Der Tannenbaum•The fir tree, H. C. Andersen

On December 12, 1844, “The Fir Tree” was first published in Danish: “Grantræet”, it is a literary fairy tale by the Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875).  The tale was first published 21 December 1844 with “The Snow Queen”, in Copenhagen, Denmark, by C.A. Reitzel.

Jean Hersholt (1886-1956) was a Danish actor who emigrated to the United States, making himself a career in Hollywood as from 1913. He was an avid collector of Andersen editions, and among other things he translated Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales and stories in the excellent edition The Complete Andersen (six volumes, New York 1949. Further information) – which you may now read. By several people, Hersholt’s Andersen-translation for the English languaged world is rated as the standard translation, being one of the best.

I grow up with “The Fir Tree”, it was told me by my beloved grandmother, not only around Christmas time…


The fir tree

O ut in the woods stood such a pretty little fir tree. It grew in a good place, where it had plenty of sun and plenty of fresh air. Around it stood many tall comrades, both fir trees and pines.

The little fir tree was in a headlong hurry to grow up. It didn’t care a thing for the warm sunshine, or the fresh air, and it took no interest in the peasant children who ran about chattering when they came to pick strawberries or raspberries. Often when the children had picked their pails full, or had gathered long strings of berries threaded on straws, they would sit down to rest near the little fir. “Oh, isn’t it a nice little tree?” they would say. “It’s the baby of the woods.” The little tree didn’t like their remarks at all.

Next year it shot up a long joint of new growth, and the following year another joint, still longer. You can always tell how old a fir tree is by counting the number of joints it has.

“I wish I were a grown-up tree, like my comrades,” the little tree sighed. “Then I could stretch out my branches and see from my top what the world is like. The birds would make me their nesting place, and when the wind blew I could bow back and forth with all the great trees.”

It took no pleasure in the sunshine, nor in the birds. The glowing clouds, that sailed overhead at sunrise and sunset, meant nothing to it.

In winter, when the snow lay sparkling on the ground, a hare would often come hopping along and jump right over the little tree. Oh, how irritating that was! That happened for two winters, but when the third winter came the tree was so tall that the hare had to turn aside and hop around it.

“Oh, to grow, grow! To get older and taller,” the little tree thought. “That is the most wonderful thing in this world.”

In the autumn, woodcutters came and cut down a few of the largest trees. This happened every year. The young fir was no longer a baby tree, and it trembled to see how those stately great trees crashed to the ground, how their limbs were lopped off, and how lean they looked as the naked trunks were loaded into carts. It could hardly recognize the trees it had known, when the horses pulled them out of the woods.

Where were they going? What would become of them?

In the springtime, when swallows and storks came back, the tree asked them, “Do you know where the other trees went? Have you met them?”

The swallows knew nothing about it, but the stork looked thoughtful and nodded his head. “Yes, I think I met them,” he said. “On my way from Egypt I met many new ships, and some had tall, stately masts. They may well have been the trees you mean, for I remember the smell of fir. They wanted to be remembered to you.”

“Oh, I wish I were old enough to travel on the sea. Please tell me what it really is, and how it looks.”

“That would take too long to tell,” said the stork, and off he strode.

“Rejoice in your youth,” said the sunbeams. “Take pride in your growing strength and in the stir of life within you.”

And the wind kissed the tree, and the dew wept over it, for the tree was young and without understanding.

When Christmas came near, many young trees were cut down. Some were not even as old or as tall as this fir tree of ours, who was in such a hurry and fret to go traveling. These young trees, which were always the handsomest ones, had their branches left on them when they were loaded on carts and the horses drew them out of the woods.

“Where can they be going?” the fir tree wondered. “They are no taller than I am. One was really much smaller than I am. And why are they allowed to keep all their branches? “Where can they be going?”

“We know! We know!” the sparrows chirped. “We have been to town and peeped in the windows. We know where they are going. The greatest splendor and glory you can imagine awaits them. We’ve peeped through windows. We’ve seen them planted right in the middle of a warm room, and decked out with the most splendid things-gold apples, good gingerbread, gay toys, and many hundreds of candles.”

“And then?” asked the fir tree, trembling in every twig. “And then? What happens then?”

“We saw nothing more. And never have we seen anything that could match it.”

“I wonder if I was created for such a glorious future?” The fir tree rejoiced. “Why, that is better than to cross the sea. I’m tormented with longing. Oh, if Christmas would only come! I’m just as tall and grown-up as the trees they chose last year. How I wish I were already in the cart, on my way to the warm room where there’s so much splendor and glory. Then-then something even better, something still more important is bound to happen, or why should they deck me so fine? Yes, there must be something still grander! But what? Oh, how I long: I don’t know what’s the matter with me.”

“Enjoy us while you may,” the air and sunlight told him. “Rejoice in the days of your youth, out here in the open.”

But the tree did not rejoice at all. It just grew. It grew and was green both winter and summer-dark evergreen. People who passed it said, “There’s a beautiful tree!” And when Christmas time came again they cut it down first. The ax struck deep into its marrow. The tree sighed as it fell to the ground. It felt faint with pain. Instead of the happiness it had expected, the tree was sorry to leave the home where it had grown up. It knew that never again would it see its dear old comrades, the little bushes and the flowers about it-and perhaps not even the birds. The departure was anything but pleasant.

The tree did not get over it until all the trees were unloaded in the yard, and it heard a man say, “That’s a splendid one. That’s the tree for us.” Then two servants came in fine livery, and carried the fir tree into a big splendid drawing-room. Portraits were hung all around the walls. On either side of the white porcelain stove stood great Chinese vases, with lions on the lids of them. There were easy chairs, silk-covered sofas and long tables strewn with picture books, and with toys that were worth a mint of money, or so the children said.

The fir tree was planted in a large tub filled with sand, but no one could see that it was a tub, because it was wrapped in a gay green cloth and set on a many-colored carpet. How the tree quivered! What would come next? The servants and even the young ladies helped it on with its fine decorations. From its branches they hung little nets cut out of colored paper, and each net was filled with candies. Gilded apples and walnuts hung in clusters as if they grew there, and a hundred little white, blue, and even red, candles were fastened to its twigs. Among its green branches swayed dolls that it took to be real living people, for the tree had never seen their like before. And up at its very top was set a large gold tinsel star. It was splendid, I tell you, splendid beyond all words!

“Tonight,” they all said, “ah, tonight how the tree will shine!”

