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Fabulous Fairy Tales for children and adults. From our vast collection of old traditional fairy tales and fables.

The Snow Queen - Part 2

What, said the little snow-drop? 'Between two trees a rope
is hanging; there is a piece of board upon it; it is a swing.
Two pretty little girls, in dresses white as snow, and with
long green ribbons fluttering from their hats, are sitting
upon it swinging. Their brother who is taller than they are,
stands in the swing; he has one arm round the rope, to steady
himself; in one hand he holds a little bowl, and in the other
a clay pipe; he is blowing bubbles. As the swing goes on, the
bubbles fly upward, reflecting the most beautiful varying
colors. The last still hangs from the bowl of the pipe, and
sways in the wind. On goes the swing; and then a little black
dog comes running up. He is almost as light as the bubble, and
he raises himself on his hind legs, and wants to be taken into
the swing; but it does not stop, and the dog falls; then he
barks and gets angry. The children stoop towards him, and the
bubble bursts. A swinging plank, a light sparkling foam
picture,- that is my story.'

'It may be all very pretty what you are telling me,' said
little Gerda, 'but you speak so mournfully, and you do not
mention little Kay at all.'

What do the hyacinths say? 'There were three beautiful
sisters, fair and delicate. The dress of one was red, of the
second blue, and of the third pure white. Hand in hand they
danced in the bright moonlight, by the calm lake; but they
were human beings, not fairy elves. The sweet fragrance
attracted them, and they disappeared in the wood; here the
fragrance became stronger. Three coffins, in which lay the
three beautiful maidens, glided from the thickest part of the
forest across the lake. The fire-flies flew lightly over them,
like little floating torches. Do the dancing maidens sleep, or
are they dead? The scent of the flower says that they are
corpses. The evening bell tolls their knell.'

'You make me quite sorrowful,' said little Gerda; 'your
perfume is so strong, you make me think of the dead maidens.
Ah! is little Kay really dead then? The roses have been in the
earth, and they say no.'

'Cling, clang,' tolled the hyacinth bells. 'We are not
tolling for little Kay; we do not know him. We sing our song,
the only one we know.'

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

'You are little bright suns,' said Gerda; 'tell me if you
know where I can find my play-fellow.'

And the buttercups sparkled gayly, and looked again at
Gerda. What song could the buttercups sing? It was not about
Kay.

'The bright warm sun shone on a little court, on the first
warm day of spring. His bright beams rested on the white walls
of the neighboring house; and close by bloomed the first
yellow flower of the season, glittering like gold in the sun's
warm ray. An old woman sat in her arm chair at the house door,
and her granddaughter, a poor and pretty servant-maid came to
see her for a short visit. When she kissed her grandmother
there was gold everywhere: the gold of the heart in that holy
kiss; it was a golden morning; there was gold in the beaming
sunlight, gold in the leaves of the lowly flower, and on the
lips of the maiden. There, that is my story,' said the
buttercup.

'My poor old grandmother!' sighed Gerda; 'she is longing
to see me, and grieving for me as she did for little Kay; but
I shall soon go home now, and take little Kay with me. It is
no use asking the flowers; they know only their own songs, and
can give me no information.'

And then she tucked up her little dress, that she might
run faster, but the narcissus caught her by the leg as she was
jumping over it; so she stopped and looked at the tall yellow
flower, and said, 'Perhaps you may know something.'

Then she stooped down quite close to the flower, and
listened; and what did he say?

'I can see myself, I can see myself,' said the narcissus.
'Oh, how sweet is my perfume! Up in a little room with a bow
window, stands a little dancing girl, half undressed; she
stands sometimes on one leg, and sometimes on both, and looks
as if she would tread the whole world under her feet. She is
nothing but a delusion. She is pouring water out of a tea-pot
on a piece of stuff which she holds in her hand; it is her
bodice. 'Cleanliness is a good thing,' she says. Her white
dress hangs on a peg; it has also been washed in the tea-pot,
and dried on the roof. She puts it on, and ties a
saffron-colored handkerchief round her neck, which makes the
dress look whiter. See how she stretches out her legs, as if
she were showing off on a stem. I can see myself, I can see
myself.'

