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The Selfish Giant
Adapted by Marek Vít
Every afternoon, when they were coming from school, the children went to play in the Giant's garden. It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass and beautiful flowers. There were twelve peach-trees which were covered with beautiful pink blossoms every spring, and every autumn there was rich fruit. The birds sat in the trees and sang so sweetly that the children stopped their games and listened to them. “How happy we are here!” they cried.
One day the Giant came back. He had been gone for seven years but now he had decided to return to his castle. When he arrived, he saw the children playing in the garden.
“What are you doing here?” he cried, and the children ran away.
“My garden is my garden,” said the Giant. “Everyone can understand that, and I will not let anybody play in it.” So he built a high wall all round the garden, and put up a big sign.
DO NOT ENTER
He was a very selfish Giant.
Now the poor children had nowhere to play. After school, they always walked around the wall and talked about the beautiful garden inside. “How happy we were there,” they said.
Then the Spring came, and there were flowers and little birds all over the country. Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was still winter. The birds did not want to sing in it because there were no children, and the trees did not have any blossoms. The only people who were happy were the Snow and the Frost. “Spring has forgotten this garden,” they cried, “so we will live here all the year round.” The Snow covered up the grass, and the Frost painted the trees white. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He filled the garden with his loud, deep voice. “This is a wonderful place,” he said, “we must invite the Hail!” So the Hail came. Every day he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could.
“I cannot understand why the Spring has not come yet,” said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold white garden. “I hope the weather will change.”
But the Spring and Summer did not come. In the Autumn, all gardens were full of fruit, but there was none in the Giant's garden. “He is too selfish,” the Autumn said. So it was always Winter there, and the North Wind, and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced happily among the trees.
One morning the Giant was lying in bed when he heard some lovely music. It was so sweet! It thought that it was the most beautiful music in the world. “I believe the Spring has come at last,” said the Giant, and he jumped out of bed and looked out.
What did he see?
He saw something wonderful. The children had come in through a small hole in the wall, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree there was a little child. And the trees were so happy that the children were back again, and they covered themselves with blossoms. The birds were flying about happily, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene, only in one corner it was still winter. A little boy was standing there and he was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was crying. The tree was still covered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing above it. “Climb up, little boy,” said the Tree. It lowered its branches, but the boy was too small.
And the Giant's heart melted as he looked out. “How selfish I have been!” he said. “Now I know why the Spring did not come here. I will put that little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and children will play in my garden for ever and ever.” He was very sorry for what he had done.
So he went downstairs, opened the front door and went out into the garden. But when the children saw him, they were so afraid that they all ran away, and the garden became winter again. Only the little boy did not run, because his eyes were full of tears and he did not see the Giant coming. And the Giant took him gently in his hand and put him up into the tree. And at once the tree was covered with blossoms, and the birds came and sang on it. The little boy put his arms round the Giant's neck and kissed him. And the other children, when they saw that the Giant was not evil anymore, ran back, and with them came the Spring. “It is your garden now, little children,” said the Giant and knocked down the wall. And the people found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.
They played all day, and in the evening the children came to the Giant to say goodbye.
“But where is your little friend?” he said. “Where is the boy I put into the tree.” The Giant loved him the best.
“We don't know,” answered the children. “He has gone away.”
“You must tell him to come tomorrow,” said the Giant.
“But we don't know where he lives,” the children answered and the Giant felt very sad.
Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy was never seen again. The Giant was very kind to all the children, but he wanted to see the little boy. “How I would like to see him!” he always said.
Years passed and the Giant grew very old and weak. He could not play with the children anymore, so he sat in a large armchair and watched them at their games, and admired his garden. “I have many beautiful flowers,” he said, “but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all.”
One winter morning he looked out of his window and could not believe his eyes. In the corner of the garden was a tree covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were all golden, and there was silver fruit on them. Under the tree stood the little boy he had loved.
The Giant was very happy and he ran out into the garden. He came near to the child. Then he became very angry and said, “Who hurt you?” There were marks of two nails on the child's hands and marks of two nails on his little feet.
“Who hurt you?” cried the Giant. “Tell me and I will take my big sword and kill him.”
“No!” answered the child. “These are the wounds of Love.”
“Who are you?” said the Giant in wonder and went down on his knees before the little child.
And the child smiled and said to the Giant, “You let me play in your garden, today you will come with me to my garden, to Paradise.”
And when the children came that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.
Original written by Oscar Wilde (public domain)
Adapted by Marek Vít, © 2006
Illustrated by Markéta Vydrová © 2006
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