Every afternoon, as the children were coming back from school, they used to go and play in the giant's garden.
It was a beautiful large garden. Beautiful flowers grew in the grass. There were twelve fruit trees. In the spring the fruit trees were covered with red and white flowers, and later in the year they bore rich fruit. The birds sang in the trees so sweetly that sometimes the children stopped their games and listened to them. "How happy we are here!" they cried to each other.
One day the giant came back. He had been away for seven years. When he arrived, he saw the children playing in his garden. "What are you doing here?" he cried in a very loud voice. The children ran away.
"My own garden is my own garden," said the giant. "I will allow no one to play in it but myself. "So he built a high wall round it and put up a notice: Keep out. He was a very selfish giant.
So the children had nowhere to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was dusty and full of hard stone, and they did not like it. They wandered round the high walls when their lessons were finished and talked about the beautiful garden inside. "How happy we were there!" they said to each other.
The spring came, and there were flowers and little birds all over the country. But in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was till winter the birds did not like to sing in it because there were no children, and the trees forgot to bear flowers. Snow covered up the grass, and ice covered all the trees with silver. The north wind came, and driving rain.
"I can't understand why the spring is so late in coming," said the Selfish Giant as he sat at the window of his house and looked out at his cold white garden. "I hope that there will be a change in the weather."
But the spring never came, nor the summer. When there was golden fruit in every other garden, there was no fruit in the the giant's garden. It was always winter there with the north wind, and snow, and ice, and driving rain.
The giant was lying in bed one morning when he heard some beautiful music. It was a little bird singing outside his window. It was so long since he had heard the song of a bird that it seemed to him the most beautiful music in the world. Then the north wind and the rain stopped.
"I believe that spring has come at last!" said the giant. He jumped out of bed and looked out.
What did he see?
He saw a most wonderful sight. The children had come in though a hole in the wall and were sitting in the branches of the trees. There was a little child in every tree that he could see. The trees were so glad to have the children back that they had covered themselves with flowers: the birds were flying about and singing with joy, and flowers were looking up through the green grass.
A little boy was standing in the farthest corner of the garden. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, but was wandering round it and weeping. That tree was still covered with ice and snow.