'What do I care for all that,' said Gerda, 'you need not
tell me such stuff.' And then she ran to the other end of the
garden. The door was fastened, but she pressed against the
rusty latch, and it gave way. The door sprang open, and little
Gerda ran out with bare feet into the wide world. She looked
back three times, but no one seemed to be following her. At
last she could run no longer, so she sat down to rest on a
great stone, and when she looked round she saw that the summer
was over, and autumn very far advanced. She had known nothing
of this in the beautiful garden, where the sun shone and the
flowers grew all the year round.

'Oh, how I have wasted my time?' said little Gerda; 'it is
autumn. I must not rest any longer,' and she rose up to go on.
But her little feet were wounded and sore, and everything
around her looked so cold and bleak. The long willow-leaves
were quite yellow. The dew-drops fell like water, leaf after
leaf dropped from the trees, the sloe-thorn alone still bore
fruit, but the sloes were sour, and set the teeth on edge. Oh,
how dark and weary the whole world appeared!

FOURTH STORY
THE PRINCE AND PRINCESS

Gerda was obliged to rest again, and just opposite the
place where she sat, she saw a great crow come hopping across
the snow toward her. He stood looking at her for some time,
and then he wagged his head and said, 'Caw, caw; good-day,
good-day.' He pronounced the words as plainly as he could,
because he meant to be kind to the little girl; and then he
asked her where she was going all alone in the wide world.

The word alone Gerda understood very well, and knew how
much it expressed. So then she told the crow the whole story
of her life and adventures, and asked him if he had seen
little Kay.

The crow nodded his head very gravely, and said, 'Perhaps
I have- it may be.'

'No! Do you think you have?' cried little Gerda, and she
kissed the crow, and hugged him almost to death with joy.

'Gently, gently,' said the crow. 'I believe I know. I
think it may be little Kay; but he has certainly forgotten you
by this time for the princess.'

'Does he live with a princess?' asked Gerda.

'Yes, listen,' replied the crow, 'but it is so difficult
to speak your language. If you understand the crows' language
then I can explain it better. Do you?'

'No, I have never learnt it,' said Gerda, but my
grandmother understands it, and used to speak it to me. I wish
I had learnt it.'

'It does not matter,' answered the crow; 'I will explain
as well as I can, although it will be very badly done;' and he
told her what he had heard. 'In this kingdom where we now
are,' said he, 'there lives a princess, who is so wonderfully
clever that she has read all the newspapers in the world, and
forgotten them too, although she is so clever. A short time
ago, as she was sitting on her throne, which people say is not
such an agreeable seat as is often supposed, she began to sing
a song which commences in these words:

'Why should I not be married?'

'Why not indeed?' said she, and so she determined to marry if
she could find a husband who knew what to say when he was
spoken to, and not one who could only look grand, for that was
so tiresome. Then she assembled all her court ladies together
at the beat of the drum, and when they heard of her intentions
they were very much pleased. 'We are so glad to hear it,' said
they, we were talking about it ourselves the other day.' You
may believe that every word I tell you is true,' said the
crow, 'for I have a tame sweetheart who goes freely about the
palace, and she told me all this.'

Of course his sweetheart was a crow, for 'birds of a
feather flock together,' and one crow always chooses another
crow.

'Newspapers were published immediately, with a border of
hearts, and the initials of the princess among them. They gave
notice that every young man who was handsome was free to visit
the castle and speak with the princess; and those who could
reply loud enough to be heard when spoken to, were to make
themselves quite at home at the palace; but the one who spoke
best would be chosen as a husband for the princess. Yes, yes,
you may believe me, it is all as true as I sit here,' said the
crow. 'The people came in crowds. There was a great deal of
crushing and running about, but no one succeeded either on the
first or second day. They could all speak very well while they
were outside in the streets, but when they entered the palace
gates, and saw the guards in silver uniforms, and the footmen
in their golden livery on the staircase, and the great halls
lighted up, they became quite confused. And when they stood
before the throne on which the princess sat, they could do
nothing but repeat the last words she had said; and she had no
particular wish to hear her own words over again. It was just
as if they had all taken something to make them sleepy while
they were in the palace, for they did not recover themselves
nor speak till they got back again into the street. There was
quite a long line of them reaching from the town-gate to the
palace. I went myself to see them,' said the crow. 'They were
hungry and thirsty, for at the palace they did not get even a
glass of water. Some of the wisest had taken a few slices of
bread and butter with them, but they did not share it with
their neighbors; they thought if they went in to the princess
looking hungry, there would be a better chance for
themselves.'

'But Kay! tell me about little Kay!' said Gerda, 'was he
amongst the crowd?'

