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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 3

'The Power of twelve men!' said the Finland woman; 'that
would be of very little use.' But she went to a shelf and took
down and unrolled a large skin, on which were inscribed
wonderful characters, and she read till the perspiration ran
down from her forehead. But the reindeer begged so hard for
little Gerda, and Gerda looked at the Finland woman with such
beseeching tearful eyes, that her own eyes began to twinkle
again; so she drew the reindeer into a corner, and whispered
to him while she laid a fresh piece of ice on his head,
'Little Kay is really with the Snow Queen, but he finds
everything there so much to his taste and his liking, that he
believes it is the finest place in the world; but this is
because he has a piece of broken glass in his heart, and a
little piece of glass in his eye. These must be taken out, or
he will never be a human being again, and the Snow Queen will
retain her power over him.'

'But can you not give little Gerda something to help her
to conquer this power?'

'I can give her no greater power than she has already,'
said the woman; 'don't you see how strong that is? How men and
animals are obliged to serve her, and how well she has got
through the world, barefooted as she is. She cannot receive
any power from me greater than she now has, which consists in
her own purity and innocence of heart. If she cannot herself
obtain access to the Snow Queen, and remove the glass
fragments from little Kay, we can do nothing to help her. Two
miles from here the Snow Queen's garden begins; you can carry
the little girl so far, and set her down by the large bush
which stands in the snow, covered with red berries. Do not
stay gossiping, but come back here as quickly as you can.'
Then the Finland woman lifted little Gerda upon the reindeer,
and he ran away with her as quickly as he could.

'Oh, I have forgotten my boots and my mittens,' cried
little Gerda, as soon as she felt the cutting cold, but the
reindeer dared not stop, so he ran on till he reached the bush
with the red berries; here he set Gerda down, and he kissed
her, and the great bright tears trickled over the animal's
cheeks; then he left her and ran back as fast as he could.

There stood poor Gerda, without shoes, without gloves, in
the midst of cold, dreary, ice-bound Finland. She ran forwards
as quickly as she could, when a whole regiment of snow-flakes
came round her; they did not, however, fall from the sky,
which was quite clear and glittering with the northern lights.
The snow-flakes ran along the ground, and the nearer they came
to her, the larger they appeared. Gerda remembered how large
and beautiful they looked through the burning-glass. But these
were really larger, and much more terrible, for they were
alive, and were the guards of the Snow Queen, and had the
strangest shapes. Some were like great porcupines, others like
twisted serpents with their heads stretching out, and some few
were like little fat bears with their hair bristled; but all
were dazzlingly white, and all were living snow-flakes. Then
little Gerda repeated the Lord's Prayer, and the cold was so
great that she could see her own breath come out of her mouth
like steam as she uttered the words. The steam appeared to
increase, as she continued her prayer, till it took the shape
of little angels who grew larger the moment they touched the
earth. They all wore helmets on their heads, and carried
spears and shields. Their number continued to increase more
and more; and by the time Gerda had finished her prayers, a
whole legion stood round her. They thrust their spears into
the terrible snow-flakes, so that they shivered into a hundred
pieces, and little Gerda could go forward with courage and
safety. The angels stroked her hands and feet, so that she
felt the cold less, and she hastened on to the Snow Queen's
castle.

But now we must see what Kay is doing. In truth he thought
not of little Gerda, and never supposed she could be standing
in the front of the palace.

SEVENTH STORY
OF THE PALACE OF THE SNOW QUEEN
AND WHAT HAPPENED THERE AT LAST

The walls of the palace were formed of drifted snow, and
the windows and doors of the cutting winds. There were more
than a hundred rooms in it, all as if they had been formed
with snow blown together. The largest of them extended for
several miles; they were all lighted up by the vivid light of
the aurora, and they were so large and empty, so icy cold and
glittering! There were no amusements here, not even a little
bear's ball, when the storm might have been the music, and the
bears could have danced on their hind legs, and shown their
good manners. There were no pleasant games of snap-dragon, or
touch, or even a gossip over the tea-table, for the young-lady
foxes. Empty, vast, and cold were the halls of the Snow Queen.
The flickering flame of the northern lights could be plainly
seen, whether they rose high or low in the heavens, from every
part of the castle. In the midst of its empty, endless hall of
snow was a frozen lake, broken on its surface into a thousand
forms; each piece resembled another, from being in itself
perfect as a work of art, and in the centre of this lake sat
the Snow Queen, when she was at home. She called the lake 'The
Mirror of Reason,' and said that it was the best, and indeed
the only one in the world.

Little Kay was quite blue with cold, indeed almost black,
but he did not feel it; for the Snow Queen had kissed away the
icy shiverings, and his heart was already a lump of ice. He
dragged some sharp, flat pieces of ice to and fro, and placed
them together in all kinds of positions, as if he wished to
make something out of them; just as we try to form various
figures with little tablets of wood which we call 'a Chinese
puzzle.' Kay's fingers were very artistic; it was the icy game
of reason at which he played, and in his eyes the figures were
very remarkable, and of the highest importance; this opinion
was owing to the piece of glass still sticking in his eye. He
composed many complete figures, forming different words, but
there was one word he never could manage to form, although he
wished it very much. It was the word 'Eternity.' The Snow
Queen had said to him, 'When you can find out this, you shall
be your own master, and I will give you the whole world and a
new pair of skates.' But he could not accomplish it.

