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| Home | Reading Room Andersen's Fairy Tales

Andersen's Fairy Tales
by Hans Christian Andersen

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FIRST STORY. Which Treats of a Mirror and of the Splinters

Now then, let us begin. When we are at the end of the story, we shall know

more than we know now: but to begin.

Once upon a time there was a wicked sprite, indeed he was the most mischievous

of all sprites. One day he was in a very good humor, for he had made a mirror

with the power of causing all that was good and beautiful when it was

reflected therein, to look poor and mean; but that which was good-for-nothing

and looked ugly was shown magnified and increased in ugliness. In this mirror

the most beautiful landscapes looked like boiled spinach, and the best persons

were turned into frights, or appeared to stand on their heads; their faces

were so distorted that they were not to be recognised; and if anyone had a

mole, you might be sure that it would be magnified and spread over both nose

and mouth.

"That's glorious fun!" said the sprite. If a good thought passed through a

man's mind, then a grin was seen in the mirror, and the sprite laughed

heartily at his clever discovery. All the little sprites who went to his

school--for he kept a sprite school--told each other that a miracle had

happened; and that now only, as they thought, it would be possible to see how

the world really looked. They ran about with the mirror; and at last there was

not a land or a person who was not represented distorted in the mirror. So

then they thought they would fly up to the sky, and have a joke there. The

higher they flew with the mirror, the more terribly it grinned: they could

hardly hold it fast. Higher and higher still they flew, nearer and nearer to

the stars, when suddenly the mirror shook so terribly with grinning, that it

flew out of their hands and fell to the earth, where it was dashed in a

hundred million and more pieces. And now it worked much more evil than before;

for some of these pieces were hardly so large as a grain of sand, and they

flew about in the wide world, and when they got into people's eyes, there they

stayed; and then people saw everything perverted, or only had an eye for that

which was evil. This happened because the very smallest bit had the same power

which the whole mirror had possessed. Some persons even got a splinter in

their heart, and then it made one shudder, for their heart became like a lump

of ice. Some of the broken pieces were so large that they were used for

windowpanes, through which one could not see one's friends. Other pieces were

put in spectacles; and that was a sad affair when people put on their glasses

to see well and rightly. Then the wicked sprite laughed till he almost choked,

for all this tickled his fancy. The fine splinters still flew about in the

air: and now we shall hear what happened next.

SECOND STORY. A Little Boy and a Little Girl

In a large town, where there are so many houses, and so many people, that

there is no roof left for everybody to have a little garden; and where, on

this account, most. persons are obliged to content themselves with flowers in

pots; there lived two little children, who had a garden somewhat larger than a

flower-pot. They were not brother and sister; but they cared for each other as

much as if they were. Their parents lived exactly opposite. They inhabited two

garrets; and where the roof of the one house joined that of the other, and the

gutter ran along the extreme end of it, there was to each house a small

window: one needed only to step over the gutter to get from one window to the


The children's parents had large wooden boxes there, in which vegetables for

the kitchen were planted, and little rosetrees besides: there was a rose in

each box, and they grew splendidly. They now thought of placing the boxes

across the gutter, so that they nearly reached from one window to the other,

and looked just like two walls of flowers. The tendrils of the peas hung down

over the boxes; and the rose-trees shot up long branches, twined round the

windows, and then bent towards each other: it was almost like a triumphant

arch of foliage and flowers. The boxes were very high, and the children knew

that they must not creep over them; so they often obtained permission to get

out of the windows to each other, and to sit on their little stools among the

roses, where they could play delight fully. In winter there was an end of this

pleasure. The windows were often frozen over; but then they heated copper

farthings on the stove, and laid the hot farthing on the windowpane, and then

they had a capital peep-hole, quite nicely rounded; and out of each peeped a

gentle friendly eye--it was the little boy and the little girl who were

looking out. His name was Kay, hers was Gerda. In summer, with one jump, they

could get to each other; but in winter they were obliged first to go down the

long stairs, and then up the long stairs again: and out-of-doors there was

quite a snow-storm.

"It is the white bees that are swarming," said Kay's old grandmother.

"Do the white bees choose a queen?" asked the little boy; for he knew that the

honey-bees always have one.

"Yes," said the grandmother, "she flies where the swarm hangs in the thickest

clusters. She is the largest of all; and she can never remain quietly on the

earth, but goes up again into the black clouds. Many a winter's night she

flies through the streets of the town, and peeps in at the windows; and they

then freeze in so wondrous a manner that they look like flowers."

"Yes, I have seen it," said both the children; and so they knew that it was


"Can the Snow Queen come in?" said the little girl.

"Only let her come in!" said the little boy. "Then I'd put her on the stove,

and she'd melt."

And then his grandmother patted his head and told him other stories.

In the evening, when little Kay was at home, and half undressed, he climbed up

on the chair by the window, and peeped out of the little hole. A few

snow-flakes were falling, and one, the largest of all, remained lying on the

edge of a flower-pot.

The flake of snow grew larger and larger; and at last it was like a young

lady, dressed in the finest white gauze, made of a million little flakes like

stars. She was so beautiful and delicate, but she was of ice, of dazzling,

sparkling ice; yet she lived; her eyes gazed fixedly, like two stars; but

there was neither quiet nor repose in them. She nodded towards the window, and

beckoned with her hand. The little boy was frightened, and jumped down from

the chair; it seemed to him as if, at the same moment, a large bird flew past

the window.

The next day it was a sharp frost--and then the spring came; the sun shone,

the green leaves appeared, the swallows built their nests, the windows were

opened, and the little children again sat in their pretty garden, high up on

the leads at the top of the house.

That summer the roses flowered in unwonted beauty. The little girl had learned

a hymn, in which there was something about roses; and then she thought of her

own flowers; and she sang the verse to the little boy, who then sang it with


"The rose in the valley is blooming so sweet,

And angels descend there the children to greet."

And the children held each other by the hand, kissed the roses, looked up at

the clear sunshine, and spoke as though they really saw angels there. What

lovely summer-days those were! How delightful to be out in the air, near the

fresh rose-bushes, that seem as if they would never finish blossoming!

Kay and Gerda looked at the picture-book full of beasts and of birds; and it

was then--the clock in the church-tower was just striking five--that Kay said,

"Oh! I feel such a sharp pain in my heart; and now something has got into my


The little girl put her arms around his neck. He winked his eves; now there

was nothing to be seen.

"I think it is out now," said he; but it was not. It was just one of those

pieces of glass from the magic mirror that had got into his eye; and poor Kay

had got another piece right in his heart. It will soon become like ice. It did

not hurt any longer, but there it was.

