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Nik Marcel (2Language Books)

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Snow Queen (English)

Author: Hans Christian Andersen (1845)

La Reine des Neiges

Source: “Ebooks Libres et Gratuits”


The Snow Queen

Translator: H. P. Paull (1872)


Edited & Partly

Translated Anew by

Nik Marcel (2013)


Copyright © 2013 Nik Marcel

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be decompiled, reverse engineered, reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) now known or hereinafter invented, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this book.

The English language translation, and the compartmentalised structure and formatting for dual-language text, is copyright.

2Language Books

(A Bilingual Dual-Language Project)



The Snow Queen

First Story

Which Describes a Mirror and the Broken Fragments

Here we are! Let us commence. When we get to the end we shall know more than we do now. He was a very wicked sorcerer; one of the worst; he was the devil in person.

One day, when he was in a merry mood, he made a mirror whose uniqueness was that everything good or beautiful reflected in it almost shrank to nothing, while everything that was worth nothing, and everything that was bad, looked increased in size and worse than ever.

The most beautiful landscapes appeared like boiled spinach, and the most beautiful people became hideous and caused fear; or they looked as if they stood on their heads and had no bodies. Their faces were so deformed that they were not recognisable, and even if they had just one freckle, it would cover the whole face (including the nose and mouth). The demon found this very amusing.

When a good or pious thought passed through the mind of any one, the glass distorted it; and then how the demon laughed at his cunning invention.

All those who went to the sorcerer’s school — for he had created a school for sorcery — recounted everywhere that a miracle had been accomplished there. For the first time, they would say, one could see how the world and human beings really were.

They travelled to all corners of the world with their mirror, and soon there was not a land nor a people who had not been deformed in the mirror.

Then, the apprentice sorcerers wanted to fly up to heaven itself, to mock the angels and Our Lord. The higher they flew with the mirror, the more they sniggered.

It was enough that they could keep hold of it; yet, they flew higher and higher, and closer and closer to God and the angels. The mirror began to tremble so strongly in their hands that it slipped and fell. It made a dizzying drop onto the earth, where it broke into a thousand pieces – that is to say, into millions, or even billions of pieces. The mirror was now even more dangerous than before.

Some of the fragments were not as big as a grain of sand, and they flew around the world. If, by bad luck, someone had one of these enter their eye, they saw everything distorted, or could not see other than the worst in things; for even the smallest fragment of mirror retained the same power as the mirror when it was whole.

Several people even had the misfortune to have a splinter blown into their hearts, and then, what horror: their hearts became a block of ice.

Some other pieces were, on the contrary, so large that they could be used as window panes. In this case it was not good to look at your friends through them. Other little bits were made into glasses, and this made everything look worse still.

If someone put them on to see and judge something in all fairness, the Devil would laugh till his belly almost burst – it tickled him so agreeably.

However, this was not the end of things. In the air flew still a number of these little fragments of glass!

Listen and you shall learn more about one of them.

Second Story

A Little Boy and a Little Girl

In a large town – where there were so many houses and so many people that there was not even enough room for each family to have their own little garden – two poor little children had a little garden of sorts.

They were not brother and sister, but they loved each other almost as much as if they had been. Their parents lived right opposite each, where the roof of one house almost touched the roof of another, separated only by the guttering.

One little window opened in each house; such that one could step across the gap to pass from one apartment to another.

The two families each had (in front of the window) a large box growing potted garden herbs, including those used in the kitchen; and in each box there also grew a single rose, which progressed admirably.

One day, the parents had the idea of placing the boxes right across the guttering gap, from one window to the other: thus forming a miniature garden.

Sweet-peas drooped over the boxes, and the rose bushes climbed up outside the windows; they leant in towards each other, forming an almost triumphal arch of greenery and flowers.

As the boxes were up very high, the children knew they must not climb upon them just anytime; but with permission, they would often step from one house to the other, and sit upon their little stools almost under the rose-bushes; and they played nowhere better than there.

In winter, all this pleasure came to an end. The windows were covered with frost. However, each child would then warm a copper penny on the stove, and place it for an instant on the frozen window pane.

It formed a little round hole, and so through each window one could spy a sweet little eye: that of the little boy on one side, and that of the little girl on the other. His name was Kay, and she was called Gerda.

In summer, in one leap they would be in the others house; but in winter they had to first descend a number of levels on one side, and then go back up the other side; and outside the snow whirled wildly.

“See there, the white bees are swarming,” said Kay’s grandmother.

“Do they also have a queen?” asked the little boy.

“To be sure they have,” said the grandmother. “She is flying there where the swarm is thickest. She is the largest of them all, and never stays on the ground; she rises up into the dark clouds.”

“Yes, we have seen this often,” said both the children, and they knew it must be true.

“Can the Snow Queen come in here?” asked the little girl.

“She has just to come,” said the boy. “I will set her on the burning stove, and then she will soon melt.”

One evening, a half undressed Little Kay climbed on a chair by the window and peeped out through the little hole.

A few flakes of snow were falling outside, and one of them, rather larger than the rest, landed on the edge of one of the flower boxes.

This snowflake grew gradually, until it finally became the figure of a woman, dressed in the finest white veils, made from millions of star shaped snowflakes.

She was beautiful, so beautiful... made of shining and glittering ice; yet she was so alive. Her eyes sparkled like two bright stars, but they had neither peace nor repose.

Looking towards the window, she nodded and waved her hand. The little boy was frightened and sprang from the chair. At that moment it seemed as if a large bird passed by, in full flight, right outside the window.

The following day was cold and clear, and then came the thaw, and the spring.

That summer, the roses blossomed magnificently. Gerda had learnt a hymn that spoke of roses, and then she thought of their own roses, and she sang the hymn to the little boy, and he sang along with her:

“The roses bloom in the valley where baby Jesus comes to parley.”

The two children held each other by the hand, kissed the roses, and looked at the bright sunshine coming from the heavens; it seemed to speak to them as if Jesus was there.

Those were splendid summer days. It was so pleasant being outside among the fresh rose bushes, which seemed as if they would never cease blooming.

One day Kay and Gerda sat looking at a book full of pictures of animals and birds, and then just as the clock in the church tower struck twelve, Kay abruptly cried out:

“Oh, something has struck my heart, and some dust has entered in my eye.”

The little girl put her arm round his neck, and looked into his eye, but she could see nothing.

“I think it is gone,” he said.

But it was not gone at all! It was one of those bits of the mirror: that magic mirror, of which we have spoken; the horrible glass that made everything great and beautiful, in reflection become small and ugly; while all that was wicked and vile (including the slightest flaw), took on increased importance and sharpness.