'Stop a bit, we are just coming to him. It was on the
third day, there came marching cheerfully along to the palace
a little personage, without horses or carriage, his eyes
sparkling like yours; he had beautiful long hair, but his
clothes were very poor.'

'That was Kay!' said Gerda joyfully. 'Oh, then I have
found him;' and she clapped her hands.

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

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

'It may have been so,' said the crow; 'I did not look at
it very closely. But I know from my tame sweetheart that he
passed through the palace gates, saw the guards in their
silver uniform, and the servants in their liveries of gold on
the stairs, but he was not in the least embarrassed. 'It must
be very tiresome to stand on the stairs,' he said. 'I prefer
to go in.' The rooms were blazing with light. Councillors and
ambassadors walked about with bare feet, carrying golden
vessels; it was enough to make any one feel serious. His boots
creaked loudly as he walked, and yet he was not at all
uneasy.'

'It must be Kay,' said Gerda, 'I know he had new boots on,
I have heard them creak in grandmother's room.'

'They really did creak,' said the crow, 'yet he went
boldly up to the princess herself, who was sitting on a pearl
as large as a spinning wheel, and all the ladies of the court
were present with their maids, and all the cavaliers with
their servants; and each of the maids had another maid to wait
upon her, and the cavaliers' servants had their own servants,
as well as a page each. They all stood in circles round the
princess, and the nearer they stood to the door, the prouder
they looked. The servants' pages, who always wore slippers,
could hardly be looked at, they held themselves up so proudly
by the door.'

'It must be quite awful,' said little Gerda, 'but did Kay
win the princess?'

'If I had not been a crow,' said he, 'I would have married
her myself, although I am engaged. He spoke just as well as I
do, when I speak the crows' language, so I heard from my tame
sweetheart. He was quite free and agreeable and said he had
not come to woo the princess, but to hear her wisdom; and he
was as pleased with her as she was with him.'

'Oh, certainly that was Kay,' said Gerda, 'he was so
clever; he could work mental arithmetic and fractions. Oh,
will you take me to the palace?'

'It is very easy to ask that,' replied the crow, 'but how
are we to manage it? However, I will speak about it to my tame
sweetheart, and ask her advice; for I must tell you it will be
very difficult to gain permission for a little girl like you
to enter the palace.'

'Oh, yes; but I shall gain permission easily,' said Gerda,
'for when Kay hears that I am here, he will come out and fetch
me in immediately.'

'Wait for me here by the palings,' said the crow, wagging
his head as he flew away.

It was late in the evening before the crow returned. 'Caw,
caw,' he said, she sends you greeting, and here is a little
roll which she took from the kitchen for you; there is plenty
of bread there, and she thinks you must be hungry. It is not
possible for you to enter the palace by the front entrance.
The guards in silver uniform and the servants in gold livery
would not allow it. But do not cry, we will manage to get you
in; my sweetheart knows a little back-staircase that leads to
the sleeping apartments, and she knows where to find the key.'

Then they went into the garden through the great avenue,
where the leaves were falling one after another, and they
could see the light in the palace being put out in the same
manner. And the crow led little Gerda to the back door, which
stood ajar. Oh! how little Gerda's heart beat with anxiety and
longing; it was just as if she were going to do something
wrong, and yet she only wanted to know where little Kay was.
'It must be he,' she thought, 'with those clear eyes, and that
long hair.' She could fancy she saw him smiling at her, as he
used to at home, when they sat among the roses. He would
certainly be glad to see her, and to hear what a long distance
she had come for his sake, and to know how sorry they had been
at home because he did not come back. Oh what joy and yet fear
she felt! They were now on the stairs, and in a small closet
at the top a lamp was burning. In the middle of the floor
stood the tame crow, turning her head from side to side, and
gazing at Gerda, who curtseyed as her grandmother had taught
her to do.

'My betrothed has spoken so very highly of you, my little
lady,' said the tame crow, 'your life-history, Vita, as it may
be called, is very touching. If you will take the lamp I will
walk before you. We will go straight along this way, then we
shall meet no one.'

'It seems to me as if somebody were behind us,' said
Gerda, as something rushed by her like a shadow on the wall,
and then horses with flying manes and thin legs, hunters,
ladies and gentlemen on horseback, glided by her, like shadows
on the wall.

'They are only dreams,' said the crow, 'they are coming to
fetch the thoughts of the great people out hunting.'

