THE SNOW QUEEN. A fairytale in seven stories. First story, which deals with the mirror and the shards of glass. Right then! Time to start. When we're at the end. The Snow Queen. This famous fairy tale was the original source material (heavily edited in the end) for Disney's Frozen animated feature movie. “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Anderson. Retold by Kay Woodward. Once upon a time, there lived a sprite who was more wicked than any other. He.
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The Snow Queen - One of Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales. Kay has a piece of an evil mirror lodged in his heart and another in his eye and is taken away. queen's tears had fallen into the snow, she found a child made of winter - stark Yep, you came to see the Snow Queen, you saw her, and now you can leave. Dec 28, The Snow Queen was written by Hans Christian Andersen (), and was translated from the Danish by M. R. James () as.
Oh, dear! Is little Kay really dead? The roses have been down in the ground and they say 'No'. So Gerda went to the buttercup, shining out from among its brilliant green leaves. What song, now, could the buttercup sing? Not one about Kay, at any rate.
The old grandmother was out of doors in her chair; her pretty grand-daughter, the poor servant maid, came home upon a short visit, and gave her grandmother a kiss. There was gold, beautiful gold in that blessed kiss, gold on the lips, gold in the heart, gold up there in the early morn. Look, that's my little story," said the buttercup. But I'll soon be home again and bring Kay with me. It's no good asking the flowers; they only know their own song and tell me nothing.
But the narcissus hit against her leg as she jumped over it, and she stopped and looked at the tall flower and asked: I can see myself! Up in the little garret stands a little ballet-girl half dressed—standing first on one leg she is, then on both, and kicking out at the whole world—she's only an illusion. She's pouring water out of a teapot on to a bit of stuff that she's holding; it's her stays.
Cleanliness is a good thing. The white frock hangs on its peg, it too has been washed in the teapot and dried on the roof. She puts it on, and a saffron yellow kerchief about her neck, which makes the dress shine whiter. Legs up in the air! Look how she stands on a stalk! I can see myself, I can see myself! Thrice she looked back, but there was nobody coming after her.
At last she could run no further, and sat down on a big stone, and when she looked about her, why, summer was over and it was late autumn. You couldn't see that inside that beautiful garden, where there was always sunshine and flowers of all seasons bloomed. How I have dawdled! I daren't rest a minute! Oh, how bruised and tired were her little feet, and how cold and raw it was all round!
The long leaves of the willow were pale yellow, and the mist dripped off them in waterdrops; one leaf after another fell, and only the sloe bush had kept its fruit—sour fruit that dried up your mouth.
Oh, how grey and dismal it was out in the wide world! Gerda had to rest herself again. And there, hopping over the road right in front of where she sat, was a large crow. For a long time it had sat and looked at her with its head on one side, and now it said, "Kra, Kra—Goo'day, Goo'day!
The words "all alone" Gerda understood very well, and felt how much they meant; so she told the crow all the story of her life and asked if it had seen Kay.
The crow nodded very thoughtfully, and said, "Maybe, maybe. Do you think you have? If you can understand crow-talk I can tell you better. I wish I'd learnt it. The other day she was sitting on her throne, which isn't much fun after all, people say; and she happened to hum a song which was 'Heigh-ho for a husband!
So she had all the court ladies drummed up, and when they heard what she wanted, they were delighted. Yes, indeed," said the crow, "you may take it from me, as sure as I sit here, the people came streaming in: They could all of them talk well enough while they were out in the street, but when they came in by the palace gate and saw the guards in silver, and footmen in gold, all up the stairs, and the big halls all lighted up, they were flabbergasted, and when they stood in front of the throne where the Princess was sitting, they couldn't think of anything to say but the last word she had said, and she didn't care about hearing that over again.
It was just as if the people in there had got snuff into their stomachs and were stupefied till they got out into the street again, and they could talk. There was a row of them reaching right away from the town gate to the palace. I went there myself to look at it," said the crow.
Some of the cleverest, to be sure, had brought a bit of bread and butter with them, but they didn't give their neighbours any: Was he among all those people? Now we are getting to him. It was the third day, and there came a little fellow without horse or carriage, marching quite cheerfully straight up to the palace.
His eyes shone like gems and he had lovely long hair, but his clothes were shabby. I'd sooner go in.
