THE SNOW QUEEN
FIRST STORY. Which Treats of a Mirror and of the Splinters
Now then, let us begin. When we are at the end of the story, we shall know
more than we know now: but to begin.
Once upon a time there was a wicked sprite, indeed he was the most mischievous
of all sprites. One day he was in a very good humor, for he had made a mirror
with the power of causing all that was good and beautiful when it was
reflected therein, to look poor and mean; but that which was good-for-nothing
and looked ugly was shown magnified and increased in ugliness. In this mirror
the most beautiful landscapes looked like boiled spinach, and the best persons
were turned into frights, or appeared to stand on their heads; their faces
were so distorted that they were not to be recognised; and if anyone had a
mole, you might be sure that it would be magnified and spread over both nose
"That's glorious fun!" said the sprite. If a good thought passed through a
man's mind, then a grin was seen in the mirror, and the sprite laughed
heartily at his clever discovery. All the little sprites who went to his
school--for he kept a sprite school--told each other that a miracle had
happened; and that now only, as they thought, it would be possible to see how
the world really looked. They ran about with the mirror; and at last there was
not a land or a person who was not represented distorted in the mirror. So
then they thought they would fly up to the sky, and have a joke there. The
higher they flew with the mirror, the more terribly it grinned: they could
hardly hold it fast. Higher and higher still they flew, nearer and nearer to
the stars, when suddenly the mirror shook so terribly with grinning, that it
flew out of their hands and fell to the earth, where it was dashed in a
hundred million and more pieces. And now it worked much more evil than before;
for some of these pieces were hardly so large as a grain of sand, and they
flew about in the wide world, and when they got into people's eyes, there they
stayed; and then people saw everything perverted, or only had an eye for that
which was evil. This happened because the very smallest bit had the same power
which the whole mirror had possessed. Some persons even got a splinter in
their heart, and then it made one shudder, for their heart became like a lump
of ice. Some of the broken pieces were so large that they were used for
windowpanes, through which one could not see one's friends. Other pieces were
put in spectacles; and that was a sad affair when people put on their glasses
to see well and rightly. Then the wicked sprite laughed till he almost choked,
for all this tickled his fancy. The fine splinters still flew about in the
air: and now we shall hear what happened next.
SECOND STORY. A Little Boy and a Little Girl
In a large town, where there are so many houses, and so many people, that
there is no roof left for everybody to have a little garden; and where, on
this account, most persons are obliged to content themselves with flowers in
pots; there lived two little children, who had a garden somewhat larger than a
flower-pot. They were not brother and sister; but they cared for each other as
much as if they were. Their parents lived exactly opposite. They inhabited two
garrets; and where the roof of the one house joined that of the other, and the
gutter ran along the extreme end of it, there was to each house a small
window: one needed only to step over the gutter to get from one window to the
The children's parents had large wooden boxes there, in which vegetables for
the kitchen were planted, and little rosetrees besides: there was a rose in
each box, and they grew splendidly. They now thought of placing the boxes
across the gutter, so that they nearly reached from one window to the other,
and looked just like two walls of flowers. The tendrils of the peas hung down
over the boxes; and the rose-trees shot up long branches, twined round the
windows, and then bent towards each other: it was almost like a triumphant
arch of foliage and flowers. The boxes were very high, and the children knew
that they must not creep over them; so they often obtained permission to get
out of the windows to each other, and to sit on their little stools among the
roses, where they could play delightfully. In winter there was an end of this
pleasure. The windows were often frozen over; but then they heated copper
farthings on the stove, and laid the hot farthing on the windowpane, and then
they had a capital peep-hole, quite nicely rounded; and out of each peeped a
gentle friendly eye--it was the little boy and the little girl who were
looking out. His name was Kay, hers was Gerda. In summer, with one jump, they
could get to each other; but in winter they were obliged first to go down the
long stairs, and then up the long stairs again: and out-of-doors there was
quite a snow-storm.
"It is the white bees that are swarming," said Kay's old grandmother.
"Do the white bees choose a queen?" asked the little boy; for he knew that the
honey-bees always have one.
"Yes," said the grandmother, "she flies where the swarm hangs in the thickest
clusters. She is the largest of all; and she can never remain quietly on the
earth, but goes up again into the black clouds. Many a winter's night she
flies through the streets of the town, and peeps in at the windows; and they
then freeze in so wondrous a manner that they look like flowers."
"Yes, I have seen it," said both the children; and so they knew that it was
"Can the Snow Queen come in?" said the little girl.
"Only let her come in!" said the little boy. "Then I'd put her on the stove,
and she'd melt."
And then his grandmother patted his head and told him other stories.
In the evening, when little Kay was at home, and half undressed, he climbed up
on the chair by the window, and peeped out of the little hole. A few
snow-flakes were falling, and one, the largest of all, remained lying on the
edge of a flower-pot.
The flake of snow grew larger and larger; and at last it was like a young
lady, dressed in the finest white gauze, made of a million little flakes like
stars. She was so beautiful and delicate, but she was of ice, of dazzling,
sparkling ice; yet she lived; her eyes gazed fixedly, like two stars; but
there was neither quiet nor repose in them. She nodded towards the window, and
beckoned with her hand. The little boy was frightened, and jumped down from
the chair; it seemed to him as if, at the same moment, a large bird flew past
The next day it was a sharp frost--and then the spring came; the sun shone,
the green leaves appeared, the swallows built their nests, the windows were
opened, and the little children again sat in their pretty garden, high up on
the leads at the top of the house.
That summer the roses flowered in unwonted beauty. The little girl had learned
a hymn, in which there was something about roses; and then she thought of her
own flowers; and she sang the verse to the little boy, who then sang it with
"The rose in the valley is blooming so sweet,
And angels descend there the children to greet."
And the children held each other by the hand, kissed the roses, looked up at
the clear sunshine, and spoke as though they really saw angels there. What
lovely summer-days those were! How delightful to be out in the air, near the
fresh rose-bushes, that seem as if they would never finish blossoming!
Kay and Gerda looked at the picture-book full of beasts and of birds; and it
was then--the clock in the church-tower was just striking five--that Kay said,
"Oh! I feel such a sharp pain in my heart; and now something has got into my
The little girl put her arms around his neck. He winked his eves; now there
was nothing to be seen.
"I think it is out now," said he; but it was not. It was just one of those
pieces of glass from the magic mirror that had got into his eye; and poor Kay
had got another piece right in his heart. It will soon become like ice. It did
not hurt any longer, but there it was.
"What are you crying for?" asked he. "You look so ugly! There's nothing the
matter with me. Ah," said he at once, "that rose is cankered! And look, this
one is quite crooked! After all, these roses are very ugly! They are just like
the box they are planted in!" And then he gave the box a good kick with his
foot, and pulled both the roses up.
