Treetop Tall


Kurt lived in Switzerland with his family. He had six big brothers. Hans and Josef were the biggest, and Franz and Peter were next in size. Then came Jon and Fritz. Even Fritz was much bigger than Kurt.

One day the six big brothers were going riding on their six big brown horses.

“I would like to ride a horse,” said Kurt.

All the big brothers looked down at Kurt. “You are much too little, Kurt,” said Hans, and away they galloped.

The next day the six big brothers were going hunting for a big black bear.

“I would like to go hunting,” said Kurt.

All the big brothers looked down at Kurt. “You are too little, Kurt,” said Josef.

“Grow a little more, and then you can help hunt the black bear.”

Another day the six big brothers were going to climb a high mountain covered with snow.

“I would like to climb the mountain,” said Kurt.

All the big brothers looked down at him.

Kurt sighed. “I know, I know. I am much too little.”

“But you will grow,” said Franz kindly. “Then you can join us.”

“It takes so long to grow,” said Kurt, and he sat down to wait for his six big brothers to return.

One day the snow came in big feathery flakes. All the land turned marshmallow white.

“Stay here with Mother, little Kurt,” said Peter. “We are going with Father to get a Christmas tree.”

When they came back, they brought the tree into the house. It stood tall and green and smelled of the woods.

“There, little brother. How do you like our Christmas tree?” asked Jon.

“It’s beautiful!” declared Kurt.

“We will make it even more beautiful,” said Fritz. “See what Hans is bringing from the loft.”

Hans brought down a big box. Kurt went to see what was in it.

“Gold and silver!” he cried. “And red and blue and green! May I put them on the Christmas tree?”

“We’re sorry, Kurt,” said Josef, “but you are too little.”

“Yes, I know,” said Kurt. He sat down to watch his six big brothers put the shiny ornaments on the Christmas tree.

The six big brothers laughed and sang happy songs, but not little Kurt. He just sat and watched.

At last the tree was decorated. They all stepped back to admire it. “No,” said Franz, “it’s not finished yet. It must have one thing more; then it will be truly beautiful.”

“The gold star for the top,” said Peter. “Where is it?”

“It’s not in the box,” declared Jon.

Hans said, “I will go back up to look for it.”

“I see it,” he called down, “but it is back in the corner where I can’t reach it.”

He came down and Fritz went up. “I can’t reach it either,” Fritz said when he came back down.

They all looked at Kurt. “Little Kurt,” Josef said, “would you try to reach the star?”

Kurt ran over to Hans, who boosted him up the ladder. Soon Kurt was backing out of the loft, holding the gold star carefully in his hands. “The star is beautiful,” said Kurt. “Please let me put it on the tree.”

“Oh,” said Franz, “you are much too—”

“I know, I know,” said Kurt. “I’m much too little.” And he turned away from the Christmas tree.

Hans looked after him. “Kurt, you are much too little to reach that high, but let’s see how fast you can grow!” He picked Kurt up and put him on his shoulders.

“Now you are taller than any of us,” said Peter.

Hans held Kurt high—as high as the top of the Christmas tree. Kurt took the beautiful, shiny gold star and put it on the very top of the tree.

“Beautiful! Beautiful!” everyone chorused. “And it’s all because we have a little brother!”

The six big brothers laughed and sang—

“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How faithful are thy branches …”

And Kurt sang with them.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Doug Roy