"What are you crying for?" asked he. "You look so ugly! There's nothing the

matter with me. Ah," said he at once, "that rose is cankered! And look, this

one is quite crooked! After all, these roses are very ugly! They are just like

the box they are planted in!" And then he gave the box a good kick with his

foot, and pulled both the roses up.

"What are you doing?" cried the little girl; and as he perceived her fright,

he pulled up another rose, got in at the window, and hastened off from dear

little Gerda.

Afterwards, when she brought her picture-book, he asked, "What horrid beasts

have you there?" And if his grandmother told them stories, he always

interrupted her; besides, if he could manage it, he would get behind her, put

on her spectacles, and imitate her way of speaking; he copied all her ways,

and then everybody laughed at him. He was soon able to imitate the gait and

manner of everyone in the street. Everything that was peculiar and displeasing

in them--that Kay knew how to imitate: and at such times all the people said,

"The boy is certainly very clever!" But it was the glass he had got in his

eye; the glass that was sticking in his heart, which made him tease even

little Gerda, whose whole soul was devoted to him.

His games now were quite different to what they had formerly been, they were

so very knowing. One winter's day, when the flakes of snow were flying about,

he spread the skirts of his blue coat, and caught the snow as it fell.

"Look through this glass, Gerda," said he. And every flake seemed larger, and

appeared like a magnificent flower, or beautiful star; it was splendid to look


"Look, how clever!" said Kay. "That's much more interesting than real flowers!

They are as exact as possible; there i not a fault in them, if they did not


It was not long after this, that Kay came one day with large gloves on, and

his little sledge at his back, and bawled right into Gerda's ears, "I have

permission to go out into the square where the others are playing"; and off he

was in a moment.

There, in the market-place, some of the boldest of the boys used to tie their

sledges to the carts as they passed by, and so they were pulled along, and got

a good ride. It was so capital! Just as they were in the very height of their

amusement, a large sledge passed by: it was painted quite white, and there was

someone in it wrapped up in a rough white mantle of fur, with a rough white

fur cap on his head. The sledge drove round the square twice, and Kay tied on

his sledge as quickly as he could, and off he drove with it. On they went

quicker and quicker into the next street; and the person who drove turned

round to Kay, and nodded to him in a friendly manner, just as if they knew

each other. Every time he was going to untie his sledge, the person nodded to

him, and then Kay sat quiet; and so on they went till they came outside the

gates of the town. Then the snow began to fall so thickly that the little boy

could not see an arm's length before him, but still on he went: when suddenly

he let go the string he held in his hand in order to get loose from the

sledge, but it was of no use; still the little vehicle rushed on with the

quickness of the wind. He then cried as loud as he could, but no one beard

him; the snow drifted and the sledge flew on, and sometimes it gave a jerk as

though they were driving over hedges and ditches. He was quite frightened, and

he tried to repeat the Lord's Prayer; but all he could do, he was only able to

remember the multiplication table.

The snow-flakes grew larger and larger, till at last they looked just like

great white fowls. Suddenly they flew on one side; the large sledge stopped,

and the person who drove rose up. It was a lady; her cloak and cap were of

snow. She was tall and of slender figure, and of a dazzling whiteness. It was

the Snow Queen.

"We have travelled fast," said she; "but it is freezingly cold. Come under my

bearskin." And she put him in the sledge beside her, wrapped the fur round

him, and he felt as though he were sinking in a snow-wreath.

"Are you still cold?" asked she; and then she kissed his forehead. Ah! it was

colder than ice; it penetrated to his very heart, which was already almost a

frozen lump; it seemed to him as if he were about to die--but a moment more

and it was quite congenial to him, and he did not remark the cold that was

around him.

"My sledge! Do not forget my sledge!" It was the first thing he thought of. It

was there tied to one of the white chickens, who flew along with it on his

back behind the large sledge. The Snow Queen kissed Kay once more, and then he

forgot little Gerda, grandmother, and all whom he had left at his home.

"Now you will have no more kisses," said she, "or else I should kiss you to


Kay looked at her. She was very beautiful; a more clever, or a more lovely

countenance he could not fancy to himself; and she no longer appeared of ice

as before, when she sat outside the window, and beckoned to him; in his eyes

she was perfect, he did not fear her at all, and told her that he could

calculate in his head and with fractions, even; that he knew the number of

square miles there were in the different countries, and how many inhabitants

they contained; and she smiled while he spoke. It then seemed to him as if

what he knew was not enough, and he looked upwards in the large huge empty

space above him, and on she flew with him; flew high over,the black clouds,

while the storm moaned and whistled as though it were singing some old tune.

On they flew over woods and lakes, over seas, and many lands; and beneath them

the chilling storm rushed fast, the wolves howled, the snow crackled; above

them flew large screaming crows, but higher up appeared the moon, quite large

and bright; and it was on it that Kay gazed during the long long winter's

night; while by day he slept at the feet of the Snow Queen.

THIRD STORY. Of the Flower-Garden At the Old Woman's Who Understood Witchcraft

But what became of little Gerda when Kay did not return? Where could he be?

Nobody knew; nobody could give any intelligence. All the boys knew was, that

they had seen him tie his sledge to another large and splendid one, which

drove down the street and out of the town. Nobody knew where he was; many sad

tears were shed, and little Gerda wept long and bitterly; at last she said he

must be dead; that he had been drowned in the river which flowed close to the

town. Oh! those were very long and dismal winter evenings!

At last spring came, with its warm sunshine.

"Kay is dead and gone!" said little Gerda.

"That I don't believe," said the Sunshine.

"Kay is dead and gone!" said she to the Swallows.

"That I don't believe," said they: and at last little Gerda did not think so

any longer either.

"I'll put on my red shoes," said she, one morning; "Kay has never seen them,

and then I'll go down to the river and ask there."

It was quite early; she kissed her old grandmother, who was still asleep, put

on her red shoes, and went alone to the river.

"Is it true that you have taken my little playfellow? I will make you a

present of my red shoes, if you will give him back to me."

And, as it seemed to her, the blue waves nodded in a strange manner; then she

took off her red shoes, the most precious things she possessed, and threw them

both into the river. But they fell close to the bank, and the little waves

bore them immediately to land; it was as if the stream would not take what was

dearest to her; for in reality it had not got little, Kay; but Gerda thought

that she had not thrown the shoes out far enough, so she clambered into a boat

which lay among the rushes, went to the farthest end, and threw out the shoes.

But the boat was not fastened, and the motion which she occasioned, made it

drift from the shore. She observed this, and hastened to get back; but before

she could do so, the boat was more than a yard from the land, and was gliding

quickly onward.

Little Gerda was very frightened, and began to cry; but no one heard her

except the sparrows, and they could not carry her to land; but they flew along

the bank, and sang as if to comfort her, "Here we are! Here we are!" The boat

drifted with the stream, little Gerda sat quite still without shoes, for they

were swimming behind the boat, but she could not reach them, because the boat

went much faster than they did.