His boots creaked dreadfully loud, but he wasn't frightened a bit. He spoke, it seems, every bit as well as I do when I speak crow-talk, so my tame sweetheart tells me. He was cheerful and nice-looking. He hadn't come courting at all, but only to hear the Princess's conversation, and he thought well of it, and she thought well of him. Certainly it's Kay," said Gerda. Oh, won't you take me into the palace? I must talk to my tame sweetheart about it, she's sure to be able to advise us; for I must tell you that a little girl like you will never be allowed to come right in.
Only when it was dark did the crow come back. It's not possible for you to get into the palace: My sweetheart knows of a little backstair that leads to the bedroom, and she knows where she can get the key. They went into the garden, up the great avenue where one leaf after another was falling; and when the lights in the palace were put out one by one the crow led little Gerda across to a back door which stood ajar.
Oh, how Gerda's heart beat with anxiety and longing! She felt as if she was going to do something wrong, yet all she wanted was to know if it was little Kay; why, it must be he; she imagined so vividly his clever eyes and his long hair; she could actually see how he would smile when they were sitting at home beneath the roses. He would, of course, be overjoyed to see her and to hear what a long way she had come for his sake, and how everyone at home had grieved when he didn't come back.
How anxious and how glad she was! They were now at the stairs: If you will take the lamp, I will lead the way. We shall go by the shortest way, where we shall meet no one. Something came rushing by, as it were shadows passing along the wall, horses with fluttering manes and slender legs, huntsmen and lords and ladies on horseback. Only let me see, if you come to honour and distinction, that you bear a thankful heart.
They now entered the first chamber, which was of rose-red satin with worked flowers on the walls; here the dreams were already darting past them, but they went so quick that Gerda could not manage to see the Quality. Each chamber was handsomer than the last, it was enough to bewilder anyone; and now they were in the bedchamber. The roof of this was made like a palm tree with leaves of glass—costly glass—and in the middle of the floor there hung from a thick stem of gold two beds, each made to look like a lily; one was white, and in it lay the Princess; the other was red, and there it was that Gerda must look for little Kay.
She bent aside one of the red leaves, and there she saw a brown neck—oh, it was Kay. She called his name aloud and held the lamp over him. The dreams dashed back into the room, galloping—he woke, turned his head, and—it wasn't little Kay. The Prince was only like him in the neck, but he was young and handsome, and out of the white lily bed the Princess peeped and asked what was the matter. Then little Gerda burst into tears and told her whole story and all that the crows had done for her.
Meanwhile they should be rewarded. Both crows bowed and asked for permanent situations, for they had their old age in mind, and, said they, "It's a very good thing to have something in store for the old man". That was their phrase.
The Prince got up out of his bed and let Gerda sleep in it, and he couldn't do more than that! She clasped her little hands and said: All the dreams came flying back, and now they looked like angels of God, and they were drawing a little sledge, and in it sat Kay, nodding to her: Next day she was dressed out in silk and velvet from top to toe and invited to stay at the palace and enjoy herself; but she begged only to have a little carriage and horse, and a pair of little boots, and she would drive out again into the wide world and find Kay.
She was given both boots and a muff, and was dressed out very nicely, and when she was to set off a new carriage of pure gold drew up at the door. The arms of the Prince and Princess shone like a star on it.
The coachmen and servants and outriders there were outriders too wore gold crowns. The Prince and Princess helped her into the carriage themselves and wished her the best of luck. The forest crow, who was now married, went with her for the first twelve miles, sitting beside her, for he couldn't stand being driven backwards. The other crow stood in the doorway and flapped her wings; she couldn't come with them, for she was suffering from a headache since she had obtained a permanent situation and too much to eat.
Inside, the coach had a provision of sugar twists, and inside the seat was fruit and gingerbread nuts. Little Gerda cried, and the crow cried, and so it went for the first few miles. Then the crow said, "Good-bye" and that was the hardest parting.
He flew up into a tree and flapped his black wings as long as he could see the carriage, that shone as bright as the sunshine.
They were driving through the dark forest, but the coach shone like a blaze, and dazzled the eyes of the robbers and they couldn't stand it. She'd been bitten in the ear by her own little daughter, who was hanging on her back, and was so wild and rough as never was. She and Gerda sat in it and drove over stumps and thorn-bushes, deep into the forest.