'All the better, for we shall be able to look at them in
their beds more safely. I hope that when you rise to honor and
favor, you will show a grateful heart.'

'You may be quite sure of that,' said the crow from the
forest.

They now came into the first hall, the walls of which were
hung with rose-colored satin, embroidered with artificial
flowers. Here the dreams again flitted by them but so quickly
that Gerda could not distinguish the royal persons. Each hall
appeared more splendid than the last, it was enought to
bewilder any one. At length they reached a bedroom. The
ceiling was like a great palm-tree, with glass leaves of the
most costly crystal, and over the centre of the floor two
beds, each resembling a lily, hung from a stem of gold. One,
in which the princess lay, was white, the other was red; and
in this Gerda had to seek for little Kay. She pushed one of
the red leaves aside, and saw a little brown neck. Oh, that
must be Kay! She called his name out quite loud, and held the
lamp over him. The dreams rushed back into the room on
horseback. He woke, and turned his head round, it was not
little Kay! The prince was only like him in the neck, still he
was young and pretty. Then the princess peeped out of her
white-lily bed, and asked what was the matter. Then little
Gerda wept and told her story, and all that the crows had done
to help her.

'You poor child,' said the prince and princess; then they
praised the crows, and said they were not angry for what they
had done, but that it must not happen again, and this time
they should be rewarded.

'Would you like to have your freedom?' asked the princess,
'or would you prefer to be raised to the position of court
crows, with all that is left in the kitchen for yourselves?'

Then both the crows bowed, and begged to have a fixed
appointment, for they thought of their old age, and said it
would be so comfortable to feel that they had provision for
their old days, as they called it. And then the prince got out
of his bed, and gave it up to Gerda,- he could do no more; and
she lay down. She folded her little hands, and thought, 'How
good everyone is to me, men and animals too;' then she closed
her eyes and fell into a sweet sleep. All the dreams came
flying back again to her, and they looked like angels, and one
of them drew a little sledge, on which sat Kay, and nodded to
her. But all this was only a dream, and vanished as soon as
she awoke.

The following day she was dressed from head to foot in
silk and velvet, and they invited her to stay at the palace
for a few days, and enjoy herself, but she only begged for a
pair of boots, and a little carriage, and a horse to draw it,
so that she might go into the wide world to seek for Kay. And
she obtained, not only boots, but also a muff, and she was
neatly dressed; and when she was ready to go, there, at the
door, she found a coach made of pure gold, with the
coat-of-arms of the prince and princess shining upon it like a
star, and the coachman, footman, and outriders all wearing
golden crowns on their heads. The prince and princess
themselves helped her into the coach, and wished her success.
The forest crow, who was now married, accompanied her for the
first three miles; he sat by Gerda's side, as he could not
bear riding backwards. The tame crow stood in the door-way
flapping her wings. She could not go with them, because she
had been suffering from headache ever since the new
appointment, no doubt from eating too much. The coach was well
stored with sweet cakes, and under the seat were fruit and
gingerbread nuts. 'Farewell, farewell,' cried the prince and
princess, and little Gerda wept, and the crow wept; and then,
after a few miles, the crow also said 'Farewell,' and this was
the saddest parting. However, he flew to a tree, and stood
flapping his black wings as long as he could see the coach,
which glittered in the bright sunshine.

FIFTH STORY
LITTLE ROBBER-GIRL

The coach drove on through a thick forest, where it
lighted up the way like a torch, and dazzled the eyes of some
robbers, who could not bear to let it pass them unmolested.

'It is gold! it is gold!' cried they, rushing forward, and
seizing the horses. Then they struck the little jockeys, the
coachman, and the footman dead, and pulled little Gerda out of
the carriage.

'She is fat and pretty, and she has been fed with the
kernels of nuts,' said the old robber-woman, who had a long
beard and eyebrows that hung over her eyes. 'She is as good as
a little lamb; how nice she will taste!' and as she said this,
she drew forth a shining knife, that glittered horribly. 'Oh!'
screamed the old woman the same moment; for her own daughter,
who held her back, had bitten her in the ear. She was a wild
and naughty girl, and the mother called her an ugly thing, and
had not time to kill Gerda.

'She shall play with me,' said the little robber-girl;
'she shall give me her muff and her pretty dress, and sleep
with me in my bed.' And then she bit her mother again, and
made her spring in the air, and jump about; and all the
robbers laughed, and said, 'See how she is dancing with her
young cub.'