"What are you doing?" cried the little girl; and as he perceived her fright,
he pulled up another rose, got in at the window, and hastened off from dear
Afterwards, when she brought her picture-book, he asked, "What horrid beasts
have you there?" And if his grandmother told them stories, he always
interrupted her; besides, if he could manage it, he would get behind her, put
on her spectacles, and imitate her way of speaking; he copied all her ways,
and then everybody laughed at him. He was soon able to imitate the gait and
manner of everyone in the street. Everything that was peculiar and displeasing
in them--that Kay knew how to imitate: and at such times all the people said,
"The boy is certainly very clever!" But it was the glass he had got in his
eye; the glass that was sticking in his heart, which made him tease even
little Gerda, whose whole soul was devoted to him.
His games now were quite different to what they had formerly been, they were
so very knowing. One winter's day, when the flakes of snow were flying about,
he spread the skirts of his blue coat, and caught the snow as it fell.
"Look through this glass, Gerda," said he. And every flake seemed larger, and
appeared like a magnificent flower, or beautiful star; it was splendid to look
"Look, how clever!" said Kay. "That's much more interesting than real flowers!
They are as exact as possible; there is not a fault in them, if they did not
It was not long after this, that Kay came one day with large gloves on, and
his little sledge at his back, and bawled right into Gerda's ears, "I have
permission to go out into the square where the others are playing"; and off he
was in a moment.
There, in the market-place, some of the boldest of the boys used to tie their
sledges to the carts as they passed by, and so they were pulled along, and got
a good ride. It was so capital! Just as they were in the very height of their
amusement, a large sledge passed by: it was painted quite white, and there was
someone in it wrapped up in a rough white mantle of fur, with a rough white
fur cap on his head. The sledge drove round the square twice, and Kay tied on
his sledge as quickly as he could, and off he drove with it. On they went
quicker and quicker into the next street; and the person who drove turned
round to Kay, and nodded to him in a friendly manner, just as if they knew
each other. Every time he was going to untie his sledge, the person nodded to
him, and then Kay sat quiet; and so on they went till they came outside the
gates of the town. Then the snow began to fall so thickly that the little boy
could not see an arm's length before him, but still on he went: when suddenly
he let go the string he held in his hand in order to get loose from the
sledge, but it was of no use; still the little vehicle rushed on with the
quickness of the wind. He then cried as loud as he could, but no one beard
him; the snow drifted and the sledge flew on, and sometimes it gave a jerk as
though they were driving over hedges and ditches. He was quite frightened, and
he tried to repeat the Lord's Prayer; but all he could do, he was only able to
remember the multiplication table.
The snow-flakes grew larger and larger, till at last they looked just like
great white fowls. Suddenly they flew on one side; the large sledge stopped,
and the person who drove rose up. It was a lady; her cloak and cap were of
snow. She was tall and of slender figure, and of a dazzling whiteness. It was
the Snow Queen.
"We have travelled fast," said she; "but it is freezingly cold. Come under my
bearskin." And she put him in the sledge beside her, wrapped the fur round
him, and he felt as though he were sinking in a snow-wreath.
"Are you still cold?" asked she; and then she kissed his forehead. Ah! it was
colder than ice; it penetrated to his very heart, which was already almost a
frozen lump; it seemed to him as if he were about to die--but a moment more
and it was quite congenial to him, and he did not remark the cold that was
"My sledge! Do not forget my sledge!" It was the first thing he thought of. It
was there tied to one of the white chickens, who flew along with it on his
back behind the large sledge. The Snow Queen kissed Kay once more, and then he
forgot little Gerda, grandmother, and all whom he had left at his home.
"Now you will have no more kisses," said she, "or else I should kiss you to
Kay looked at her. She was very beautiful; a more clever, or a more lovely
countenance he could not fancy to himself; and she no longer appeared of ice
as before, when she sat outside the window, and beckoned to him; in his eyes
she was perfect, he did not fear her at all, and told her that he could
calculate in his head and with fractions, even; that he knew the number of
square miles there were in the different countries, and how many inhabitants
they contained; and she smiled while he spoke. It then seemed to him as if
what he knew was not enough, and he looked upwards in the large huge empty
space above him, and on she flew with him; flew high over the black clouds,
while the storm moaned and whistled as though it were singing some old tune.
On they flew over woods and lakes, over seas, and many lands; and beneath them
the chilling storm rushed fast, the wolves howled, the snow crackled; above
them flew large screaming crows, but higher up appeared the moon, quite large
and bright; and it was on it that Kay gazed during the long long winter's
night; while by day he slept at the feet of the Snow Queen.
THIRD STORY. Of the Flower-Garden At the Old Woman's Who Understood Witchcraft
But what became of little Gerda when Kay did not return? Where could he be?
Nobody knew; nobody could give any intelligence. All the boys knew was, that
they had seen him tie his sledge to another large and splendid one, which
drove down the street and out of the town. Nobody knew where he was; many sad
tears were shed, and little Gerda wept long and bitterly; at last she said he
must be dead; that he had been drowned in the river which flowed close to the
town. Oh! those were very long and dismal winter evenings!
At last spring came, with its warm sunshine.
"Kay is dead and gone!" said little Gerda.
"That I don't believe," said the Sunshine.
"Kay is dead and gone!" said she to the Swallows.
"That I don't believe," said they: and at last little Gerda did not think so
any longer either.
"I'll put on my red shoes," said she, one morning; "Kay has never seen them,
and then I'll go down to the river and ask there."
It was quite early; she kissed her old grandmother, who was still asleep, put
on her red shoes, and went alone to the river.
"Is it true that you have taken my little playfellow? I will make you a
present of my red shoes, if you will give him back to me."
And, as it seemed to her, the blue waves nodded in a strange manner; then she
took off her red shoes, the most precious things she possessed, and threw them
both into the river. But they fell close to the bank, and the little waves
bore them immediately to land; it was as if the stream would not take what was
dearest to her; for in reality it had not got little Kay; but Gerda thought
that she had not thrown the shoes out far enough, so she clambered into a boat
which lay among the rushes, went to the farthest end, and threw out the shoes.
But the boat was not fastened, and the motion which she occasioned, made it
drift from the shore. She observed this, and hastened to get back; but before
she could do so, the boat was more than a yard from the land, and was gliding
Little Gerda was very frightened, and began to cry; but no one heard her
except the sparrows, and they could not carry her to land; but they flew along
the bank, and sang as if to comfort her, "Here we are! Here we are!" The boat
drifted with the stream, little Gerda sat quite still without shoes, for they
were swimming behind the boat, but she could not reach them, because the boat
went much faster than they did.
