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It was in the month of May. The wind still blew cold, but bushes and trees, field and meadow, all alike said the spring had come. There was store of flowers even in the wild hedges; and there spring carried on his affairs, and preached from a little apple tree, where one branch hung fresh and blooming, covered with delicate pink blossoms that were just ready to open. The Apple Tree Branch knew well enough how beautiful he was, for the knowledge is inherent in the blade as well as in the blood; and consequently the Branch was not surprised when a nobleman's carriage stopped opposite to him on the road, and the young countess said that that apple branch was the loveliest thing one could behold, a very emblem of spring in its most charming form. And the Branch was broken off, and she held it in her delicate hand, and sheltered it with her silk parasol. Then they drove to the castle, where there were lofty halls and splendid apartments. Pure white curtains fluttered round the open windows, and beautiful flowers stood in shining transparent vases; and in one of these, which looked as if it had been cut out of fresh-fallen snow, the Apple Branch was placed among some fresh light twigs of beech. It was charming to behold. But the Branch became proud; and this was quite like human nature.
People of various kinds came through the room, and according to their rank they might express their admiration. A few said nothing at all, and others again said too much, and the Apple Tree Branch soon got to understand that there was a difference in human beings just as among plants.
'Some are created for beauty, and some for use; and there are some which one can do without altogether,' thought the Apple Branch.
And as he stood just in front of the open window, from whence he could see into the garden and across the fields, he had flowers and plants enough to contemplate and to think about, for there were rich plants and humble plants— some very humble indeed.