Poor little Kay had also received a splinter in his heart, which very quickly turned into a lump of ice. He felt no more pain, but the harm was already done.

“Why do you cry?” said he at last; “it makes you look ugly. Am I complaining about anything now? Oh! That rose has been eaten by a worm; and look at the one that has grown quite crooked. These roses are basically very ugly.”

Then he kicked the boxes with his foot, and pulled up some roses.

“Kay, what are you doing?” cried the little girl.

When he saw how frightened she was, he pulled up another rose, and jumped back through his own window, leaving the charming little Gerda alone.

When she afterwards brought out the picture book, he declared that it was only fit for babies; and when the grandmother told any wise stories, he had always to make objection. Sometimes he would get behind her chair, put on a pair of spectacles, and imitate her very cleverly, including her manner of speaking; it made everyone laugh.

Soon he began to mimic the speech and walk of all the people in the street: to mock them.

One might like to say: “That boy there is very clever!” However, it was the mirror dust that had gone into his eye, and the glass splinter driven into his heart, that was the cause of his transformation. He even teased little Gerda, who loved him with all her heart.

His games changed completely too: they became much more intellectual. One winter’s day, as the snow whirled outside, he brought out a large magnifying glass. Then he spread out his blue coat, and let the snow fall upon it.

“Look in the magnifying glass Gerda,” he said.

Each flake became immense, and resembled either a splendid flower or a glittering star (with ten sides).

“Is it not clever, and much more interesting than real flowers? There is not a single flaw in them. They would be perfect flowers if they did not melt.”

Soon after Kay arrived carrying thick gloves; he had his sledge on his back. He shouted out to Gerda: “I have permission to go sledding in the great square, where the others play.” And away he went.

In the great square, the boldest among the boys would often tie their sledges to the country people’s carts, and go with them a good way. This was great fun.

In the middle of the fun that day, a great sledge came by. It was painted all white, and in it sat a person wrapped in a white fur coat – and wearing a white cap also.

The sledge drove twice round the square, and Kay quickly fastened his own little sledge to it.

Down the road it went, with Kay following; and it went faster and faster. Then, the person who drove turned round and nodded pleasantly at Kay, just as if she recognised him. Whenever Kay tried to loosen his little sledge the driver nodded, so he sat still. They were soon at the gates of the village, and then even beyond there.

Then the snow began to fall so heavily that the little boy could not see anything in front of him on this frightful course; then he suddenly grabbed at the cord that attached him to the large sled – so as to free himself – but it was of no use. His little sledge was firmly fixed, and made a cracking pace behind the great sled.

Then he took to calling out loudly, but nobody heard him. The snow whipped him, and the sledge flew onwards. Every now and then it gave a jump as if it were skipping over ditches or mounds of earth.

The boy was frightened, and tried to say a prayer, but the only thing that came to mind was the multiplication table. The snowflakes became larger and larger; in the end one might say they looked like great white houses.

The great sled skidded to one side and stopped, and the person who had driven it rose up. Her coat and the cap were made entirely of snow, and she was a shining, tall, white lady: it was the Snow Queen.

“We have made good progress,” said she, “but you are almost frozen; here, come into my fur-skin.”

Then she sat him beside her in the great sled, and wrapped him in the coat. He felt as if he was sinking into the deep snow.

“Are you still cold,” she asked, as she kissed him on the forehead.

Her kiss was colder than ice; it went quite through to his heart, which was already almost a lump of ice.

He felt as if he were going to die, but only for a moment. Soon after, he felt quite well, and did not notice the cold any more.

“My sledge, do not forget my sledge!” This was the last thought connecting him to his former self.

The sledge was attached to a white chicken, which flew behind them, carrying it on its back.

The Snow Queen kissed little Kay again on the forehead, and then he sank into complete oblivion: he had forgotten little Gerda, his grandmother, and everyone at home.

“Now you must have no more kisses,” she said, “or I should kiss you to death.”

Kay looked at her. She was so beautiful; he could not imagine a more intelligent and charming face. She did not now seem to be made only of ice, like the day he had seen her through his window – when she had made signs of friendship.

On this day, in his eyes she was perfection itself. He no longer felt any fear towards her, and told her he could do mental arithmetic, even with fractions; and that he knew the surface area of the country, and the number of its inhabitants.

She smiled at him... Then it seemed to the boy that deep down he knew just a little of things, and he raised his eyes towards the immensity of space.

The queen drew him higher and higher. They flew over forests, oceans, gardens and countryside. Below them the icy wind whistled, the wolves howled, the snow sparkled, and the crows cawed. However, above all shone the moon, so grand and clear.

In the morning, he was asleep at the feet of the Snow Queen.

Third Story

The Garden of the Conjuror

So, what of little Gerda, now that Kay was no longer there? Where was he? No one knew; no one could explain his disappearance.

The boys knew only that he had tied his sledge to another very large one, which had turned into the street, and then went out the town gate.

Nobody knew where he was; many tears were shed, and little Gerda wept bitterly for a long time. Later they said he was dead: that he had fallen in the river that flowed past the town. Indeed, the days of that winter were long and dark.

At last came the spring, and with it the sun.

“Kay is dead and gone,” said little Gerda.

“We do not believe it,” responded the rays of sunlight.

“He is dead and gone,” she said to the swallows.

“We do not believe it,” they replied.

In the end little Gerda began to doubt it herself.

“I will put on my new red shoes,” she said one morning; “those that Kay has never seen; and then I will go down to the river, and ask for him.”

It was quite early when she kissed her old grandmother, who was still asleep; then she put on her red shoes, and went all alone out of the town gates toward the river.

“Is it true that you have taken my little playmate away from me? I will give you my red shoes as a present, if you give him back to me.”

It seemed to her that the waves were nodding. So, she took off her red shoes – the ones that she liked better than anything else – and threw them both into the river.

However, they fell near the bank, and the little waves carried them promptly back to her. It was as if the river did not want to accept them, since it had not taken little Kay.  

Gerda thought that she had not thrown the shoes out far enough. So, she climbed into a boat that lay among the reeds, and going to the farther end of the boat, she again threw the shoes into the water. 

Unfortunately, the boat was not fastened, and the movements she made sent it gliding away from the shore. She saw this straight away, and tried to return to land. Before long it was obvious she would not succeed: the boat was far off into the deep waters, and was drifting away more and more quickly.