The banks on both sides were beautiful; lovely flowers, venerable trees, and
slopes with sheep and cows, but not a human being was to be seen.
"Perhaps the river will carry me to little Kay," said she; and then she grew
less sad. She rose, and looked for many hours at the beautiful green banks.
Presently she sailed by a large cherry-orchard, where was a little cottage
with curious red and blue windows; it was thatched, and before it two wooden
soldiers stood sentry, and presented arms when anyone went past.
Gerda called to them, for she thought they were alive; but they, of course,
did not answer. She came close to them, for the stream drifted the boat quite
near the land.
Gerda called still louder, and an old woman then came out of the cottage,
leaning upon a crooked stick. She had a large broad-brimmed hat on, painted
with the most splendid flowers.
"Poor little child!" said the old woman. "How did you get upon the large rapid
river, to be driven about so in the wide world!" And then the old woman went
into the water, caught hold of the boat with her crooked stick, drew it to the
bank, and lifted little Gerda out.
And Gerda was so glad to be on dry land again; but she was rather afraid of
the strange old woman.
"But come and tell me who you are, and how you came here," said she.
And Gerda told her all; and the old woman shook her head and said, "A-hem!
a-hem!" and when Gerda had told her everything, and asked her if she had not
seen little Kay, the woman answered that he had not passed there, but he no
doubt would come; and she told her not to be cast down, but taste her
cherries, and look at her flowers, which were finer than any in a
picture-book, each of which could tell a whole story. She then took Gerda by
the hand, led her into the little cottage, and locked the door.
The windows were very high up; the glass was red, blue, and green, and the
sunlight shone through quite wondrously in all sorts of colors. On the table
stood the most exquisite cherries, and Gerda ate as many as she chose, for she
had permission to do so. While she was eating, the old woman combed her hair
with a golden comb, and her hair curled and shone with a lovely golden color
around that sweet little face, which was so round and so like a rose.
"I have often longed for such a dear little girl," said the old woman. "Now
you shall see how well we agree together"; and while she combed little Gerda's
hair, the child forgot her foster-brother Kay more and more, for the old woman
understood magic; but she was no evil being, she only practised witchcraft a
little for her own private amusement, and now she wanted very much to keep
little Gerda. She therefore went out in the garden, stretched out her crooked
stick towards the rose-bushes, which, beautifully as they were blowing, all
sank into the earth and no one could tell where they had stood. The old woman
feared that if Gerda should see the roses, she would then think of her own,
would remember little Kay, and run away from her.
She now led Gerda into the flower-garden. Oh, what odour and what loveliness
was there! Every flower that one could think of, and of every season, stood
there in fullest bloom; no picture-book could be gayer or more beautiful.
Gerda jumped for joy, and played till the sun set behind the tall cherry-tree;
she then had a pretty bed, with a red silken coverlet filled with blue
violets. She fell asleep, and had as pleasant dreams as ever a queen on her
The next morning she went to play with the flowers in the warm sunshine, and
thus passed away a day. Gerda knew every flower; and, numerous as they were,
it still seemed to Gerda that one was wanting, though she did not know which.
One day while she was looking at the hat of the old woman painted with
flowers, the most beautiful of them all seemed to her to be a rose. The old
woman had forgotten to take it from her hat when she made the others vanish in
the earth. But so it is when one's thoughts are not collected. "What!" said
Gerda. "Are there no roses here?" and she ran about amongst the flowerbeds,
and looked, and looked, but there was not one to be found. She then sat down
and wept; but her hot tears fell just where a rose-bush had sunk; and when her
warm tears watered the ground, the tree shot up suddenly as fresh and blooming
as when it had been swallowed up. Gerda kissed the roses, thought of her own
dear roses at home, and with them of little Kay.
"Oh, how long I have stayed!" said the little girl. "I intended to look for
Kay! Don't you know where he is?" she asked of the roses. "Do you think he is
dead and gone?"
"Dead he certainly is not," said the Roses. "We have been in the earth where
all the dead are, but Kay was not there."
"Many thanks!" said little Gerda; and she went to the other flowers, looked
into their cups, and asked, "Don't you know where little Kay is?"
But every flower stood in the sunshine, and dreamed its own fairy tale or its
own story: and they all told her very many things, but not one knew anything
Well, what did the Tiger-Lily say?
"Hearest thou not the drum? Bum! Bum! Those are the only two tones. Always
bum! Bum! Hark to the plaintive song of the old woman, to the call of the
priests! The Hindoo woman in her long robe stands upon the funeral pile; the
flames rise around her and her dead husband, but the Hindoo woman thinks on
the living one in the surrounding circle; on him whose eyes burn hotter than
the flames--on him, the fire of whose eyes pierces her heart more than the
flames which soon will burn her body to ashes. Can the heart's flame die in
the flame of the funeral pile?"
"I don't understand that at all," said little Gerda.
"That is my story," said the Lily.
What did the Convolvulus say?
"Projecting over a narrow mountain-path there hangs an old feudal castle.
Thick evergreens grow on the dilapidated walls, and around the altar, where a
lovely maiden is standing: she bends over the railing and looks out upon the
rose. No fresher rose hangs on the branches than she; no appleblossom carried
away by the wind is more buoyant! How her silken robe is rustling!
"'Is he not yet come?'"
"Is it Kay that you mean?" asked little Gerda.
"I am speaking about my story--about my dream," answered the Convolvulus.
What did the Snowdrops say?
"Between the trees a long board is hanging--it is a swing. Two little girls
are sitting in it, and swing themselves backwards and forwards; their frocks
are as white as snow, and long green silk ribands flutter from their bonnets.
Their brother, who is older than they are, stands up in the swing; he twines
his arms round the cords to hold himself fast, for in one hand he has a little
cup, and in the other a clay-pipe. He is blowing soap-bubbles. The swing
moves, and the bubbles float in charming changing colors: the last is still
hanging to the end of the pipe, and rocks in the breeze. The swing moves. The
little black dog, as light as a soap-bubble, jumps up on his hind legs to try
to get into the swing. It moves, the dog falls down, barks, and is angry. They
tease him; the bubble bursts! A swing, a bursting bubble--such is my song!"
"What you relate may be very pretty, but you tell it in so melancholy a
manner, and do not mention Kay."
What do the Hyacinths say?
"There were once upon a time three sisters, quite transparent, and very
beautiful. The robe of the one was red, that of the second blue, and that of
the third white. They danced hand in hand beside the calm lake in the clear
moonshine. They were not elfin maidens, but mortal children. A sweet fragrance
was smelt, and the maidens vanished in the wood; the fragrance grew
stronger--three coffins, and in them three lovely maidens, glided out of the
forest and across the lake: the shining glow-worms flew around like little
floating lights. Do the dancing maidens sleep, or are they dead? The odour of
the flowers says they are corpses; the evening bell tolls for the dead!"