'I will have a ride in the coach,' said the little
robber-girl; and she would have her own way; for she was so
self-willed and obstinate.

She and Gerda seated themselves in the coach, and drove
away, over stumps and stones, into the depths of the forest.
The little robber-girl was about the same size as Gerda, but
stronger; she had broader shoulders and a darker skin; her
eyes were quite black, and she had a mournful look. She
clasped little Gerda round the waist, and said,-

'They shall not kill you as long as you don't make us
vexed with you. I suppose you are a princess.'

'No,' said Gerda; and then she told her all her history,
and how fond she was of little Kay.

The robber-girl looked earnestly at her, nodded her head
slightly, and said, 'They sha'nt kill you, even if I do get
angry with you; for I will do it myself.' And then she wiped
Gerda's eyes, and stuck her own hands in the beautiful muff
which was so soft and warm.

The coach stopped in the courtyard of a robber's castle,
the walls of which were cracked from top to bottom. Ravens and
crows flew in and out of the holes and crevices, while great
bulldogs, either of which looked as if it could swallow a man,
were jumping about; but they were not allowed to bark. In the
large and smoky hall a bright fire was burning on the stone
floor. There was no chimney; so the smoke went up to the
ceiling, and found a way out for itself. Soup was boiling in a
large cauldron, and hares and rabbits were roasting on the
spit.

'You shall sleep with me and all my little animals
to-night,' said the robber-girl, after they had had something
to eat and drink. So she took Gerda to a corner of the hall,
where some straw and carpets were laid down. Above them, on
laths and perches, were more than a hundred pigeons, who all
seemed to be asleep, although they moved slightly when the two
little girls came near them. 'These all belong to me,' said
the robber-girl; and she seized the nearest to her, held it by
the feet, and shook it till it flapped its wings. 'Kiss it,'
cried she, flapping it in Gerda's face. 'There sit the
wood-pigeons,' continued she, pointing to a number of laths
and a cage which had been fixed into the walls, near one of
the openings. 'Both rascals would fly away directly, if they
were not closely locked up. And here is my old sweetheart
'Ba;' and she dragged out a reindeer by the horn; he wore a
bright copper ring round his neck, and was tied up. 'We are
obliged to hold him tight too, or else he would run away from
us also. I tickle his neck every evening with my sharp knife,
which frightens him very much.' And then the robber-girl drew
a long knife from a chink in the wall, and let it slide gently
over the reindeer's neck. The poor animal began to kick, and
the little robber-girl laughed, and pulled down Gerda into bed
with her.

'Will you have that knife with you while you are asleep?'
asked Gerda, looking at it in great fright.

'I always sleep with the knife by me,' said the
robber-girl. 'No one knows what may happen. But now tell me
again all about little Kay, and why you went out into the
world.'

Then Gerda repeated her story over again, while the
wood-pigeons in the cage over her cooed, and the other pigeons
slept. The little robber-girl put one arm across Gerda's neck,
and held the knife in the other, and was soon fast asleep and
snoring. But Gerda could not close her eyes at all; she knew
not whether she was to live or die. The robbers sat round the
fire, singing and drinking, and the old woman stumbled about.
It was a terrible sight for a little girl to witness.

Then the wood-pigeons said, 'Coo, coo; we have seen little
Kay. A white fowl carried his sledge, and he sat in the
carriage of the Snow Queen, which drove through the wood while
we were lying in our nest. She blew upon us, and all the young
ones died excepting us two. Coo, coo.'

'What are you saying up there?' cried Gerda. 'Where was
the Snow Queen going? Do you know anything about it?'

'She was most likely travelling to Lapland, where there is
always snow and ice. Ask the reindeer that is fastened up
there with a rope.'

'Yes, there is always snow and ice,' said the reindeer;
'and it is a glorious place; you can leap and run about freely
on the sparkling ice plains. The Snow Queen has her summer
tent there, but her strong castle is at the North Pole, on an
island called Spitzbergen.'

'Oh, Kay, little Kay!' sighed Gerda.

'Lie still,' said the robber-girl, 'or I shall run my
knife into your body.'

In the morning Gerda told her all that the wood-pigeons
had said; and the little robber-girl looked quite serious, and
nodded her head, and said, 'That is all talk, that is all
talk. Do you know where Lapland is?' she asked the reindeer.

'Who should know better than I do?' said the animal, while
his eyes sparkled. 'I was born and brought up there, and used
to run about the snow-covered plains.'