The banks on both sides were beautiful; lovely flowers, venerable trees, and

slopes with sheep and cows, but not a human being was to be seen.

"Perhaps the river will carry me to little Kay," said she; and then she grew

less sad. She rose, and looked for many hours at the beautiful green banks.

Presently she sailed by a large cherry-orchard, where was a little cottage

with curious red and blue windows; it was thatched, and before it two wooden

soldiers stood sentry, and presented arms when anyone went past.

Gerda called to them, for she thought they were alive; but they, of course,

did not answer. She came close to them, for the stream drifted the boat quite

near the land.

Gerda called still louder, and an old woman then came out of the cottage,

leaning upon a crooked stick. She had a large broad-brimmed hat on, painted

with the most splendid flowers.

"Poor little child!" said the old woman. "How did you get upon the large rapid

river, to be driven about so in the wide world!" And then the old woman went

into the water, caught hold of the boat with her crooked stick, drew it to the

bank, and lifted little Gerda out.

And Gerda was so glad to be on dry land again; but she was rather afraid of

the strange old woman.

"But come and tell me who you are, and how you came here," said she.

And Gerda told her all; and the old woman shook her head and said, "A-hem!

a-hem!" and when Gerda had told her everything, and asked her if she had not

seen little Kay, the woman answered that he had not passed there, but he no

doubt would come; and she told her not to be cast down, but taste her

cherries, and look at her flowers, which were finer than any in a

picture-book, each of which could tell a whole story. She then took Gerda by

the hand, led her into the little cottage, and locked the door.

The windows were very high up; the glass was red, blue, and green, and the

sunlight shone through quite wondrously in all sorts of colors. On the table

stood the most exquisite cherries, and Gerda ate as many as she chose, for she

had permission to do so. While she was eating, the old woman combed her hair

with a golden comb, and her hair curled and shone with a lovely golden color

around that sweet little face, which was so round and so like a rose.

"I have often longed for such a dear little girl," said the old woman. "Now

you shall see how well we agree together"; and while she combed little Gerda's

hair, the child forgot her foster-brother Kay more and more, for the old woman

understood magic; but she was no evil being, she only practised witchcraft a

little for her own private amusement, and now she wanted very much to keep

little Gerda. She therefore went out in the garden, stretched out.her crooked

stick towards the rose-bushes, which, beautifully as they were blowing, all

sank into the earth and no one could tell where they had stood. The old woman

feared that if Gerda should see the roses, she would then think of her own,

would remember little Kay, and run away from her.

She now led Gerda into the flower-garden. Oh, what odour and what loveliness

was there! Every flower that one could think of, and of every season, stood

there in fullest bloom; no picture-book could be gayer or more beautiful.

Gerda jumped for joy, and played till the sun set behind the tall cherry-tree;

she then had a pretty bed, with a red silken coverlet filled with blue

violets. She fell asleep, and had as pleasant dreams as ever a queen on her


The next morning she went to play with the flowers in the warm sunshine, and

thus passed away a day. Gerda knew every flower; and, numerous as they were,

it still seemed to Gerda that one was wanting, though she did not know which.

One day while she was looking at the hat of the old woman painted with

flowers, the most beautiful of them all seemed to her to be a rose. The old

woman had forgotten to take it from her hat when she made the others vanish in

the earth. But so it is when one's thoughts are not collected. "What!" said

Gerda. "Are there no roses here?" and she ran about amongst the flowerbeds,

and looked, and looked, but there was not one to be found. She then sat down

and wept; but her hot tears fell just where a rose-bush had sunk; and when her

warm tears watered the ground, the tree shot up suddenly as fresh and blooming

as when it had been swallowed up. Gerda kissed the roses, thought of her own

dear roses at home, and with them of little Kay.

"Oh, how long I have stayed!" said the little girl. "I intended to look for

Kay! Don't you know where he is?" she asked of the roses. "Do you think he is

dead and gone?"

"Dead he certainly is not," said the Roses. "We have been in the earth where

all the dead are, but Kay was not there."

"Many thanks!" said little Gerda; and she went to the other flowers, looked

into their cups, and asked, "Don't you know where little Kay is?"

But every flower stood in the sunshine, and dreamed its own fairy tale or its

own story: and they all told her very many things, but not one knew anything

of Kay.

Well, what did the Tiger-Lily say?

"Hearest thou not the drum? Bum! Bum! Those are the only two tones. Always

bum! Bum! Hark to the plaintive song of the old woman, to the call of the

priests! The Hindoo woman in her long robe stands upon the funeral pile; the

flames rise around her and her dead husband, but the Hindoo woman thinks on

the living one in the surrounding circle; on him whose eyes burn hotter than

the flames--on him, the fire of whose eyes pierces her heart more than the

flames which soon will burn her body to ashes. Can the heart's flame die in

the flame of the funeral pile?"

"I don't understand that at all," said little Gerda.

"That is my story," said the Lily.

What did the Convolvulus say?

"Projecting over a narrow mountain-path there hangs an old feudal castle.

Thick evergreens grow on the dilapidated walls, and around the altar, where a

lovely maiden is standing: she bends over the railing and looks out upon the

rose. No fresher rose hangs on the branches than she; no appleblossom carried

away by the wind is more buoyant! How her silken robe is rustling!

"'Is he not yet come?'"

"Is it Kay that you mean?" asked little Gerda.

"I am speaking about my story--about my dream," answered the Convolvulus.

What did the Snowdrops say?

"Between the trees a long board is hanging--it is a swing. Two little girls

are sitting in it, and swing themselves backwards and forwards; their frocks

are as white as snow, and long green silk ribands flutter from their bonnets.

Their brother, who is older than they are, stands up in the swing; he twines

his arms round the cords to hold himself fast, for in one hand he has a little

cup, and in the other a clay-pipe. He is blowing soap-bubbles. The swing

moves, and the bubbles float in charming changing colors: the last is still

hanging to the end of the pipe, and rocks in the breeze. The swing moves. The

little black dog, as light as a soap-bubble, jumps up on his hind legs to try

to get into the swing. It moves, the dog falls down, barks, and is angry. They

tease him; the bubble bursts! A swing, a bursting bubble--such is my song!"

"What you relate may be very pretty, but you tell it in so melancholy a

manner, and do not mention Kay."

What do the Hyacinths say?

"There were once upon a time three sisters, quite transparent, and very

beautiful. The robe of the one was red, that of the second blue, and that of

the third white. They danced hand in hand beside the calm lake in the clear

moonshine. They were not elfin maidens, but mortal children. A sweet fragrance

was smelt, and the maidens vanished in the wood; the fragrance grew

stronger--three coffins, and in them three lovely maidens, glided out of the

forest and across the lake: the shining glow-worms flew around like little

floating lights. Do the dancing maidens sleep, or are they dead? The odour of

the flowers says they are corpses; the evening bell tolls for the dead!"