"You make me quite sad," said little Gerda. "I cannot help thinking of the
dead maidens. Oh! is little Kay really dead? The Roses have been in the earth,
and they say no."
"Ding, dong!" sounded the Hyacinth bells. "We do not toll for little Kay; we
do not know him. That is our way of singing, the only one we have."
And Gerda went to the Ranunculuses, that looked forth from among the shining
"You are a little bright sun!" said Gerda. "Tell me if you know where I can
find my playfellow."
And the Ranunculus shone brightly, and looked again at Gerda. What song could
the Ranunculus sing? It was one that said nothing about Kay either.
"In a small court the bright sun was shining in the first days of spring. The
beams glided down the white walls of a neighbor's house, and close by the
fresh yellow flowers were growing, shining like gold in the warm sun-rays. An
old grandmother was sitting in the air; her grand-daughter, the poor and
lovely servant just come for a short visit. She knows her grandmother. There
was gold, pure virgin gold in that blessed kiss. There, that is my little
story," said the Ranunculus.
"My poor old grandmother!" sighed Gerda. "Yes, she is longing for me, no
doubt: she is sorrowing for me, as she did for little Kay. But I will soon
come home, and then I will bring Kay with me. It is of no use asking the
flowers; they only know their own old rhymes, and can tell me nothing." And
she tucked up her frock, to enable her to run quicker; but the Narcissus gave
her a knock on the leg, just as she was going to jump over it. So she stood
still, looked at the long yellow flower, and asked, "You perhaps know
something?" and she bent down to the Narcissus. And what did it say?
"I can see myself--I can see myself! Oh, how odorous I am! Up in the little
garret there stands, half-dressed, a little Dancer. She stands now on one leg,
now on both; she despises the whole world; yet she lives only in imagination.
She pours water out of the teapot over a piece of stuff which she holds in her
hand; it is the bodice; cleanliness is a fine thing. The white dress is
hanging on the hook; it was washed in the teapot, and dried on the roof. She
puts it on, ties a saffron-colored kerchief round her neck, and then the gown
looks whiter. I can see myself--I can see myself!"
"That's nothing to me," said little Gerda. "That does not concern me." And
then off she ran to the further end of the garden.
The gate was locked, but she shook the rusted bolt till it was loosened, and
the gate opened; and little Gerda ran off barefooted into the wide world. She
looked round her thrice, but no one followed her. At last she could run no
longer; she sat down on a large stone, and when she looked about her, she saw
that the summer had passed; it was late in the autumn, but that one could not
remark in the beautiful garden, where there was always sunshine, and where
there were flowers the whole year round.
"Dear me, how long I have staid!" said Gerda. "Autumn is come. I must not rest
any longer." And she got up to go further.
Oh, how tender and wearied her little feet were! All around it looked so cold
and raw: the long willow-leaves were quite yellow, and the fog dripped from
them like water; one leaf fell after the other: the sloes only stood full of
fruit, which set one's teeth on edge. Oh, how dark and comfortless it was in
the dreary world!
FOURTH STORY. The Prince and Princess
Gerda was obliged to rest herself again, when, exactly opposite to her, a
large Raven came hopping over the white snow. He had long been looking at
Gerda and shaking his head; and now he said, "Caw! Caw!" Good day! Good day!
He could not say it better; but he felt a sympathy for the little girl, and
asked her where she was going all alone. The word "alone" Gerda understood
quite well, and felt how much was expressed by it; so she told the Raven her
whole history, and asked if he had not seen Kay.
The Raven nodded very gravely, and said, "It may be--it may be!"
"What, do you really think so?" cried the little girl; and she nearly squeezed
the Raven to death, so much did she kiss him.
"Gently, gently," said the Raven. "I think I know; I think that it may be
little Kay. But now he has forgotten you for the Princess."
"Does he live with a Princess?" asked Gerda.
"Yes--listen," said the Raven; "but it will be difficult for me to speak your
language. If you understand the Raven language I can tell you better."
"No, I have not learnt it," said Gerda; "but my grandmother understands it,
and she can speak gibberish too. I wish I had learnt it."
"No matter," said the Raven; "I will tell you as well as I can; however, it
will be bad enough." And then he told all he knew.
"In the kingdom where we now are there lives a Princess, who is
extraordinarily clever; for she has read all the newspapers in the whole
world, and has forgotten them again--so clever is she. She was lately, it is
said, sitting on her throne--which is not very amusing after all--when she
began humming an old tune, and it was just, 'Oh, why should I not be married?'
'That song is not without its meaning,' said she, and so then she was
determined to marry; but she would have a husband who knew how to give an
answer when he was spoken to--not one who looked only as if he were a great
personage, for that is so tiresome. She then had all the ladies of the court
drummed together; and when they heard her intention, all were very pleased,
and said, 'We are very glad to hear it; it is the very thing we were thinking
of.' You may believe every word I say," said the Raven; "for I have a tame
sweetheart that hops about in the palace quite free, and it was she who told
me all this.
"The newspapers appeared forthwith with a border of hearts and the initials of
the Princess; and therein you might read that every good-looking young man was
at liberty to come to the palace and speak to the Princess; and he who spoke
in such wise as showed he felt himself at home there, that one the Princess
would choose for her husband.
"Yes, Yes," said the Raven, "you may believe it; it is as true as I am sitting
here. People came in crowds; there was a crush and a hurry, but no one was
successful either on the first or second day. They could all talk well enough
when they were out in the street; but as soon as they came inside the
palace gates, and saw the guard richly dressed in silver, and the lackeys in
gold on the staircase, and the large illuminated saloons, then they were
abashed; and when they stood before the throne on which the Princess was
sitting, all they could do was to repeat the last word they had uttered, and
to hear it again did not interest her very much. It was just as if the people
within were under a charm, and had fallen into a trance till they came out
again into the street; for then--oh, then--they could chatter enough. There
was a whole row of them standing from the town-gates to the palace. I was
there myself to look," said the Raven. "They grew hungry and thirsty; but from
the palace they got nothing whatever, not even a glass of water. Some of the
cleverest, it is true, had taken bread and butter with them: but none shared
it with his neighbor, for each thought, 'Let him look hungry, and then the
Princess won't have him."'
"But Kay--little Kay," said Gerda, "when did he come? Was he among the
"Patience, patience; we are just come to him. It was on the third day when a
little personage without horse or equipage, came marching right boldly up to
the palace; his eyes shone like yours, he had beautiful long hair, but his
clothes were very shabby."
"That was Kay," cried Gerda, with a voice of delight. "Oh, now I've found
him!" and she clapped her hands for joy.
