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What Happened to the Thistle

Adjoining the rich estate was a lovely and beautifully kept garden of rare trees and flowers. Guests at the estate enjoyed this fine garden and praised it. People from the countryside all round about and townspeople as well would come every Sunday and holiday to ask if they might see the garden. Even whole schools made excursions to it.

Just outside the fence that separated the garden from a country lane, there grew a very large thistle. It was so unusually big with such vigorous, full-foliaged branches rising from the root that it well deserved to be called a thistle bush. No one paid any attention to her except one old donkey that pulled the dairymaid's cart. He would stretch his old neck toward the thistle and say, "You're a beauty. I'd like to eat you!" But his tether was not long enough to let him reach the thistle and eat her.

There was a big party at the manor house. Among the guests were fine aristocratic relations from the capital - charming young girls, and among them was a young lady who had come from a foreign land, all the way from Scotland. Her family was old, and noble, and rich in lands and gold. She was a bride well worth winning, thought more than one young man, and their mothers thought so too.

The young people amused themselves on the lawn, where they played croquet. As they strolled about in the garden, each young lady plucked a flower and put in a young man's buttonhole. The young lady from Scotland looked all around her for a flower. But none of them suited her until she happened to look over the fence and saw the big, flourishing thistle bush, full of deep purple, healthy-looking flowers. When she saw them she smiled, and asked the young heir of the household to pick one of them for her.

"That is Scotland's flower," she said. "It blooms on my country's coat of arms. That's the flower for me."

He plucked the best flower of the thistle, and pricked his finger in the process as much as if he had torn the blossom from the thorniest rose bush.

When she put it in his buttonhole, he considered it a great honor. Every other young man would gladly have given his lovely garden flower for any blossom from the slender fingers of the girl from Scotland. If the heir of the household felt himself highly honored, how much more so the thistle!

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