Leaf From The Sky
By Hans Christian Andersen
High up, in the
thin clear air, flew an angel with a flower
from the heavenly garden. As he was kissing
a very little leaf fell down into the soft
soil in the midst
of the wood, and immediately took root, and
and sent forth shoots among the other plants.
' A funny kind of slip, that/ said the
And neither Thistle nor Stinging-Nettle
' That must be a kind of garden plant,' said
And they sneered ; and the plant was
Despised by them
as being a thing out of the garden, but it
grew and grew,
like none of the others, and shot its
branches far and wide.
Where are you coming ? ' cried the lofty
whose leaves are all armed with thorns. '
You give yourself
a good deal of space ! That 's all nonsense
we are not here
to support you ! '
And winter came, and snow covered the plant
; but the
plant imparted to the snowy covering a
lustre as if the sun
was shining upon it from below as from above.
spring came, the plant appeared as
flourishing and more
beautiful than any growth of the forest.
And now appeared on the scene the botanical
who could show what he was in black and
inspected the plant and tested it, but found
it was not
included in his botanical system ; and he
could not possibly
find out to what class it belonged.
' It must be some subordinate species,' he
said. ' I don't
know it. It 's not included in any system.'
Not included in any system ! ' repeated
and the Nettles.
The great trees that stood round about heard
said, and they also saw that it was not a
tree of their kind ;
but they said not a word, good or bad, which
is the wisest
thing for people to do who are stupid.
There came through the forest a poor
innocent girl. Her
heart was pure, and her understanding was
enlarged by faith.
Her whole inheritance was an old Bible ; but
out of its
pages a voice said to her, ' If people wish
to do us evil,
remember how it was said of Joseph : they
in their hearts, but God turned it to good.
If we suffer
wrong if we are misunderstood and despised
may recall the words of Him Who was purity
itself, and Who forgave and prayed for those
and nailed Him to the cross.'
The girl stood still in front of the
wonderful plant, whose
great leaves exhaled a sweet and refreshing
whose flowers glittered like coloured flames
in the sun ; and
from each flower there came a sound as
though it concealed
within itself a deep fount of melody that
thousands of years
could not exhaust. With pious gratitude the
on this beautiful work of the Creator, and
bent down one
of the branches towards herself to breathe
its sweetness ;
and a light arose in her soul. It seemed to
do her heart good;
and gladly would she have plucked a flower,
but she could
not make up her mind to break one off, for
it would soon
fade if she did so. Therefore the girl only
took a single leaf,
and laid it in her Bible at home ; and it
lay there quite
fresh, always green, and never fading.
Among the pages of the Bible it was kept ;
and, with the
Bible, it was laid under the young girl's
head when, a few
weeks afterwards, she lay in her coffin,
with the solemn
calm of death on her gentle face, as if the
bore the impress of the truth that she now
But the wonderful plant still bloomed
without in the
forest. Soon it was like a tree to look upon
; and all the
birds of passage bowed before it, especially
the swallow and
' These are foreign airs now,' said the
Thistles and the
Burdocks ; ' we never behave like that here.'
And the black snails actually spat at the
Then came the swineherd. He was collecting
and shrubs, to burn them for the ashes. The
plant was pulled up with all its roots and
placed in his
' It shall be made useful,' he said ; and so
said, so done.
But for more than a year and a day, the King
of the country
was troubled with a terrible depression of
spirits. He was
busy and industrious, but that did him no
read him deep and learned books, and then
they read from
the very lightest that they could find ; but
it was of no use.
Then one of the wise men of the world, to
whom they had
applied, sent a messenger to tell the King
that there was one
remedy to give him relief and to cure him.
He said :
' In the King's own country there grows in a
plant of heavenly origin. Its appearance is
thus and thus.
It cannot be mistaken.' And here was added a
the plant, which was easy to recognize. ' It
winter and summer. Take every evening a
fresh leaf of
it, and lay that on the King's forehead ;
then his thoughts
will become clear, and during the night a
will strengthen him for the coming day.'
This was all clear enough, and all the
doctors and the
professor of botany went out into the forest.
where was the plant ?
' I fancy it was taken up in my bundle, and
ashes long ago,' said the swineherd ; ' but
I did not know
' You did not know any better! 'said they
all together.'ignorance, ignorance, how great thou art!
And those words the swineherd might well
take to himself, for they were meant for him, and for
no one else.
Not another leaf was to be found ; the only
one lay in
the coffin of the dead girl, and no one knew
And the King himself, in his melancholy,
to the spot in the wood.
Here is where the plant stood,' he said ;
' it is a sacred
And the place was surrounded with a golden
a sentry was posted there both by night and
The botanical professor wrote a long
treatise upon the
heavenly plant. For this he was decorated,
and that was
a great delight to him, and the decoration
suited him and
his family very well. And indeed that was
the most agreeable part of the whole story, for the plant
was gone, and
the King remained as low-spirited as before
; but that
he had always been, at least so the sentry