Then little Gerda was very much frightened, and she began to cry; but no one heard her except the sparrows, and they could not carry her. They simply flew along by the shore, and sang as if to comfort her: “Here we are! Here we are!”

The boat moved along with the flow.  Poor little Gerda sat completely still. The little red shoes floated along behind, but they could not catch the boat, which was going too quickly.

Perhaps the river will carry me to little Kay, thought Gerda, and she gathered courage. She raised her head, and for hours looked at the beautiful green banks.

After a time she came to a large cherry orchard in which stood a small red house with strange red and blue windows, and a thatched roof.

Standing outside were two wooden soldiers; they presented arms to those that sailed past. Gerda called out to them, for she thought they were alive, but of course they did not answer. She approached close by them, and the flow pushed the boat right to the shore.

Gerda called out still louder, and out of the house came a very old woman. The old woman was leaning on a crutch, and she wore a large sun hat, ornamented with pretty, painted flowers.

“You poor little child,” said the old woman; “how did you come on such a strong current, carrying you so far into this vast world?”

The old woman entered into the water, and seized the boat with the hook of her crutch. She drew it to the bank, and lifted the little girl out.

Gerda was glad to make contact with dry ground, although she was rather afraid of the strange old woman.

“Come and tell me who you are, and how you came to be here” she said.

Then Gerda told her everything, while the old woman shook her head, and said, “Hem-hem;” and when she had finished, Gerda asked if she had not seen little Kay.

The old woman told her he had not passed by that way, but he very likely would come. So she told Gerda not to be sorrowful, but to taste the jam and cherries, and to admire the flowers – they were more beautiful than in any picture book, for each of them knew how to tell a story.

Then she took Gerda by the hand and they entered into the little house; the old woman closed the door.

The windows were positioned very high, and the panes were red, blue, and yellow. The daylight took on strange tints on the table, where there were delicious cherries.

Gerda had permission to eat as many as she liked. While she was eating, the old woman brushed her hair with a golden comb. Her blond hair curled and shone around such a pretty, round face – she almost resembled a rose.

“I have longed to have such a pretty little girl,” said the old woman, “and you will see how well we get along.”

While she went on combing Gerda’s hair, the little girl forgot more and more about her young comrade, for the old woman was a magician – but not a wicked witch. She dabbled in a little magic, like so, only for her own pleasure; and she had such a longing to keep the little girl with her.

This is why she went out into the garden and stretched her walking cane towards the rose bushes. Despite being laden with the most ravishing flowers, they disappeared into the dark earth. No one could any longer see where they had been.

The old woman was afraid that Gerda, on seeing the roses, would think of her own roses; and then, in recalling her little friend Kay, she would run away.

Then she took Gerda into the flower garden. Oh, what a delightful fragrance! Every type of flower – flowers for all the seasons – were there, and in full bloom. Not even a picture book could have been more varied and beautiful.

Gerda jumped for joy, and played until the moment the sun went down behind the tall cherry trees. Later, she slept in an elegant bed with red silk linen, embroidered with coloured violets. She slept and dreamed like a princess on her wedding day.

The next day she played again with the flowers in the sun – and the days passed.

Gerda knew all the flowers by name. There were so many of them, and yet, it seemed to her that one was missing; but which one, she did not know.

One day she was there, just sitting, and happened to look at the old woman’s sun hat – with the painted flowers on it – and the most beautiful flower was a rose.

The old witch had completely forgotten to make it disappear from her hat when she made all the real roses sink into the earth. One cannot think of everything!

“What,” cried Gerda, “there is not a single rose here?” She leapt about in the middle of all the flower beds – she searched and searched – but there was none to be found.

Then she sat down on the ground and wept. Her warm tears happened to fall precisely on the place where one of the rose bushes had sunk down. When the warm tears moistened the earth, the bush suddenly reappeared, blooming more magnificently than before.

Gerda put her arms around it (in an embrace), and she suddenly thought of her own roses (at her place), and she thought of her little friend Kay.

“Oh, how I have been delayed!” said the little girl. “And I had to look for Kay! Do you know where he is?” she asked the roses; “do you really believe he is dead and gone?”

“No, he is not dead,” responded the roses. “We have been under the earth, where all the dead lie, and Kay was not there!”

“Thanks; thank you so much” said little Gerda, before going to the other flowers. She looked into their little cups, and asked: “Do you know where little Kay is?”

But each flower, as it stood in the sunshine, dreamed only of its own history. Gerda heard about this and that, but none spoke of Kay.

So, what did the tiger-lily say?

“Do you hear the drum: boom, boom! There are only two notes: boom, boom!

Listen to the women’s song of mourning! Hear the cry of the priest! In her long red sari, the Hindu widow is standing by the funeral pyre.

The flames rise around her and her late husband; but the Hindu woman is thinking of the living one in the crowd around her;

of the one whose eyes burn, more fiery than the flames; of the one whose gaze touches her more deeply than the inferno that will soon reduce her body to ashes.

Can the fire of the heart be extinguished in the flames of the funeral pyre?”

“I do not understand any of that at all,” said little Gerda.

“That is my story,” said the tiger-lily.

And what did the morning-glory say?

“Over there, at the end of the narrow mountain path, lies an old castle.

Thick ivy creeps over the old ruined walls, leaf over leaf, up till the balcony, where stands a beautiful young maiden. She bends over the balustrades, and looks far along the road.

No rose on its stem is more fresh than she; no apple-blossom, torn from a tree and carried far away, floats lighter than she.

Her rich silk robe swishes as she exclaims agitatedly, ‘Will he not come?’”

“Is it Kay that you speak of?” asked Gerda.

“I only speak of my own story, in my dream,” replied the morning-glory.

What did the little snow-drop say?

“In the trees there is a long plank, suspended by two ropes: it is a swing.

Two pretty little girls – in white dresses, and with long green ribbons fluttering from their hats – are sitting upon it swinging.

Their brother, who is taller than them, stands on the swing; he has one arm round the rope, to steady himself; in one hand he holds a little bowl, and in the other a clay pipe; he is blowing soap bubbles.

The swing comes and goes; the bubbles of soap, in iridescent colours, sail off; the last one, still hanging in the pipe, sways in the breeze. The swing comes and goes.

A little black dog, almost as light as the bubbles of soap, stands on its hind legs, and wants also to ride the swing; but the swing flies off, and the dog falls; it barks and is furious; everyone laughs at him; the bubbles burst.

So there! A plank that swings; a foam bubble that bursts. That is my story.”

“It may be all very nice, what you are telling me; but you speak of this so gloomily, and you do not mention little Kay at all,” said little Gerda.