"You make me quite sad," said little Gerda. "I cannot help thinking of the

dead maidens. Oh! is little Kay really dead? The Roses have been in the earth,

and they say no."

"Ding, dong!" sounded the Hyacinth bells. "We do not toll for little Kay; we

do not know him. That is our way of singing, the only one we have."

And Gerda went to the Ranunculuses, that looked forth from among the shining

green leaves.

"You are a little bright sun!" said Gerda. "Tell me if you know where I can

find my playfellow."

And the Ranunculus shone brightly, and looked again at Gerda. What song could

the Ranunculus sing? It was one that said nothing about Kay either.

"In a small court the bright sun was shining in the first days of spring. The

beams glided down the white walls of a neighbor's house, and close by the

fresh yellow flowers were growing, shining like gold in the warm sun-rays. An

old grandmother was sitting in the air; her grand-daughter, the poor and

lovely servant just come for a short visit. She knows her grandmother. There

was gold, pure virgin gold in that blessed kiss. There, that is my little

story," said the Ranunculus.

"My poor old grandmother!" sighed Gerda. "Yes, she is longing for me, no

doubt: she is sorrowing for me, as she did for little Kay. But I will soon

come home, and then I will bring Kay with me. It is of no use asking the

flowers; they only know their own old rhymes, and can tell me nothing." And

she tucked up her frock, to enable her to run quicker; but the Narcissus gave

her a knock on the leg, just as she was going to jump over it. So she stood

still, looked at the long yellow flower, and asked, "You perhaps know

something?" and she bent down to the Narcissus. And what did it say?

"I can see myself--I can see myself I Oh, how odorous I am! Up in the little

garret there stands, half-dressed, a little Dancer. She stands now on one leg,

now on both; she despises the whole world; yet she lives only in imagination.

She pours water out of the teapot over a piece of stuff which she holds in her

hand; it is the bodice; cleanliness is a fine thing. The white dress is

hanging on the hook; it was washed in the teapot, and dried on the roof. She

puts it on, ties a saffron-colored kerchief round her neck, and then the gown

looks whiter. I can see myself--I can see myself!"

"That's nothing to me," said little Gerda. "That does not concern me." And

then off she ran to the further end of the garden.

The gate was locked, but she shook the rusted bolt till it was loosened, and

the gate opened; and little Gerda ran off barefooted into the wide world. She

looked round her thrice, but no one followed her. At last she could run no

longer; she sat down on a large stone, and when she looked about her, she saw

that the summer had passed; it was late in the autumn, but that one could not

remark in the beautiful garden, where there was always sunshine, and where

there were flowers the whole year round.

"Dear me, how long I have staid!" said Gerda. "Autumn is come. I must not rest

any longer." And she got up to go further.

Oh, how tender and wearied her little feet were! All around it looked so cold

and raw: the long willow-leaves were quite yellow, and the fog dripped from

them like water; one leaf fell after the other: the sloes only stood full of

fruit, which set one's teeth on edge. Oh, how dark and comfortless it was in

the dreary world!


FOURTH STORY. The Prince and Princess

Gerda was obliged to rest herself again, when, exactly opposite to her, a

large Raven came hopping over the white snow. He had long been looking at

Gerda and shaking his head; and now he said, "Caw! Caw!" Good day! Good day!

He could not say it better; but he felt a sympathy for the little girl, and

asked her where she was going all alone. The word "alone" Gerda understood

quite well, and felt how much was expressed by it; so she told the Raven her

whole history, and asked if he had not seen Kay.

The Raven nodded very gravely, and said, "It may be--it may be!"

"What, do you really think so?" cried the little girl; and she nearly squeezed

the Raven to death, so much did she kiss him.

"Gently, gently," said the Raven. "I think I know; I think that it may be

little Kay. But now he has forgotten you for the Princess."

"Does he live with a Princess?" asked Gerda.

"Yes--listen," said the Raven; "but it will be difficult for me to speak your

language. If you understand the Raven language I can tell you better."

"No, I have not learnt it," said Gerda; "but my grandmother understands it,

and she can speak gibberish too. I wish I had learnt it."

"No matter," said the Raven; "I will tell you as well as I can; however, it

will be bad enough." And then he told all he knew.

"In the kingdom where we now are there lives a Princess, who is

extraordinarily clever; for she has read all the newspapers in the whole

world, and has forgotten them again--so clever is she. She was lately, it is

said, sitting on her throne--which is not very amusing after all--when she

began humming an old tune, and it was just, 'Oh, why should I not be married?'

"That song is not without its meaning,' said she, and so then she was

determined to marry; but she would have a husband who knew how to give an

answer when he was spoken to--not one who looked only as if he were a great

personage, for that is so tiresome. She then had all the ladies of the court

drummed together; and when they heard her intention, all were very pleased,

and said, 'We are very glad to hear it; it is the very thing we were thinking

of.' You may believe every word I say, said the Raven; "for I have a tame

sweetheart that hops about in the palace quite free, and it was she who told

me all this.

"The newspapers appeared forthwith with a border of hearts and the initials of

the Princess; and therein you might read that every good-looking young man was

at liberty to come to the palace and speak to the Princess; and he who spoke

in such wise as showed he felt himself at home there, that one the Princess

would choose for her husband.

"Yes, Yes," said the Raven, "you may believe it; it is as true as I am sitting

here. People came in crowds; there was a crush and a hurry, but no one was

successful either on the first or second day. They could all talk well enough

when they were out in the street; but as soon as they came inside the

palace gates, and saw the guard richly dressed in silver, and the lackeys in

gold on the staircase, and the large illuminated saloons, then they were

abashed; and when they stood before the throne on which the Princess was

sitting, all they could do was to repeat the last word they had uttered, and

to hear it again did not interest her very much. It was just as if the people

within were under a charm, and had fallen into a trance till they came out

again into the street; for then--oh, then--they could chatter enough. There

was a whole row of them standing from the town-gates to the palace. I was

there myself to look," said the Raven. "They grew hungry and thirsty; but from

the palace they got nothing whatever, not even a glass of water. Some of the

cleverest, it is true, had taken bread and butter with them: but none shared

it with his neighbor, for each thought, 'Let him look hungry, and then the

Princess won't have him."'

"But Kay--little Kay," said Gerda, "when did he come? Was he among the


"Patience, patience; we are just come to him. It was on the third day when a

little personage without horse or equipage, came marching right boldly up to

the palace; his eyes shone like yours, he had beautiful long hair, but his

clothes were very shabby."