The little robber girl was as big as Gerda, but stronger, broader in the shoulders and dark-skinned. Her eyes were quite black and had a rather sorrowful expression.
She put her arm about little Gerda and said: The robber girl looked at her very gravely and nodded her head and said: The coach stopped. They were in the court of a robber's castle.
It had split from top to bottom. Ravens and crows flew out of the holes in the wall, and the big bulldogs, each of which looked as if he could swallow a man, leapt high in the air but didn't bark, for they weren't allowed to. In the great old sooty hall a large fire was burning in the middle of the stone floor; the smoke mounted to the vault and had to find its own way out.
A large copper was on the boil, with soup, and hares and rabbits were turning on the spit. They had something to eat and drink, and then went off into a corner where straw and blankets were lying: They seemed to be all asleep, but they stirred a little when the girls came there.
She seized one of the nearest and held it by the legs and shook it till it flapped its wings. They'd fly off at once if they hadn't been locked up safe; and there's my own old sweetheart Bae. Every blessed night I tickle him in the neck with my sharp knife, and it frightens him awfully," and the little girl pulled a long knife out of a crack in the wall and slid it along the reindeer's neck.
The poor beast kicked out with his legs and the robber girl laughed, and then pulled Gerda into bed with her. But now tell me again what you told me about little Kay, and why you've come out into the wide world. The little robber girl put her arms round Gerda's neck, holding her knife in her other hand, and slept—you could hear her—but Gerda couldn't even shut her eyes; she didn't know whether she was to live or die. The robbers sat round the fire and sang and drank, and the old hag turned head over heels.
It was a frightful sight for the little girl to see. Then the wood-pigeons said: We have seen little Kay. A white hen was carrying his sledge, and he was sitting in the Snow Queen's carriage which was flying low above the forest where we lay in the nest. She breathed on us young ones and all of them died but us two.
Do you know anything about it? Just ask the reindeer that's tied by the rope there. The Snow Queen has her summer pavilion there, but her strong castle is up by the North Pole, on the island that's called Spitzbergen. Do you know where Lapland is? And her mother flipped her under the nose till it turned red and blue, but it was all done out of pure affection.
Well, when her mother had had a drink out of the bottle and was taking a little nap, the robber girl went to the reindeer and said: But you must put your best foot foremost and take the little girl for me to the Snow Queen's palace where her playfellow is. You've heard what she told me, for she talked quite loud enough, and you were eavesdropping. The reindeer jumped for joy. The robber girl lifted little Gerda up and had the forethought to tie her fast, and even give her a little pad to sit on.
All the same, you shan't be frozen. Here's my mother's big mittens that reach up to your elbow, shove 'em on. Now your hands look just like my ugly old mother's. The little robber girl opened the door, and called in all the big dogs, and then she cut the rope with her knife and said to the reindeer: The wolves howled and the ravens screamed. In the sky there was a noise, "Fut, fut! The loaves were eaten up and the ham too, and then—they were in Lapland.
They stopped at a small house, a wretched place it was. The roof reached down to the ground, and the door was so low that the family had to crawl on their stomachs when they wanted to get in or out. There was nobody at home but an old Lapp woman who stood roasting fish at an oil lamp, and the reindeer told her Gerda's story; but first his own story, for he considered that was much more important; and Gerda was so exhausted with the cold that she couldn't speak.
You must travel more than four hundred miles, into Finmark, for there it is that the Snow Queen has her country-house and burns blue lights every blessed night. I'll write a word or two on a dry cod, for I haven't any paper, and give it you to take to the Finn woman up there: And then they got to Finmark and knocked at the Finn woman's chimney, for she hadn't a door.
There was such a heat inside that the Finn woman herself went almost naked. She was stout and very thick made; she made haste to undo little Gerda's clothes and took off her mittens and boots, otherwise she would have been too hot. She laid a piece of ice on the reindeer's head, and then read what was written on the cod-fish. Three times over she read it, and then knew it backwards, and she put the fish into the cooking pot, for it might just as well be eaten, and she never wasted anything.
