Which Describes a
Looking-Glass and the Broken Fragments
You must attend to the commencement of this story, for when we get to the end we shall know more than we do now about a very wicked hobgoblin; he was one of the very worst, for he was a real demon.
One day, when he was in a merry mood, he made a looking-glass which had the power of making everything good or beautiful that was reflected in it almost shrink to nothing, while everything that was worthless and bad looked increased in size and worse than ever.
The most lovely landscapes appeared like boiled spinach, and the people became hideous, and looked as if they stood on their heads and had no bodies. Their countenances were so distorted that no one could recognize them, and even one freckle on the face appeared to spread over the whole of the nose and mouth. The demon said this was very amusing. When a good or pious thought passed through the mind of any one it was misrepresented in the glass; and then how the demon laughed at his cunning invention.
All who went to the demon's school for he kept a school talked everywhere of the wonders they had seen, and declared that people could now, for the first time, see what the world and mankind were really like. They carried the glass about everywhere, till at last there was not a land nor a people who had not been looked at through this distorted mirror.
They wanted even to fly with it up to heaven to see the angels, but the higher they flew the more slippery the glass became, and they could scarcely hold it, till at last it slipped from their hands, fell to the earth, and was broken into millions of pieces. But now the looking-glass caused more unhappiness than ever, for some of the fragments were not so large as a grain of sand, and they flew about the world into every country. When one of these tiny atoms flew into a person's eye, it stuck there unknown to him, and from that moment he saw everything through a distorted medium, or could see only the worst side of what he looked at, for even the smallest fragment retained the same power which had belonged to the whole mirror.
Some few persons even got a fragment of the looking-glass in their hearts, and this was very terrible, for their hearts became cold like a lump of ice. A few of the pieces were so large that they could be used as window-panes; it would have been a sad thing to look at our friends through them. Other pieces were made into spectacles; this was dreadful for those who wore them, for they could see nothing either rightly or justly.
At all this the wicked demon laughed till his sides shook, it tickled him so to see the mischief he had done. There were still a number of these little fragments of glass floating about in the air, and now you shall hear what happened with one of them.
Little Boy and a Little Girl
In a large town, full of houses and people, there is not room
for everybody to have even a little garden, therefore they are obliged
to be satisfied with a few flowers in flower-pots. In one of these
large towns lived two poor children who had a garden something
larger and better than a few flower-pots.
They were not brother and
sister, but they loved each other almost as much as if they had
been. Their parents lived opposite to each other in two garrets, where
the roofs of neighboring houses projected out towards each other and
the water-pipe ran between them. In each house was a little window, so
that any one could step across the gutter from one window to the
The parents of these children had each a large wooden box in
which they cultivated kitchen herbs for their own use, and a little
rose-bush in each box, which grew splendidly. Now after a while the
parents decided to place these two boxes across the water-pipe, so
that they reached from one window to the other and looked like two
banks of flowers.
Sweet-peas drooped over the boxes, and the
rose-bushes shot forth long branches, which were trained round the
windows and clustered together almost like a triumphal arch of
leaves and flowers.
The boxes were very high, and the children knew
they must not climb upon them, without permission, but they were
often, however, allowed to step out together and sit upon their little
stools under the rose-bushes, or play quietly.
In winter all this
pleasure came to an end, for the windows were sometimes quite frozen
over. But then they would warm copper pennies on the stove, and hold
the warm pennies against the frozen pane; there would be very soon a
little round hole through which they could peep, and the soft bright
eyes of the little boy and girl would beam through the hole at each
window as they looked at each other.
Their names were Kay and Gerda.
In summer they could be together with one jump from the window, but in
winter they had to go up and down the long staircase, and out
through the snow before they could meet.
See there are the white bees swarming, said Kay's old
grandmother one day when it was snowing.
Have they a queen bee? asked the little boy, for he knew that
the real bees had a queen.
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
remains on the earth, but flies up to the dark clouds. Often at
midnight she flies through the streets of the town, and looks in at
the windows, then the ice freezes on the panes into wonderful
shapes, that look like flowers and castles.
Yes, I have seen them, said both the children, and they knew
it must be true.
Can the Snow Queen come in here? asked the little girl.
Only let her come, said the boy, I'll set her on the stove
and then she'll melt.
Then the grandmother smoothed his hair and told him some more
tales. One evening, when little Kay was at home, half undressed, he
climbed on a chair by the window and peeped out through the little
hole. A few flakes of snow were falling, and one of them, rather
larger than the rest, alighted on the edge of one of the flower boxes.
This snow-flake grew larger and larger, till at last it became the
figure of a woman, dressed in garments of white gauze, which looked
like millions of starry snow-flakes linked together.
She was fair
and beautiful, but made of ice, shining and glittering ice. Still
she was alive and her eyes sparkled like bright stars, but there was
neither peace nor rest in their glance.
She nodded towards the
window and waved her hand. The little boy was frightened and sprang
from the chair; at the same moment it seemed as if a large bird flew
by the window.
On the following day there was a clear frost, and
very soon came the spring. The sun shone; the young green leaves burst
forth; the swallows built their nests; windows were opened, and the
children sat once more in the garden on the roof, high above all the
other rooms. How beautiful the roses blossomed this summer. The little
girl had learnt a hymn in which roses were spoken of, and then she
thought of their own roses, and she sang the hymn to the little boy,
and he sang too:
Roses bloom and cease to be,
But we shall the Christ-child see.
Then the little ones held each other by the hand, and kissed the
roses, and looked at the bright sunshine, and spoke to it as if the
Christ-child were there. Those were splendid summer days. How
beautiful and fresh it was out among the rose-bushes, which seemed
as if they would never leave off 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 said, Oh,
something has struck my heart! and soon after, There is something in
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; it was one
of those bits of the looking-glass that magic mirror, of which we
have spoken, the ugly glass which made everything great and good
appear small and ugly, while all that was wicked and bad became more
visible, and every little fault could be plainly seen.
Poor little Kay
had also received a small grain in his heart, which very quickly
turned to a lump of ice. He felt no more pain, but the glass was there
still. Why do you cry? said he at last; it makes you look ugly.
There is nothing the matter with me now. Oh, see! he cried
suddenly, that rose is worm-eaten, and this one is quite crooked.
After all they are ugly roses, just like the box in which they stand,
and then he kicked the boxes with his foot, and pulled off the two
Kay, what are you doing? cried the little girl; and then, when
he saw how frightened she was, he tore off another rose, and jumped
through his own window away from little Gerda.
