kingdom where we
now are there lives a Princess, who is extraordinarily clever; for she
has read all the newspapers in the whole world, and has forgotten them
again--so clever is she. She was lately, it is said, sitting on her
is not very amusing after all--when she began humming an old tune, and
it was just, 'Oh, why should I not be married?' 'That song is not
its meaning,' said she, and so then she was determined to marry; but
would have a husband who knew how to give an answer when he was spoken
to--not one who looked only as if he were a great personage, for that
so tiresome. She then had all the ladies of the court drummed together;
and when they heard her intention, all were very pleased, and said, 'We
are very glad to hear it; it is the very thing we were thinking of.'
may believe every word I say," said the Raven; "for I have a tame
that hops about in the palace quite free, and it was she who told me
forthwith with a border of hearts and the initials of the Princess; and
therein you might read that every good-looking young man was at liberty
to come to the palace and speak to the Princess; and he who spoke in
wise as showed he felt himself at home there, that one the Princess
choose for her husband.
said the Raven,
"you may believe it; it is as true as I am sitting here. People came in
crowds; there was a crush and a hurry, but no one was successful either
on the first or second day. They could all talk well enough when they
out in the street; but as soon as they came inside the palace gates,
saw the guard richly dressed in silver, and the lackeys in gold on the
staircase, and the large illuminated saloons, then they were abashed;
when they stood before the throne on which the Princess was sitting,
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
were under a charm, and had fallen into a trance till they came out
into the street; for then--oh, then--they could chatter enough. There
a whole row of them standing from the town-gates to the palace. I was
myself to look," said the Raven.
hungry and thirsty;
but from the palace they got nothing whatever, not even a glass of
Some of the cleverest, it is true, had taken bread and butter with
but none shared it with his neighbor, for each thought, 'Let him look
and then the Princess won't have him.'"
Kay--little Kay," said
Gerda, "when did he come? Was he among the number?" "Patience,
we are just come to him. It was on the third day when a little
without horse or equipage, came marching right boldly up to the palace;
his eyes shone like yours, he had beautiful long hair, but his clothes
were very shabby." "That was Kay," cried Gerda, with a voice of
"Oh, now I've found him!" and she clapped her hands for joy. "He had a
little knapsack at his back," said the Raven.
was certainly his
sledge," said Gerda; "for when he went away he took his sledge with
be," said the Raven;
"I did not examine him so minutely; but I know from my tame sweetheart,
that when he came into the court-yard of the palace, and saw the
in silver, the lackeys on the staircase, he was not the least abashed;
he nodded, and said to them, 'It must be very tiresome to stand on the
stairs; for my part, I shall go in.' The saloons were gleaming with
councillors and excellencies were walking about barefooted, and wore
keys; it was enough to make any one feel uncomfortable. His boots
too, so loudly, but still he was not at all afraid."
said Gerda. "I know he had on new boots; I have heard them creaking in
grandmama's room." "Yes, they creaked," said the Raven. "And on he went
boldly up to the Princess, who was sitting on a pearl as large as a
All the ladies of the court, with their attendants and 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
It was hardly possible to look at the gentleman's gentleman, so very
did he stand in the doorway." "It must have been terrible," said little
Kay get the Princess?"
"Were I not a Raven, I should have taken the Princess myself, although
I am promised. It is said he spoke as well as I speak when I talk Raven
language; this I learned from my tame sweetheart. He was bold and
behaved; he had not come to woo the Princess, but only to hear her
She pleased him, and he pleased her."
for certain that
was Kay," said Gerda. "He was so clever; he could reckon fractions in
head. Oh, won't you take me to the palace?"
very easily said,"
answered the Raven. "But how are we to manage it? I'll speak to my tame
sweetheart about it: she must advise us; for so much I must tell you,
a little girl as you are will never get permission to enter."
"Oh, yes I
shall," said Gerda;
"when Kay hears that I am here, he will come out directly to fetch
me here on these
steps," said the Raven. He moved his head backwards and forwards and
away. The evening was closing in when the Raven returned. "Caw--caw!"
he. "She sends you her compliments; and here is a roll for you. She
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
the guards in silver, and the lackeys in gold, would not allow it; but
do not cry, you shall come in still. My sweetheart knows a little back
stair that leads to the bedchamber, and she knows where she can get the
key of it."
went into the garden
in the large avenue, where one leaf was falling after the other; and
the lights in the palace had all gradually disappeared, the Raven led
Gerda to the back door, which stood half open. Oh, how Gerda's heart
with anxiety and longing! It was just as if she had been about to do
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
so vividly, she could quite see him as he used to laugh when they were
sitting under the roses at home.
no doubt, be glad
to see you--to hear what a long way you have come for his sake; to know
how unhappy all at home were when he did not come back." Oh, what a
and a joy it was!
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
had taught her to do. "My intended has told me so much good of you, my
dear young lady," said the tame Raven. "Your tale is very affecting. If
you will take the lamp, I will go before. We will go straight on, for
shall meet no one."
there is somebody
just behind us," said Gerda; and something rushed past: it was like
figures on the wall; horses with flowing manes and thin legs, huntsmen,
ladies and gentlemen on horseback. "They are only dreams," said the
"They come to fetch the thoughts of the high personages to the chase;
well, for now you can observe them in bed all the better. But let me
when you enjoy honor and distinction, that you possess a grateful
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.
the dreams were rushing past, but they hastened by so quickly that
could not see the high personages. One hall was more magnificent than
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
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
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
neck. Oh! that was Kay! She called him quite loud by name, held the
towards him--the dreams rushed back again into the chamber--he awoke,
his head, and--it was not little Kay! The Prince was only like him
the neck; but he was young and handsome. And out of the white lily
the Princess peeped, too, and asked what was the matter. Then little
cried, and told her her whole history, and all that the Ravens had done
little thing!" said
the Prince and the Princess. They praised the Ravens very much, and
them they were not at all angry with them, but they were not to do so
However, they should have a reward.
fly about here
at liberty," asked the Princess; "or would you like to have a fixed
as court ravens, with all the broken bits from the kitchen?" And both
Ravens nodded, and begged for a fixed appointment; for they thought of
their old age, and said, "It is a good thing to have a provision for
Prince got up and
let Gerda sleep in his bed, and more than this he could not do. She
her little hands and thought, "How good men and animals are!" and she
fell asleep and slept soundly. All the dreams flew in again, and they
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
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
again go forth in the wide world and look for Kay. Shoes and a muff
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,
the arms of the Prince and Princess shone like a star upon it; the
the footmen, and the outriders, for outriders were there, too, all wore
golden crowns. The Prince and the Princess assisted her into the
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
for he could not bear riding backwards; the other Raven stood in the
and flapped her wings; she could not accompany Gerda, because she
from headache since she had had a fixed appointment and ate so much.
carriage was lined inside with sugar-plums, and in the seats were
Prince and Princess; and Gerda wept, and the Raven wept. Thus passed
first miles; and then the Raven bade her farewell, and this was the
painful separation of all. He flew into a tree, and beat his black
as long as he could see the carriage, that shone from afar like a
SNOW QUEEN FIFTH STORY