“Oh,” thought the tree, “if tonight would only come! If only the candles were lit! And after that, what happens then? Will the trees come trooping out of the woods to see me? Will the sparrows flock to the windows? Shall I take root here, and stand in fine ornaments all winter and summer long?”

©Sanna Annukka

That was how much it knew about it. All its longing had gone to its bark and set it to arching, which is as bad for a tree as a headache is for us.

Now the candles were lighted. What dazzling splendor! What a blaze of light! The tree quivered so in every bough that a candle set one of its twigs ablaze. It hurt terribly.

“Mercy me!” cried every young lady, and the fire was quickly put out. The tree no longer dared rustle a twig-it was awful! Wouldn’t it be terrible if it were to drop one of its ornaments? Its own brilliance dazzled it.

Suddenly the folding doors were thrown back, and a whole flock of children burst in as if they would overturn the tree completely. Their elders marched in after them, more sedately. For a moment, but only for a moment, the young ones were stricken speechless. Then they shouted till the rafters rang. They danced about the tree and plucked off one present after another.

“What are they up to?” the tree wondered. “What will happen next?”

As the candles burned down to the bark they were snuffed out, one by one, and then the children had permission to plunder the tree. They went about it in such earnest that the branches crackled and, if the tree had not been tied to the ceiling by the gold star at top, it would have tumbled headlong.

The children danced about with their splendid playthings. No one looked at the tree now, except an old nurse who peered in among the branches, but this was only to make sure that not an apple or fig had been overlooked.

“Tell us a story! Tell us a story!” the children clamored, as they towed a fat little man to the tree. He sat down beneath it and said, “Here we are in the woods, and it will do the tree a lot of good to listen to our story. Mind you, I’ll tell only one. Which will you have, the story of Ivedy-Avedy, or the one about Humpty-Dumpty who tumbled downstairs, yet ascended the throne and married the Princess?”

“Ivedy-Avedy,” cried some. “Humpty-Dumpty,” cried the others. And there was a great hullabaloo. Only the fir tree held its peace, though it thought to itself, “Am I to be left out of this? Isn’t there anything I can do?” For all the fun of the evening had centered upon it, and it had played its part well.

The fat little man told them all about Humpty-Dumpty, who tumbled downstairs, yet ascended the throne and married the Princess. And the children clapped and shouted, “Tell us another one! Tell us another one!” For they wanted to hear about Ivedy-Avedy too, but after Humpty-Dumpty the story telling stopped. The fir tree stood very still as it pondered how the birds in the woods had never told it a story to equal this.

“Humpty-Dumpty tumbled downstairs, yet he married the Princess. Imagine! That must be how things happen in the world. You never can tell. Maybe I’ll tumble downstairs and marry a princess too,” thought the fir tree, who believed every word of the story because such a nice man had told it.

The tree looked forward to the following day, when they would deck it again with fruit and toys, candles and gold. “Tomorrow I shall not quiver,” it decided. “I’ll enjoy my splendor to the full. Tomorrow I shall hear about Humpty-Dumpty again, and perhaps about Ivedy-Avedy too.” All night long the tree stood silent as it dreamed its dreams, and next morning the butler and the maid came in with their dusters.

“Now my splendor will be renewed,” the fir tree thought. But they dragged it upstairs to the garret, and there they left it in a dark corner where no daylight ever came. “What’s the meaning of this?” the tree wondered. “What am I going to do here? What stories shall I hear?” It leaned against the wall, lost in dreams. It had plenty of time for dreaming, as the days and the nights went by. Nobody came to the garret. And when at last someone did come, it was only to put many big boxes away in the corner. The tree was quite hidden. One might think it had been entirely forgotten.

“It’s still winter outside,” the tree thought. “The earth is too hard and covered with snow for them to plant me now. I must have been put here for shelter until springtime comes. How thoughtful of them! How good people are! Only, I wish it weren’t so dark here, and so very, very lonely. There’s not even a little hare. It was so friendly out in the woods when the snow was on the ground and the hare came hopping along. Yes, he was friendly even when he jumped right over me, though I did not think so then. Here it’s all so terribly lonely.”

©Sanna Annukka

“Squeak, squeak!” said a little mouse just then. He crept across the floor, and another one followed him. They sniffed the fir tree, and rustled in and out among its branches.

“It is fearfully cold,” one of them said. “Except for that, it would be very nice here, wouldn’t it, you old fir tree?”

“I’m not at all old,” said the fir tree. “Many trees are much older than I am.”

“Where did you come from?” the mice asked him. “And what do you know?” They were most inquisitive creatures.

“Tell us about the most beautiful place in the world. Have you been there? Were you ever in the larder, where there are cheeses on shelves and hams that hang from the rafters? It’s the place where you can dance upon tallow candles-where you can dart in thin and squeeze out fat.”

“I know nothing of that place,” said the tree. “But I know the woods where the sun shines and the little birds sing.” Then it told them about its youth. The little mice had never heard the like of it. They listened very intently, and said, “My! How much you have seen! And how happy it must have made you.”

“I?” the fir tree thought about it. “Yes, those days were rather amusing.” And he went on to tell them about Christmas Eve, when it was decked out with candies and candles.

“Oh,” said the little mice, “how lucky you have been, you old fir tree!”

©Sanna Annukka

“I am not at all old,” it insisted. “I came out of the woods just this winter, and I’m really in the prime of life, though at the moment my growth is suspended.”

“How nicely you tell things,” said the mice. The next night they came with four other mice to hear what the tree had to say. The more it talked, the more clearly it recalled things, and it thought, “Those were happy times. But they may still come back-they may come back again. Humpty-Dumpty fell downstairs, and yet he married the Princess. Maybe the same thing will happen to me.” It thought about a charming little birch tree that grew out in the woods. To the fir tree she was a real and lovely Princess.

“Who is Humpty-Dumpty?” the mice asked it. So the fir tree told them the whole story, for it could remember it word by word. The little mice were ready to jump to the top of the tree for joy. The next night many more mice came to see the fir tree, and on Sunday two rats paid it a call, but they said that the story was not very amusing. This made the little mice to sad that they began to find it not so very interesting either.

“Is that the only story you know?” the rats asked.

“Only that one,” the tree answered. “I heard it on the happiest evening of my life, but I did not know then how happy I was.”

“It’s a very silly story. Don’t you know one that tells about bacon and candles? Can’t you tell us a good larder story?”

“No,” said the tree.

“Then good-by, and we won’t be back,” the rats said, and went away.

At last the little mice took to staying away too. The tree sighed, “Oh, wasn’t it pleasant when those gay little mice sat around and listened to all that I had to say. Now that, too, is past and gone. But I will take good care to enjoy myself, once they let me out of here.”