"That was Kay," cried Gerda, with a voice of delight. "Oh, now I've found

him!" and she clapped her hands for joy.

"He had a little knapsack at his back," said the Raven.

"No, that was certainly his sledge," said Gerda; "for when he went away he

took his sledge with him."

"That may be," said the Raven; "I did not examine him so minutely; but I know

from my tame sweetheart, that when he came into the court-yard of the palace,

and saw the body-guard in silver, the lackeys on the staircase, he was not the

least abashed; he nodded, and said to them, 'It must be very tiresome to stand

on the stairs; for my part, I shall go in.' The saloons were gleaming with

lustres--privy councillors and excellencies were walking about barefooted, and

wore gold keys; it was enough to make any one feel uncomfortable. His boots

creaked, too, so loudly, but still he was not at all afraid."

"That's Kay for certain," said Gerda. "I know he had on new boots; I have

heard them creaking in grandmama's room."

"Yes, they creaked," said the Raven. "And on he went boldly up to the

Princess, who was sitting on a pearl as large as a spinning-wheel. All the

ladies of the court, with their attendants and attendants' attendants, and all

the cavaliers, with their gentlemen and gentlemen's gentlemen, stood round;

and the nearer they stood to the door, the prouder they looked. It was hardly

possible to look at the gentleman's gentleman, so very haughtily did he stand

in the doorway."

"It must have been terrible," said little Gerda. "And did Kay get the


"Were I not a Raven, I should have taken the Princess myself, although I am

promised. It is said he spoke as well as I speak when I talk Raven language;

this I learned from my tame sweetheart. He was bold and nicely behaved; he had

not come to woo the Princess, but only to hear her wisdom. She pleased him,

and he pleased her."

"Yes, yes; for certain that was Kay," said Gerda. "He was so clever; he could

reckon fractions in his head. Oh, won't you take me to the palace?"

"That is very easily said," answered the Raven. "But how are we to manage it?

I'll speak to my tame sweetheart about it: she must advise us; for so much I

must tell you, such a little girl as you are will never get permission to


"Oh, yes I shall," said Gerda; "when Kay hears that I am here, he will come

out directly to fetch me."

"Wait for me here on these steps," said the Raven.He moved his head backwards

and forwards and flew away.

The evening was closing in when the Raven returned. "Caw --caw!" said he. "She

sends you her compliments; and here is a roll for you. She took it out of the

kitchen, where there is bread enough. You are hungry, no doubt. It is not

possible for you to enter the palace, for you are barefooted: the guards in

silver, and the lackeys in gold, would not allow it; but do not cry, you shall

come in still. My sweetheart knows a little back stair that leads to the

bedchamber, and she knows where she can get the key of it."

And they went into the garden in the large avenue, where one leaf was falling

after the other; and when the lights in the palace had all gradually

disappeared, the Raven led little Gerda to the back door, which stood half


Oh, how Gerda's heart beat with anxiety and longing! It was just as if she had

been about to do something wrong; and yet she only wanted to know if little

Kay was there. Yes, he must be there. She called to mind his intelligent eyes,

and his long hair, so vividly, she could quite see him as he used to laugh

when they were sitting under the roses at home. "He will, no doubt, be glad to

see you--to hear what a long way you have come for his sake; to know how

unhappy all at home were when he did not come back."

Oh, what a fright and a joy it was!

They were now on the stairs. A single lamp was burning there; and on the floor

stood the tame Raven, turning her head on every side and looking at Gerda, who

bowed as her grandmother had taught her to do.

"My intended has told me so much good of you, my dear young lady," said the

tame Raven. "Your tale is very affecting. If you will take the lamp, I will go

before. We will go straight on, for we shall meet no one."

"I think there is somebody just behind us," said Gerda; and something rushed

past: it was like shadowy figures on the wall; horses with flowing manes and

thin legs, huntsmen, ladies and gentlemen on horseback.

"They are only dreams," said the Raven. "They come to fetch the thoughts of

the high personages to the chase; 'tis well, for now you can observe them in

bed all the better. But let me find, when you enjoy honor and distinction,

that you possess a grateful heart."

"Tut! That's not worth talking about," said the Raven of the woods.

They now entered the first saloon, which was of rose-colored satin, with

artificial flowers on the wall. Here the dreams were rushing past, but they

hastened by so quickly that Gerda could not see the high personages. One hall

was more magnificent than the other; one might indeed well be abashed; and at

last they came into the bedchamber. The ceiling of the room resembled a large

palm-tree with leaves of glass, of costly glass; and in the middle, from a

thick golden stem, hung two beds, each of which resembled a lily. One was

white, and in this lay the Princess; the other was red, and it was here that

Gerda was to look for little Kay. She bent back one of the red leaves, and saw

a brown neck. Oh! that was Kay! She called him quite loud by name, held the

lamp towards him--the dreams rushed back again into the chamber--he awoke,

turned his head, and--it was not little Kay!

The Prince was only like him about the neck; but he was young and handsome.

And out of the white lily leaves the Princess peeped, too, and asked what was

the matter. Then little Gerda cried, and told her her whole history, and all

that the Ravens had done for her.

"Poor little thing!" said the Prince and the Princess. They praised the Ravens

very much, and told them they were not at all angry with them, but they were

not to do so again. However, they should have a reward. "Will you fly about

here at liberty," asked the Princess; "or would you like to have a fixed

appointment as court ravens, with all the broken bits from the kitchen?"

And both the Ravens nodded, and begged for a fixed appointment; for they

thought of their old age, and said, "It is a good thing to have a provision

for our old days."

And the Prince got up and let Gerda sleep in his bed, and more than this he

could not do. She folded her little hands and thought, "How good men and

animals are!" and she then fell asleep and slept soundly. All the dreams flew

in again, and they now looked like the angels; they drew a little sledge, in

which little Kay sat and nodded his head; but the whole was only a dream, and

therefore it all vanished as soon as she awoke.

The next day she was dressed from head to foot in silk and velvet. They

offered to let her stay at the palace, and lead a happy life; but she begged

to have a little carriage with a horse in front, and for a small pair of

shoes; then, she said, she would again go forth in the wide world and look for


Shoes and a muff were given her; she was, too, dressed very nicely; and when

she was about to set off, a new carriage stopped before the door. It was of

pure gold, and the arms of the Prince and Princess shone like a star upon it;

the coachman, the footmen, and the outriders, for outriders were there, too,

all wore golden crowns. The Prince and the Princess assisted her into the

carriage themselves, and wished her all success. The Raven of the woods, who

was now married, accompanied her for the first three miles. He sat beside

Gerda, for he could not bear riding backwards; the other Raven stood in the

doorway,and flapped her wings; she could not accompany Gerda, because she

suffered from headache since she had had a fixed appointment and ate so much.

