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Nik Marcel (2Language Books)

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Snow Queen (English)

The Snow Queen
La Reine des Neiges
Original Edition:  Danish
English translated from French.
Copyright © 2013 Nik Marcel
All rights reserved.
This dual-language (bilingual) edition, including its compartmentalised structure, its formatting, and its translation, is owned by Nik Marcel.
2Language Books
(A Bilingual Dual-Language Project)

First Story
Which Treats of a Mirror and its Fragments
Here we are, let us commence. When we get to the end of our story, we shall know much more than we do now; for we have among our characters a wicked blackbird; the most wicked of all: the Devil.
One day, when he was in a merry mood, he ended up making a mirror with a marvellous property:
the good and the beautiful reflected in it disappeared almost entirely, while everything that was bad or displeasing was, on the contrary, magnified; it took on excessive proportions.
The most beautiful landscapes, through this means, resembled boiled spinach.
The most respected and honest people appeared to be monsters; the most handsome seemed to be phony; or they looked upside down; they had almost no body, such was their gauntness. 
Their faces were contorted, grimacing, and unrecognisable. The smallest blemish or freckle became enormous, and covered the nose and cheeks.
“This is indeed amusing!” said the Devil, in contemplating his work.
When a good or pious thought passed through the mind of any one, the mirror made it crinkle and shake.
The Devil laughed more and more with delight – such a nice invention.
The student devils that went to his school — for he was a professor of sorcery — went everywhere telling of an enormous and incalculable miracle finally accomplished.
It was only from that day, that one could really see what the world and human beings were really like.
They travelled across the entire universe with the famous mirror, and soon there was not a land nor a people who had not been reflected as some type of caricature.
Then, being more bold, they took to flying towards the heavens, to mock the angels and our good Lord.
The higher they climbed, and the closer they came to the celestial abodes, the more the mirror contorted and trembled: due to the divine objects reflected in it. They could hardly hold it; indeed it was a great struggle.
They continued to fly still higher; still closer to the angels, and to God.
Suddenly, the mirror trembled so strongly that it escaped the hands of the impudent student devils; it fell on the earth, where it broke into millions, or even billions of pieces.
However, it then caused even more misery than before.
Some of the debris was not bigger than a grain of sand. The wind scattered them across the vast world.
Well, some people received this grave dust in their eyes. Once there, it remained, and so these people saw everything as being bad, ugly, and upside down.
They could not see other than the worst in each creature – that the defects were all a thing was; for each of the imperceptible fragments had the same properties as the mirror when it was whole.
More so, it was that some splinters pierced right into the hearts of certain people; the result was dreadful. The hearts of these people became like a block of ice; utterly cold and numb.
Out the countless pieces of debris from the mirror, there remained some large fragments; several of which were as big as window panes – it was not good to look at your friends through these.
Still others served as lenses for spectacles. Sorcerers put these over their eyes to (seemingly) see clearly, and to discern with a refined sense of justice.
When they had these glasses upon their noses, they laughed and sniggered like the Devil himself looking in his own mirror.
The ugliness that they discovered everywhere considerably flattered and tickled their perverse spirits.
It was a gigantic mirror; the wind continued to spread the debris through the air.
So now, listen well.
Second Story
A Little Boy and a Little Girl
In a large town – where there were so many houses, and so many families and people, not everybody could have a garden – most had to be content with several flower pots.
Two poor children had found a way of having more than a pot of flowers – it was almost a real garden.
Their parents lived in a narrow alley; and they lived in two attics, the one facing the other.
The rooves of the two houses almost touched; such that one could, without danger, pass from one gutter to the other, and pay a visit.
In front of their window, each child had a big wooden box filled with soil, where grew garden herbs for the household; also, in each box was a single rose.
The parents had the idea of putting the boxes across the little alley, from one window to the other.
This was a considerable enhancement: the peas drooped their branches and the roses joined up, with their flowers forming a veritable arch of triumphant splendour.
The children would come and sit on their little stools amongst the roses.
What pleasure it was when they were permitted to go and amuse themselves together in this sky bed!
They were not brother and sister, but they loved each other as if they were.
In winter, their pleasures were interrupted. The windows were often frosted: the glass panes covered with a layer of ice.
The children would then warm a copper coin on the stove; they would apply it on the window pane, and it would form a little round peep hole. On each side of the hole sparkled a sweet and mischievous little eye: it was the little children. His name was Kay, and she was called Gerda.
In summer, they could then go from one house to the other in one leap.
In winter, they had to first descend a number of stairs, and then go up as many. As it was winter, the snowflakes fluttered by the thousands.
“Those are the white bees,” said the grandmother.
“Do they also have a queen?” asked the little boy, for he knew that bees usually have one.
“Certainly,” said the grandmother. “Look, she is flying there where the swarm is thickest.
She is the largest of them all, and never stays in one place; she is always buzzing around.
She is on the ground, and then suddenly she sets off to hide in the dark clouds.
On winter nights, it is she who flies through village streets, looking through the windows; which then freeze and become covered with bizarre flowers.”
“Yes, yes, I have seen this!” said the two children at the same time; and they knew that what the grandmother said must be true.
“Can the Snow Queen come in here?” asked the little girl.
“So let her come,” said the boy. “I will put her on the burning stove, and she will melt.”
The grandmother simply stroked his hair, and told some other stories.
On that evening, little Kay was in his room; he was half undressed, and ready for bed.
He put his chair against the window and climbed on it – in order to peep through the little round hole that was made by the warm penny.
A few flakes of snow were falling gently. The largest of them landed on the edge of one of the flower boxes.
It grew and grew, and ended up forming a young woman – even bigger than Gerda. She was dressed in the finest white mesh, embroidered with starry snowflakes.
She was beautiful and gracious, but made completely of ice. Yet, she was so alive: her eyes gleamed like stars in a winter sky, though they were constantly moving.
Her face turned towards the window, and she made a sign with her hand. The little boy was frightened and jumped down from the chair.
A noise came from outside, as if a great bird had passed in front of the window, with its wing brushing the glass.
The following day there was a clear frost, and then came the spring.
The sun came out; the greenery shot away; the swallows built their nests; the windows opened; and the two children once again sat, the one across from the other, in their little garden high up on the roof.
How the flowers flourished superbly that summer! And how the garden was such a pleasure!
The little girl had learnt by heart a hymn where the theme was of roses; when she thought of it, she was reminded of those in her own garden.
She sang it to the little boy, and as he learnt it, the two of them were soon singing in unison:
The roses arise and fade away; but soon we will again see Christmas and the baby Jesus.
The two little ones kissed the flowers, as if to say goodbye.
They looked at the bright sunshine, and almost hoped the sun would hasten on its course, such that they might see baby Jesus sooner.

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