When would that be? Well, it came to pass on a morning when people came up to clean out the garret. The boxes were moved, the tree was pulled out and thrown-thrown hard-on the floor. But a servant dragged it at once to the stairway, where there was daylight again.

“Now my life will start all over,” the tree thought. It felt the fresh air and the first sunbeam strike it as if it came out into the courtyard. This all happened so quickly and there was so much going around it, that the tree forgot to give even a glance at itself. The courtyard adjoined a garden, where flowers were blooming. Great masses of fragrant roses hung over the picket fence. The linden trees were in blossom, and between them the swallows skimmed past, calling, “Tilira-lira-lee, my love’s come back to me.” But it was not the fir tree of whom they spoke.

“Now I shall live again,” it rejoiced, and tried to stretch out its branches. Alas, they were withered, and brown, and brittle. It was tossed into a corner, among weeds and nettles. But the gold star that was still tied to its top sparkled bravely in the sunlight.

Several of the merry children, who had danced around the tree and taken such pleasure in it at Christmas, were playing in the courtyard. One of the youngest seized upon it and tore off the tinsel star.

“Look what is still hanging on that ugly old Christmas tree,” the child said, and stamped upon the branches until they cracked beneath his shoes.

The tree saw the beautiful flowers blooming freshly in the garden. It saw itself, and wished that they had left it in the darkest corner of the garret. It thought of its own young days in the deep woods, and of the merry Christmas Eve, and of the little mice who had been so pleased when it told them the story of Humpty-Dumpty.

©Sanna Annukka

“My days are over and past,” said the poor tree. “Why didn’t I enjoy them while I could? Now they are gone-all gone.”

A servant came and chopped the tree into little pieces. These heaped together quite high. The wood blazed beautifully under the big copper kettle, and the fir tree moaned so deeply that each groan sounded like a muffled shot. That’s why the children who were playing near-by ran to make a circle around the flames, staring into the fire and crying, “Pif! Paf!” But as each groans burst from it, the tree thought of a bright summer day in the woods, or a starlit winter night. It thought of Christmas Eve and thought of Humpty-Dumpty, which was the only story it ever heard and knew how to tell. And so the tree was burned completely away.

The children played on in the courtyard. The youngest child wore on his breast the gold star that had topped the tree on its happiest night of all. But that was no more, and the tree was no more, and there’s no more to my story. No more, nothing more. All stories come to an end.

~ ○ ~


Variant II

The fir tree

This translation is from Paull”s  H. P.  book “Fairy Tales and Stories.”

A r down in the forest, where the warm sun and the fresh air made a sweet resting-place, grew a pretty little fir-tree; and yet it was not happy, it wished so much to be tall like its companions— the pines and firs which grew around it. The sun shone, and the soft air fluttered its leaves, and the little peasant children passed by, prattling merrily, but the fir-tree heeded them not. Sometimes the children would bring a large basket of raspberries or strawberries, wreathed on a straw, and seat themselves near the fir-tree, and say, “Is it not a pretty little tree?” which made it feel more unhappy than before.

And yet all this while the tree grew a notch or joint taller every year; for by the number of joints in the stem of a fir-tree we can discover its age. Still, as it grew, it complained, “Oh! how I wish I were as tall as the other trees, then I would spread out my branches on every side, and my top would over-look the wide world. I should have the birds building their nests on my boughs, and when the wind blew, I should bow with stately dignity like my tall companions.”

The tree was so discontented, that it took no pleasure in the warm sunshine, the birds, or the rosy clouds that floated over it morning and evening. Sometimes, in winter, when the snow lay white and glittering on the ground, a hare would come springing along, and jump right over the little tree; and then how mortified it would feel! Two winters passed, and when the third arrived, the tree had grown so tall that the hare was obliged to run round it. Yet it remained unsatisfied, and would exclaim, “Oh, if I could but keep on growing tall and old! There is nothing else worth caring for in the world!” In the autumn, as usual, the wood-cutters came and cut down several of the tallest trees, and the young fir-tree, which was now grown to its full height, shuddered as the noble trees fell to the earth with a crash. After the branches were lopped off, the trunks looked so slender and bare, that they could scarcely be recognized. Then they were placed upon wagons, and drawn by horses out of the forest. “Where were they going? What would become of them?” The young fir-tree wished very much to know; so in the spring, when the swallows and the storks came, it asked, “Do you know where those trees were taken? Did you meet them?”

©Vilhelm Pedersen and Lorenz Frölich

The swallows knew nothing, but the stork, after a little reflection, nodded his head, and said, “Yes, I think I do. I met several new ships when I flew from Egypt, and they had fine masts that smelt like fir. I think these must have been the trees; I assure you they were stately, very stately.”

“Oh, how I wish I were tall enough to go on the sea,” said the fir-tree. “What is the sea, and what does it look like?”

“It would take too much time to explain,” said the stork, flying quickly away.

“Rejoice in thy youth,” said the sunbeam; “rejoice in thy fresh growth, and the young life that is in thee.”

And the wind kissed the tree, and the dew watered it with tears; but the fir-tree regarded them not.

Christmas-time drew near, and many young trees were cut down, some even smaller and younger than the fir-tree who enjoyed neither rest nor peace with longing to leave its forest home. These young trees, which were chosen for their beauty, kept their branches, and were also laid on wagons and drawn by horses out of the forest.

“Where are they going?” asked the fir-tree. “They are not taller than I am: indeed, one is much less; and why are the branches not cut off? Where are they going?”

“We know, we know,” sang the sparrows; “we have looked in at the windows of the houses in the town, and we know what is done with them. They are dressed up in the most splendid manner. We have seen them standing in the middle of a warm room, and adorned with all sorts of beautiful things,—honey cakes, gilded apples, playthings, and many hundreds of wax tapers.”

“And then,” asked the fir-tree, trembling through all its branches, “and then what happens?”

“We did not see any more,” said the sparrows; “but this was enough for us.”

“I wonder whether anything so brilliant will ever happen to me,” thought the fir-tree. “It would be much better than crossing the sea. I long for it almost with pain. Oh! when will Christmas be here? I am now as tall and well grown as those which were taken away last year. Oh! that I were now laid on the wagon, or standing in the warm room, with all that brightness and splendor around me! Something better and more beautiful is to come after, or the trees would not be so decked out. Yes, what follows will be grander and more splendid. What can it be? I am weary with longing. I scarcely know how I feel.”