When she afterwards brought out the picture book, he said, It was
only fit for babies in long clothes, and when grandmother told any
stories, he would interrupt her with but; or, when he could manage
it, he would get behind her chair, put on a pair of spectacles, and
imitate her very cleverly, to make people laugh.
By-and-by he began to
mimic the speech and gait of persons in the street. All that was
peculiar or disagreeable in a person he would imitate directly, and
people said, That boy will be very clever; he has a remarkable
genius. But it was the piece of glass in his eye, and the coldness in
his heart, that made him act like this.
He would even tease little
Gerda, who loved him with all her heart. His games, too, were quite
different; they were not so childish.
One winter's day, when it
snowed, he brought out a burning-glass, then he held out the tail of
his blue coat, and let the snow-flakes fall upon it. Look in this
glass, Gerda, said he; and she saw how every flake of snow was
magnified, and looked like a beautiful flower or a glittering star.
Is it not clever? said Kay, and much more interesting than
looking at real flowers. There is not a single fault in it, and the
snow-flakes are quite perfect till they begin to melt.
Soon after Kay made his appearance in large thick gloves, and with
his sledge at his back. He called up stairs to Gerda, I've got to
leave to go into the great square, where the other boys play and
ride. 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 capital. But while they were all amusing themselves, and
Kay with them, a great sledge came by; it was painted white, and in it
sat some one wrapped in a rough white fur, and wearing a white cap.
The sledge drove twice round the square, and Kay fastened his own
little sledge to it, so that when it went away, he followed with it.
It went faster and faster right through the next street, and then
the person who drove turned round and nodded pleasantly to Kay, just
as if they were acquainted with each other, but whenever Kay wished to
loosen his little sledge the driver nodded again, so Kay sat still,
and they drove out through the town gate.
Then the snow began to
fall so heavily that the little boy could not see a hand's breadth
before him, but still they drove on; then he suddenly loosened the
cord so that the large sled might go on without him, but it was of
no use, his little carriage held fast, and away they went like the
Then he called out loudly, but nobody heard him, while the
snow beat upon him, and the sledge flew onwards. Every now and then it
gave a jump as if it were going over hedges and ditches. The boy was
frightened, and tried to say a prayer, but he could remember nothing
but the multiplication table.
The snow-flakes became larger and larger, till they appeared
like great white chickens. All at once they sprang on one side, the
great sledge stopped, and the person who had driven it rose up. The
fur and the cap, which were made entirely of snow, fell off, and he
saw a lady, tall and white, it was the Snow Queen.
We have driven well, said she, but why do you tremble? Here,
creep into my warm fur. Then she seated him beside her in the sledge,
and as she wrapped the fur round him he felt as if he were sinking
into a snow drift.
Are you still cold, she asked, as she kissed him on the
forehead. The 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; he soon seemed quite well
again, and did not notice the cold around him.
My sledge! Don't forget my sledge, was his first thought, and
then he looked and saw that it was bound fast to one of the white
chickens, which flew behind him with the sledge at its back. The
Snow Queen kissed little Kay again, and by this time he had
forgotten little Gerda, his grandmother, and all at home.
Now you must have no more kisses, she said, or I should kiss
you to death.
Kay looked at her, and saw that she was so beautiful, he could not
imagine a more lovely and intelligent face; she did not now seem to be
made of ice, as when he had seen her through his window, and she had
nodded to him. In his eyes she was perfect, and she did not feel at
He told her he could do mental arithmetic, as far as
fractions, and that he knew the number of square miles and the
number of inhabitants in the country. And she always smiled so that he
thought he did not know enough yet, and she looked round the vast
expanse as she flew higher and higher with him upon a black cloud,
while the storm blew and howled as if it were singing old songs.
They flew over woods and lakes, over sea and land; below them roared
the wild wind; the wolves howled and the snow crackled; over them flew
the black screaming crows, and above all shone the moon, clear and
bright,and so Kay passed through the long winter's night, and by day
he slept at the feet of the Snow Queen.
The Flower Garden of the Woman Who Could Conjure
But how fared little Gerda during Kay's absence? What had become
of him, no one knew, nor could any one give the slightest information,
excepting the boys, who said that he had tied his sledge to another
very large one, which had driven through the street, and out at the
town gate. Nobody knew where it went; many tears were shed for him,
and little Gerda wept bitterly for a long time. She said she knew he
must be dead; that he was drowned in the river which flowed close by
the school. Oh, indeed those long winter days were very dreary. But at
last spring came, with warm sunshine. Kay is dead and gone, said
I don't believe it, said the sunshine.
He is dead and gone, she said to the sparrows.
We don't believe it, they replied; and at last 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 quite alone out of the town gates toward the
river. Is it true that you have taken my little playmate away from
me? said she to the river. I will give you my red shoes if you
will give him back to me. And it seemed as if the waves nodded to her
in a strange manner. Then she took off her red shoes, which she
liked better than anything else, and threw them both into the river,
but they fell near the bank, and the little waves carried them back to
the land, just as if the river would not take from her what she
loved best, because they could not give her back little Kay. But she
thought the shoes had not been thrown out far enough. Then she crept
into a boat that lay among the reeds, and threw the shoes again from
the farther end of the boat into the water, but it was not fastened.
And her movement sent it gliding away from the land.
When she saw this
she hastened to reach the end of the boat, but before she could so
it was more than a yard from the bank, and drifting away faster than
ever. Then little Gerda was very much 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 by the shore, and sang, as if to
comfort her, Here we are! Here we are! The boat floated with the
stream; little Gerda sat quite still with only her stockings on her
feet; the red shoes floated after her, but she could not reach them
because the boat kept so much in advance. The banks on each side of
the river were very pretty. There were beautiful flowers, old trees,
sloping fields, in which cows and sheep were grazing, but not a man to
be seen. Perhaps the river will carry me to little Kay, thought Gerda,
and then she became more cheerful, and raised her head, and looked
at the beautiful green banks; and so the boat sailed on for hours.