What do the hyacinths say?

“There were three beautiful sisters, fair and delicate. The dress of one was red; that of the second was blue; and that of the third was pure white.

They danced hand in hand by the calm lake, under the bright moon. However, they were not daughters of elves; but rather, children from humans.

The air was enveloped by an exquisite perfume; the young girls disappeared into the forest.

The fragrance became more and more strong. Three coffins, in which lay the three beautiful maidens, glided from a thicket in the forest, down and across the lake. The fire-flies flew around them, like little floating lights.

Do the beautiful maidens sleep, or are they dead? The scent of the flower says that they are corpses. The bells ring out for the deceased.”

“You make me quite unhappy,” said little Gerda. “Your perfume is so strong that it makes me think of the poor girls. Alas! is little Kay really dead then? The roses that have been under the earth tell me no.”

“Ding, dong!” sounded the hyacinth bells. “We are not tolling for little Kay; we do not know him. We sing our song; it is the only one we know.”

Then Gerda turned to the buttercups that were glittering amongst the bright green leaves.

“You are real little suns!” said Gerda. “Tell me if you know where I can find my play mate.”

The buttercups shone as much as they could, and looked again at the little girl. But what song do they know? They do not speak of Kay at all.

“In a little yard, the bright sun shone on the first day of spring. Its rays beat down on the white walls of the neighbouring house; and close by bloomed the first yellow flowers, glittering like gold in the sun’s warm rays.

An old woman was sitting outside in her chair. Her granddaughter, a poor and pretty servant, came to see her for a short visit. She kissed her grandmother, and there was an outpouring of gold from the heart in that holy kiss. There was gold on the lips, in the background of existence, and in the clear hours of morning.

There, that is my little story,” said the buttercup.

“My poor old grandmother!” sighed Gerda. “She is surely missing me. She would be grieving for me as she did for Kay; but I shall soon return, and will bring back Kay.

It is no use asking the flowers; they know only their own songs, and can give me no information.”

And then she tucked up her little dress, that she might run faster, but the narcissus caught her by the leg as she was jumping over it;

so she stopped and looked at the tall flower, and said: “Perhaps you may know something.”

She stooped low down, to be right beside it; and what did it say?

“I can see myself; I can see myself. Oh! Oh, such sweet perfume I spread!

Up there in the loft stands a little dancing girl, half undressed – sometimes on one leg, and sometimes on two. She looks as if she would tread the whole world under her feet. In truth, it is just a visual illusion: pure imagination.

She is pouring water out of a tea-pot on a piece of stuff which she holds in her hand; it is her bodice. Cleanliness is a good thing. Her white dress hangs on a peg; it has also been washed in the tea-pot, and dried on the roof.

She puts it on, and ties a saffron coloured handkerchief round her neck, which makes the dress look whiter.

See her legs in the air, straight like a long stem. It is me; I can see myself.”

“But I do not care for all that,” cried Gerda; “why tell me this?”

And then she ran to the end of the garden. The gate was fastened, but she shook the rusty latch, and it gave way; the door sprang open.

Then little Gerda, without any shoes, rushed out into the wide world.

She looked back three times, but no one followed her. At last, exhausted from running, she sat down on a great stone.

When she looked round she saw that the summer was over, and autumn very far advanced. She had known nothing of this in the enchanted garden – where the sun always shone, and where there were flowers for all seasons.

“My goodness, how I have wasted my time?” said little Gerda. “We are now in autumn. I must not rest any longer.”

She rose up to go on; but her little feet were sore and tired!

Everything around her looked so cold and hostile: the long willow leaves were all yellow, and the dewdrops fell from them;

one leaf after another dropped to the earth; only sloe-thorn still bore fruit... fruit so sour that you tense your gums.

Oh how everything was dark and oppressive in this vast world!

Fourth Story

The Prince and Princess

Gerda was obliged to rest once again, and sat herself down in the snow. Then a crow hopped up to her: a big crow that stood there looking at her for some time, shaking its head.

It went, “Caw! Caw! Hello, good-day.” It could not say it more clearly, but had the best intentions.

It asked the little girl where she was going, all alone in the wide world.

The word alone Gerda understood very well; she knew better than anyone the power it contained. She recounted all her life to the crow, and asked him if he had not seen little Kay.

The crow nodded his head, and seemed to reflect.

“Well, perhaps I have; it may be...”

“Really! Do you think you have?” cried little Gerda.

She almost smothered the crow, so much was her embrace.

“Gently, gently,” said the crow. “I believe that it may well be little Kay; but he has certainly forgotten you by this time for the princess.”

“Does he live with a princess?” asked Gerda.

“Yes, but listen, I express myself badly in your language. If you understand the crows’ language, it would be much easier for me.”

“No, I have never learnt it,” said Gerda, “but my grandmother understands it; she knows everything. If only I had learnt it!”

“It does not matter. I will explain as well as I can, although for sure very badly.”

And he began to tell her.

“In this kingdom where we now are, there lives a princess of extraordinary intelligence.

The other day she was sitting on her throne. It is not so pleasant, such that she took to humming: ‘Why am I not married?’

‘Well, that gives me an idea!’ she exclaimed. And so she had the desire to marry; but she wanted a husband capable of responding with intelligence when she spoke of important matters.”

“Each word that I say is pure truth,” interjected the crow. “I have a fiancée who is tamed and hops freely about in the palace; it is she that has told me all this.”

His sweetheart was of course a crow, for ‘birds of a feather flock together,’ and one crow always chooses another crow.

“Newspapers were published immediately, with a border of hearts and the initials of the princess.

They gave notice that every young man who was handsome was free to visit the castle and speak with the princess; and those who spoke in a fashion easily understood could take a room in the palace. In the end, the princess would take the one who spoke the best, as her husband.”

“Yes, yes, you may believe me; it is all as true as I sit here,” said the crow. “The people came running, in crowds. What news! However, no one succeeded on the first, nor the second, day.

They could all speak very well in the streets, but when they entered the palace gates – and saw the guards in silver uniforms, the servants on the staircase in their golden uniform, and the great halls all lit up – they became quite confused.

When they stood before the throne where the princess was sitting, they could do nothing but repeat the last words she had pronounced; and she had no particular wish to hear her own words repeated.

One might say that all the contenders had fallen into a stupor – until it is that they found themselves again outside, in the street. Then they regained the power of speech.”

“There was a long queue reaching from the town-gate to the palace,” asserted the crow.

“When they arrived at the palace, no one even offered them a glass of water.