“Rejoice with us,” said the air and the sunlight. “Enjoy thine own bright life in the fresh air.”

But the tree would not rejoice, though it grew taller every day; and, winter and summer, its dark-green foliage might be seen in the forest, while passers by would say, “What a beautiful tree!”

A short time before Christmas, the discontented fir-tree was the first to fall. As the axe cut through the stem, and divided the pith, the tree fell with a groan to the earth, conscious of pain and faintness, and forgetting all its anticipations of happiness, in sorrow at leaving its home in the forest. It knew that it should never again see its dear old companions, the trees, nor the little bushes and many-colored flowers that had grown by its side; perhaps not even the birds. Neither was the journey at all pleasant. The tree first recovered itself while being unpacked in the courtyard of a house, with several other trees; and it heard a man say, “We only want one, and this is the prettiest.”

Then came two servants in grand livery, and carried the fir-tree into a large and beautiful apartment. On the walls hung pictures, and near the great stove stood great china vases, with lions on the lids. There were rocking chairs, silken sofas, large tables, covered with pictures, books, and playthings, worth a great deal of money,—at least, the children said so. Then the fir-tree was placed in a large tub, full of sand; but green baize hung all around it, so that no one could see it was a tub, and it stood on a very handsome carpet. How the fir-tree trembled! “What was going to happen to him now?” Some young ladies came, and the servants helped them to adorn the tree. On one branch they hung little bags cut out of colored paper, and each bag was filled with sweetmeats; from other branches hung gilded apples and walnuts, as if they had grown there; and above, and all round, were hundreds of red, blue, and white tapers, which were fastened on the branches. Dolls, exactly like real babies, were placed under the green leaves,—the tree had never seen such things before,—and at the very top was fastened a glittering star, made of tinsel. Oh, it was very beautiful!

“This evening,” they all exclaimed, “how bright it will be!” “Oh, that the evening were come,” thought the tree, “and the tapers lighted! then I shall know what else is going to happen. Will the trees of the forest come to see me? I wonder if the sparrows will peep in at the windows as they fly? shall I grow faster here, and keep on all these ornaments summer and winter?”

But guessing was of very little use; it made his bark ache, and this pain is as bad for a slender fir-tree, as headache is for us. At last the tapers were lighted, and then what a glistening blaze of light the tree presented! It trembled so with joy in all its branches, that one of the candles fell among the green leaves and burnt some of them.

“Help! help!” exclaimed the young ladies, but there was no danger, for they quickly extinguished the fire. After this, the tree tried not to tremble at all, though the fire frightened him; he was so anxious not to hurt any of the beautiful ornaments, even while their brilliancy dazzled him. And now the folding doors were thrown open, and a troop of children rushed in as if they intended to upset the tree; they were followed more silently by their elders. For a moment the little ones stood silent with astonishment, and then they shouted for joy, till the room rang, and they danced merrily round the tree, while one present after another was taken from it.

“What are they doing? What will happen next?” thought the fir. At last the candles burnt down to the branches and were put out. Then the children received permission to plunder the tree.

Oh, how they rushed upon it, till the branches cracked, and had it not been fastened with the glistening star to the ceiling, it must have been thrown down. The children then danced about with their pretty toys, and no one noticed the tree, except the children’s maid who came and peeped among the branches to see if an apple or a fig had been forgotten.

“A story, a story,” cried the children, pulling a little fat man towards the tree.

“Now we shall be in the green shade,” said the man, as he seated himself under it, “and the tree will have the pleasure of hearing also, but I shall only relate one story; what shall it be? Ivede-Avede, or Humpty Dumpty, who fell down stairs, but soon got up again, and at last married a princess.”

“Ivede-Avede,” cried some. “Humpty Dumpty,” cried others, and there was a fine shouting and crying out. But the fir-tree remained quite still, and thought to himself, “Shall I have anything to do with all this?” but he had already amused them as much as they wished. Then the old man told them the story of Humpty Dumpty, how he fell down stairs, and was raised up again, and married a princess. And the children clapped their hands and cried, “Tell another, tell another,” for they wanted to hear the story of “Ivede-Avede;” but they only had “Humpty Dumpty.” After this the fir-tree became quite silent and thoughtful; never had the birds in the forest told such tales as “Humpty Dumpty,” who fell down stairs, and yet married a princess.

“Ah! yes, so it happens in the world,” thought the fir-tree; he believed it all, because it was related by such a nice man. “Ah! well,” he thought, “who knows? perhaps I may fall down too, and marry a princess;” and he looked forward joyfully to the next evening, expecting to be again decked out with lights and playthings, gold and fruit. “To-morrow I will not tremble,” thought he; “I will enjoy all my splendor, and I shall hear the story of Humpty Dumpty again, and perhaps Ivede-Avede.” And the tree remained quiet and thoughtful all night.

In the morning the servants and the housemaid came in. “Now,” thought the fir, “all my splendor is going to begin again.” But they dragged him out of the room and up stairs to the garret, and threw him on the floor, in a dark corner, where no daylight shone, and there they left him. “What does this mean?” thought the tree, “what am I to do here? I can hear nothing in a place like this,” and he had time enough to think, for days and nights passed and no one came near him, and when at last somebody did come, it was only to put away large boxes in a corner. So the tree was completely hidden from sight as if it had never existed. “It is winter now,” thought the tree, “the ground is hard and covered with snow, so that people cannot plant me. I shall be sheltered here, I dare say, until spring comes. How thoughtful and kind everybody is to me! Still I wish this place were not so dark, as well as lonely, with not even a little hare to look at. How pleasant it was out in the forest while the snow lay on the ground, when the hare would run by, yes, and jump over me too, although I did not like it then. Oh! it is terrible lonely here.”

“Squeak, squeak,” said a little mouse, creeping cautiously towards the tree; then came another; and they both sniffed at the fir-tree and crept between the branches.

“Oh, it is very cold,” said the little mouse, “or else we should be so comfortable here, shouldn’t we, you old fir-tree?”

“I am not old,” said the fir-tree, “there are many who are older than I am.”

“Where do you come from? and what do you know?” asked the mice, who were full of curiosity. “Have you seen the most beautiful places in the world, and can you tell us all about them? and have you been in the storeroom, where cheeses lie on the shelf, and hams hang from the ceiling? One can run about on tallow candles there, and go in thin and come out fat.”

“I know nothing of that place,” said the fir-tree, “but I know the wood where the sun shines and the birds sing.” And then the tree told the little mice all about its youth. They had never heard such an account in their lives; and after they had listened to it attentively, they said, “What a number of things you have seen? you must have been very happy.”