The carriage was lined inside with sugar-plums, and in the seats were fruits

and gingerbread.

"Farewell! Farewell!" cried Prince and Princess; and Gerda wept, and the Raven

wept. Thus passed the first miles; and then the Raven bade her farewell, and

this was the most painful separation of all. He flew into a tree, and beat his

black wings as long as he could see the carriage, that shone from afar like a


FIFTH STORY. The Little Robber Maiden

They drove through the dark wood; but the carriage shone like a torch, and it

dazzled the eyes of the robbers, so that they could not bear to look at it.

"'Tis gold! 'Tis gold!" they cried; and they rushed forward, seized the

horses, knocked down the little postilion, the coachman, and the servants, and

pulled little Gerda out of the carriage.

"How plump, how beautiful she is! She must have been fed on nut-kernels," said

the old female robber, who had a long, scrubby beard, and bushy eyebrows that

hung down over her eyes. "She is as good as a fatted lamb! How nice she will

be!" And then she drew out a knife, the blade of which shone so that it was

quite dreadful to behold.

"Oh!" cried the woman at the same moment. She had been bitten in the ear by

her own little daughter, who hung at her back; and who was so wild and

unmanageable, that it was quite amusing to see her. "You naughty child!" said

the mother: and now she had not time to kill Gerda.

"She shall play with me," said the little robber child. "She shall give me her

muff, and her pretty frock; she shall sleep in my bed!" And then she gave her

mother another bite, so that she jumped, and ran round with the pain; and the

Robbers laughed, and said, "Look, how she is dancing with the little one!"

"I will go into the carriage," said the little robber maiden; and she would

have her will, for she was very spoiled and very headstrong. She and Gerda got

in; and then away they drove over the stumps of felled trees, deeper and

deeper into the woods. The little robber maiden was as tall as Gerda, but

stronger, broader-shouldered, and of dark complexion; her eyes were quite

black; they looked almost melancholy. She embraced little Gerda, and said,

"They shall not kill you as long as I am not displeased with you. You are,

doubtless, a Princess?"

"No," said little Gerda; who then related all that had happened to her, and

how much she cared about little Kay.

The little robber maiden looked at her with a serious air, nodded her head

slightly, and said, "They shall not kill you, even if I am angry with you:

then I will do it myself"; and she dried Gerda's eyes, and put both her hands

in the handsome muff, which was so soft and warm.

At length the carriage stopped. They were in the midst of the court-yard of a

robber's castle. It was full of cracks from top to bottom; and out of the

openings magpies and rooks were flying; and the great bull-dogs, each of which

looked as if he could swallow a man, jumped up, but they did not bark, for

that was forbidden.

In the midst of the large, old, smoking hall burnt a great fire on the stone

floor. The smoke disappeared under the stones, and had to seek its own egress.

In an immense caldron soup was boiling; and rabbits and hares were being

roasted on a spit.

"You shall sleep with me to-night, with all my animals," said the little

robber maiden. They had something to eat and drink; and then went into a

corner, where straw and carpets were lying. Beside them, on laths and perches,

sat nearly a hundred pigeons, all asleep, seemingly; but yet they moved a

little when the robber maiden came. "They are all mine," said she, at the

same time seizing one that was next to her by the legs and shaking it so that

its wings fluttered. "Kiss it," cried the little girl, and flung the pigeon in

Gerda's face. "Up there is the rabble of the wood, continued she, pointing to

several laths which were fastened before a hole high up in the wall; "that's

the rabble; they would all fly away immediately, if they were not well

fastened in. And here is my dear old Bac"; and she laid hold of the horns of a

reindeer, that had a bright copper ring round its neck, and was tethered to

the spot. "We are obliged to lock this fellow in too, or he would make his

escape. Every evening I tickle his neck with my sharp knife; he is so

frightened at it!" and the little girl drew forth a long knife, from a crack

in the wall, and let it glide over the Reindeer's neck. The poor animal

kicked; the girl laughed, and pulled Gerda into bed with her.

"Do you intend to keep your knife while you sleep?" asked Gerda; looking at it

rather fearfully.

"I always sleep with the knife," said the little robber maiden. "There is no

knowing what may happen. But tell me now, once more, all about little Kay; and

why you have started off in the wide world alone." And Gerda related all, from

the very beginning: the Wood-pigeons cooed above in their cage, and the others

slept. The little robber maiden wound her arm round Gerda's neck, held the

knife in the other hand, and snored so loud that everybody could hear her; but

Gerda could not close her eyes, for she did not know whether she was to live

or die. The robbers sat round the fire, sang and drank; and the old female

robber jumped about so, that it was quite dreadful for Gerda to see her.

Then the Wood-pigeons said, "Coo! Cool We have seen little Kay! A white hen

carries his sledge; he himself sat in the carriage of the Snow Queen, who

passed here, down just over the wood, as we lay in our nest. She blew upon us

young ones; and all died except we two. Coo! Coo!"

"What is that you say up there?" cried little Gerda. "Where did the Snow Queen

go to? Do you know anything about it?"

"She is no doubt gone to Lapland; for there is always snow and ice there. Only

ask the Reindeer, who is tethered there."

"Ice and snow is there! There it is, glorious and beautiful!" said the

Reindeer. "One can spring about in the large shining valleys! The Snow Queen

has her summer-tent there; but her fixed abode is high up towards the North

Pole, on the Island called Spitzbergen."

"Oh, Kay! Poor little Kay!" sighed Gerda.

"Do you choose to be quiet?" said the robber maiden. "If you don't, I shall

make you."

In the morning Gerda told her all that the Wood-pigeons had said; and the

little maiden looked very serious, but she nodded her head, and said, "That's

no matter-that's no matter. Do you know where Lapland lies!" she asked of the


"Who should know better than I?" said the animal; and his eyes rolled in his

head. "I was born and bred there--there I leapt about on the fields of snow.

"Listen," said the robber maiden to Gerda. "You see that the men are gone;

but my mother is still here, and will remain. However, towards morning she

takes a draught out of the large flask, and then she sleeps a little: then I

will do something for you." She now jumped out of bed, flew to her mother;

with her arms round her neck, and pulling her by the beard, said, "Good

morrow, my own sweet nanny-goat of a mother." And her mother took hold of her

nose, and pinched it till it was red and blue; but this was all done out of

pure love.

When the mother had taken a sup at her flask, and was having a nap, the little

robber maiden went to the Reindeer, and said, "I should very much like to give

you still many a tickling with the sharp knife, for then you are so amusing;

however, I will untether you, and help you out, so that you may go back to

Lapland. But you must make good use of your legs; and take this little girl

for me to the palace of the Snow Queen, where her playfellow is. You have

heard, I suppose, all she said; for she spoke loud enough, and you were


The Reindeer gave a bound for joy. The robber maiden lifted up little Gerda,

and took the precaution to bind her fast on the Reindeer's back; she even gave

her a small cushion to sit on. "Here are your worsted leggins, for it will be

cold; but the muff I shall keep for myself, for it is so very pretty. But I

do not wish you to be cold. Here is a pair of lined gloves of my mother's;

they just reach up to your elbow. On with them! Now you look about the hands

just like my ugly old mother!"