"He had a little knapsack at his back," said the Raven.
"No, that was certainly his sledge," said Gerda; "for when he went away he
took his sledge with him."
"That may be," said the Raven; "I did not examine him so minutely; but I know
from my tame sweetheart, that when he came into the court-yard of the palace,
and saw the body-guard in silver, the lackeys on the staircase, he was not the
least abashed; he nodded, and said to them, 'It must be very tiresome to stand
on the stairs; for my part, I shall go in.' The saloons were gleaming with
lustres--privy councillors and excellencies were walking about barefooted, and
wore gold keys; it was enough to make any one feel uncomfortable. His boots
creaked, too, so loudly, but still he was not at all afraid."
"That's Kay for certain," said Gerda. "I know he had on new boots; I have
heard them creaking in grandmama's room."
"Yes, they creaked," said the Raven. "And on he went boldly up to the
Princess, who was sitting on a pearl as large as a spinning-wheel. All the
ladies of the court, with their attendants and attendants' attendants, and all
the cavaliers, with their gentlemen and gentlemen's gentlemen, stood round;
and the nearer they stood to the door, the prouder they looked. It was hardly
possible to look at the gentleman's gentleman, so very haughtily did he stand
in the doorway."
"It must have been terrible," said little Gerda. "And did Kay get the
"Were I not a Raven, I should have taken the Princess myself, although I am
promised. It is said he spoke as well as I speak when I talk Raven language;
this I learned from my tame sweetheart. He was bold and nicely behaved; he had
not come to woo the Princess, but only to hear her wisdom. She pleased him,
and he pleased her."
"Yes, yes; for certain that was Kay," said Gerda. "He was so clever; he could
reckon fractions in his head. Oh, won't you take me to the palace?"
"That is very easily said," answered the Raven. "But how are we to manage it?
I'll speak to my tame sweetheart about it: she must advise us; for so much I
must tell you, such a little girl as you are will never get permission to
"Oh, yes I shall," said Gerda; "when Kay hears that I am here, he will come
out directly to fetch me."
"Wait for me here on these steps," said the Raven. He moved his head backwards
and forwards and flew away.
The evening was closing in when the Raven returned. "Caw--caw!" said he. "She
sends you her compliments; and here is a roll for you. She took it out of the
kitchen, where there is bread enough. You are hungry, no doubt. It is not
possible for you to enter the palace, for you are barefooted: the guards in
silver, and the lackeys in gold, would not allow it; but do not cry, you shall
come in still. My sweetheart knows a little back stair that leads to the
bedchamber, and she knows where she can get the key of it."
And they went into the garden in the large avenue, where one leaf was falling
after the other; and when the lights in the palace had all gradually
disappeared, the Raven led little Gerda to the back door, which stood half
Oh, how Gerda's heart beat with anxiety and longing! It was just as if she had
been about to do something wrong; and yet she only wanted to know if little
Kay was there. Yes, he must be there. She called to mind his intelligent eyes,
and his long hair, so vividly, she could quite see him as he used to laugh
when they were sitting under the roses at home. "He will, no doubt, be glad to
see you--to hear what a long way you have come for his sake; to know how
unhappy all at home were when he did not come back."
Oh, what a fright and a joy it was!
They were now on the stairs. A single lamp was burning there; and on the floor
stood the tame Raven, turning her head on every side and looking at Gerda, who
bowed as her grandmother had taught her to do.
"My intended has told me so much good of you, my dear young lady," said the
tame Raven. "Your tale is very affecting. If you will take the lamp, I will go
before. We will go straight on, for we shall meet no one."
"I think there is somebody just behind us," said Gerda; and something rushed
past: it was like shadowy figures on the wall; horses with flowing manes and
thin legs, huntsmen, ladies and gentlemen on horseback.
"They are only dreams," said the Raven. "They come to fetch the thoughts of
the high personages to the chase; 'tis well, for now you can observe them in
bed all the better. But let me find, when you enjoy honor and distinction,
that you possess a grateful heart."
"Tut! That's not worth talking about," said the Raven of the woods.
They now entered the first saloon, which was of rose-colored satin, with
artificial flowers on the wall. Here the dreams were rushing past, but they
hastened by so quickly that Gerda could not see the high personages. One hall
was more magnificent than the other; one might indeed well be abashed; and at
last they came into the bedchamber. The ceiling of the room resembled a large
palm-tree with leaves of glass, of costly glass; and in the middle, from a
thick golden stem, hung two beds, each of which resembled a lily. One was
white, and in this lay the Princess; the other was red, and it was here that
Gerda was to look for little Kay. She bent back one of the red leaves, and saw
a brown neck. Oh! that was Kay! She called him quite loud by name, held the
lamp towards him--the dreams rushed back again into the chamber--he awoke,
turned his head, and--it was not little Kay!
The Prince was only like him about the neck; but he was young and handsome.
And out of the white lily leaves the Princess peeped, too, and asked what was
the matter. Then little Gerda cried, and told her her whole history, and all
that the Ravens had done for her.
"Poor little thing!" said the Prince and the Princess. They praised the Ravens
very much, and told them they were not at all angry with them, but they were
not to do so again. However, they should have a reward. "Will you fly about
here at liberty," asked the Princess; "or would you like to have a fixed
appointment as court ravens, with all the broken bits from the kitchen?"
And both the Ravens nodded, and begged for a fixed appointment; for they
thought of their old age, and said, "It is a good thing to have a provision
for our old days."
And the Prince got up and let Gerda sleep in his bed, and more than this he
could not do. She folded her little hands and thought, "How good men and
animals are!" and she then fell asleep and slept soundly. All the dreams flew
in again, and they now looked like the angels; they drew a little sledge, in
which little Kay sat and nodded his head; but the whole was only a dream, and
therefore it all vanished as soon as she awoke.
The next day she was dressed from head to foot in silk and velvet. They
offered to let her stay at the palace, and lead a happy life; but she begged
to have a little carriage with a horse in front, and for a small pair of
shoes; then, she said, she would again go forth in the wide world and look for
Shoes and a muff were given her; she was, too, dressed very nicely; and when
she was about to set off, a new carriage stopped before the door. It was of
pure gold, and the arms of the Prince and Princess shone like a star upon it;
the coachman, the footmen, and the outriders, for outriders were there, too,
all wore golden crowns. The Prince and the Princess assisted her into the
carriage themselves, and wished her all success. The Raven of the woods, who
was now married, accompanied her for the first three miles. He sat beside
Gerda, for he could not bear riding backwards; the other Raven stood in the
doorway, and flapped her wings; she could not accompany Gerda, because she
suffered from headache since she had had a fixed appointment and ate so much.