Some of the wisest had taken some bread and butter, but they did not share it with their neighbours; they thought, if the others look hungry, the princess will not take them in.”

“But Kay! My little Kay, when will you speak to me of him? Was he amongst all the people there?”

“Patience! Patience, we are nearly there. On the third day arrived a little person without horse nor carriage. He went right up till the palace, with a decided gait; his eyes sparkled like yours; he had beautiful long hair; but his clothes were very poor.”

“That was Kay!” said Gerda joyfully. “Finally I have found him;” and she clapped her hands.

“He had a little knapsack on his back,” added the crow.

“No, it must have been his sledge,” said Gerda, “for he went away with it.”

“It may have been,” said the crow. “I did not look at it very closely; but my tame sweetheart has said to me that when he passed through the great gates, and saw the guards in their silver uniform, and the servants in their golden attire on the stairs, he was not at all intimidated.

He saluted them, saying: ‘It must be very tiresome to stand on the stairs. I had better go in.’

The rooms were illuminated with bright lights. Councillors and ambassadors walked about in bare feet, carrying golden vessels; it was quite an imposing scene. He had boots that creaked loudly, and all this did not leave him apprehensive.”

“It must be Kay,” said Gerda; “I know that he had new boots. I have heard them creak in grandmother’s room.”

“And full of confidence, he went right up to the princess, who was sitting on a pearl as large as a spinning wheel.

All the ladies of the court were present with their maids, and the maids with their servants; and all the knights were there with their servants, and these servants with their servants – who themselves had their own page. They all stood around, and the nearer they stood to the door, the prouder they looked.”

“But, just the same, did Kay win the princess?” asked little Gerda.

“If I had not been a crow, I would have taken her myself.

He was resolute and charming; and had not come as a contender, but rather to avail himself of the princess’s intelligence – which he found to be remarkable... and she found him to be very much agreeable also.”

“It was him; it was Kay,” cried Gerda. “He was so clever; he could work mental arithmetic, even with decimal numbers. Oh, will you take me to the palace?”

“It is very easy to ask,” replied the crow, “but how? I will speak to my tame fiancée; she will advise us; though I must tell you that a little girl like yourself cannot just go there as you please.”

“Yes, I will go,” said Gerda. “When Kay hears that I am there, he will immediately come out and fetch me.”

“Wait for me there by the palings,” said the crow, wagging his head as he flew away.

It was late in the evening before the crow returned.

“Caw, caw,” he said, “My fiancée sends you a thousand greetings, and here is a little bread that she has taken from the kitchen. They have plenty of bread there, and you must be hungry.

It is not possible for you to enter the palace: you do not have shoes. The guards in silver uniform and the servants in gold attire would not permit it. But do not cry; you will get in just the same.

My sweetheart knows a little back staircase that leads to the sleeping quarters, and she knows where to find the key.”

Then the crow and Gerda went into the garden and along the wide paths where the leaves were falling one after another; and then on to the palace, where the lights were being put out one after the other. The crow led little Gerda up to the back door, which stood ajar.

Oh! how little Gerda’s heart beat with anxiety and longing; it was as if she was doing something wrong, and yet she only wanted to know whether this was little Kay.

Yes, it could not be anyone but him – she reflected deeply on those clear eyes, and that long hair. She could even see him smile, like when he was at home, amongst the roses.

He would certainly be glad to see her; to hear what a long journey she has made to find him.

They were now on the stairs, where burned a little lamp in a small closet. In the middle of the floor stood the tame crow, turning her head from side to side and gazing at Gerda, who curtseyed as her grandmother had taught her to do.

“My fiancé has spoken so very highly of you, my little lady,” said the tame crow, “and moreover, your curriculum vitae, as one says, is very touching.

If you will take the lamp, I will walk in front of you. We will go straight on; here we will meet no one.”

“It seems to me that somebody is walking just behind us,” said Gerda.

Something passed right beside her in a rush. On the walls crept some shadows: horses with flowing manes and fine legs; young hunters; and horsemen and women.

“They are all dreams,” said the crow; “they are coming to direct the thoughts of the hunters in the dreams of our princess; we would do better if we contemplated them in their bed.”

“And another thing: if you go willingly and capture the importance of this, will you show gratitude?” asked Gerda.

“Do not speak of that,” said the forest crow.

They entered into the first hall, filled with pink satin, and embroidered with large flowers.

Here the dreams again flitted and ran by, yet so quickly that Gerda could not make out the royal persons.

Each hall appeared more splendid than the last: enough to leave anyone in awe! Finally they arrived at the sleeping chambers.

The ceiling was like a great palm-tree, with leaves of precious glass; and in the middle of the floor could be found – hung from a stem of gold – two beds, each resembling a lily.

One bed was white, and the princess was lying there; the other was red, and it was in this one that Gerda had to seek out little Kay.

She brushed some red petals aside, and saw a little brown neck. “Oh, it is Kay!” she called out loudly, while raising the lamp towards him.

The dreams of horses rushed into the room. He woke, turning his head towards her... and it was not little Kay!

The prince did not resemble him except in the neck; though he was young and handsome.

Then little Gerda began to cry; she recounted her entire story, including all that the crows had done to help her.

“You poor child,” exclaimed the prince and princess.

They heaped praise on the crows, declaring that they were not at all angry; though just the same, they must not do it again. Still, they wanted to give them a reward.

“Would you like to have your freedom?” asked the princess, “or would you prefer to be raised to the position of crows of the court, thus having the right to all the scraps in the kitchen?”

The two crows made a bow, and requested a fixed appointment; they were thinking of their old age, and that it is always good to have some element of security in their old days.

The prince rose from his bed, and offered it to Gerda, so she may sleep — he could do no more.

She folded her little hands, and thought: “How it is all the human beings, and the animals too, are  so good!” Upon saying this, she closed her eyes and fell into a pleasant sleep.

All the dreams came flying back again to her; this time they looked like angels of God; they carried a little sledge on which sat Kay – who was saluting.

But all this was only a dream, and disappeared as soon as she awoke.

The following day she was dressed from head to foot in silk and velvet, and she was invited to rest at the palace,  and to spend some happy days. However, she only begged for a little horse drawn carriage, and a pair of small boots, for she wanted to go into the wide world to seek Kay.

And she was given boots and a sleeve warmer – she was stunningly dressed. When the moment of departure came, a golden coach appeared at the door.

The forest crow, now married, accompanied her for the first three miles. He sat by Gerda’s side, as he could not stand riding backwards.