At length she came to a large cherry orchard, in which stood a small
red house with strange red and blue windows. It had also a thatched
roof, and outside were two wooden soldiers, that presented arms to her
as she sailed past. Gerda called out to them, for she thought they
were alive, but of course they did not answer; and as the boat drifted
nearer to the shore, she saw what they really were. Then Gerda
called still louder, and there came a very old woman out of the house,
leaning on a crutch. She wore a large hat to shade her from the sun,
and on it were painted all sorts of pretty flowers. You poor little
child, said the old woman, how did you manage to come all this
distance into the wide world on such a rapid rolling stream? And then
the old woman walked in the water, seized the boat with her crutch,
drew it to land, and lifted Gerda out. And Gerda was glad to feel
herself on dry ground, although she was rather afraid of the strange
old woman. Come and tell me who you are, said she, and how came you
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, and 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 cherries and look at the
flowers; they were better than any picture-book, for each of them
could tell a story. Then she took Gerda by the hand and led her into
the little house, and the old woman closed the door. The windows
were very high, and as the panes were red, blue, and yellow, the
daylight shone through them in all sorts of singular colors. On the
table stood beautiful cherries, and Gerda had permission to eat as
many as she would. While she was eating them the old woman combed
out her long flaxen ringlets with a golden comb, and the glossy
curls hung down on each side of the little round pleasant face,
which looked fresh and blooming as a rose.
I have long been wishing
for a dear little maiden like you, said the old woman, and now you
must stay with me, and see how happily we shall live together. And
while she went on combing little Gerda's hair, she thought less and
less about her adopted brother Kay, for the old woman could conjure,
although she was not a wicked witch; she conjured only a little for
her own amusement, and now, because she wanted to keep Gerda.
Therefore she went into the garden, and stretched out her crutch
towards all the rose-trees, beautiful though they were; and they
immediately sunk into the dark earth, so that no one could tell
where they had once stood. The old woman was afraid that if little
Gerda saw roses she would think of those at home, and then remember
little Kay, and run away. Then she took Gerda into the
flower-garden. How fragrant and beautiful it was! Every flower that
could be thought of for every season of the year was here in full
bloom; no picture-book could have more beautiful colors. Gerda
jumped for joy, and played till the sun went down behind the tall
cherry-trees; then she slept in an elegant bed with red silk
pillows, embroidered with colored violets; and then she dreamed as
pleasantly as a queen on her wedding day.
The next day, and for many
days after, Gerda played with the flowers in the warm sunshine. She
knew every flower, and yet, although there were so many of them, it
seemed as if one were missing, but which it was she could not tell.
One day, however, as she sat looking at the old woman's hat with the
painted flowers on it, she saw that the prettiest of them all was a
rose. The old woman had forgotten to take it from her hat when she
made all the roses sink into the earth. But it is difficult to keep
the thoughts together in everything; one little mistake upsets all our
What, are there no roses here? cried Gerda; and she ran out into
the garden, and examined all the beds, and searched and searched.
There was not one to be found. Then she sat down and wept, and her
tears fell just on the place where one of the rose-trees had sunk
down. The warm tears moistened the earth, and the rose-tree sprouted
up at once, as blooming as when it had sunk; and Gerda embraced it and
kissed the roses, and thought of the beautiful roses at home, and,
with them, of little Kay.
Oh, how I have been detained! said the little maiden, I
wanted to seek for little Kay. Do you know where he is? she asked the
roses; do you think he is dead?
And the roses answered, No, he is not dead. We have been in the
ground where all the dead lie; but Kay is not there.
Thank you, said little Gerda, and then she went to the other
flowers, and 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 little fairy tale of history. Not one knew
anything of Kay. Gerda heard many stories from the flowers, as she
asked them one after another about him.
And what, said the tiger-lily? Hark, do you hear the drum?
Turn, turn,there are only two notes, always, turn, turn.
Listen to the women's song of mourning! Hear the cry of the priest! In
her long red robe stands the Hindu widow by the funeral pile. The
flames rise around her as she places herself on the dead body of her
husband; but the Hindu woman is thinking of the living one in that
circle; of him, her son, who lighted those flames. Those shining
eyes trouble her heart more painfully than the flames which will
soon consume her body to ashes. Can the fire of the heart be
extinguished in the flames of the funeral pile?
I don't understand that at all, said little Gerda.
That is my story, said the tiger-lily.
What, says the Convolvulus? Near yonder narrow road stands an old
knight's castle; thick ivy creeps over the old ruined walls, leaf over
leaf, even to the balcony, in which stands a beautiful maiden. She
bends over the balustrades, and looks up the road. No rose on its stem
is fresher than she; no apple-blossom, wafted by the wind, floats more
lightly than she moves. Her rich silk rustles as she bends over and
exclaims, Will he not come?
Is it Kay you mean? asked Gerda.
I am only speaking of a story of my dream, replied the flower.
What, said the little snow-drop? Between two trees a rope is
hanging; there is a piece of board upon it; it is a swing. Two
pretty little girls, in dresses white as snow, and with long green
ribbons fluttering from their hats, are sitting upon it swinging.
Their brother who is taller than they are, stands in 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 bubbles. As
the swing goes on, the bubbles fly upward, reflecting the most
beautiful varying colors. The last still hangs from the bowl of the
pipe, and sways in the wind. On goes the swing; and then a little
black dog comes running up. He is almost as light as the bubble, and
he raises himself on his hind legs, and wants to be taken into the
swing; but it does not stop, and the dog falls; then he barks and gets
angry. The children stoop towards him, and the bubble bursts. A
swinging plank, a light sparkling foam picture, that is my story.
It may be all very pretty what you are telling me, said little
Gerda, but you speak so mournfully, and you do not mention little Kay
What do the hyacinths say? There were three beautiful sisters,
fair and delicate. The dress of one was red, of the second blue, and
of the third pure white. Hand in hand they danced in the bright
moonlight, by the calm lake; but they were human beings, not fairy
elves. The sweet fragrance attracted them, and they disappeared in the
wood; here the fragrance became stronger. Three coffins, in which
lay the three beautiful maidens, glided from the thickest part of
the forest across the lake. The fire-flies flew lightly over them,
like little floating torches. Do the dancing maidens sleep, or are
they dead? The scent of the flower says that they are corpses. The
evening bell tolls their knell.
You make me quite sorrowful, said little Gerda; your perfume is
so strong, you make me think of the dead maidens. Ah! is little Kay
really dead then? The roses have been in the earth, and they say no.
Cling, clang, tolled the hyacinth bells. We are not tolling for
little Kay; we do not know him. We sing our song, the only one we
Then Gerda went to the buttercups that were glittering amongst the
bright green leaves.
You are little bright suns, said Gerda; tell me if you know
where I can find my play-fellow.