The carriage was lined inside with sugar-plums, and in the seats were fruits
"Farewell! Farewell!" cried Prince and Princess; and Gerda wept, and the Raven
wept. Thus passed the first miles; and then the Raven bade her farewell, and
this was the most painful separation of all. He flew into a tree, and beat his
black wings as long as he could see the carriage, that shone from afar like a
FIFTH STORY. The Little Robber Maiden
They drove through the dark wood; but the carriage shone like a torch, and it
dazzled the eyes of the robbers, so that they could not bear to look at it.
"'Tis gold! 'Tis gold!" they cried; and they rushed forward, seized the
horses, knocked down the little postilion, the coachman, and the servants, and
pulled little Gerda out of the carriage.
"How plump, how beautiful she is! She must have been fed on nut-kernels," said
the old female robber, who had a long, scrubby beard, and bushy eyebrows that
hung down over her eyes. "She is as good as a fatted lamb! How nice she will
be!" And then she drew out a knife, the blade of which shone so that it was
quite dreadful to behold.
"Oh!" cried the woman at the same moment. She had been bitten in the ear by
her own little daughter, who hung at her back; and who was so wild and
unmanageable, that it was quite amusing to see her. "You naughty child!" said
the mother: and now she had not time to kill Gerda.
"She shall play with me," said the little robber child. "She shall give me her
muff, and her pretty frock; she shall sleep in my bed!" And then she gave her
mother another bite, so that she jumped, and ran round with the pain; and the
Robbers laughed, and said, "Look, how she is dancing with the little one!"
"I will go into the carriage," said the little robber maiden; and she would
have her will, for she was very spoiled and very headstrong. She and Gerda got
in; and then away they drove over the stumps of felled trees, deeper and
deeper into the woods. The little robber maiden was as tall as Gerda, but
stronger, broader-shouldered, and of dark complexion; her eyes were quite
black; they looked almost melancholy. She embraced little Gerda, and said,
"They shall not kill you as long as I am not displeased with you. You are,
doubtless, a Princess?"
"No," said little Gerda; who then related all that had happened to her, and
how much she cared about little Kay.
The little robber maiden looked at her with a serious air, nodded her head
slightly, and said, "They shall not kill you, even if I am angry with you:
then I will do it myself"; and she dried Gerda's eyes, and put both her hands
in the handsome muff, which was so soft and warm.
At length the carriage stopped. They were in the midst of the court-yard of a
robber's castle. It was full of cracks from top to bottom; and out of the
openings magpies and rooks were flying; and the great bull-dogs, each of which
looked as if he could swallow a man, jumped up, but they did not bark, for
that was forbidden.
In the midst of the large, old, smoking hall burnt a great fire on the stone
floor. The smoke disappeared under the stones, and had to seek its own egress.
In an immense caldron soup was boiling; and rabbits and hares were being
roasted on a spit.
"You shall sleep with me to-night, with all my animals," said the little
robber maiden. They had something to eat and drink; and then went into a
corner, where straw and carpets were lying. Beside them, on laths and perches,
sat nearly a hundred pigeons, all asleep, seemingly; but yet they moved a
little when the robber maiden came. "They are all mine," said she, at the
same time seizing one that was next to her by the legs and shaking it so that
its wings fluttered. "Kiss it," cried the little girl, and flung the pigeon in
Gerda's face. "Up there is the rabble of the wood," continued she, pointing to
several laths which were fastened before a hole high up in the wall; "that's
the rabble; they would all fly away immediately, if they were not well
fastened in. And here is my dear old Bac"; and she laid hold of the horns of a
reindeer, that had a bright copper ring round its neck, and was tethered to
the spot. "We are obliged to lock this fellow in too, or he would make his
escape. Every evening I tickle his neck with my sharp knife; he is so
frightened at it!" and the little girl drew forth a long knife, from a crack
in the wall, and let it glide over the Reindeer's neck. The poor animal
kicked; the girl laughed, and pulled Gerda into bed with her.
"Do you intend to keep your knife while you sleep?" asked Gerda; looking at it
"I always sleep with the knife," said the little robber maiden. "There is no
knowing what may happen. But tell me now, once more, all about little Kay; and
why you have started off in the wide world alone." And Gerda related all, from
the very beginning: the Wood-pigeons cooed above in their cage, and the others
slept. The little robber maiden wound her arm round Gerda's neck, held the
knife in the other hand, and snored so loud that everybody could hear her; but
Gerda could not close her eyes, for she did not know whether she was to live
or die. The robbers sat round the fire, sang and drank; and the old female
robber jumped about so, that it was quite dreadful for Gerda to see her.
Then the Wood-pigeons said, "Coo! Coo! We have seen little Kay! A white hen
carries his sledge; he himself sat in the carriage of the Snow Queen, who
passed here, down just over the wood, as we lay in our nest. She blew upon us
young ones; and all died except we two. Coo! Coo!"
"What is that you say up there?" cried little Gerda. "Where did the Snow Queen
go to? Do you know anything about it?"
"She is no doubt gone to Lapland; for there is always snow and ice there. Only
ask the Reindeer, who is tethered there."
"Ice and snow is there! There it is, glorious and beautiful!" said the
Reindeer. "One can spring about in the large shining valleys! The Snow Queen
has her summer-tent there; but her fixed abode is high up towards the North
Pole, on the Island called Spitzbergen."
"Oh, Kay! Poor little Kay!" sighed Gerda.
"Do you choose to be quiet?" said the robber maiden. "If you don't, I shall
In the morning Gerda told her all that the Wood-pigeons had said; and the
little maiden looked very serious, but she nodded her head, and said, "That's
no matter--that's no matter. Do you know where Lapland lies!" she asked of the
"Who should know better than I?" said the animal; and his eyes rolled in his
head. "I was born and bred there--there I leapt about on the fields of snow.
"Listen," said the robber maiden to Gerda. "You see that the men are gone;
but my mother is still here, and will remain. However, towards morning she
takes a draught out of the large flask, and then she sleeps a little: then I
will do something for you." She now jumped out of bed, flew to her mother;
with her arms round her neck, and pulling her by the beard, said, "Good
morrow, my own sweet nanny-goat of a mother." And her mother took hold of her
nose, and pinched it till it was red and blue; but this was all done out of
When the mother had taken a sup at her flask, and was having a nap, the little
robber maiden went to the Reindeer, and said, "I should very much like to give
you still many a tickling with the sharp knife, for then you are so amusing;
however, I will untether you, and help you out, so that you may go back to
Lapland. But you must make good use of your legs; and take this little girl
for me to the palace of the Snow Queen, where her playfellow is. You have
heard, I suppose, all she said; for she spoke loud enough, and you were
The Reindeer gave a bound for joy. The robber maiden lifted up little Gerda,
and took the precaution to bind her fast on the Reindeer's back; she even gave
her a small cushion to sit on. "Here are your worsted leggins, for it will be
cold; but the muff I shall keep for myself, for it is so very pretty. But I
do not wish you to be cold. Here is a pair of lined gloves of my mother's;
they just reach up to your elbow. On with them! Now you look about the hands
just like my ugly old mother!"