“Happy!” exclaimed the fir-tree, and then as he reflected upon what he had been telling them, he said, “Ah, yes! after all those were happy days.” But when he went on and related all about Christmas-eve, and how he had been dressed up with cakes and lights, the mice said, “How happy you must have been, you old fir-tree.”

“I am not old at all,” replied the tree, “I only came from the forest this winter, I am now checked in my growth.”

“What splendid stories you can relate,” said the little mice. And the next night four other mice came with them to hear what the tree had to tell. The more he talked the more he remembered, and then he thought to himself, “Those were happy days, but they may come again. Humpty Dumpty fell down stairs, and yet he married the princess; perhaps I may marry a princess too.” And the fir-tree thought of the pretty little birch-tree that grew in the forest, which was to him a real beautiful princess.

“Who is Humpty Dumpty?” asked the little mice. And then the tree related the whole story; he could remember every single word, and the little mice was so delighted with it, that they were ready to jump to the top of the tree. The next night a great many more mice made their appearance, and on Sunday two rats came with them; but they said, it was not a pretty story at all, and the little mice were very sorry, for it made them also think less of it.

“Do you know only one story?” asked the rats.

“Only one,” replied the fir-tree; “I heard it on the happiest evening of my life; but I did not know I was so happy at the time.”

“We think it is a very miserable story,” said the rats. “Don’t you know any story about bacon, or tallow in the storeroom.”

“No,” replied the tree.

“Many thanks to you then,” replied the rats, and they marched off.

The little mice also kept away after this, and the tree sighed, and said, “It was very pleasant when the merry little mice sat round me and listened while I talked. Now that is all passed too. However, I shall consider myself happy when some one comes to take me out of this place.” But would this ever happen? Yes; one morning people came to clear out the garret, the boxes were packed away, and the tree was pulled out of the corner, and thrown roughly on the garret floor; then the servant dragged it out upon the staircase where the daylight shone.

© Vilhelm Pedersen and Lorenz Frölich

“Now life is beginning again,” said the tree, rejoicing in the sunshine and fresh air. Then it was carried down stairs and taken into the courtyard so quickly, that it forgot to think of itself, and could only look about, there was so much to be seen. The court was close to a garden, where everything looked blooming. Fresh and fragrant roses hung over the little palings. The linden-trees were in blossom; while the swallows flew here and there, crying, “Twit, twit, twit, my mate is coming,”—but it was not the fir-tree they meant. “Now I shall live,” cried the tree, joyfully spreading out its branches; but alas! they were all withered and yellow, and it lay in a corner amongst weeds and nettles. The star of gold paper still stuck in the top of the tree and glittered in the sunshine. In the same courtyard two of the merry children were playing who had danced round the tree at Christmas, and had been so happy. The youngest saw the gilded star, and ran and pulled it off the tree. “Look what is sticking to the ugly old fir-tree,” said the child, treading on the branches till they crackled under his boots. And the tree saw all the fresh bright flowers in the garden, and then looked at itself, and wished it had remained in the dark corner of the garret. It thought of its fresh youth in the forest, of the merry Christmas evening, and of the little mice who had listened to the story of “Humpty Dumpty.” “Past! past!” said the old tree; “Oh, had I but enjoyed myself while I could have done so! but now it is too late.”

Then a lad came and chopped the tree into small pieces, till a large bundle lay in a heap on the ground. The pieces were placed in a fire under the copper, and they quickly blazed up brightly, while the tree sighed so deeply that each sigh was like a pistol-shot. Then the children, who were at play, came and seated themselves in front of the fire, and looked at it and cried, “Pop, pop.” But at each “pop,” which was a deep sigh, the tree was thinking of a summer day in the forest; and of Christmas evening, and of “Humpty Dumpty,” the only story it had ever heard or knew how to relate, till at last it was consumed. The boys still played in the garden, and the youngest wore the golden star on his breast, with which the tree had been adorned during the happiest evening of its existence. Now all was past; the tree’s life was past, and the story also,—for all stories must come to an end at last.

~ ○ ~


Der Tannenbaum


D raußen im Wald stand ein so niedlicher Tannenbaum. Er hatte einen guten Platz, Sonne konnte er bekommen, von Luft gab es genug, und ringsherum wuchsen viele größere Kameraden, sowohl Tannen wie Fichten. Aber der kleine Tannenbaum war so erpicht auf das Wachsen, er dachte nicht an die warme Sonne und die frische Luft, er kümmerte sich nicht um die Bauernkinder, die herumgingen und plauderten, wenn sie draußen waren, um Erdbeeren oder Himbeeren zu sammeln; oft kamen sie mit einem ganzen Topf voll, oder sie hatten Erdbeeren auf Grashalme aufgezogen, dann setzten sie sich zu dem kleinen Baum und sagten: “Nein, wie ist er niedlich klein!” Das wollte der Baum gar nicht hören.

Im Jahr danach war er ein langes Ende höher und im Jahr danach wieder um ein noch viel längeres; denn bei einem Tannenbaum kann man immer nach der Zahl der Glieder, die er hat, sehen, wie viele Jahre er gewachsen ist.

“Oh, wäre ich doch solch ein großer Baum wie die andern!” seufzte der kleine Baum, “dann könnte ich meine Zweige so weit im Umkreis ausbreiten und mit dem Wipfel in die weite Welt hinaussehen! Die Vögel würden dann Nester zwischen meinen Zweigen bauen, und wenn der Wind wehte, könnte ich so vornehm nicken wie die andern dort!”

Er hatte gar kein Vergnügen am Sonnenschein, an den Vögeln oder an den roten Wolken, die morgens und abends darüber hinsegelten.

©Caterina Malisano

War es nun Winter und der Schnee ringsum lag funkelnd weiß, dann kam oft ein Hase gesprungen und setzte über den kleinen Baum hinweg, – oh, das war so ärgerlich! – Aber zwei Winter vergingen, und im dritten war der Baum so groß, daß der Hase um ihn herumgehen mußte. Oh, wachsen, wachsen, groß und alt werden, das war doch das einzig Schöne in dieser Welt, dachte der Baum.

Im Herbst kamen immer Holzhauer und fällten einige der größten Bäume; das geschah jedes Jahr, und der junge Tannenbaum, der nun ganz gut gewachsen war, zitterte dabei, denn die großen prächtigen Bäume fielen mit einem Knacken und Krachen zur Erde; die Äste wurden abgehauen, sie sahen ganz nackt, lang und schmal aus; sie waren beinahe nicht zu kennen, aber dann wurden sie auf Wagen gelegt, und Pferde zogen sie fort aus dem Wald.