And the buttercups sparkled gayly, and looked again at Gerda. What
song could the buttercups sing? It was not about Kay.
The bright warm sun shone on a little court, on the first warm
day of spring. His bright beams rested on the white walls of the
neighboring house; and close by bloomed the first yellow flower of the
season, glittering like gold in the sun's warm ray. An old woman sat
in her arm chair at the house door, and her granddaughter, a poor
and pretty servant-maid came to see her for a short visit. When she
kissed her grandmother there was gold everywhere: the gold of the
heart in that holy kiss; it was a golden morning; there was gold in
the beaming sunlight, gold in the leaves of the lowly flower, and on
the lips of the maiden. There, that is my story, said the buttercup.
My poor old grandmother! sighed Gerda; she is longing to see
me, and grieving for me as she did for little Kay; but I shall soon go
home now, and take little Kay with me. It is no use asking the
flowers; they know only their own songs, and can give me no
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 yellow flower, and
said, Perhaps you may know something.
Then she stooped down quite close to the flower, and listened; and
what did he say?
I can see myself, I can see myself, said the narcissus. Oh, how
sweet is my perfume! Up in a little room with a bow window, stands a
little dancing girl, half undressed; she stands sometimes on one
leg, and sometimes on both, and looks as if she would tread the
whole world under her feet. She is nothing but a delusion. 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, she
says. 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-colored handkerchief round her neck, which makes the dress
look whiter. See how she stretches out her legs, as if she were
showing off on a stem. I can see myself, I can see myself.
What do I care for all that, said Gerda, you need not tell me
such stuff. And then she ran to the other end of the garden. The door
was fastened, but she pressed against the rusty latch, and it gave
way. The door sprang open, and little Gerda ran out with bare feet
into the wide world. She looked back three times, but no one seemed to
be following her. At last she could run no longer, so she sat down
to rest on a great stone, and when she looked round she saw that the
summer was over, and autumn very far advanced. She had known nothing
of this in the beautiful garden, where the sun shone and the flowers
grew all the year round.
Oh, how I have wasted my time? said little Gerda; it is autumn.
I must not rest any longer, and she rose up to go on. But her
little feet were wounded and sore, and everything around her looked so
cold and bleak. The long willow-leaves were quite yellow. The
dew-drops fell like water, leaf after leaf dropped from the trees, the
sloe-thorn alone still bore fruit, but the sloes were sour, and set
the teeth on edge. Oh, how dark and weary the whole world appeared!
The Prince and Princess
Gerda was obliged to rest again, and just opposite the place where
she sat, she saw a great crow come hopping across the snow toward her.
He stood looking at her for some time, and then he wagged his head and
said, Caw, caw; good-day, good-day. He pronounced the words as
plainly as he could, because he meant to be kind to the little girl;
and then he asked her where she was going all alone in the wide world.
The word alone Gerda understood very well, and knew how much it
expressed. So then she told the crow the whole story of her life and
adventures, and asked him if he had seen little Kay.
The crow nodded his head very gravely, and said, Perhaps I
have it may be.
No! Do you think you have? cried little Gerda, and she kissed
the crow, and hugged him almost to death with joy.
Gently, gently, said the crow. I believe I know. I think it may
be little Kay; but he has certainly forgotten you by this time for the
Does he live with a princess? asked Gerda.
Yes, listen, replied the crow, but it is so difficult to
speak your language. If you understand the crows' language then I
can explain it better. Do you?
No, I have never learnt it, said Gerda, but my grandmother
understands it, and used to speak it to me. I wish I had learnt it.
It does not matter, answered the crow; I will explain as well
as I can, although it will be very badly done; and he told her what
he had heard. In this kingdom where we now are, said he, there
lives a princess, who is so wonderfully clever that she has read all
the newspapers in the world, and forgotten them too, although she is
so clever. A short time ago, as she was sitting on her throne, which
people say is not such an agreeable seat as is often supposed, she
began to sing a song which commences in these words:
Why should I not be married?
Why not indeed? said she, and so she determined to marry if she
could find a husband who knew what to say when he was spoken to, and
not one who could only look grand, for that was so tiresome. Then
she assembled all her court ladies together at the beat of the drum,
and when they heard of her intentions they were very much pleased. We
are so glad to hear it, said they, we were talking about it ourselves
the other day. You may believe that every word I tell you is true,
said the crow, for I have a tame sweetheart who goes freely about the
palace, and she told me all this.
Of course his sweetheart was 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 among them. They gave notice that
every young man who was handsome was free to visit the castle and
speak with the princess; and those who could reply loud enough to be
heard when spoken to, were to make themselves quite at home at the
palace; but the one who spoke best would be chosen as a husband for
the princess. Yes, yes, you may believe me, it is all as true as I sit
here, said the crow. The people came in crowds. There was a great
deal of crushing and running about, but no one succeeded either on the
first or second day. They could all speak very well while they were
outside in the streets, but when they entered the palace gates, and
saw the guards in silver uniforms, and the footmen in their golden
livery on the staircase, and the great halls lighted up, they became
quite confused. And when they stood before the throne on which the
princess sat, they could do nothing but repeat the last words she
had said; and she had no particular wish to hear her own words over
again. It was just as if they had all taken something to make them
sleepy while they were in the palace, for they did not recover
themselves nor speak till they got back again into the street. There
was quite a long line of them reaching from the town-gate to the
palace. I went myself to see them, said the crow. They were hungry
and thirsty, for at the palace they did not get even a glass of water.
Some of the wisest had taken a few slices of bread and butter with
them, but they did not share it with their neighbors; they thought
if they went in to the princess looking hungry, there would be a
better chance for themselves.
But Kay! tell me about little Kay! said Gerda, was he amongst
Stop a bit, we are just coming to him. It was on the third day,
there came marching cheerfully along to the palace a little personage,
without horses or carriage, his eyes sparkling like yours; he had
beautiful long hair, but his clothes were very poor.
That was Kay! said Gerda joyfully. Oh, then 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 so, said the crow; I did not look at it very
closely. But I know from my tame sweetheart that he passed through the
palace gates, saw the guards in their silver uniform, and the servants
in their liveries of gold on the stairs, but he was not in the least
embarrassed. It must be very tiresome to stand on the stairs, he
said. I prefer to go in. The rooms were blazing with light.
Councilors and ambassadors walked about with bare feet, carrying
golden vessels; it was enough to make any one feel serious. His
boots creaked loudly as he walked, and yet he was not at all uneasy.