And Gerda wept for joy.

"I can't bear to see you fretting," said the little robber maiden. "This is

just the time when you ought to look pleased. Here are two loaves and a ham

for you, so that you won't starve." The bread and the meat were fastened to

the Reindeer's back; the little maiden opened the door, called in all the

dogs, and then with her knife cut the rope that fastened the animal, and said

to him, "Now, off with you; but take good care of the little girl!"

And Gerda stretched out her hands with the large wadded gloves towards the

robber maiden, and said, "Farewell!" and the Reindeer flew on over bush and

bramble through the great wood, over moor and heath, as fast as he could go.

"Ddsa! Ddsa!" was heard in the sky. It was just as if somebody was sneezing.

"These are my old northern-lights," said the Reindeer, "look how they gleam!

And on he now sped still quicker--day and night on he went: the loaves were

consumed, and the ham too; and now they were in Lapland.

SIXTH STORY. The Lapland Woman and the Finland Woman

Suddenly they stopped before a little house, which looked very miserable. The

roof reached to the ground; and the door was so low, that the family were

obliged to creep upon their stomachs when they went in or out. Nobody was at

home except an old Lapland woman, who was dressing fish by the light of an oil

lamp. And the Reindeer told her the whole of Gerda's history, but first of all

his own; for that seemed to him of much greater importance. Gerda was so

chilled that she could not speak.

"Poor thing," said the Lapland woman, "you have far to run still. You have

more than a hundred miles to go before you get to Finland; there the Snow

Queen has her country-house, and burns blue lights every evening. I will give

you a few words from me, which I will write on a dried haberdine, for paper I

have none; this you can take with you to the Finland woman, and she will be

able to give you more information than I can."

When Gerda had warmed herself, and had eaten and drunk, the Lapland woman

wrote a few words on a dried haberdine, begged Gerda to take care of them, put

her on the Reindeer, bound her fast, and away sprang the animal. "Ddsa! Ddsa!"

was again heard in the air; the most charming blue lights burned the whole

night in the sky, and at last they came to Finland. They knocked at the

chimney of the Finland woman; for as to a door, she had none.

There was such a heat inside that the Finland woman herself went about

almost naked. She was diminutive and dirty. She immediately loosened little

Gerda's clothes, pulled off her thick gloves and boots; for otherwise the heat

would have been too great--and after laying a piece of ice on the Reindeer's

head, read what was written on the fish-skin. She read it three times: she

then knew it by heart; so she put the fish into the cupboard --for it might

very well be eaten, and she never threw anything away.

Then the Reindeer related his own story first, and afterwards that of little

Gerda; and the Finland woman winked her eyes, but said nothing.

"You are so clever," said the Reindeer; "you can, I know, twist all the winds

of the world together in a knot. If the seaman loosens one knot, then he has a

good wind; if a second, then it blows pretty stiffly; if he undoes the third

and fourth, then it rages so that the forests are upturned. Will you give the

little maiden a potion, that she may possess the strength of twelve men, and

vanquish the Snow Queen?"

"The strength of twelve men!" said the Finland woman. "Much good that would

be!" Then she went to a cupboard, and drew out a large skin rolled up. When

she had unrolled it, strange characters were to be seen written thereon; and

the Finland woman read at such a rate that the perspiration trickled down her


But the Reindeer begged so hard for little Gerda, and Gerda looked so

imploringly with tearful eyes at the Finland woman, that she winked, and drew

the Reindeer aside into a corner, where they whispered together, while the

animal got some fresh ice put on his head.

"'Tis true little Kay is at the Snow Queen's, and finds everything there quite

to his taste; and he thinks it the very best place in the world; but the

reason of that is, he has a splinter of glass in his eye, and in his heart.

These must be got out first; otherwise he will never go back to mankind, and

the Snow Queen will retain her power over him."

"But can you give little Gerda nothing to take which will endue her with power

over the whole?"

"I can give her no more power than what she has already. "Don't you see how

great it is? Don't you see how men and animals are forced to serve her; how

well she gets through the world barefooted? She must not hear of her power

from us; that power lies in her heart, because she is a sweet and innocent

child! If she cannot get to the Snow Queen by herself, and rid little Kay of

the glass, we cannot help her. Two miles hence the garden of the Snow Queen

begins; thither you may carry the little girl. Set her down by the large bush

with red berries, standing in the snow; don't stay talking, but hasten back as

fast as possible." And now the Finland woman placed little Gerda on the

Reindeer's back, and off he ran with all imaginable speed.

"Oh! I have not got my boots! I have not brought my gloves!" cried little

Gerda. She remarked she was without them from the cutting frost; but the

Reindeer dared not stand still; on he ran till he came to the great bush with

the red berries, and there he set Gerda down, kissed her mouth, while large

bright tears flowed from the animal's eyes, and then back he went as fast as

possible. There stood poor Gerda now, without shoes or gloves, in the very

middle of dreadful icy Finland.

She ran on as fast as she could. There then came a whole regiment of

snow-flakes, but they did not fall from above, and they were quite bright and

shining from the Aurora Borealis. The flakes ran along the ground, and the

nearer they came the larger they grew. Gerda well remembered how large and

strange the snow-flakes appeared when she once saw them through a

magnifying-glass; but now they were large and terrific in another

manner--they were all alive. They were the outposts of the Snow Queen. They

had the most wondrous shapes; some looked like large ugly porcupines; others

like snakes knotted together, with their heads sticking out; and others,

again, like small fat bears, with the hair standing on end: all were of

dazzling whiteness--all were living snow-flakes.

Little Gerda repeat~d the Lord's Prayer. The cold was so intense that she

could see her own breath, which came like smoke out of her mouth. It grew

thicker and thicker, and took the form of little angels, that grew more and

more when they touched the earth. All had helms on their heads, and lances

and shields in their hands; they increased in numbers; and when Gerda had

finished the Lord's Prayer, she was surrounded by a whole legion. They thrust

at the horrid snow-flakes with their spears, so that they flew into a thousand

pieces; and little Gerda walked on bravely and in security. The angels patted

her hands and feet; and then she felt the cold less, and went on quickly

towards the palace of the Snow Queen.

But now we shall see how Kay fared. He never thought of Gerda, and least of

all that she was standing before the palace.

