Subject:FICTION Scarica il testo

Hans Christian Andersen


IT was the month of May. The wind still blew cold; but
from bush and tree, field and flower, came the welcome sound,
"Spring is come." Wild-flowers in profusion covered the
hedges. Under the little apple-tree, Spring seemed busy, and
told his tale from one of the branches which hung fresh and
blooming, and covered with delicate pink blossoms that were
just ready to open. The branch well knew how beautiful it was;
this knowledge exists as much in the leaf as in the blood; I
was therefore not surprised when a nobleman's carriage, in
which sat the young countess, stopped in the road just by. She
said that an apple-branch was a most lovely object, and an
emblem of spring in its most charming aspect. Then the branch
was broken off for her, and she held it in her delicate hand,
and sheltered it with her silk parasol. Then they drove to the
castle, in which were lofty halls and splendid drawing-rooms.
Pure white curtains fluttered before the open windows, and
beautiful flowers stood in shining, transparent vases; and in
one of them, which looked as if it had been cut out of newly
fallen snow, the apple-branch was placed, among some fresh,
light twigs of beech. It was a charming sight. Then the branch
became proud, which was very much like human nature.

People of every description entered the room, and,
according to their position in society, so dared they to
express their admiration. Some few said nothing, others
expressed too much, and the apple-branch very soon got to
understand that there was as much difference in the characters
of human beings as in those of plants and flowers. Some are
all for pomp and parade, others have a great deal to do to
maintain their own importance, while the rest might be spared
without much loss to society. So thought the apple-branch, as
he stood before the open window, from which he could see out
over gardens and fields, where there were flowers and plants
enough for him to think and reflect upon; some rich and
beautiful, some poor and humble indeed.

"Poor, despised herbs," said the apple-branch; "there is
really a difference between them and such as I am. How unhappy
they must be, if they can feel as those in my position do!
There is a difference indeed, and so there ought to be, or we
should all be equals."

And the apple-branch looked with a sort of pity upon them,
especially on a certain little flower that is found in fields
and in ditches. No one bound these flowers together in a
nosegay; they were too common; they were even known to grow
between the paving-stones, shooting up everywhere, like bad
weeds; and they bore the very ugly name of "dog-flowers" or

"Poor, despised plants," said the apple-bough, "it is not
your fault that you are so ugly, and that you have such an
ugly name; but it is with plants as with men,- there must be a

"A difference!" cried the sunbeam, as he kissed the
blooming apple-branch, and then kissed the yellow dandelion
out in the fields. All were brothers, and the sunbeam kissed
them- the poor flowers as well as the rich.

The apple-bough had never thought of the boundless love of
God, which extends over all the works of creation, over
everything which lives, and moves, and has its being in Him;
he had never thought of the good and beautiful which are so
often hidden, but can never remain forgotten by Him,- not only
among the lower creation, but also among men. The sunbeam, the
ray of light, knew better.

"You do not see very far, nor very clearly," he said to
the apple-branch. "Which is the despised plant you so
specially pity?"

"The dandelion," he replied. "No one ever places it in a
nosegay; it is often trodden under foot, there are so many of
them; and when they run to seed, they have flowers like wool,
which fly away in little pieces over the roads, and cling to
the dresses of the people. They are only weeds; but of course
there must be weeds. O, I am really very thankful that I was
not made like one of these flowers."

There came presently across the fields a whole group of
children, the youngest of whom was so small that it had to be
carried by the others; and when he was seated on the grass,
among the yellow flowers, he laughed aloud with joy, kicked
out his little legs, rolled about, plucked the yellow flowers,
and kissed them in childlike innocence. The elder children
broke off the flowers with long stems, bent the stalks one
round the other, to form links, and made first a chain for the
neck, then one to go across the shoulders, and hang down to
the waist, and at last a wreath to wear round the head, so
that they looked quite splendid in their garlands of green
stems and golden flowers. But the eldest among them gathered
carefully the faded flowers, on the stem of which was grouped
together the seed, in the form of a white feathery coronal.
These loose, airy wool-flowers are very beautiful, and look
like fine snowy feathers or down. The children held them to
their mouths, and tried to blow away the whole coronal with
one puff of the breath. They had been told by their
grandmothers that who ever did so would be sure to have new
clothes before the end of the year. The despised flower was by
this raised to the position of a prophet or foreteller of

"Do you see," said the sunbeam, "do you see the beauty of
these flowers? do you see their powers of giving pleasure?"

"Yes, to children," said the apple-bough.

By-and-by an old woman came into the field, and, with a
blunt knife without a handle, began to dig round the roots of
some of the dandelion-plants, and pull them up. With some of
these she intended to make tea for herself; but the rest she
was going to sell to the chemist, and obtain some money.

"But beauty is of higher value than all this," said the
apple-tree branch; "only the chosen ones can be admitted into
the realms of the beautiful. There is a difference between
plants, just as there is a difference between men."

Then the sunbeam spoke of the boundless love of God, as
seen in creation, and over all that lives, and of the equal
distribution of His gifts, both in time and in eternity.

"That is your opinion," said the apple-bough.

Then some people came into the room, and, among them, the
young countess,- the lady who had placed the apple-bough in
the transparent vase, so pleasantly beneath the rays of the
sunlight. She carried in her hand something that seemed like a
flower. The object was hidden by two or three great leaves,
which covered it like a shield, so that no draught or gust of
wind could injure it, and it was carried more carefully than
the apple-branch had ever been. Very cautiously the large
leaves were removed, and there appeared the feathery
seed-crown of the despised dandelion. This was what the lady
had so carefully plucked, and carried home so safely covered,
so that not one of the delicate feathery arrows of which its
mist-like shape was so lightly formed, should flutter away.
She now drew it forth quite uninjured, and wondered at its
beautiful form, and airy lightness, and singular construction,
so soon to be blown away by the wind.

"See," she exclaimed, "how wonderfully God has made this
little flower. I will paint it with the apple-branch together.
Every one admires the beauty of the apple-bough; but this
humble flower has been endowed by Heaven with another kind of
loveliness; and although they differ in appearance, both are
the children of the realms of beauty."

Then the sunbeam kissed the lowly flower, and he kissed
the blooming apple-branch, upon whose leaves appeared a rosy