The Weeds by Carl Ewald
It was a fine and fruitful year.
Rain and sunshine came turn and turn about, in just the way that was
best for the corn. As soon as the farmer thought that things were
getting rather dry, he could be quite sure that it would rain next day.
And, if he considered that he had had rain enough, then the clouds
parted at once, just as though it were the farmer that was in command.
The farmer, therefore, was in a good humour and did not complain as he
usually did. Cheerful and rejoicing he walked over the land with his two
"It will be a splendid harvest this year," he said. "I shall get my
barns full and make lots of money. Then Jens and Ole shall have a new
pair of trousers apiece and I will take them with me to market."
"If you don't cut me soon, farmer, I shall be lying down flat," said the
rye and bowed her heavy ears right down to the ground.
Now the farmer could not hear this, but was quite able to see what the
rye was thinking of; and so he went home to fetch his sickle.
"It's a good thing to be in the service of men," said the rye. "I can be
sure now that all my grains will be well taken care of. Most of them
will go to the mill and that, certainly, is not very pleasant. But
afterwards they will turn into beautiful new bread; and one must suffer
something for honour's sake. What remains the farmer will keep and sow
next year on his land."
Along the hedge and beside the ditch stood the weeds. Thistle and
burdock, poppy and bell-flower and dandelion grew in thick clusters and
all had their heads full of seed. For them, too, it had been a fruitful
year, for the sun shines and the rain falls on the poor weeds just as
much as on the rich corn.
"There's no one to cut us and cart us to the barn," said the dandelion
and shook her head, but very carefully, lest the seed should fall too
soon. "What is to become of our children?"
"It gives me a headache to think of it," said the poppy. "Here I stand,
with many hundreds of seeds in my head, and I have no idea where to
dispose of them."
"Let's ask the rye's advice," said the burdock.
And then they asked the rye what they ought to do.
"It doesn't do to mix in other people's affairs when one's well off,"
said the rye. "There is only one piece of advice that I will give you:
mind you don't fling your silly seed over my field, or you'll have me to
Now this advice was of no use to the wild flowers; and they stood all
day pondering as to what they should do. When the sun went down, they
closed their petals to go to sleep, but they dreamt all night of their
seed and next morning they had found a remedy.
The poppy was the first to wake.
She carefully opened some little shutters in the top of her head, so
that the sun could shine right in upon the seeds. Next, she called to
the morning wind, who was running and playing along the hedge:
"Dear Wind," she said, pleasantly. "Will you do me a service?"
"Why not?" said the wind. "I don't mind having something to do."
"It's a mere trifle," said the poppy. "I will only ask you to give a
good shake to my stalk, so that my seeds can fly away out of the
"Right you are," said the wind.
And away flew the seeds to every side. The stalk certainly snapped; but
that the poppy did not bother about. For, when one has provided for
one's children, there's really nothing left to do in this world.
"Good-bye," said the wind and wanted to go on.
"Wait a bit," said the poppy. "Promise me first that you won't tell the
others. Else they might have the same ideas; and then there would be
less room for my seeds."
"I shall be silent as the grave," said the wind and ran away.
"Pst! Pst!" said the bell-flower. "Have you a moment to do me a tiny
"All right," said the wind. "What is it?"
"Oh, I only wanted to ask you to shake me a little!" said the flower. "I
have opened some shutters in my head and I should like to have my seeds
sent a good distance out into the world. But you must be sure not to
tell the others, or they might think of doing the same thing."
"Lord preserve us!" said the wind and laughed. "I shall be dumb as a
And then he gave the flower a thorough good shaking and went on.
"Dear Wind, dear Wind!" cried the dandelion. "Where are you off to so
"Is there anything the matter with you too?" asked the wind.