SEVENTH STORY. What Took Place in the Palace of the Snow Queen, and what

Happened Afterward

The walls of the palace were of driving snow, and the windows and doors of

cutting winds. There were more than a hundred halls there, according as the

snow was driven by the winds. The largest was many miles in extent; all were

lighted up by the powerful Aurora Borealis, and all were so large, so empty,

so icy cold, and so resplendent! Mirth never reigned there; there was never

even a little bear-ball, with the storm for music, while the polar bears went

on their hindlegs and showed off their steps. Never a little tea-party of

white young lady foxes; vast, cold, and empty were the halls of the Snow

Queen. The northern-lights shone with such precision that one could tell

exactly when they were at their highest or lowest degree of brightness. In the

middle of the empty, endless hall of snow, was a frozen lake; it was cracked

in a thousand pieces, but each piece was so like the other, that it seemed the

work of a cunning artificer. In the middle of this lake sat the Snow Queen

when she was at home; and then she said she was sitting in the Mirror of

Understanding, and that this was the only one and the best thing in the world.

Little Kay was quite blue, yes nearly black with cold; but he did not observe

it, for she had kissed away all feeling of cold from his body, and his heart

was a lump of ice. He was dragging along some pointed flat pieces of ice,

which he laid together in all possible ways, for he wanted to make something

with them; just as we have little flat pieces of wood to make geometrical

figures with, called the Chinese Puzzle. Kay made all sorts of figures, the

most complicated, for it was an ice-puzzle for the understanding. In his eyes

the figures were extraordinarily beautiful, and of the utmost importance; for

the bit of glass which was in his eye caused this. He found whole figures

which represented a written word; but he never could manage to represent just

the word he wanted--that word was "eternity"; and the Snow Queen had said, "If

you can discover that figure, you shall be your own master, and I will make

you a present of the whole world and a pair of new skates." But he could not

find it out.

" am going now to warm lands," said the Snow Queen. "I must have a look down

into the black caldrons." It was the volcanoes Vesuvius and Etna that she

meant. "I will just give them a coating of white, for that is as it ought to

be; besides, it is good for the oranges and the grapes." And then away she

flew, and Kay sat quite alone in the empty halls of ice that were miles long,

and looked at the blocks of ice, and thought and thought till his skull was

almost cracked. There he sat quite benumbed and motionless; one would have

imagined he was frozen to death.

Suddenly little Gerda stepped through the great portal into the palace. The

gate was formed of cutting winds; but Gerda repeated her evening prayer, and

the winds were laid as though they slept; and the little maiden entered the

vast, empty, cold halls. There she beheld Kay: she recognised him, flew to

embrace him, and cried out, her arms firmly holding him the while, "Kay, sweet

little Kay! Have I then found you at last?"

But he sat quite still, benumbed and cold. Then little Gerda shed burning

tears; and they fell on his bosom, they penetrated to his heart, they thawed

the lumps of ice, and consumed the splinters of the looking-glass; he looked

at her, and she sang the hymn:

"The rose in the valley is blooming so sweet,

And angels descend there the children to greet."

Hereupon Kay burst into tears; he wept so much that the splinter rolled out of

his eye, and he recognised her, and shouted, "Gerda, sweet little Gerda! Where

have you been so long? And where have I been?" He looked round him. "How cold

it is here!" said he. "How empty and cold!" And he held fast by Gerda, who

laughed and wept for joy. It was so beautiful, that even the blocks of ice

danced about for joy; and when they were tired and laid themselves down, they

formed exactly the letters which the Snow Queen had told him to find out; so

now he was his own master, and he would have the whole world and a pair of new

skates into the bargain.

Gerda kissed his cheeks, and they grew quite blooming; she kissed his eyes,

and they shone like her own; she kissed his hands and feet, and he was again

well and merry. The Snow Queen might come back as soon as she liked; there

stood his discharge written in resplendent masses of ice.

They took each other by the hand, and wandered forth out of the large hall;

they talked of their old grandmother, and of the roses upon the roof; and

wherever they went, the winds ceased raging, and the sun burst forth. And when

they reached the bush with the red berries, they found the Reindeer waiting

for them. He had brought another, a young one, with him, whose udder was

filled with milk, which he gave to the little ones, and kissed their lips.

They then carried Kay and Gerda--first to the Finland woman, where they

warmed themselves in the warm room, and learned what they were to do on their

journey home; and they went to the Lapland woman, who made some new

clothes for them and repaired their sledges.

The Reindeer and the young hind leaped along beside them, and accompanied them

to the boundary of the country. Here the first vegetation peeped forth; here

Kay and Gerda took leave of the Lapland woman. "Farewell! Farewell!" they all

said. And the first green buds appeared, the first little birds began to

chirrup; and out of the wood came, riding on a magnificent horse, which Gerda

knew (it was one of the leaders in the golden carriage), a young damsel with a

bright-red cap on her head, and armed with pistols. It was the little robber

maiden, who, tired of being at home, had determined to make a journey to the

north; and afterwards in another direction, if that did not please her. She

recognised Gerda immediately, and Gerda knew her too. It was a joyful meeting.

"You are a fine fellow for tramping about," said she to little Kay; "I should

like to know, faith, if you deserve that one should run from one end of the

world to the other for your sake?"

But Gerda patted her cheeks, and inquired for the Prince and Princess.

"They are gone abroad," said the other.

"But the Raven?" asked little Gerda.

"Oh! The Raven is dead," she answered. "His tame sweetheart is a widow, and

wears a bit of black worsted round her leg; she laments most piteously, but

it's all mere talk and stuff! Now tell me what you've been doing and how you

managed to catch him."

And Gerda and Kay both told their story.

And "Schnipp-schnapp-schnurre-basselurre," said the robber maiden; and she

took the hands of each, and promised that if she should some day pass through

the town where they lived, she would come and visit them; and then away she

rode. Kay and Gerda took each other's hand: it was lovely spring weather, with

abundance of flowers and of verdure. The church-bells rang, and the children

recognised the high towers, and the large town; it was that in which they

dwelt. They entered and hastened up to their grandmother's room, where

everything was standing as formerly. The clock said "tick! tack!" and the

finger moved round; but as they entered, they remarked that they were now

grown up. The roses on the leads hung blooming in at the open window; there

stood the little children's chairs, and Kay and Gerda sat down on them,

holding each other by the hand; they both had forgotten the cold empty

splendor of the Snow Queen, as though it had been a dream. The grandmother sat

in the bright sunshine, and read aloud from the Bible: "Unless ye become as

little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."

And Kay and Gerda looked in each other's eyes, and all at once they understood

the old hymn:

"The rose in the valley is blooming so sweet,

And angels descend there the children to greet."

There sat the two grown-up persons; grown-up, and yet children; children at

least in heart; and it was summer-time; summer, glorious summer!











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