~ Adapted from a German Legend
Once upon a time, in the deep forest, there grew a little pine tree, and its leaves were long, slender, green needles. But the little tree did not like its needles.
"I wish that I had beautiful leaves," it thought. "I wish that I might have leaves different from any of the other trees. If I could have my wish, I would have leaves all of shining gold."
After a while it came night, and the little tree went to sleep, and the Angel of the trees walked through the woods. In the morning the little tree had leaves of shining gold.
"How very beautiful I am!" it thought. "How my leaves sparkle in the sun! Now I shall always be happy!
In the night a man came to the woods with a bag. He picked off all the gold leaves, and took them home with him. Then the poor little tree had no leaves. "What shall I do?" it cried. "I will not wish for gold leaves again."
"How pretty crystal leaves would look! They would sparkle in the sun, but the man would not take them. I wish that I could have leaves of gleaming crystal."
That night Jack Frost appeared in the woods with his crystal wand and touched the tree. In the morning, when the sun peeped over the hill it looked at the little pine tree. All the other trees looked at it, too.
How beautiful it was! It had crystal leaves now, and they sparkled in the bright sunshine. The little tree was happy all the morning. But in the afternoon black clouds hid the sun, and the rain came down. The tree shivered in the wind.
When the shower was over, there were no crystal leaves to sparkle in the sunshine. The sun had melted every one, and the drops lay on the ground under the bare branches.
"I will not wish again to be better than my neighbors," cried the pine tree.
"If I had big green leaves like them I should be happy." Then the tree went to sleep, and once more the Angel of the trees walked through the woods. When it was morning the pine looked just like the other trees, for it had fine, large green leaves.
But the big leaves looked so good and juicy that an old goat came along, and he ate every one for his dinner.
"Alas!" cried the little tree. "A man took my leaves of gold. The wind broke my leaves of glass. A goat ate my large green leaves.
"I wish that I had my long, green needles again!"
The Angel of the trees was listening to all that the little pine tree said. The next day the birds flew to the little tree, and they were happy to see that it was covered again with long needles.
"Now, we may build our nests here," they said.
"Yes," said the tree. "I will hide your nests with my needles, and in the winter I will keep you safe and warm.
"Gold leaves, crystal leaves, and large green leaves were very fine; but nothing is so good for a little pine tree as its own long needles."