It must be Kay, said Gerda, I know he had new boots on, I
have heard them creak in grandmother's room.
They really did creak, said the crow, yet he went boldly up
to the princess herself, who was sitting on a pearl as large as a
spinning wheel, and all the ladies of the court were present with
their maids, and all the cavaliers with their servants; and each of
the maids had another maid to wait upon her, and the cavaliers'
servants had their own servants, as well as a page each. They all
stood in circles round the princess, and the nearer they stood to
the door, the prouder they looked. The servants' pages, who always
wore slippers, could hardly be looked at, they held themselves up so
proudly by the door.
It must be quite awful, said little Gerda, but did Kay win
If I had not been a crow, said he, I would have married her
myself, although I am engaged. He spoke just as well as I do, when I
speak the crows' language, so I heard from my tame sweetheart. He
was quite free and agreeable and said he had not come to woo the
princess, but to hear her wisdom; and he was as pleased with her as
she was with him.
Oh, certainly that was Kay, said Gerda, he was so clever; he
could work mental arithmetic and fractions. Oh, will you take me to
It is very easy to ask that, replied the crow, but how are we
to manage it? However, I will speak about it to my tame sweetheart,
and ask her advice; for I must tell you it will be very difficult to
gain permission for a little girl like you to enter the palace.
Oh, yes; but I shall gain permission easily, said Gerda, for
when Kay hears that I am here, he will come out and fetch me in
Wait for me here 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, she sends you greeting, and here is a little roll which she
took from the kitchen for you; there is plenty of bread there, and she
thinks you must be hungry. It is not possible for you to enter the
palace by the front entrance. The guards in silver uniform and the
servants in gold livery would not allow it. But do not cry, we will
manage to get you in; my sweetheart knows a little back-staircase that
leads to the sleeping apartments, and she knows where to find the
Then they went into the garden through the great avenue, where the
leaves were falling one after another, and they could see the light in
the palace being put out in the same manner. And the crow led little
Gerda to the back door, which stood ajar. Oh! how little Gerda's heart
beat with anxiety and longing; it was just as if she were going to
do something wrong, and yet she only wanted to know where little Kay
was. It must be he, she thought, with those clear eyes, and that
long hair. She could fancy she saw him smiling at her, as he used
to at home, when they sat among the roses. He would certainly be
glad to see her, and to hear what a long distance she had come for his
sake, and to know how sorry they had been at home because he did not
come back. Oh what joy and yet fear she felt! They were now on the
stairs, and in a small closet at the top a lamp was burning. 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 betrothed has spoken so very highly of you, my little lady,
said the tame crow, your life-history, Vita, as it may be called,
is very touching. If you will take the lamp I will walk before you. We
will go straight along this way, then we shall meet no one.
It seems to me as if somebody were behind us, said Gerda, as
something rushed by her like a shadow on the wall, and then horses
with flying manes and thin legs, hunters, ladies and gentlemen on
horseback, glided by her, like shadows on the wall.
They are only dreams, said the crow, they are coming to fetch
the thoughts of the great people out hunting.
All the better, for we shall be able to look at them in their
beds more safely. I hope that when you rise to honor and favor, you
will show a grateful heart.
You may be quite sure of that, said the crow from the forest.
They now came into the first hall, the walls of which were hung
with rose-colored satin, embroidered with artificial flowers. Here the
dreams again flitted by them but so quickly that Gerda could not
distinguish the royal persons. Each hall appeared more splendid than
the last, it was enough to bewilder any one. At length they reached a
bedroom. The ceiling was like a great palm-tree, with glass leaves
of the most costly crystal, and over the center of the floor two beds,
each resembling a lily, hung from a stem of gold. One, in which the
princess lay, was white, the other was red; and in this Gerda had to
seek for little Kay. She pushed one of the red leaves aside, and saw a
little brown neck. Oh, that must be Kay! She called his name out quite
loud, and held the lamp over him. The dreams rushed back into the room
on horseback. He woke, and turned his head round, it was not little
Kay! The prince was only like him in the neck, still he was young
and pretty. Then the princess peeped out of her white-lily bed, and
asked what was the matter. Then little Gerda wept and told her
story, and all that the crows had done to help her.
You poor child, said the prince and princess; then they
praised the crows, and said they were not angry for what they had
done, but that it must not happen again, and this time they should
Would you like to have your freedom? asked the princess, or
would you prefer to be raised to the position of court crows, with all
that is left in the kitchen for yourselves?
Then both the crows bowed, and begged to have a fixed appointment,
for they thought of their old age, and said it would be so comfortable
to feel that they had provision for their old days, as they called it.
And then the prince got out of his bed, and gave it up to Gerda, he
could do no more; and she lay down. She folded her little hands, and
thought, How good everyone is to me, men and animals too; then she
closed her eyes and fell into a sweet sleep. All the dreams came
flying back again to her, and they looked like angels, and one of them
drew a little sledge, on which sat Kay, and nodded to her. But all
this was only a dream, and vanished as soon as she awoke.
The following day she was dressed from head to foot in silk and
velvet, and they invited her to stay at the palace for a few days, and
enjoy herself, but she only begged for a pair of boots, and a little
carriage, and a horse to draw it, so that she might go into the wide
world to seek for Kay. And she obtained, not only boots, but also a
muff, and she was neatly dressed; and when she was ready to go, there,
at the door, she found a coach made of pure gold, with the
coat-of-arms of the prince and princess shining upon it like a star,
and the coachman, footman, and outriders all wearing golden crowns
on their heads. The prince and princess themselves helped her into the
coach, and wished her success. The forest crow, who was now married,
accompanied her for the first three miles; he sat by Gerda's side,
as he could not bear riding backwards. The tame crow stood in the
door-way flapping her wings. She could not go with them, because she
had been suffering from headache ever since the new appointment, no
doubt from eating too much. The coach was well stored with sweet
cakes, and under the seat were fruit and gingerbread nuts.
Farewell, farewell, cried the prince and princess, and little
Gerda wept, and the crow wept; and then, after a few miles, the crow
also said Farewell, and this was the saddest parting. However, he
flew to a tree, and stood flapping his black wings as long as he could
see the coach, which glittered in the bright sunshine.
The coach drove on through a thick forest, where it lighted up the
way like a torch, and dazzled the eyes of some robbers, who could
not bear to let it pass them unmolested.