Then the reindeer told, first, his own story, and then little Gerda's; and the Finn woman blinked her wise eyes, but said not a word. Won't you give the little girl a drink, so she can get the strength of twelve men and get the better of the Snow Queen? But the reindeer pleaded again so hard for little Gerda, and Gerda gazed at the Finn woman with such beseeching eyes full of tears that she began to blink her own eyes again, and drew the reindeer apart into a corner, where she whispered to him, at the same time laying fresh ice on his head.
They must come out, or he will never become human again, and the Snow Queen will keep her power over him. Don't you see how great it is, how men and beasts alike are bound to serve her, and how she has made her way so wonderfully in the world on her bare feet?
She must not learn of her power from us; it lies in her heart, it lies in her being a dear innocent child. If she cannot win through to the Snow Queen and rid little Kay of the glass, we cannot be of any help. Ten miles from here begins the Snow Queen's garden, and you can carry the little girl as far as that. Put her down by the large bush that stands there in the snow with red berries on it. Don't make a long jabber of it, and make haste back.
She noticed it at once in the scorching cold. But the reindeer dared not stop, and he ran till he came to the large bush with the red berries, and then he put little Gerda down, kissed her on the mouth, and large limpid tears ran down over the beast's cheeks. Then he ran off back again as hard as he could. There stood poor Gerda shoeless, without gloves, in the middle of fearful ice-cold Finmark.
She ran on as quick as she could, and then there appeared a whole regiment of snowflakes. They had not fallen from the sky, for that was quite clear and shining with the Northern Lights.
These snowflakes ran along the ground, and the nearer they came the larger they grew. Gerda remembered how big and how wonderfully wrought they had looked, that time when she looked at some snowflakes through the magnifying glass; but here they were quite of another sort in size and dreadfulness; they were alive, they were the Snow Queen's sentinels.
They were of the strangest shapes. Some looked like great ugly hedgehogs, others like knots of snakes sticking their heads out and others again like little fat bears with bristling hair. All of them were glittering white, and all were living snowflakes. Then little Gerda began to say the Lord's Prayer, and so fierce was the cold that she could see her own breath coming out of her mouth like a cloud of smoke.
Thicker and thicker it grew, and shaped itself into little bright angels who grew larger and larger when they touched the ground. They all had helmets on their heads and spears and shields in their hands, and more and more of them came.
By the time Gerda had finished saying her prayer there was a whole legion of them about her. They struck at the ugly snowflakes with their spears and broke them into hundreds of bits, and little Gerda went safely and boldly onwards. The angels chafed her hands and feet, and she felt the cold less, and on she went quickly towards the Snow Queen's palace. But now we must see how little Kay's getting on. He certainly wasn't thinking about little Gerda, and least of all that she was just outside the palace.
The walls of the palace were of drifted snow, and the windows and doors of cutting wind. More than a hundred halls there were, all just as the snow had drifted. The largest was many miles long; all were lit up with the bright Northern Lights, and they were vast, empty, ice-cold and shining. There was never any merrymaking there, never so much as a little dance for the bears, when the storms could play for them and the polar bears walk about on their hind legs and show their pretty manners: The Northern Lights sent up their flames with such accuracy that you could mark exactly where they were at their highest point and when at their lowest.
In the midst of the endless, empty hall there was a frozen lake: In the centre of this the Snow Queen would sit when she was at home, and say that she was seated in the mirror of intellect, and that it was the only one and the best in the whole world. Little Kay was quite blue with the cold, nay, almost black, but he didn't notice it, for the Snow Queen had kissed the shivers out of him, and his heart was practically a lump of ice.
He went about dragging a number of sharp-edged flat pieces of ice which he was arranging in every possible pattern and trying to make something out of them: Kay too, went on making patterns of the most elaborate kind—the Intellectual Ice Puzzle.
To his thinking, these patterns were most remarkable and of the very greatest importance: He put together patterns to form a written word; but he never could succeed in putting out the exact word that he wanted, which was the word "Eternity".
The Snow Queen had said: I must whiten them a bit: So off flew the Snow Queen, and Kay sat there all alone in the mile-long empty hall of ice, and gazed at the bits of ice and thought and thought till he crackled; all stiff and still he sat, you would have thought he was frozen to death.
She was tall and of slender figure, and of a dazzling whiteness. It was the Snow Queen. Come under my bearskin. Do not forget my sledge! 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.
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.
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.