The second crow stood at the door, flapping her wings. She was suffering a bad headache from having eating too much after obtaining a fixed post – hence she could not accompany them.

The coach was stuffed with sweet crackers, fruit, and gingerbread.

“Farewell, farewell,” cried the prince and princess.

Gerda wept, and the crow wept too. The first few miles soon passed, and then the crow also said his farewell – this was the most difficult parting.

He flew into a tree and flapped his black wings as long as he could see the coach, which glittered like the very sun itself.

Fifth Story

Little Robber-Girl

They rolled on through a dark forest, and the coach glistened like a torch. The band of robbers who found themselves nearby had their eyes hurt: they could not stand the brightness.

“It is gold! it is gold!” they cried.

Rushing to the front of the horses, they struck the little jockeys, the coachman, and the servants, and pulled little Gerda out of the carriage.

“She is plump and cute, and has been nourished by almonds,” said the old robber-woman, who had a long bushy beard and eyebrows that hung over her eyes. “She is as nice as a little fat lamb; she will be delicious to eat!”

She drew forth her big knife; it shone in the most terrifying fashion.

“Oh!” screamed the horrible woman at the same time:

her own daughter, that she was carrying on her back – and who was savage and ill raised as could be – took to biting her ear.

“Nasty little thing!” started the mother. After that she no longer had the time to kill Gerda.

The little girl said: “She can play with me; she shall give me her sleeve warmer and her pretty dress; and I will let her sleep in my bed.”

She bit her mother again, who then struggled and turned all about. All the robbers laughed.

“See how she is dancing with her little one.”

“I want to get into the coach,” said the little robber-girl;

And she would always go where she wanted; she was so spoiled and so difficult.

She sat herself beside Gerda, and the coach set off over a stump ridden path, into the deepest undergrowth in all the forest.

The robber-girl was about the same height as Gerda, but much stronger; she also had broader shoulders and a darker complexion; her eyes had a dark, almost sad, look.

She seized little Gerda by the waist, saying: “They will not kill you as long as I am not angry with you. I suppose you are a princess.”

“No,” said Gerda; and then she told her all that had come to pass, and how fond she was of little Kay.

The robber-girl looked earnestly at her, and then nodded her head slightly.

And then she wiped Gerda’s eyes, and stuck her own two hands in the sleeve warmer. It was so soft!

The coach came to a halt. They were in the middle of a courtyard at the robbers castle, the walls of which were all cracked from top to bottom.

Ravens and crows flew in and out of all the crevices; and great bulldogs – each looking as if they were capable of swallowing a man – bounded about, but did not bark: that was forbidden.

In the big old hall, which was black with soot, burned a great fire on the stone floor;

the smoke rose to the ceiling, seeking a way out; a large pot of soup was boiling, and roasting on the spit were hares and rabbits.

“You will sleep with me and all my favourite little animals!” said the robber-girl.

After having drunk and eaten, they went to a corner, where there were some straw and blankets.

Above them, on boards and perches, stood more than a hundred pigeons; all of which seemed to be asleep, though they turned their heads slightly at the arrival of the little girls.

“They are all mine,” said the robber-girl.

She seized the nearest to her, and held it by the feet.

“Kiss it,” she cried, flapping it in Gerda’s face.

“And there are all the rascals of the forest,” she continued, pointing to a number of bars masking a hole very high up in the wall.

“They would fly away directly, if they were not well locked up.

And here is my old sweetheart Ba.”

She dragged out a reindeer by one of its horns; he wore a bright copper ring round his neck; from this it was tied up.

“We must also have this one chained, else he would jump up and be off. Every evening I tickle his neck with my sharp knife. He has such terrible fear of it,” she added.

She drew a knife from a crack in the wall, and let it slide across the neck of the poor reindeer, making it kick. In response the robber-girl only laughed.

She led Gerda towards the bed.

“Will you keep the knife with you while you sleep?” asked Gerda.

“I always sleep with a knife,” said the robber-girl. “One never knows what may happen. But now, tell me again all about little Kay.”

While little Gerda retold her story, the forest pigeons, high up in their cage, cooed. The other pigeons slept.

The little robber-girl fell asleep and began to snore, with one hand across Gerda’s neck, and the knife in the other. However Gerda did not even close an eye: she knew not whether she was going to live or die.

Then the wood-pigeons said: “Coo, coo; we have seen little Kay.

A white chicken carried his sledge; he was sitting in the Snow Queen’s one. It flew low over the forest, while we were in our nest. The queen blew upon us young ones, and we all died, except us two. Coo, coo.”

“What are you saying up there?” cried Gerda. “Where was the Snow Queen going?”

“She was most likely travelling to Lapland, where there is always snow and ice. Ask the reindeer that is tied up with the rope.”

“There is always snow and ice; it is pleasant and good,” said the reindeer. “There one can leap about freely on the grand sparkling plains. The Snow Queen has her summer tent there, but her real castle is by the North Pole, on an island called Spitzbergen.”

“Oh, my Kay, my little Kay!” sighed Gerda.

“If you do not be quiet,” said the robber-girl, now half awake, “I shall bury my knife in your stomach.”

In the morning Gerda told the girl all that the pigeons and the reindeer had said to her; the little robber-girl looked quite serious, nodded her head, and said: “All the same to me! All the same to me!”

“Do you know where Lapland is?” she asked the reindeer.

“Who should know better than I do?” said the animal, while his eyes sparkled. “It is there that I was born; it is there where I have played and frolicked on the snow covered plains.”

“Now listen,” said the robber-girl to Gerda, “see how all the men have now gone; mother is still here, and will remain so; but soon she will take a drink from the big bottle over there, after which she will allow herself a little snooze... and then I will do something for you.”

When the mother had drunk from the bottle and had gone to sleep, the little robber-maiden went to the reindeer, and said:

“It would have amused me to tickle your neck a few times more with my sharp knife, for it is so funny when you are afraid; but too bad;

I will untie you, and set you free, so that you may run all the way to Lapland; but you must carry – on your legs and around your neck – this little girl; take her to the castle of the Snow Queen, where her comrade is.

You have no doubt heard what she told me, for she spoke quite loud, and you always listen.”

The reindeer jumped in the air for joy. The robber-girl lifted Gerda up, taking the precaution of securing her firmly on the back of the beast; she even had her sit on a little cushion.

“It is all the same to me,” she said. “Take your fur boots, for it will be very cold; but I must keep the sleeve warmer; it is so pretty.

And as I do not want you to catch cold, here are my mother’s large warm mittens; they will reach up to your elbows. Let me put your hands inside. There now, by your hands you look just like my horrible mother.”