It is gold! it is gold! cried they, rushing forward, and seizing
the horses. Then they struck the little jockeys, the coachman, and the
footman dead, and pulled little Gerda out of the carriage.
She is fat and pretty, and she has been fed with the kernels of
nuts, said the old robber-woman, who had a long beard and eyebrows
that hung over her eyes. She is as good as a little lamb; how nice
she will taste! and as she said this, she drew forth a shining knife,
that glittered horribly. Oh! screamed the old woman the same moment;
for her own daughter, who held her back, had bitten her in the ear.
She was a wild and naughty girl, and the mother called her an ugly
thing, and had not time to kill Gerda.
She shall play with me, said the little robber-girl; she
shall give me her muff and her pretty dress, and sleep with me in my
bed. And then she bit her mother again, and made her spring in the
air, and jump about; and all the robbers laughed, and said, See how
she is dancing with her young cub.
I will have a ride in the coach, said the little robber-girl;
and she would have her own way; for she was so self-willed and
She and Gerda seated themselves in the coach, and drove away, over
stumps and stones, into the depths of the forest. The little
robber-girl was about the same size as Gerda, but stronger; she had
broader shoulders and a darker skin; her eyes were quite black, and
she had a mournful look. She clasped little Gerda round the waist, and
They shall not kill you as long as you don't make us vexed with
you. I suppose you are a princess.
No, said Gerda; and then she told her all her history, and how
fond she was of little Kay.
The robber-girl looked earnestly at her, nodded her head slightly,
and said, They shan't kill you, even if I do get angry with you;
for I will do it myself. And then she wiped Gerda's eyes, and stuck
her own hands in the beautiful muff which was so soft and warm.
The coach stopped in the courtyard of a robber's castle, the walls
of which were cracked from top to bottom. Ravens and crows flew in and
out of the holes and crevices, while great bulldogs, either of which
looked as if it could swallow a man, were jumping about; but they were
not allowed to bark. In the large and smoky hall a bright fire was
burning on the stone floor. There was no chimney; so the smoke went up
to the ceiling, and found a way out for itself. Soup was boiling in
a large cauldron, and hares and rabbits were roasting on the spit.
You shall sleep with me and all my little animals to-night, said
the robber-girl, after they had something to eat and drink. So she
took Gerda to a corner of the hall, where some straw and carpets
were laid down. Above them, on laths and perches, were more than a
hundred pigeons, who all seemed to be asleep, although they moved
slightly when the two little girls came near them. These all belong
to me, said the robber-girl; and she seized the nearest to her,
held it by the feet, and shook it till it flapped its wings. Kiss
it, cried she, flapping it in Gerda's face. There sit the
wood-pigeons, continued she, pointing to a number of laths and a cage
which had been fixed into the walls, near one of the openings. Both
rascals would fly away directly, if they were not closely locked up.
And here is my old sweetheart Ba; and she dragged out a reindeer
by the horn; he wore a bright copper ring round his neck, and was tied
up. We are obliged to hold him tight too, or else he would run away
from us also. I tickle his neck every evening with my sharp knife,
which frightens him very much. And then the robber-girl drew a long
knife from a chink in the wall, and let it slide gently over the
reindeer's neck. The poor animal began to kick, and the little
robber-girl laughed, and pulled down Gerda into bed with her.
Will you have that knife with you while you are asleep? asked
Gerda, looking at it in great fright.
I always sleep with the knife by me, said the robber-girl. No
one knows what may happen. But now tell me again all about little Kay,
and why you went out into the world.
Then Gerda repeated her story over again, while the wood-pigeons
in the cage over her cooed, and the other pigeons slept. The little
robber-girl put one arm across Gerda's neck, and held the knife in the
other, and was soon fast asleep and snoring. But Gerda could not close
her eyes at all; she knew not whether she was to live or die. The
robbers sat round the fire, singing and drinking, and the old woman
stumbled about. It was a terrible sight for a little girl to witness.
Then the wood-pigeons said, Coo, coo; we have seen little Kay.
A white fowl carried his sledge, and he sat in the carriage of the
Snow Queen, which drove through the wood while we were lying in our
nest. She blew upon us, and all the young ones died excepting us
two. Coo, coo.
What are you saying up there? cried Gerda. Where was the Snow
Queen going? Do you know anything about it?
She was most likely travelling to Lapland, where there is
always snow and ice. Ask the reindeer that is fastened up there with a
Yes, there is always snow and ice, said the reindeer; and it is
a glorious place; you can leap and run about freely on the sparkling
ice plains. The Snow Queen has her summer tent there, but her strong
castle is at the North Pole, on an island called Spitzbergen.
Oh, Kay, little Kay! sighed Gerda.
Lie still, said the robber-girl, or I shall run my knife into
In the morning Gerda told her all that the wood-pigeons had
said; and the little robber-girl looked quite serious, and nodded
her head, and said, That is all talk, that is all talk. Do you know
where Lapland is? she asked the reindeer.
Who should know better than I do? said the animal, while his
eyes sparkled. I was born and brought up there, and used to run about
the snow-covered plains.
Now listen, said the robber-girl; all our men are gone away,
only mother is here, and here she will stay; but at noon she always
drinks out of a great bottle, and afterwards sleeps for a little
while; and then, I'll do something for you. Then she jumped out of
bed, clasped her mother round the neck, and pulled her by the beard,
crying, My own little nanny goat, good morning. Then her mother
flipped her nose till it was quite red; yet she did it all for love.
When the mother had drunk out of the bottle, and was gone to
sleep, the little robber-maiden went to the reindeer, and said, I
should like very much to tickle your neck a few times more with my
knife, for it makes you look so funny; but never mind, I will untie
your cord, and set you free, so that you may run away to Lapland;
but you must make good use of your legs, and carry this little
maiden to the castle of the Snow Queen, where her play-fellow is.
You have heard what she told me, for she spoke loud enough, and you
Then the reindeer jumped for joy; and the little robber-girl
lifted Gerda on his back, and had the forethought to tie her on, and
even to give her her own little cushion to sit on.
Here are your fur boots for you, said she; for it will be
very cold; but I must keep the muff; it is so pretty. However, you
shall not be frozen for the want of it; here are my mother's large
warm mittens; they will reach up to your elbows. Let me put them on.
There, now your hands look just like my mother's.
But Gerda wept for joy.