At last spring came, with its warm sunshine. I will make you a present of my red shoes, if you will give him back to me. But they fell close to the bank, and the little waves bore them immediately to land; it was as if the stream would not take what was dearest to her; for in reality it had not got little, Kay; but Gerda thought that she had not thrown the shoes out far enough, so she clambered into a boat which lay among the rushes, went to the farthest end, and threw out the shoes.
But the boat was not fastened, and the motion which she occasioned, made it drift from the shore. She observed this, and hastened to get back; but before she could do so, the boat was more than a yard from the land, and was gliding quickly onward.
Little Gerda was very frightened, and began to cry; but no one heard her except the sparrows, and they could not carry her to land; but they flew along the bank, and sang as if to comfort her, "Here we are!
Here we are! The 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. 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. And Gerda was so glad to be on dry land again; but she was rather afraid of the strange old woman. And Gerda told her all; and the old woman shook her head and said, "A-hem! 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. She therefore went out in the garden, stretched out.
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 wedding-day. 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.
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. Don't you know where he is? Well, what did the Tiger-Lily say? Those are the only two tones. Always 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? What did the Convolvulus say? Thick evergreens grow on the dilapidated walls, and around the altar, where a lovely maiden is standing: 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! What did the Snowdrops say? 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 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! 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: 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! The Roses have been in the earth, and they say no. That is our way of singing, the only one we have. What song could the Ranunculus sing? It was one that said nothing about Kay either.
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. 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. So she stood still, looked at the long yellow flower, and asked, "You perhaps know something?
And what did it say?
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! 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.
I must not rest any longer. Oh, how tender and wearied her little feet were! All around it looked so cold and raw: Oh, how dark and comfortless it was in the dreary world! 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! 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!
But now he has forgotten you for the Princess. If you understand the Raven language I can tell you better. I wish I had learnt it. 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? 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.
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. Some of the cleverest, it is true, had taken bread and butter with them: Was he among the number?
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.
His boots creaked, too, so loudly, but still he was not at all afraid. 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 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.
Oh, won't you take me to the palace? I'll speak to my tame sweetheart about it: He moved his head backwards and forwards and flew away. The evening was closing in when the Raven returned. 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: My sweetheart knows a little back stair that leads to the bedchamber, and she knows where she can get the key of it.
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. 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. If you will take the lamp, I will go before. We will go straight on, for we shall meet no one. But let me find, when you enjoy honor and distinction, that you possess a grateful heart. 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. 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. 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. She folded her little hands and thought, "How good men and animals are!
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 Kay. Shoes and a muff were given her; she was, too, dressed very nicely; and when she was about to set off, a new carriage stopped before the door.
It was of pure gold, and the arms of the Prince and Princess shone like a star upon it; the coachman, the footmen, and the outriders, for outriders were there, too, all wore golden crowns. The Prince and the Princess assisted her into the carriage themselves, and wished her all success. The Raven of the woods, who was now married, accompanied her for the first three miles.
He sat beside Gerda, for he could not bear riding backwards; the other Raven stood in the doorway,and flapped her wings; she could not accompany Gerda, because she suffered from headache since she had had a fixed appointment and ate so much. The carriage was lined inside with sugar-plums, and in the seats were fruits and gingerbread. 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 sunbeam.
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. 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. How nice she will be! 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.
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? 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: 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.
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. 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. Every evening I tickle his neck with my sharp knife; he is so frightened at it!
The poor animal kicked; the girl laughed, and pulled Gerda into bed with her. But tell me now, once more, all about little Kay; and why you have started off in the wide world alone. The little robber maiden wound her arm round Gerda's neck, held the knife in the other hand, and snored so loud that everybody could hear her; but Gerda could not close her eyes, for she did not know whether she was to live or die.
The robbers sat round the fire, sang and drank; and the old female robber jumped about so, that it was quite dreadful for Gerda to see her. Then the Wood-pigeons said, "Coo! Cool We have seen little Kay! A white hen carries his sledge; he himself sat in the carriage of the Snow Queen, who passed here, down just over the wood, as we lay in our nest. She blew upon us young ones; and all died except we two. Do you know anything about it? Only ask the Reindeer, who is tethered there.
There it is, glorious and beautiful! The Snow Queen has her summer-tent there; but her fixed abode is high up towards the North Pole, on the Island called Spitzbergen. Poor little Kay! Do you know where Lapland lies!