Wo sollten sie hin? Was stand ihnen bevor?

Im Frühling, als die Schwalbe und der Storch kamen, fragte der Baum sie: “Wißt Ihr nicht, wo sie hingeführt wurden? Seid Ihr ihnen begegnet?”

Die Schwalben wußten nichts, aber der Storch sah nachdenklich aus, nickte mit dem Kopfe und sagte: “Ja, ich glaube wohl! Ich begegnete manchem neuen Schiff, als ich von Ägypten herflog; auf den Schiffen waren prächtige Mastbäume; ich darf sagen, daß sie es waren, sie rochen nach Tanne; ich kann vielmals grüßen, sie ragen auf, sie ragen!”

“Oh, wäre ich doch auch groß genug, um über das Meer hinzufliegen. Wie ist es eigentlich, dieses Meer, und wem gleicht es?”

“Ja, das ist zu weitläufig zu erklären!” sagte der Storch, und dann ging er.

“Freue dich an deiner Jugend!” sagten die Sonnenstrahlen, “freue dich an deinem frischen Wachstum, an dem jungen Leben, das in dir ist!”

Und der Wind küßte den Baum, und der Tau weinte Tränen auf ihn, aber das verstand der Tannenbaum nicht.

Wenn die Weihnachtszeit kam, dann wurden ganz junge Bäume gefällt, Bäume, die nicht einmal so groß oder in einem Alter mit diesem Tannenbaum waren, der weder Rast noch Ruhe fand, sondern immer fort wollte; diese jungen Bäume, und es waren gerade die allerschönsten, behielten immer ihre Zweige, sie wurden auf die Wagen gelegt, und Pferde zogen sie fort aus dem Wald.

“Wohin sollen sie?” fragte der Tannenbaum. “Sie sind nicht größer als ich, da war sogar einer, der viel kleiner war; weshalb behielten sie alle ihre Zweige? Wo fuhren sie hin?”

“Das wissen wir! Das wissen wir!” zwitscherten die Sperlinge. “Wir haben unten in der Stadt in die Fenster geguckt ! Wir wissen, wo sie hinfahren! Oh, sie kommen zu dem größten Glanz und der größten Herrlichkeit, die man denken kann! Wir haben bei den Fenstern hineingeguckt und gesehen, daß sie mitten in die warme Stube gepflanzt und mit den schönsten Dingen geputzt wurden, mit vergoldeten Äpfeln, Honigkuchen, Spielzeug und vielen hundert Lichtern!”

“Und dann – ?” fragte der Tannenbaum und zitterte an allen Zweigen. “Und dann? Was geschah dann?”

“Ja, mehr haben wir nicht gesehen! Das war unvergleichlich!”

“Wenn ich nun dazu geworden bin, um diesen strahlenden Weg zu gehen!”jubelte der Baum. “Das ist noch besser, als über das Meer zu fahren! Wie ich mich sehne! Wäre es doch Weihnachten! Nun bin ich hoch und breit wie die andern, die im letzten Jahr fortgefahren wurden! – Oh, wäre ich schon auf dem Wagen! Wäre ich doch in der warmen Stube mit all der Pracht und Herrlichkeit! Und dann -? Ja, dann kommt etwas noch Besseres, noch Schöneres, weshalb sollten sie mich sonst so schmücken! Da muß etwas noch Größeres, noch Herrlicheres kommen -! Aber was ? Oh, ich leide! Ich sehne mich! Ich weiß selbst nicht, was mit mir ist!”

“Freue dich mit mir!” sagten die Luft und das Sonnenlicht; “freue dich an deiner frischen Jugend draußen im Freien!”

Aber er freute sich gar nicht; er wuchs und wuchs, Winter und Sommer stand er grün, dunkelgrün stand er; die Leute, die ihn sahen, sagten: “Das ist ein schöner Baum!” Und zur Weihnachtszeit wurde er als erster von allen gefällt. Die Axt traf tief hinein durch das Mark, der Baum fiel mit einem Seufzer hin zur Erde, er fühlte einen Schmerz, eine Ohnmacht, er konnte gar nicht an irgendein Glück denken; er war betrübt, sich von der Heimat zu trennen, von dem Fleck, wo er aufgewachsen war. Er wußte ja, daß er nie mehr die lieben alten Kameraden sehen würde, die kleinen Büsche und Blumen ringsum, ja, vielleicht nicht einmal die Vögel. Die Abreise war gar nicht behaglich.

Der Baum kam erst zu sich, als er im Hof, mit den andern Bäumen abgepackt, einen Mann sagen hörte: “Der ist prächtig! Wir brauchen keinen anderen!”

Nun kamen zwei Diener in vollem Staat und trugen den Tannenbaum in einen großen schönen Saal hinein. Ringsum an den Wänden hingen Porträts und auf dem großen Kachelofen standen große chinesische Vasen mit Löwen auf den Deckeln; da waren Schaukelstühle, Seidensofas, große Tische voll von Bilderbüchern und mit Spielzeug für hundert mal hundert Reichstaler – wenigstens sagten die Kinder das. Und der Tannenbaum wurde in ein großes Faß voll Sand gestellt, aber niemand konnte sehen, daß es ein Faß war, denn es wurde rundherum mit grünem Zeug behängt und es stand auf einem großen bunten Teppich. Oh, wie der Baum bebte! Was würde noch geschehen? Sowohl Diener wie Fräuleins gingen und schmückten ihn. Auf die Zweige hängten sie kleine Netze, ausgeschnitten aus buntem Papier, jedes Netz war mit Zuckerzeug gefüllt; vergoldete Äpfel und Walnüsse hingen, als wären sie festgewachsen, und über hundert rote, blaue und weiße Lichtchen wurden an den Zweigen festgesteckt. Puppen, die leibhaftig wie Menschen aussahen – der Baum hatte so etwas nie zuvor gesehen -, schwebten in dem Grünen, und ganz zuoberst in den Wipfel wurde ein großer Stern aus Flittergold gesetzt; das war prächtig, unvergleichlich prächtig.

“Heute abend,” sagten sie alle, “heute abend soll er strahlen!”

“Oh!” dachte der Baum, “wäre es doch Abend! wären nur die Lichter bald angezündet! Oh, was wohl dann geschieht? Ob dann die Bäume aus dem Walde kommen und mich ansehen? Ob die Sperlinge gegen die Scheiben fliegen? Ob ich hier festwachse und Winter und Sommer geschmückt stehe?”

