Gerda was very frightened,
and began to cry; but no one heard her except the sparrows, and they
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
little Gerda sat quite still without shoes, for they were swimming
the boat, but she could not reach them, because the boat went much
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.
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
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
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.
came close to them, for the stream drifted the boat quite near the
Gerda called still louder, and an old woman then came out of the
leaning upon a crooked stick. She had a large broad-brimmed hat on,
with the most splendid flowers.
little child!" said
the old woman. "How did you get upon the large rapid river, to be
about so in the wide world!" And then the old woman went into the
caught hold of the boat with her crooked stick, drew it to the bank,
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.
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
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
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
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
wondrously in all sorts of colors. On the table stood the most
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
comb, and her hair curled and shone with a lovely golden color around
sweet little face, which was so round and so like a rose.
often longed for
such a dear little girl," said the old woman. "Now you shall see how
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
magic; but she was no evil being, she only practised witchcraft a
for her own private amusement, and now she wanted very much to keep
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
of her own, would remember little Kay, and run away from her. She now
Gerda into the flower-garden. Oh, what odour and what loveliness was
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.
jumped for joy, and played till the sun set behind the tall
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
morning she went
to play with the flowers in the warm sunshine, and thus passed away a
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
she was looking at the hat of the old woman painted with flowers, the
beautiful of them all seemed to her to be a rose. The old woman had
to take it from her hat when she made the others vanish in the earth.
so it is when one's thoughts are not collected. "What!" said Gerda.
there no roses here?" and she ran about amongst the flowerbeds, and
and looked, but there was not one to be found. She then sat down and
but her hot tears fell just where a rose-bush had sunk; and when her
tears watered the ground, the tree shot up suddenly as fresh and
as when it had been swallowed up. Gerda kissed the roses, thought of
own dear roses at home, and with them of little Kay.
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
certainly is not,"
said the Roses. "We have been in the earth where all the dead are, but
Kay was not there."
thanks!" said little
Gerda; and she went to the other flowers, looked into their cups, and
"Don't you know where little Kay is?" But every flower stood in the
and dreamed its own fairy tale or its own story: and they all told her
very many things, but not one knew anything of Kay. Well, what did the
Tiger-Lily say? "Hearest thou not the drum? Bum! Bum! Those are the
two tones. Always bum! Bum! Hark to the plaintive song of the old
to the call of the priests! The Hindoo woman in her long robe stands
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
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?"
at all," said little Gerda. "That is my story," said the Lily. What did
the Convolvulus say? "Projecting over a narrow mountain-path there
an old feudal castle. Thick evergreens grow on the dilapidated walls,
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
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,"
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,
swing themselves backwards and forwards; their frocks are as white as
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
and in the other a clay-pipe. He is blowing soap-bubbles. The swing
and the bubbles float in charming changing colors: the last is still
to the end of the pipe, and rocks in the breeze. The swing moves. The
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
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
a manner, and do not mention Kay." What do the Hyacinths say? "There
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
white. They danced hand in hand beside the calm lake in the clear
They were not elfin maidens, but mortal children. A sweet fragrance was
smelt, and the maidens vanished in the wood; the fragrance grew
coffins, and in them three lovely maidens, glided out of the forest and
across the lake: the shining glow-worms flew around like little
lights. Do the dancing maidens sleep, or are they dead? The odour of
flowers says they are corpses; the evening bell tolls for the
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
Kay; we do not know him. That is our way of singing, the only one we
And Gerda went to the Ranunculuses, that looked forth from among the
green leaves. "You are a little bright sun!" said Gerda. "Tell me if
know where I can find my playfellow." And the Ranunculus shone
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
was shining in the first days of spring. The beams glided down the
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
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
for me, no doubt: she is sorrowing for me, as she did for little Kay.
I will soon come home, and then I will bring Kay with me. It is of no
asking the flowers; they only know their own old rhymes, and can tell
nothing." And she tucked up her frock, to enable her to run quicker;
the Narcissus gave her a knock on the leg, just as she was going to
over it. So she stood still, looked at the long yellow flower, and
"You perhaps know something?" and she bent down to the Narcissus. And
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
now on one leg,
now on both; she despises the whole world; yet she lives only in
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
is hanging on the hook; it was washed in the teapot, and dried on the
She puts it on, ties a saffron-colored kerchief round her neck, and
the gown looks whiter. I can see myself--I can see myself!"
nothing to me," said
little Gerda. "That does not concern me." And then off she ran to the
end of the garden. The gate was locked, but she shook the rusted bolt
it was loosened, and the gate opened; and little Gerda ran off
into the wide world. She looked round her thrice, but no one followed
At last she could run no longer; she sat down on a large stone, and
she looked about her, she saw that the summer had passed; it was late
the autumn, but that one could not remark in the beautiful garden,
there was always sunshine, and where there were flowers the whole year
how long I have
staid!" said Gerda. "Autumn is come. I must not rest any longer." And
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
other: the sloes only stood full of fruit, which set one's teeth on
Oh, how dark and comfortless it was in the dreary world!
SNOW QUEEN FOURTH STORY