And Gerda wept for joy.
"I can't bear to see you fretting," said the little robber maiden. "This is
just the time when you ought to look pleased. Here are two loaves and a ham
for you, so that you won't starve." The bread and the meat were fastened to
the Reindeer's back; the little maiden opened the door, called in all the
dogs, and then with her knife cut the rope that fastened the animal, and said
to him, "Now, off with you; but take good care of the little girl!"
And Gerda stretched out her hands with the large wadded gloves towards the
robber maiden, and said, "Farewell!" and the Reindeer flew on over bush and
bramble through the great wood, over moor and heath, as fast as he could go.
"Ddsa! Ddsa!" was heard in the sky. It was just as if somebody was sneezing.
"These are my old northern-lights," said the Reindeer, "look how they gleam!"
And on he now sped still quicker--day and night on he went: the loaves were
consumed, and the ham too; and now they were in Lapland.
SIXTH STORY. The Lapland Woman and the Finland Woman
Suddenly they stopped before a little house, which looked very miserable. The
roof reached to the ground; and the door was so low, that the family were
obliged to creep upon their stomachs when they went in or out. Nobody was at
home except an old Lapland woman, who was dressing fish by the light of an oil
lamp. And the Reindeer told her the whole of Gerda's history, but first of all
his own; for that seemed to him of much greater importance. Gerda was so
chilled that she could not speak.
"Poor thing," said the Lapland woman, "you have far to run still. You have
more than a hundred miles to go before you get to Finland; there the Snow
Queen has her country-house, and burns blue lights every evening. I will give
you a few words from me, which I will write on a dried haberdine, for paper I
have none; this you can take with you to the Finland woman, and she will be
able to give you more information than I can."
When Gerda had warmed herself, and had eaten and drunk, the Lapland woman
wrote a few words on a dried haberdine, begged Gerda to take care of them, put
her on the Reindeer, bound her fast, and away sprang the animal. "Ddsa! Ddsa!"
was again heard in the air; the most charming blue lights burned the whole
night in the sky, and at last they came to Finland. They knocked at the
chimney of the Finland woman; for as to a door, she had none.
There was such a heat inside that the Finland woman herself went about
almost naked. She was diminutive and dirty. She immediately loosened little
Gerda's clothes, pulled off her thick gloves and boots; for otherwise the heat
would have been too great--and after laying a piece of ice on the Reindeer's
head, read what was written on the fish-skin. She read it three times: she
then knew it by heart; so she put the fish into the cupboard--for it might
very well be eaten, and she never threw anything away.
Then the Reindeer related his own story first, and afterwards that of little
Gerda; and the Finland woman winked her eyes, but said nothing.
"You are so clever," said the Reindeer; "you can, I know, twist all the winds
of the world together in a knot. If the seaman loosens one knot, then he has a
good wind; if a second, then it blows pretty stiffly; if he undoes the third
and fourth, then it rages so that the forests are upturned. Will you give the
little maiden a potion, that she may possess the strength of twelve men, and
vanquish the Snow Queen?"
"The strength of twelve men!" said the Finland woman. "Much good that would
be!" Then she went to a cupboard, and drew out a large skin rolled up. When
she had unrolled it, strange characters were to be seen written thereon; and
the Finland woman read at such a rate that the perspiration trickled down her
But the Reindeer begged so hard for little Gerda, and Gerda looked so
imploringly with tearful eyes at the Finland woman, that she winked, and drew
the Reindeer aside into a corner, where they whispered together, while the
animal got some fresh ice put on his head.
"'Tis true little Kay is at the Snow Queen's, and finds everything there quite
to his taste; and he thinks it the very best place in the world; but the
reason of that is, he has a splinter of glass in his eye, and in his heart.
These must be got out first; otherwise he will never go back to mankind, and
the Snow Queen will retain her power over him."
"But can you give little Gerda nothing to take which will endue her with power
over the whole?"
"I can give her no more power than what she has already. Don't you see how
great it is? Don't you see how men and animals are forced to serve her; how
well she gets through the world barefooted? She must not hear of her power
from us; that power lies in her heart, because she is a sweet and innocent
child! If she cannot get to the Snow Queen by herself, and rid little Kay of
the glass, we cannot help her. Two miles hence the garden of the Snow Queen
begins; thither you may carry the little girl. Set her down by the large bush
with red berries, standing in the snow; don't stay talking, but hasten back as
fast as possible." And now the Finland woman placed little Gerda on the
Reindeer's back, and off he ran with all imaginable speed.
"Oh! I have not got my boots! I have not brought my gloves!" cried little
Gerda. She remarked she was without them from the cutting frost; but the
Reindeer dared not stand still; on he ran till he came to the great bush with
the red berries, and there he set Gerda down, kissed her mouth, while large
bright tears flowed from the animal's eyes, and then back he went as fast as
possible. There stood poor Gerda now, without shoes or gloves, in the very
middle of dreadful icy Finland.
She ran on as fast as she could. There then came a whole regiment of
snow-flakes, but they did not fall from above, and they were quite bright and
shining from the Aurora Borealis. The flakes ran along the ground, and the
nearer they came the larger they grew. Gerda well remembered how large and
strange the snow-flakes appeared when she once saw them through a
magnifying-glass; but now they were large and terrific in another
manner--they were all alive. They were the outposts of the Snow Queen. They
had the most wondrous shapes; some looked like large ugly porcupines; others
like snakes knotted together, with their heads sticking out; and others,
again, like small fat bears, with the hair standing on end: all were of
dazzling whiteness--all were living snow-flakes.
Little Gerda repeated the Lord's Prayer. The cold was so intense that she
could see her own breath, which came like smoke out of her mouth. It grew
thicker and thicker, and took the form of little angels, that grew more and
more when they touched the earth. All had helms on their heads, and lances
and shields in their hands; they increased in numbers; and when Gerda had
finished the Lord's Prayer, she was surrounded by a whole legion. They thrust
at the horrid snow-flakes with their spears, so that they flew into a thousand
pieces; and little Gerda walked on bravely and in security. The angels patted
her hands and feet; and then she felt the cold less, and went on quickly
towards the palace of the Snow Queen.
But now we shall see how Kay fared. He never thought of Gerda, and least of
all that she was standing before the palace.