Ja, der wußte gut Bescheid; aber er hatte nun ordentlich Rindenweh vor Sehnsucht, und Rindenweh ist ebenso schlimm für einen Baum, wie Kopfweh für uns andere!

Nun wurden die Lichte angezündet. Welcher Glanz, welche Pracht! Der Baum zitterte an allen Zweigen dabei, so daß eines der Lichte das Grüne ansteckte; er schwitzte ordentlich.

“Gott bewahre uns!” schrien die Fräuleins und löschten das Feuer schnell.

Nun durfte der Baum nicht einmal beben. Oh, das war ein Grauen! Er war so bange davor, etwas von all seinem Staat zu verlieren; er war ganz verwirrt von all dem Glanz -und nun gingen beide Flügeltüren auf und eine Menge Kinder stürzte herein, als wollten sie den ganzen Baum umreißen; die älteren Leute kamen besinnlich hinterher. Die Kleinen standen ganz still, aber nur einen Augenblick, dann jubelten sie wieder, so daß es hallte; sie tanzten rund um den Baum, und ein Geschenk nach dem andern wurde abgepflückt.

“Was tun sie nur?” dachte der Baum. “Was soll da geschehen?” Und die Lichte brannten bis auf die Zweige herab, und nachdem sie herabgebrannt waren, löschte man sie aus, und dann erhielten die Kinder Erlaubnis, den Baum zu plündern. Oh, sie stürzten auf ihn ein, so daß es in allen Ästen knackte; wäre er nicht mit der Spitze und dem Goldstern an der Decke festgebunden gewesen, so wäre er umgestürzt.

Die Kinder tanzten herum mit ihrem prächtigen Spielzeug, keiner sah den Baum an, außer dem alten Kindermädchen, das hinging und zwischen die Zweige guckte, aber das war nur, um zu sehen, ob nicht noch eine Feige oder ein Apfel vergessen war.

“Eine Geschichte! Eine Geschichte!” riefen die Kinder und zogen einen kleinen dicken Mann zum Baum hin, und er setzte sich grade darunter. “Denn dann sind wir im Grünen!” sagte er, “und dem Baum kann es noch besonders gut tun mit zuzuhören; aber ich erzähle nur eine Geschichte. Wollt Ihr von Ivede-Avede hören oder von Klumpe-Dumpe, der die Treppen herabfiel und doch auf den Hochsitz kam und die Prinzessin kriegte?”

“Ivede-Avede!” schrien einige, und “Klumpe-Dumpe!” schrien andere. Es war ein Rufen und Schreien, nur der Tannenbaum schwieg ganz stille und dachte: “Soll ich gar nicht dabei sein, gar nichts tun?” Er war ja dabei gewesen, hatte getan, was er tun sollte.

Und der Mann erzählte von “Klumpe-Dumpe”, der die Treppen herabfiel und doch in den Hochsitz kam und die Prinzessin erhielt. Und die Kinder klatschten in die Hände und riefen: “Erzähle! Erzähle!” Sie wollten auch “Ivede-Avede” haben, aber sie bekamen nur “Klumpe-Dumpe” zu hören. Der Tannenbaum stand ganz still und gedankenvoll, niemals hatten die Vögel draußen im Wald so etwas erzählt. “Klumpe-Dumpe fiel die Treppen hinab und bekam doch die Prinzessin! Ja, ja! So geht es zu in der Welt!” dachte der Tannenbaum und glaubte, daß es wahr sei, weil es ein so netter Mann war, der erzählte. “Ja! ja! Wer kann wissen! Vielleicht falle ich auch die Treppen hinab und bekomme eine Prinzessin!” Und er freute sich auf den nächsten Tag, daß er wieder mit Eichten und Spielzeug, Gold und Früchten geschmückt werden solle.

“Morgen werde ich nicht zittern!” dachte er. “Ich will mich recht all meiner Herrlichkeit erfreuen. Morgen werde ich wieder die Geschichte von ‘Klumpe-Dumpe’ und vielleicht die von ‘Ivede-Avede’ hören.” Und der Baum stand still und gedankenvoll die ganze Nacht.

Am Morgen kamen Burschen und Mädchen herein.

“Nun beginnt der Staat wieder!” dachte der Baum, aber sie schleppten ihn aus der Stube, die Treppen hinauf auf den Speicher und dort, in einer dunklen Ecke, wohin kein Tag schien, stellten sie ihn hin. “Was soll das bedeuten?” dachte der Baum. “Was habe ich wohl hier zu tun? Was werde ich wohl zu hören bekommen?” Und er lehnte sich gegen die Mauer und stand und dachte und dachte. – – Und gut Zeit hatte er, denn Tage und Nächte vergingen; keiner kam herauf, und als endlich jemand kam, war es, um einige große Kasten in die Ecke hinzustellen; der Baum stand ganz verborgen, man hätte glauben können, daß er rein vergessen war.

“Nun ist es Winter draußen!” dachte der Baum. “Die Erde ist hart und mit Schnee bedeckt. Die Menschen können mich nicht einpflanzen; deshalb soll ich wohl hier im Schutz stehen bis zum Frühling! Wie ist das wohlbedacht! Wie sind die Menschen doch gut! – Wäre es hier nur nicht so dunkel und so schrecklich einsam! – Nicht einmal ein kleiner Hase! – Das war doch so hübsch draußen im Wald, wenn der Schnee lag und der Hase vorbeisprang; ja selbst, als er über mich hinwegsprang, aber das mochte ich damals nicht. Hier oben ist es doch schrecklich einsam.”

“Pi! Pi!” sagte eine kleine Maus in diesem Augenblick und schlüpfte hervor; und dann kam noch eine kleine. Sie schnüffelten am Tannenbaum und glitten zwischen den Zweigen auf ihm herum.

“Es ist eine grausame Kälte!” sagte die kleine Maus. “Sonst ist es hier herrlich zu sein! Nicht wahr, du alter Tannenbaum?”

“Ich bin gar nicht alt!” sagte der Tannenbaum, “es gibt viele, die viel älter sind als ich!”

“Wo kommst du her?” fragten die Mäuse, “und was weißt du?” Sie waren so schrecklich neugierig. “Erzähl’ uns doch von dem schönsten Ort der Welt! Bist du dort gewesen? Warst du in der Speisekammer, wo Käse auf den Brettern liegen und Schinken unter der Decke hängen, wo man auf Talglichten tanzt und mager hineinkommt und fett herausgeht?”

