Select the desired text size
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.
Start of Story
In a big town crowded with houses and people, where there is no room for
gardens, people have to be content with flowers in pots instead. In one
of these towns lived two children who managed to have something bigger
than a flower pot for a garden. They were not brother and sister, but
they were just as fond of each other as if they had been. Their parents
lived opposite each other in two attic rooms. The roof of one house just
touched the roof of the next one, with only a rain-water gutter between
them. They each had a little dormer window, and one only had to step
over the gutter to get from one house to the other. Each of the parents
had a large window-box, in which they grew pot herbs and a little
rose-tree. There was one in each box, and they both grew splendidly.
Then it occurred to the parents to put the boxes across the gutter, from
house to house, and they looked just like two banks of flowers. The pea
vines hung down over the edges of the boxes, and the roses threw out
long creepers which twined round the windows. It was almost like a green
triumphal arch. The boxes were high, and the children knew they must not
climb up on to them, but they were often allowed to have their little
stools out under the rose-trees, and there they had delightful games.
Of course in the winter there was an end to these amusements. The windows
were often covered with hoar-frost; then they would warm coppers on the
stove and stick them on the frozen panes, where they made lovely
peep-holes, as round as possible. Then a bright eye would peep through
these holes, one from each window. The little boy's name was Kay, and
the little girl's Gerda.
In the summer they could reach each other with one bound, but in the
winter they had to go down all the stairs in one house and up all the
stairs in the other, and outside there were snowdrifts.
'Look! the white bees are swarming,' said the old grandmother.
'Have they a queen bee, too?' asked the little boy, for he knew that
there was a queen among the real bees.
'Yes, indeed they have,' said the grandmother. 'She flies where the
swarm is thickest. She is biggest of them all, and she never remains on
the ground. She always flies up again to the sky. Many a winter's night
she flies through the streets and peeps in at the windows, and then the
ice freezes on the panes into wonderful patterns like flowers.'
'Oh yes, we have seen that,' said both children, and then they knew
it was true.
'Can the Snow Queen come in here?' asked the little girl.
'Just let her come,' said the boy, 'and I will put her on the stove,
where she will melt.'
But the grandmother smoothed his hair and told him more stories.
In the evening when little Kay was at home and half undressed, he crept
up on to the chair by the window, and peeped out of the little hole. A
few snow-flakes were falling, and one of these, the biggest, remained on
the edge of the window-box. It grew bigger and bigger, till it became
the figure of a woman, dressed in the finest white gauze, which appeared
to be made of millions of starry flakes. She was delicately lovely, but
all ice, glittering, dazzling ice. Still she was alive, her eyes shone
like two bright stars, but there was no rest or peace in them. She
nodded to the window and waved her hand. The little boy was frightened
and jumped down off the chair, and then he fancied that a big bird flew
past the window.
The next day was bright and frosty, and then came the thaw--and after
that the spring. The sun shone, green buds began to appear, the swallows
built their nests, and people began to open their windows. The little
children began to play in their garden on the roof again. The roses were
in splendid bloom that summer; the little girl had learnt a hymn, and
there was something in it about roses, and that made her think of her
own. She sang it to the little boy, and then he sang it with her--
'Where roses deck the flowery vale,
There, Infant Jesus, we thee hail!'
The children took each other by the hands, kissed the roses, and
rejoiced in God's bright sunshine, and spoke to it as if the Child Jesus
were there. What lovely summer days they were, and how delightful it was
to sit out under the fresh rose-trees, which seemed never tired of
Kay and Gerda were looking at a picture book of birds and animals one
day--it had just struck five by the church clock--when Kay said, 'Oh,
something struck my heart, and I have got something in my eye!'
The little girl put her arms round his neck, he blinked his eye; there
was nothing to be seen.
'I believe it is gone,' he said; but it was not gone. It was one of
those very grains of glass from the mirror, the magic mirror. You
remember that horrid mirror, in which all good and great things
reflected in it became small and mean, while the bad things were
magnified, and every flaw became very apparent.
Poor Kay! a grain of it had gone straight to his heart, and would soon
turn it to a lump of ice. He did not feel it any more, but it was still
'Why do you cry?' he asked; 'it makes you look ugly; there's nothing the
matter with me. How horrid!' he suddenly cried; 'there's a worm in that
rose, and that one is quite crooked; after all, they are nasty roses,
and so are the boxes they are growing in!' He kicked the box and broke
off two of the roses.