The Fir Tree

Read by Phil Brock

Related Content

Full Text

"The Fir Tree" by Hans Christian Andersen

Out in the woods, there once stood a little Fir Tree. All around him grew many larger trees, and the little Fir wanted very much to be a grown-up tree, too. He didn't think much of the warm sun or fresh air, and he didn't care for the little children that ran about in the woods looking for wild strawberries. They often came and sat down near the young tree, and said, "Oh, how pretty he is! What a nice little fir!" But this was exactly what the Fir Tree did not want to hear.

By the end of the year, he'd grown a good deal, and after another year, even more. "I wish I were as tall as the others," he sighed. "Then I'd be able to spread my branches and look out at the world!" Nothing made the little tree happy, not the sunbeams or the birds or the clouds above him.

In winter, when the snow lay glittering on the ground, a rabbit would often come leaping along and jump right over the little Fir. Oh, this made him so angry! But two winters passed, and by the third, the Tree grew so large that the rabbit had to go around him. "To grow and grow, to get older and be tall," thought the Tree. "That would be the most delightful thing in the world!"
In autumn, the wood-cutters always came and cut down the largest trees. This happened every year, and the young Fir Tree trembled at the sight, watching the magnificent trees fall loudly to the earth. They were laid in carts, and the horses dragged them out of the wood. Where did they go? he wondered. What became of them?

In spring, when the birds came, the Tree asked them if they knew. One of them nodded. "Yes," he said. "I've met many ships when I've flown across the ocean, and on them were magnificent masts that smelled of fir!"

"I wish I were old enough to fly across the sea," the Tree said, ignoring the wind and the sunbeams around him.

When Christmas came, many young trees were cut down, and the Fir Tree watched them with envy. "Where are they going?" he asked.

"We know," chirped the sparrows. "We've peeped in the windows in town, and seen them ornamented with apples and gingerbread and toys and lights!"

The Fir Tree trembled in every bough. "I wonder if I'm destined for such wonderful things. That's even better than crossing the sea! If only I were taller, and my branches spread like the others. If only I were in a warm room with ornaments, and not suffering out here."

The Tree continued to grow, and when people saw him, they noticed what a fine tree he'd become. The next Christmas, he was one of the first to be chopped down. He was surprised at how sad he was to be separated from his home, from the place where he'd sprung up. The departure from the forest was not at all as he'd expected.

After a short journey, the Tree was unloaded in a courtyard and two servants came and carried him into a large room full of expensive furniture and wonderful toys. The Fir Tree was stuck upright in a stand and oh, how he quivered, wondering what was to happen. The servants and young ladies decorated him, hanging sugarplums and apples and walnuts on his branches, and at the very top, a large star of gold tinsel.

"How it will shine this evening!" they all said, and the Tree couldn't wait for evening to come. He wondered whether the birds from the forest would come watch through the windows.

When the candles were all brightly lit, the Tree trembled with such happiness that one of them set fire to his branches, flaring up in an enormous blaze.
"Help!" cried the young ladies, running to put out the fire.

What a state the poor Tree was in, confused and bewildered amidst the bright glare. When the fire was out, the family stood before him quietly, then set about removing the ornaments.

"What are they doing?" wondered the Tree, as the children pulled down all the presents. No one looked at the Tree except the old nurse, who peeped between the branches to see if anything had been forgotten. The Fir Tree waited patiently, looking forward to tomorrow, when he hoped to be decked out again with lights, fruits and tinsel.

In the morning, the servants came in, but to his surprise, they dragged the Fir out of the room and up the stairs into the attic. And here, in a dark corner, they left him. "What's going on?" he wondered, leaning against the wall. Days and nights passed, and nobody came up. When someone finally did come, it was only to put some trunks in the corner, out of the way. The Tree stood quite hidden, and it seemed as if he'd been entirely forgotten.

"It's now winter," thought the Tree. "Nobody can plant me since there's snow on the ground, so maybe I'm being sheltered here until spring. How thoughtful that is! If only it were not so dark and lonely in here..."

One morning, a few people arrived and set to work in the attic. The trunks were moved, and the tree was pulled out and thrown down on the floor. A man dragged him towards the stairs, where the daylight shone.

"Now a happy life will begin again," thought the Tree. He felt the fresh air, the first sunbeams, and then he was out in the courtyard. He realized just how much he'd missed his dear friends from the forest, the little bushes and flowers and birds.

There was so much going on around him, the Tree quite forgot to look to himself.

"Now I'll really enjoy life," said the Tree, and went to spread his branches only to find they were all withered and yellow- they had put him in a corner among the weeds, and the golden star, which was still on top of him, glittered in the sunshine.

Some of the children were playing in the courtyard, and they danced around the tree. The youngest tore off the golden star. "Look what an ugly old Christmas tree," he said, trampling on the branches.

"It's all over!" said the poor Tree. "If only I'd enjoyed my life at the time, but now it's all in the past."

He thought longingly of his youth in the forest, and of that merry Christmas Eve he wished he would have appreciated.