SEVENTH STORY. What Took Place in the Palace of the Snow Queen, and what
The walls of the palace were of driving snow, and the windows and doors of
cutting winds. There were more than a hundred halls there, according as the
snow was driven by the winds. The largest was many miles in extent; all were
lighted up by the powerful Aurora Borealis, and all were so large, so empty,
so icy cold, and so resplendent! Mirth never reigned there; there was never
even a little bear-ball, with the storm for music, while the polar bears went
on their hind legs and showed off their steps. Never a little tea-party of
white young lady foxes; vast, cold, and empty were the halls of the Snow
Queen. The northern-lights shone with such precision that one could tell
exactly when they were at their highest or lowest degree of brightness. In the
middle of the empty, endless hall of snow, was a frozen lake; it was cracked
in a thousand pieces, but each piece was so like the other, that it seemed the
work of a cunning artificer. In the middle of this lake sat the Snow Queen
when she was at home; and then she said she was sitting in the Mirror of
Understanding, and that this was the only one and the best thing in the world.
Little Kay was quite blue, yes nearly black with cold; but he did not observe
it, for she had kissed away all feeling of cold from his body, and his heart
was a lump of ice. He was dragging along some pointed flat pieces of ice,
which he laid together in all possible ways, for he wanted to make something
with them; just as we have little flat pieces of wood to make geometrical
figures with, called the Chinese Puzzle. Kay made all sorts of figures, the
most complicated, for it was an ice-puzzle for the understanding. In his eyes
the figures were extraordinarily beautiful, and of the utmost importance; for
the bit of glass which was in his eye caused this. He found whole figures
which represented a written word; but he never could manage to represent just
the word he wanted--that word was "eternity"; and the Snow Queen had said, "If
you can discover that figure, you shall be your own master, and I will make
you a present of the whole world and a pair of new skates." But he could not
find it out.
"I am going now to warm lands," said the Snow Queen. "I must have a look down
into the black caldrons." It was the volcanoes Vesuvius and Etna that she
meant. "I will just give them a coating of white, for that is as it ought to
be; besides, it is good for the oranges and the grapes." And then away she
flew, and Kay sat quite alone in the empty halls of ice that were miles long,
and looked at the blocks of ice, and thought and thought till his skull was
almost cracked. There he sat quite benumbed and motionless; one would have
imagined he was frozen to death.
Suddenly little Gerda stepped through the great portal into the palace. The
gate was formed of cutting winds; but Gerda repeated her evening prayer, and
the winds were laid as though they slept; and the little maiden entered the
vast, empty, cold halls. There she beheld Kay: she recognised him, flew to
embrace him, and cried out, her arms firmly holding him the while, "Kay, sweet
little Kay! Have I then found you at last?"
But he sat quite still, benumbed and cold. Then little Gerda shed burning
tears; and they fell on his bosom, they penetrated to his heart, they thawed
the lumps of ice, and consumed the splinters of the looking-glass; he looked
at her, and she sang the hymn:
"The rose in the valley is blooming so sweet,
And angels descend there the children to greet."
Hereupon Kay burst into tears; he wept so much that the splinter rolled out of
his eye, and he recognised her, and shouted, "Gerda, sweet little Gerda! Where
have you been so long? And where have I been?" He looked round him. "How cold
it is here!" said he. "How empty and cold!" And he held fast by Gerda, who
laughed and wept for joy. It was so beautiful, that even the blocks of ice
danced about for joy; and when they were tired and laid themselves down, they
formed exactly the letters which the Snow Queen had told him to find out; so
now he was his own master, and he would have the whole world and a pair of new
skates into the bargain.
Gerda kissed his cheeks, and they grew quite blooming; she kissed his eyes,
and they shone like her own; she kissed his hands and feet, and he was again
well and merry. The Snow Queen might come back as soon as she liked; there
stood his discharge written in resplendent masses of ice.
They took each other by the hand, and wandered forth out of the large hall;
they talked of their old grandmother, and of the roses upon the roof; and
wherever they went, the winds ceased raging, and the sun burst forth. And when
they reached the bush with the red berries, they found the Reindeer waiting
for them. He had brought another, a young one, with him, whose udder was
filled with milk, which he gave to the little ones, and kissed their lips.
They then carried Kay and Gerda--first to the Finland woman, where they
warmed themselves in the warm room, and learned what they were to do on their
journey home; and they went to the Lapland woman, who made some new
clothes for them and repaired their sledges.
The Reindeer and the young hind leaped along beside them, and accompanied them
to the boundary of the country. Here the first vegetation peeped forth; here
Kay and Gerda took leave of the Lapland woman. "Farewell! Farewell!" they all
said. And the first green buds appeared, the first little birds began to
chirrup; and out of the wood came, riding on a magnificent horse, which Gerda
knew (it was one of the leaders in the golden carriage), a young damsel with a
bright-red cap on her head, and armed with pistols. It was the little robber
maiden, who, tired of being at home, had determined to make a journey to the
north; and afterwards in another direction, if that did not please her. She
recognised Gerda immediately, and Gerda knew her too. It was a joyful meeting.
"You are a fine fellow for tramping about," said she to little Kay; "I should
like to know, faith, if you deserve that one should run from one end of the
world to the other for your sake?"
But Gerda patted her cheeks, and inquired for the Prince and Princess.
"They are gone abroad," said the other.
"But the Raven?" asked little Gerda.
"Oh! The Raven is dead," she answered. "His tame sweetheart is a widow, and
wears a bit of black worsted round her leg; she laments most piteously, but
it's all mere talk and stuff! Now tell me what you've been doing and how you
managed to catch him."
And Gerda and Kay both told their story.
And "Schnipp-schnapp-schnurre-basselurre," said the robber maiden; and she
took the hands of each, and promised that if she should some day pass through
the town where they lived, she would come and visit them; and then away she
rode. Kay and Gerda took each other's hand: it was lovely spring weather, with
abundance of flowers and of verdure. The church-bells rang, and the children
recognised the high towers, and the large town; it was that in which they
dwelt. They entered and hastened up to their grandmother's room, where
everything was standing as formerly. The clock said "tick! tack!" and the
finger moved round; but as they entered, they remarked that they were now
grown up. The roses on the leads hung blooming in at the open window; there
stood the little children's chairs, and Kay and Gerda sat down on them,
holding each other by the hand; they both had forgotten the cold empty
splendor of the Snow Queen, as though it had been a dream. The grandmother sat
in the bright sunshine, and read aloud from the Bible: "Unless ye become as
little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."
And Kay and Gerda looked in each other's eyes, and all at once they understood
the old hymn:
"The rose in the valley is blooming so sweet,
And angels descend there the children to greet."
There sat the two grown-up persons; grown-up, and yet children; children at
least in heart; and it was summer-time; summer, glorious summer!