Gerda wept for joy.

“Enough of that whimpering; I do not like it. On the contrary, you should be quite happy. Here are two loaves of bread and a ham; you will not suffer from hunger.”

She fastened the two items on the reindeer, opened the door, locked up the big dogs, and then cut the rope holding the reindeer with her sharp knife, and said: 

“Now go on your way, but take good care of the little girl.”

Gerda stretched out her hands – which were covered by the great mittens – towards the robber-girl, and said goodbye. The reindeer bolted over bushes and stumps, through the great forest, past marshes, and over plains. He ran as quickly as he could.

The wolves howled, and the ravens cawed. The sky seemed to go poof! poof! as if it was sneezing red lights.

“It is the dear old northern lights,” said the reindeer; “see how they flash.”

And he ran on and on, through day and night. They ate the bread, and the ham also. And finally they arrived in Lapland.

Sixth Story

The Lapland Woman and the Finland Woman

They stopped beside a rundown little hut. The roof sloped nearly down to the ground, and the door was so low that the family had to creep on their stomachs to go in.

There was no one at home save an old Lapland woman, who was cooking fish by the light of an old cod liver oil lamp.

The reindeer told her all about Gerda’s story – but first he told his own, which seemed to be much more important. Gerda was so numb with cold that she could not speak.

“Oh, you  poor things,” said the Lapland woman, “you have a long way to go yet: at least a hundred miles further, in order to reach Finland. There lies the Snow Queen’s country house. There also, the northern lights are lit each evening.

I will write a few words on a piece of dried fish – I have no paper. You can take it to the Finland woman who lives up there; she can inform you better than I.”

So when Gerda was a little warmed up, and had taken something to eat and drink, the woman wrote a few words on the dried fish. She told Gerda to take great care of it. Then she tied the little girl once again onto the reindeer... and they were on their way!

Flash, flash: one could hear it in the air. The prettiest blue lights were burning up there.

They reached Finland, and knocked at the chimney of the Finland woman’s hut: for it did not even have a door.

On entering... how hot it was in the house! The Finnish woman was almost without clothing; she was little and dirty.

She quickly loosened little Gerda’s clothing, and took off the mittens and fur boots: else it would have been much too hot for her. She placed a piece of ice on the head of the reindeer, and began to read what was written on the dried fish.

She read and re-read it (three times in all), and then, since she knew it by heart, put the piece of dried fish into the pot. It was very much edible, and she never wasted anything.

The reindeer told his own story first, and then little Gerda’s. The Finlander blinked her intelligent eyes, but she said nothing.

“You are quite remarkable,” said the reindeer; “I know you can tie all the winds of the world with a piece of twine. If a sailor unties one knot, he has a fair wind.

When he undoes the second, it blows hard; and if unties the third and fourth, the storm is so terrible that all the trees of forests are uprooted.

Cannot you give this little maiden a concoction that will give her the strength of twelve men, and allow her to defeat the Snow Queen?”

“The Power of twelve men,” said the Finland woman; “yes, that may well do.”

She went to a shelf, grabbed a large role of skin, and unrolled it. Strange characters were inscribed on it; the Finlander read them until beads of sweat fell from her forehead.

The reindeer begged so hard for little Gerda, and the young one gazed with such pleading and tearful eyes, that the Finlander’s own eyes began to flicker.

She drew the reindeer into a corner and whispered something to him – while laying fresh ice on his head.

“Little Kay is actually at the Snow Queen’s place, and he is perfectly happy. He thinks that he has found the finest place in the world;

but all this is because he has a shard of glass in his heart, and some glass dust in his eye. All this glass must be taken out, or he will never be a normal human being again, and the Snow Queen will retain her power over him.”

“But can you not give little Gerda a drink to give her a magic power to achieve all this?”

“I can give her no greater power than she has already.

Can you not see how strong she is? Can you not see how man and animals are compelled to serve her? Without even having shoes, just see how she has travelled the world.

It is not for us to grant her power greater than that which resides inside her innocent and kind heart.

If she cannot herself enter the Snow Queen’s abode and remove the glass fragments from little Kay’s eyes and heart, we can do nothing to help her.

The Snow Queen’s garden begins two miles from here; carry the little girl until there, and set her down by the large bush: it is in the snow, and carries red berries. Do not stay gossiping, and return as quickly as you can.”

Then the Finland woman lifted Gerda up and placed her on the reindeer’s back, and he set off again at speed.

“Oh! I do not have my boots; I do not have my mittens,” cried little Gerda – realising this as soon as she felt the stinging cold.

The reindeer dared not stop; he ran and ran... Finally it reached the towering bush that carried the red berries; there he set Gerda down on the ground, and kissed her on the mouth.

Big bright tears rolled along the animal’s cheeks; then he resumed running, going back as fast as was possible.

And there was poor Gerda, without shoes and without gloves, in the terrible cold of Finland.

She took to running on ahead, as quickly as she could, when a regiment of snow-flakes came to meet her;

they did not fall from the sky, which was perfectly clear and glittering with the northern lights;

they ran along the ground, and as they approached, they became larger and larger.

Gerda remembered how large and beautiful they were the day she looked at them through the magnifying glass;

but here they really were much larger, and frightening, and alive: they were the lead guards of the Snow Queen.

They took on the most bizarre forms: some were like great, scary porcupines; others like twisted serpents with their heads stretching out; and some others looked like fat little bears with shiny hair. However, they were all a dazzling white.

Then little Gerda started saying her prayers. The cold was so intense that the breath from her mouth was like real smoke.

The steam became more and more dense, until it transformed into little luminous angels; they grew more and more when they touched the ground.

They all wore helmets on their heads, and a spear and shield in their hands; and they became more and more in number.

By the time Gerda had finished her prayers, a whole legion had formed around her.

They fought the snow-flakes with their spears, and the flakes exploded into thousands of pieces; little Gerda went forward with a confident and fearless step.

The angels stroked her feet and hands, so that she no longer felt the cold; and she marched rapidly towards the castle.

However, now we must see how Kay was doing. He had thought absolutely nothing about little Gerda, and even less still that she may be there, in front of the castle.

Seventh Story

What Happened at the Palace of the Snow Queen and What Took Place Afterwards

The walls of the palace were made from powdered snow, and the windows and doors by the cutting winds. There were more than a hundred rooms, formed by the flurry of snow.

The largest of them extended for several miles; all were lit up by the magnificent lights of the aurora; they were all large, empty, glacially cold, and glittering.