“Das kenne ich nicht!” sagte der Baum, “aber den Wald kenne ich, wo die Sonne scheint und wo die Vögel singen!” Und dann erzählte er alles von seiner Jugend, und die kleinen Mäuse hatten nie zuvor so etwas gehört, und sie hörten zu und sagten: “Nein, wie viel hast du gesehen! Wie glücklich warst du!”

“Ich!” sagte der Tannenbaum und dachte über das, was er selbst erzählte: “Ja, es waren im Grunde ganz angenehme Zeiten!” – aber dann erzählte er vom Weihnachtsabend, als er mit Kuchen und Lichten geschmückt worden war.

©Vilhelm Pedersen and Lorenz Frölich

“Oh!” sagten die kleinen Mäuse, “wie bist du glücklich gewesen, du alter Tannenbaum!”

“Ich bin gar nicht alt!” sagte der Baum, “es war ja in diesem Winter, daß ich aus dem Wald gekommen bin! Ich bin in meinem allerbesten Alter, ich bin nur im Wachstum voraus!”

“Wie du schön erzählst!” sagten die kleinen Mäuse, und nächste Nacht kamen sie mit vier anderen kleinen Mäusen, die den Baum erzählen hören sollten, und je mehr er erzählte, desto deutlicher erinnerte er sich selbst und dachte: “Es waren doch ganz vergnügte Zeiten! Aber sie können noch kommen! Sie können kommen! Klumpe-Dumpe fiel die Treppen hinab und bekam doch die Prinzessin, vielleicht kann ich auch eine Prinzessin bekommen!” Und dann dachte der Tannenbaum an solch einen niedlichen Birkenbaum, der draußen im Walde wuchs, der war für den Tannenbaum eine wirkliche schöne Prinzessin.

“Wer ist Klumpe-Dumpe?” fragten die kleinen Mäuse. Und da erzählte der Tannenbaum das ganze Märchen, er konnte sich jedes einzelnen Wortes erinnern; und die kleinen Mäuse waren bereit, auf die Spitze des Baumes zu springen vor lauter Vergnügen! Nächste Nacht kamen viel mehr Mäuse, und am Sonntag kamen auch zwei Ratten; aber sie sagten, daß die Geschichte nicht amüsant sei, und das betrübte die kleinen Mäuse, denn nun gefiel sie ihnen auch weniger.

“Können Sie nur die eine Geschichte?” fragten die Ratten.

“Nur die eine!” antwortete der Baum, “die hörte ich an meinem glücklichsten Abend, aber damals dachte ich gar nicht, wie glücklich ich war!”

“Das ist eine über die Maßen jämmerliche Geschichte! Kennen Sie keine mit Speck und Talglichten? Keine Speisekammergeschichten?” “Nein!” sagte der Baum.

“Ja, nun wollen wir Ihnen danken!” sagten die Ratten und gingen hinweg zu den Ihren.

Die kleinen Mäuse blieben zuletzt auch fort, und dann seufzte der Baum: “Das war doch ganz hübsch, als sie um mich herumsaßen, die zappligen Mäuschen, und hörten, was ich erzählte! Nun ist das auch vorbei! – Aber ich werde daran denken, mich zu freuen, wenn ich nun wieder hervorgeholt werde!”

Aber wann geschah das? – Ja doch! es war an einem Morgen, da kamen Leute und räumten auf dem Speicher auf. Die Kasten wurden weggehoben, der Baum hervorgezogen; sie warfen ihn freilich etwas hart auf den Boden, aber gleich schleppte ein Bursche ihn zur Treppe hin, wo der Tag schien.

“Nun beginnt wieder das Leben!” dachte der Baum; er fühlte die frische Luft, die ersten Sonnenstrahlen, – und nun war er draußen im Hof. Alles ging so schnell, der Baum vergaß ganz, sich selbst anzusehen, so viel war ringsum zu sehen. Der Hof stieß an einen Garten, und alles blühte darin; Rosen hingen da so frisch und duftend über das kleine Gitterwerk hinaus, und die Schwalben flogen umher und sagten: “Quirre-wirre-witt, mein Mann ist da!” Aber es war nicht der Tannenbaum, den sie meinten.

“Nun werde ich leben!” jubelte er und breitete seine Zweige weit aus; ach, sie waren alle vertrocknet und gelb; er war in der Ecke zwischen Unkraut und Nesseln, da lag er, der Goldpapierstern saß noch oben an der Spitze und schimmerte im hellsten Sonnenschein.

Im Hof spielten ein paar der lustigen Kinder, die zur Weihnachtszeit um den Baum getanzt hatten und über ihn so froh gewesen waren. Eines der Kleinsten eilte hin und riß den Goldstern ab.

Seht, was da noch auf dem häßlichen alten Weihnachtsbaum sitzt!” sagte es und trampelte auf den Zweigen, so daß sie unter seinen Stiefeln knackten.

Und der Baum sah auf all die Blumenpracht und Frische im Garten, er sah sich selbst an, und er wünschte, daß er in seiner dunklen Ecke auf dem Speicher geblieben wäre; er dachte an seine frische Jugend im Wald, an den lustigen Weihnachtsabend und an die kleinen Mäuse, die so froh die Geschichte von Klumpe-Dumpe gehört hatten.

“Vorbei! Vorbei!” sagte der arme Baum. “Hätte ich mich doch gefreut, da ich es konnte! Vorbei! Vorbei!”

Und der Hausknecht kam und hackte den Baum in kleine Stücke, ein ganzer Bund lag da; prächtig flammte das auf unter dem großen Braukessel; und es seufzte so tief; jeder Seufzer war wie ein kleiner Schuß; deshalb liefen die Kinder, die spielten, herein und setzten sich vor das Feuer, sahen es an und riefen: “Piff! Paff!” aber bei jedem Knall, der ein tiefer Seufzer war, dachte der Baum an einen Sommertag im Wald, an eine Winternacht draußen, wenn die Sterne leuchteten; er dachte an den Weihnachtsabend und Klumpe-Dumpe, das einzige Märchen, das er gehört hatte und zu erzählen wußte – und dann war der Baum ausgebrannt.

Die Jungen spielten im Hof, und der Kleinste hatte den Goldstern auf der Brust, den der Baum an seinem glücklichsten Abend getragen hatte. Nun war der vorbei, und der Baum war vorbei und die Geschichte auch! Vorbei, vorbei, und so geht es mit allen Geschichten!

~ ○ ~