'Now listen,' said the robber-girl; 'all our men are gone
away,- only mother is here, and here she will stay; but at
noon she always drinks out of a great bottle, and afterwards
sleeps for a little while; and then, I'll do something for
you.' Then she jumped out of bed, clasped her mother round the
neck, and pulled her by the beard, crying, 'My own little
nanny goat, good morning.' Then her mother filliped her nose
till it was quite red; yet she did it all for love.

When the mother had drunk out of the bottle, and was gone
to sleep, the little robber-maiden went to the reindeer, and
said, 'I should like very much to tickle your neck a few times
more with my knife, for it makes you look so funny; but never
mind,- I will untie your cord, and set you free, so that you
may run away to Lapland; but you must make good use of your
legs, and carry this little maiden to the castle of the Snow
Queen, where her play-fellow is. You have heard what she told
me, for she spoke loud enough, and you were listening.'

Then the reindeer jumped for joy; and the little
robber-girl lifted Gerda on his back, and had the forethought
to tie her on, and even to give her her own little cushion to
sit on.

'Here are your fur boots for you,' said she; 'for it will
be very cold; but I must keep the muff; it is so pretty.
However, you shall not be frozen for the want of it; here are
my mother's large warm mittens; they will reach up to your
elbows. Let me put them on. There, now your hands look just
like my mother's.'

But Gerda wept for joy.

'I don't like to see you fret,' said the little
robber-girl; 'you ought to look quite happy now; and here are
two loaves and a ham, so that you need not starve.' These were
fastened on the reindeer, and then the little robber-maiden
opened the door, coaxed in all the great dogs, and then cut
the string with which the reindeer was fastened, with her
sharp knife, and said, 'Now run, but mind you take good care
of the little girl.' And then Gerda stretched out her hand,
with the great mitten on it, towards the little robber-girl,
and said, 'Farewell,' and away flew the reindeer, over stumps
and stones, through the great forest, over marshes and plains,
as quickly as he could. The wolves howled, and the ravens
screamed; while up in the sky quivered red lights like flames
of fire. 'There are my old northern lights,' said the
reindeer; 'see how they flash.' And he ran on day and night
still faster and faster, but the loaves and the ham were all
eaten by the time they reached Lapland.

SIXTH STORY
THE LAPLAND WOMAN AND
THE FINLAND WOMAN

They stopped at a little hut; it was very mean looking;
the roof sloped nearly down to the ground, and the door was so
low that the family had to creep in on their hands and knees,
when they went in and out. There was no one at home but an old
Lapland woman, who was cooking fish by the light of a
train-oil lamp. The reindeer told her all about Gerda's story,
after having first told his own, which seemed to him the most
important, but Gerda was so pinched with the cold that she
could not speak. 'Oh, you poor things,' said the Lapland
woman, 'you have a long way to go yet. You must travel more
than a hundred miles farther, to Finland. The Snow Queen lives
there now, and she burns Bengal lights every evening. I will
write a few words on a dried stock-fish, for I have no paper,
and you can take it from me to the Finland woman who lives
there; she can give you better information than I can.' So
when Gerda was warmed, and had taken something to eat and
drink, the woman wrote a few words on the dried fish, and told
Gerda to take great care of it. Then she tied her again on the
reindeer, and he set off at full speed. Flash, flash, went the
beautiful blue northern lights in the air the whole night
long. And at length they reached Finland, and knocked at the
chimney of the Finland woman's hut, for it had no door above
the ground. They crept in, but it was so terribly hot inside
that that woman wore scarcely any clothes; she was small and
very dirty looking. She loosened little Gerda's dress, and
took off the fur boots and the mittens, or Gerda would have
been unable to bear the heat; and then she placed a piece of
ice on the reindeer's head, and read what was written on the
dried fish. After she had read it three times, she knew it by
heart, so she popped the fish into the soup saucepan, as she
knew it was good to eat, and she never wasted anything. The
reindeer told his own story first, and then little Gerda's,
and the Finlander twinkled with her clever eyes, but she said
nothing. 'You are so clever,' said the reindeer; 'I know you
can tie all the winds of the world with a piece of twine. If a
sailor unties one knot, he has a fair wind; when he unties the
second, it blows hard; but if the third and fourth are
loosened, then comes a storm, which will root up whole
forests. Cannot you give this little maiden something which
will make her as strong as twelve men, to overcome the Snow
Queen?'



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