"Not a bit," said the dandelion. "I only wanted to have a word with
"Then be quick about it," said the wind, "for I am thinking seriously of
"You see," said the dandelion, "it's very difficult for us this year to
get all our seed settled; and yet one would like to do the best one can
for one's children. How the bell-flower and the poppy and the poor
burdock will manage I do not know, upon my word. But the thistle and I
have put our heads together and have hit upon an expedient. You must
"That makes four in all," thought the wind and could not help laughing
"What are you laughing at?" asked the dandelion. "I saw you whispering
with the bell-flower and the poppy just now; but, if you give them the
least hint, I won't tell you a thing."
"What do you take me for?" said the wind. "Mum's the word! What is it
"We've put a nice little umbrella up at the top of our seed. It's the
sweetest little toy that you can think of. If you only just blow on me,
it will fly up in the air and fall down wherever you please. Will you?"
"Certainly," said the wind.
And—whoosh!—he blew over the thistle and the dandelion and carried all
their seed with him across the fields.
The burdock still stood pondering. She was thick-headed and that was why
she took so long. But, in the evening, a hare jumped over the hedge:
"Hide me! Save me!" he cried. "Farmer's Trust is after me."
"Creep round behind the hedge," said the burdock; "then I'll hide you."
"You don't look to me as if you were cut out for that job," said the
hare; "but beggars can't be choosers."
And then he hid behind the hedge.
"Now, in return, you might take some of my seeds to the fields with
you," said the burdock; and she broke off some of her many burs and
scattered them over the hare.
Soon after, Trust came running along the hedge.
"Here's the dog!" whispered the burdock; and, with a bound, the hare
leapt over the hedge into the rye.
"Have you seen the hare?" asked Trust. "I can see that I'm too old for
hunting. One of my eyes is quite blind and my nose can no longer find
"I have seen him," replied the burdock, "and, if you will do me a
service, I will show you where he is."
Trust agreed and the burdock struck some of her burs
in his back and said:
"Would you just rub yourself against the stile here, inside the field?
But that's not where you're to look for the hare, for I saw him run to
the wood a little while ago."
Trust carried the burs to the field and ran off into the wood.
"So now I've got my seeds settled," said the burdock and laughed to
herself contentedly. "But goodness knows how the thistle is going to
manage and the dandelion and the bell-flower and the poppy!"
Next spring, already, the rye was standing quite high:
"We are very well off, considering all things," said the rye-stalks.
"Here we are in a great company that contains none but our own good
family. And we don't hamper one another in the very least. It's really
an excellent thing to be in the service of men."
But, one fine day, a number of little poppies and thistles and
dandelions and burdocks and bell-flowers stuck their heads up above the
ground in the midst of the luxuriant rye.
"What's the meaning of this now?" asked the rye. "How in the world did
you get here?"
And the poppy looked at the bell-flower and asked:
"How did you get here?"
And the thistle looked at the burdock and asked:
"How on earth did you get here?"
They were all equally surprised and it was some time before they had
done explaining. But the rye was the angriest and, when she had heard
all about Trust and the hare and the wind, she was quite furious:
"Thank goodness that the farmer shot the hare in the autumn," said she.
"Trust, luckily, is dead too, the old scamp! So I have no further
quarrel with them. But how dare the wind carry the seed of the weeds
on to the farmer's land!"
"Softly, softly, you green Rye!" said the wind, who had been lying
behind the hedge and had heard all this. "I ask no one's leave, but do
as I please; and now I'm going to make you bow before me."
Then he blew over the young rye so that the thin stalks swayed to and
"You see," he said, "the farmer looks after his rye, for that is his
business. But the rain and the sun and I interest ourselves in all of
you alike, without distinction of persons. To us the poor weeds are
quite as attractive as the rich corn."
Now the farmer came out to look at his rye and, when he saw the weeds
that stood in the fields, he was vexed and scratched his head and began
to scold in his turn:
"That's that dirty Wind," he said to Jens and Ole, who stood beside him
with their hands in the pockets of their new trousers.
But the wind dashed up and blew off the hats of all three of them and
trundled them ever so far away. The farmer and his boys ran after them,
but the wind was the quicker. At last, he rolled the hats into the pond;
and the farmer and his boys had to stand ever so long and fish for them
before they got them out.