There was no joy here; not even a little bear’s ball: where the storm might have whispered and the bears might have danced on their hind legs, showing off their distinguished air.

There was not even a game of cards, bringing disputes and blows; and not even an invitation for coffee by the white lady foxes. The rooms of the Snow Queen were empty, vast, and frigid.

The northern lights glistened so vividly, and so precisely, that one could plainly see the moment when they were at their peak; and, on the contrary, the moment when they were at their most marked retreat.

In the middle of these icy rooms – vast and without end – there was a frozen lake. Its icy surface was broken into a thousand pieces, with each piece being identical to the other – it was a veritable marvel.

The Snow Queen sat on a throne at the centre, when she was at home. She said that she sat there on the mirror of reason, calling it the most unique and the finest in the world.

Little Kay was blue with cold – indeed almost black – but he did not feel it: a kiss from the queen had taken away the possibility of feeling the shivering cold; and his heart was a block of ice – or just like.

He sought out some sharp, flat pieces of ice – from the left and from the right – and placed them together in a thousand ways.

He wanted to make something out of them; it is just like we also do, when we want to make a figure by assembling little pieces of cut out wood – we call it a Chinese game or puzzle.

He wanted to form figures that were more and more complicated: that which is called the ‘icy game of reason’. In his eyes the figures took on a profound importance – this due to the shards of glass in his eye.

With these pieces of ice, he formed words, but he could never manage to completely make the word he had really wanted: it was the word ‘Eternity’.

The Snow Queen had said to him: “If you manage to form this word, you will have become your own master. I will give you the whole world, and a new pair of skates.” But this never came to pass...

“Now I must fly away to warmer countries,” said the Queen. “I want to go and look into the black craters.”

She spoke of the volcanoes that spat out fire: Etna and Vesuvius.

“I will make them white: with a little snow. That is part of the journey, and it will be of benefit to the citrus and the grapes.”

She flew away, leaving little Kay alone in the great, empty rooms. He looked at the pieces of ice and pondered; he pondered so deeply that he almost might have cracked up. Sitting so stiff and immobile, one could easily have thought him dead, or frozen.

Just at that moment little Gerda entered the castle via the main gate, in the face of sharp winds. She recited her evening prayers, and the winds calmed down, as if they were going to sleep.

She entered into the great hall, which was empty and frozen... then she saw Kay; she recognized him, and flew around his neck, holding him tight against her. She exclaimed: “Kay, my dear little Kay, I have found you at last.”

But he remained unmoving, stiff, and frozen. Then little Gerda wept hot tears, which fell on the young boy’s chest; they penetrated into his heart, thawed the lump of ice, and removed the little piece of glass stuck there.

Then he looked at her, and she sang the Psalm:

The roses bloom in the valley where baby Jesus came to parley.

Then Kay burst into tears; he wept so intensely that the glass dust ran out of his eye.

He recognized Gerda, and with overflowing joy, cried out: “Gerda, dear little Gerda, where have you been all this time? Where have I myself been?” He looked all around.

“How cold it is, and how large and empty it all looks.”

He clung against his little friend, who laughed and wept for joy.

An infinite celebration unfolded! The pieces of ice even danced with pleasure. When the children became tired and stopped, the pieces had formed the exact word that the Snow Queen had said Kay must compose: Eternity.

He had thus become his own master: she must give him the world and a new pair of skates.

Gerda kissed his cheeks, and they became pink; she kissed his eyes, and they shone like her own; she kissed his hands and his feet, and he became healthy and strong.

The Snow Queen may return. The letters completing Kay’s deal were there, written in the sparkling pieces of ice: Eternity...

So, the two children took each other by the hand, and exited the great palace.

They spoke of grandmother, and of the roses on the roof; the winds died down, and the sun came out.

When they reached the bush with red berries, the reindeer was there waiting for them. He had with him a young female, whose udders were full. She was giving her warm milk to the children, and kissing them on the mouth.

The two animals carried Kay and Gerda first to the Finland woman, where they warmed themselves in her room; and she gave them directions about their journey home.

Next was the Lapland woman’s place. She had sewn some new clothes for them and readied some sleighs.

The two reindeers bounded by their side as they slid on the sleighs. The reindeers and the Lapland woman accompanied them as far as the boundaries of the country, where the first green leaves were showing.

There they said their farewells to the two reindeer and the Lapland woman. “Goodbye, goodbye,” they all said.

The first little birds began to twitter; the forest was full of green shoots.

And then, who was it advancing towards them on a magnificent horse – Gerda recognised it immediately: it had been harnessed in front of the golden coach. Advancing towards them was a young girl wearing a red cap on her head, and holding pistols in front of her.

It was the little robber-maiden, who had got tired of home and wanted to travel; she was going first to the north, and then elsewhere, if that did not suit her.

“So you are the one who has gone globe-trotting,” she said to little Kay; “I would like to know whether you are worth the trouble of going to the end of the world to find.”

Gerda stroked her cheeks, and asked for news of the prince and princess.

“They have gone abroad,” said the robber-girl.

“And the crow?” asked Gerda.

“The crow is dead,” she replied; “his tame sweetheart is a widow, and wears a length of black wool round her leg. She complains woefully – what nonsense! But now tell me what has happened, and how you have managed to get him back.”

Gerda and Kay told her, though both at the same time.

“And blah, blah, blah,” said the robber-girl.

Then she took both their hands, and promised that if ever she passed through their town, she would pay them a visit. And then she went off into the wide world.

Gerda and Kay set off, hand in hand; and while they walked, a lovely spring – full of flowers and greenery – enveloped them.

Some clocks sounded... then they recognised the tall towers of the large village where they lived.

They found their way to grandmother’s door, mounted the stairs, and entered a little room, where everything was the same as before.

The old clock was going ‘tick, tock’ and the hands were turning; as they passed through the door, they perceived that they had become grown-ups.

The roses in the guttering had spread their flowers across the open windows.

Their little kids chairs were there. Kay and Gerda sat themselves each on their own chair, and held each other by the hand; they began forgetting – like one forgets a painful dream – the empty splendour of the Snow Queen’s palace.

Grandmother was bathing in God’s bright sunshine, and she read aloud from the Bible: “Unless you become like children, you shall never enter the kingdom of God.”

Kay and Gerda looked into each other’s eyes, and at once understood the words of the old Psalm:

The roses bloom in the valley where baby Jesus came to parley.”

They were sitting there – the two of them – as adults and as children; though always children at heart... 

It was summer; a sweet and blessed summer.

The End 

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