was.'
' That's a very poor story. Don't you know one about bacon or tallow candles? a storeroom story? '
' No,' said the tree.
' Then we are much obliged to you,' said the rats, and they went back to their friends.
At last the little mice went off also, and the tree said, sighing: ' Really it was very pleasant when the lively little mice sat round and listened whilst I told them stories. But now that's over too. But now I will think of the time when I shall be brought out again, to keep up my spirits.'
But when did that happen? Well, it was one morning when they came to tidy up the lumber-room; the boxes were set aside, and the tree brought out; they threw it really rather roughly on the floor, but a servant dragged it off at once downstairs, where there was daylight once more.
' Now life begins again !' thought the tree. It felt the fresh air, the first rays of the sun, and there it was out in the yard ! Everything passed so quickly; the tree quite forgot to notice itself, there was so much to look at all around. The yard opened on a garden full of flowers;