'Now I must hasten away to warmer countries,' said the
Snow Queen. 'I will go and look into the black craters of the
tops of the burning mountains, Etna and Vesuvius, as they are
called,- I shall make them look white, which will be good for
them, and for the lemons and the grapes.' And away flew the
Snow Queen, leaving little Kay quite alone in the great hall
which was so many miles in length; so he sat and looked at his
pieces of ice, and was thinking so deeply, and sat so still,
that any one might have supposed he was frozen.

Just at this moment it happened that little Gerda came
through the great door of the castle. Cutting winds were
raging around her, but she offered up a prayer and the winds
sank down as if they were going to sleep; and she went on till
she came to the large empty hall, and caught sight of Kay; she
knew him directly; she flew to him and threw her arms round
his neck, and held him fast, while she exclaimed, 'Kay, dear
little Kay, I have found you at last.'

But he sat quite still, stiff and cold.

Then little Gerda wept hot tears, which fell on his
breast, and penetrated into his heart, and thawed the lump of
ice, and washed away the little piece of glass which had stuck
there. Then he looked at her, and she sang-

'Roses bloom and cease to be,
But we shall the Christ-child see.'

Then Kay burst into tears, and he wept so that the
splinter of glass swam out of his eye. Then he recognized
Gerda, and said, joyfully, 'Gerda, dear little Gerda, where
have you been all this time, and where have I been?' And he
looked all around him, and said, 'How cold it is, and how
large and empty it all looks,' and he clung to Gerda, and she
laughed and wept for joy. It was so pleasing to see them that
the pieces of ice even danced about; and when they were tired
and went to lie down, they formed themselves into the letters
of the word which the Snow Queen had said he must find out
before he could be his own master, and have the whole world
and a pair of new skates. Then Gerda kissed his cheeks, and
they became blooming; and she kissed his eyes, and they shone
like her own; she kissed his hands and his feet, and then he
became quite healthy and cheerful. The Snow Queen might come
home now when she pleased, for there stood his certainty of
freedom, in the word she wanted, written in shining letters of
ice.

Then they took each other by the hand, and went forth from
the great palace of ice. They spoke of the grandmother, and of
the roses on the roof, and as they went on the winds were at
rest, and the sun burst forth. When they arrived at the bush
with red berries, there stood the reindeer waiting for them,
and he had brought another young reindeer with him, whose
udders were full, and the children drank her warm milk and
kissed her on the mouth. Then they carried Kay and Gerda first
to the Finland woman, where they warmed themselves thoroughly
in the hot room, and she gave them directions about their
journey home. Next they went to the Lapland woman, who had
made some new clothes for them, and put their sleighs in
order. Both the reindeer ran by their side, and followed them
as far as the boundaries of the country, where the first green
leaves were budding. And here they took leave of the two
reindeer and the Lapland woman, and all said- Farewell. Then
the birds began to twitter, and the forest too was full of
green young leaves; and out of it came a beautiful horse,
which Gerda remembered, for it was one which had drawn the
golden coach. A young girl was riding upon it, with a shining
red cap on her head, and pistols in her belt. It was the
little robber-maiden, who had got tired of staying at home;
she was going first to the north, and if that did not suit
her, she meant to try some other part of the world. She knew
Gerda directly, and Gerda remembered her: it was a joyful
meeting.

'You are a fine fellow to go gadding about in this way,'
said she to little Kay, 'I should like to know whether you
deserve that any one should go to the end of the world to find
you.'

But Gerda patted her cheeks, and asked after the prince
and princess.

'They are gone to foreign countries,' said the
robber-girl.

'And the crow?' asked Gerda.

'Oh, the crow is dead,' she replied; 'his tame sweetheart
is now a widow, and wears a bit of black worsted round her
leg. She mourns very pitifully, but it is all stuff. But now
tell me how you managed to get him back.'

Then Gerda and Kay told her all about it.

'Snip, snap, snare! it's all right at last,' said the
robber-girl.

Then she took both their hands, and promised that if ever
she should pass through the town, she would call and pay them
a visit. And then she rode away into the wide world. But Gerda
and Kay went hand-in-hand towards home; and as they advanced,
spring appeared more lovely with its green verdure and its
beautiful flowers. Very soon they recognized the large town
where they lived, and the tall steeples of the churches, in
which the sweet bells were ringing a merry peal as they
entered it, and found their way to their grandmother's door.
They went upstairs into the little room, where all looked just
as it used to do. The old clock was going 'tick, tick,' and
the hands pointed to the time of day, but as they passed
through the door into the room they perceived that they were
both grown up, and become a man and woman. The roses out on
the roof were in full bloom, and peeped in at the window; and
there stood the little chairs, on which they had sat when
children; and Kay and Gerda seated themselves each on their
own chair, and held each other by the hand, while the cold
empty grandeur of the Snow Queen's palace vanished from their
memories like a painful dream. The grandmother sat in God's
bright sunshine, and she read aloud from the Bible, 'Except ye
become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the
kingdom of God.' And Kay and Gerda looked into each other's
eyes, and all at once understood the words of the old song,

'Roses bloom and cease to be,
But we shall the Christ-child see.'

And they both sat there, grown up, yet children at heart; and
it was summer,- warm, beautiful summer.



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