I don't like to see you fret, said the little robber-girl;
you ought to look quite happy now; and here are two loaves and a ham,
so that you need not starve. These were fastened on the reindeer, and
then the little robber-maiden opened the door, coaxed in all the great
dogs, and then cut the string with which the reindeer was fastened,
with her sharp knife, and said, Now run, but mind you take good
care of the little girl. And then Gerda stretched out her hand,
with the great mitten on it, towards the little robber-girl, and said,
Farewell, and away flew the reindeer, over stumps and stones,
through the great forest, over marshes and plains, as quickly as he
could. The wolves howled, and the ravens screamed; while up in the sky
quivered red lights like flames of fire. There are my old northern
lights, said the reindeer; see how they flash. And he ran on day
and night still faster and faster, but the loaves and the ham were all
eaten by the time they reached Lapland.
The Lapland Woman and the Finland Woman
They stopped at a little hut; it was very mean looking; the roof
sloped nearly down to the ground, and the door was so low that the
family had to creep in on their hands and knees, when they went in and
out. There was no one at home but an old Lapland woman, who was
cooking fish by the light of a train-oil lamp. The reindeer told her
all about Gerda's story, after having first told his own, which seemed
to him the most important, but Gerda was so pinched with the cold that
she could not speak. Oh, you poor things, said the Lapland woman,
you have a long way to go yet. You must travel more than a hundred
miles farther, to Finland. The Snow Queen lives there now, and she
burns Bengal lights every evening. I will write a few words on a dried
stock-fish, for I have no paper, and you can take it from me to the
Finland woman who lives there; she can give you better information
than I can.
So when Gerda was warmed, and had taken something to
eat and drink, the woman wrote a few words on the dried fish, and told
Gerda to take great care of it. Then she tied her again on the
reindeer, and he set off at full speed. Flash, flash, went the
beautiful blue northern lights in the air the whole night long. And at
length they reached Finland, and knocked at the chimney of the Finland
woman's hut, for it had no door above the ground. They crept in, but
it was so terribly hot inside that woman wore scarcely any
clothes; she was small and very dirty looking. She loosened little
Gerda's dress, and took off the fur boots and the mittens, or Gerda
would have been unable to bear the heat; and then she placed a piece
of ice on the reindeer's head, and read what was written on the
dried fish. After she had read it three times, she knew it by heart,
so she popped the fish into the soup saucepan, as she knew it was good
to eat, and she never wasted anything. The reindeer told his own story
first, and then little Gerda's, and the Finlander twinkled with her
clever eyes, but she said nothing. You are so clever, 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 unties the second, it blows hard; but if the third and
fourth are loosened, then comes a storm, which will root up whole
forests. Cannot you give this little maiden something which will
make her as strong as twelve men, to overcome the Snow Queen?
The Power of twelve men! said the Finland woman; that would
be of very little use. But she went to a shelf and took down and
unrolled a large skin, on which were inscribed wonderful characters,
and she read till the perspiration ran down from her forehead. But the
reindeer begged so hard for little Gerda, and Gerda looked at the
Finland woman with such beseeching tearful eyes, that her own eyes
began to twinkle again; so she drew the reindeer into a corner, and
whispered to him while she laid a fresh piece of ice on his head,
Little Kay is really with the Snow Queen, but he finds everything
there so much to his taste and his liking, that he believes it is
the finest place in the world; but this is because he has a piece of
broken glass in his heart, and a little piece of glass in his eye.
These must be taken out, or he will never be a human being again,
and the Snow Queen will retain her power over him.
But can you not give little Gerda something to help her to
conquer this power?
I can give her no greater power than she has already, said the
woman; don't you see how strong that is? How men and animals are
obliged to serve her, and how well she has got through the world,
barefooted as she is. She cannot receive any power from me greater
than she now has, which consists in her own purity and innocence of
heart. If she cannot herself obtain access to the Snow Queen, and
remove the glass fragments from little Kay, we can do nothing to
help her. Two miles from here the Snow Queen's garden begins; you
can carry the little girl so far, and set her down by the large bush
which stands in the snow, covered with red berries. Do not stay
gossiping, but come back here as quickly as you can. Then the Finland
woman lifted little Gerda upon the reindeer, and he ran away with
her as quickly as he could.
Oh, I have forgotten my boots and my mittens, cried little
Gerda, as soon as she felt the cutting cold, but the reindeer dared
not stop, so he ran on till he reached the bush with the red
berries; here he set Gerda down, and he kissed her, and the great
bright tears trickled over the animal's cheeks; then he left her and
ran back as fast as he could.
There stood poor Gerda, without shoes, without gloves, in the
midst of cold, dreary, ice-bound Finland. She ran forwards as
quickly as she could, when a whole regiment of snow-flakes came
round her; they did not, however, fall from the sky, which was quite
clear and glittering with the northern lights. The snow-flakes ran
along the ground, and the nearer they came to her, the larger they
appeared. Gerda remembered how large and beautiful they looked through
the burning-glass. But these were really larger, and much more
terrible, for they were alive, and were the guards of the Snow
Queen, and had the strangest shapes. Some were like great
porcupines, others like twisted serpents with their heads stretching
out, and some few were like little fat bears with their hair bristled;
but all were dazzlingly white, and all were living snow-flakes.
little Gerda repeated the Lord's Prayer, and the cold was so great
that she could see her own breath come out of her mouth like steam
as she uttered the words. The steam appeared to increase, as she
continued her prayer, till it took the shape of little angels who grew
larger the moment they touched the earth. They all wore helmets on
their heads, and carried spears and shields. Their number continued to
increase more and more; and by the time Gerda had finished her
prayers, a whole legion stood round her. They thrust their spears into
the terrible snow-flakes, so that they shivered into a hundred pieces,
and little Gerda could go forward with courage and safety. The
angels stroked her hands and feet, so that she felt the cold less, and
she hastened on to the Snow Queen's castle.
But now we must see what Kay is doing. In truth he thought not
of little Gerda, and never supposed she could be standing in the front
of the palace.
Of the Palace of the Snow Queen
and What Happened There At Last
The walls of the palace were formed of drifted snow, and the
windows and doors of the cutting winds. There were more than a hundred
rooms in it, all as if they had been formed with snow blown
together. The largest of them extended for several miles; they were
all lighted up by the vivid light of the aurora, and they were so
large and empty, so icy cold and glittering! There were no
amusements here, not even a little bear's ball, when the storm might
have been the music, and the bears could have danced on their hind
legs, and shown their good manners. There were no pleasant games of
snap-dragon, or touch, or even a gossip over the tea-table, for the
young-lady foxes. Empty, vast, and cold were the halls of the Snow
Queen. The flickering flame of the northern lights could be plainly
seen, whether they rose high or low in the heavens, from every part of
the castle. In the midst of its empty, endless hall of snow was a
frozen lake, broken on its surface into a thousand forms; each piece
resembled another, from being in itself perfect as a work of art,
and in the center of this lake sat the Snow Queen, when she was at
home. She called the lake The Mirror of Reason, and said that it was
the best, and indeed the only one in the world.
Little Kay was quite blue with cold, indeed almost black, but he
did not feel it; for the Snow Queen had kissed away the icy
shivering, and his heart was already a lump of ice. He dragged some
sharp, flat pieces of ice to and fro, and placed them together in
all kinds of positions, as if he wished to make something out of them;
just as we try to form various figures with little tablets of wood
which we call a Chinese puzzle. Kay's fingers were very artistic; it
was the icy game of reason at which he played, and in his eyes the
figures were very remarkable, and of the highest importance; this
opinion was owing to the piece of glass still sticking in his eye.
He composed many complete figures, forming different words, but
there was one word he never could manage to form, although he wished
it very much. It was the word Eternity. The Snow Queen had said to
him, When you can find out this, you shall be your own master, and
I will give you the whole world and a new pair of skates. But he
could not accomplish it.
Now I must hasten away to warmer countries, said the Snow Queen.
I will go and look into the black craters of the tops of the
burning mountains, Etna and Vesuvius, as they are called, I shall
make them look white, which will be good for them, and for the
lemons and the grapes. And away flew the Snow Queen, leaving little
Kay quite alone in the great hall which was so many miles in length;
so he sat and looked at his pieces of ice, and was thinking so deeply,
and sat so still, that any one might have supposed he was frozen.
Just at this moment it happened that little Gerda came through the
great door of the castle. Cutting winds were raging around her, but
she offered up a prayer and the winds sank down as if they were
going to sleep; and she went on till she came to the large empty hall,
and caught sight of Kay; she knew him directly; she flew to him and
threw her arms round his neck, and held him fast, while she exclaimed,
Kay, dear little Kay, I have found you at last.
But he sat quite still, stiff and cold.
Then little Gerda wept hot tears, which fell on his breast, and
penetrated into his heart, and thawed the lump of ice, and washed away
the little piece of glass which had stuck there. Then he looked at
her, and she sang
Roses bloom and cease to be,
But we shall the Christ-child see.
Then Kay burst into tears, and he wept so that the splinter of
glass swam out of his eye. Then he recognized Gerda, and said,
joyfully, Gerda, dear little Gerda, where have you been all this
time, and where have I been? And he looked all around him, and
said, How cold it is, and how large and empty it all looks, and he
clung to Gerda, and she laughed and wept for joy. It was so pleasing
to see them that the pieces of ice even danced about; and when they
were tired and went to lie down, they formed themselves into the
letters of the word which the Snow Queen had said he must find out
before he could be his own master, and have the whole world and a pair
of new skates.
Then Gerda kissed his cheeks, and they became blooming;
and she kissed his eyes, and they shone like her own; she kissed his
hands and his feet, and then he became quite healthy and cheerful. The
Snow Queen might come home now when she pleased, for there stood his
certainty of freedom, in the word she wanted, written in shining
letters of ice.
Then they took each other by the hand, and went forth from the
great palace of ice. They spoke of the grandmother, and of the roses
on the roof, and as they went on the winds were at rest, and the sun
burst forth. When they arrived at the bush with red berries, there
stood the reindeer waiting for them, and he had brought another
young reindeer with him, whose udders were full, and the children
drank her warm milk and kissed her on the mouth.
Then they carried Kay
and Gerda first to the Finland woman, where they warmed themselves
thoroughly in the hot room, and she gave them directions about their
journey home. Next they went to the Lapland woman, who had made some
new clothes for them, and put their sleighs in order. Both the
reindeer ran by their side, and followed them as far as the boundaries
of the country, where the first green leaves were budding. And here
they took leave of the two reindeer and the Lapland woman, and all
Then the birds began to twitter, and the forest too
was full of green young leaves; and out of it came a beautiful
horse, which Gerda remembered, for it was one which had drawn the
golden coach. A young girl was riding upon it, with a shining red
cap on her head, and pistols in her belt. It was the little
robber-maiden, who had got tired of staying at home; she was going
first to the north, and if that did not suit her, she meant to try
some other part of the world. She knew Gerda directly, and Gerda
remembered her: it was a joyful meeting.
You are a fine fellow to go gadding about in this way, said
she to little Kay, I should like to know whether you deserve that any
one should go to the end of the world to find you.
But Gerda patted her cheeks, and asked after the prince and
They are gone to foreign countries, said the robber-girl.
And the crow? asked Gerda.
Oh, the crow is dead, she replied; his tame sweetheart is now a
widow, and wears a bit of black worsted round her leg. She mourns very
pitifully, but it is all stuff. But now tell me how you managed to get
Then Gerda and Kay told her all about it.
Snip, snap, snare! it's all right at last, said the robber-girl.
Then she took both their hands, and promised that if ever she
should pass through the town, she would call and pay them a visit. And
then she rode away into the wide world. But Gerda and Kay went
hand-in-hand towards home; and as they advanced, spring appeared
more lovely with its green verdure and its beautiful flowers. Very
soon they recognized the large town where they lived, and the tall
steeples of the churches, in which the sweet bells were ringing a
merry peal as they entered it, and found their way to their
They went upstairs into the little room, where all
looked just as it used to do. The old clock was going tick, tick,
and the hands pointed to the time of day, but as they passed through
the door into the room they perceived that they were both grown up,
and become a man and woman. The roses out on the roof were in full
bloom, and peeped in at the window; and there stood the little chairs,
on which they had sat when children; and Kay and Gerda seated
themselves each on their own chair, and held each other by the hand,
while the cold empty grandeur of the Snow Queen's palace vanished from
their memories like a painful dream. The grandmother sat in God's
bright sunshine, and she read aloud from the Bible, Except ye
become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the
kingdom of God. And Kay and Gerda looked into each other's eyes,
and all at once understood the words of the old song,
Roses bloom and cease to be,
But we shall the Christ-child see.
And they both sat there, grown up, yet children at heart; and it was
summer, warm, beautiful summer.