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The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.

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Gerda was soon obliged to rest again. A big crow hopped on to the snow, just in front of her. It had been sitting looking at her for a long time and wagging its head. Now it said, 'Caw, caw; good-day, good-day,' as well as it could; it meant to be kind to the little girl, and asked her where she was going, alone in the wide world. Gerda understood the word 'alone' and knew how much there was in it, and she told the crow the whole story of her life and adventures, and asked if it had seen Kay. The crow nodded its head gravely and said, 'May be I have, may be I have.' 'What, do you really think you have?' cried the little girl, nearly smothering him with her kisses. 'Gently, gently!' said the crow. 'I believe it may have been Kay, but he has forgotten you by this time, I expect, for the Princess.' 'Does he live with a Princess?' asked Gerda. 'Yes, listen,' said the crow; 'but it is so difficult to speak your language. If you understand "crow's language,"[1] I can tell you about it much better.' 'No, I have never learnt it,' said Gerda; 'but grandmother knew it, and used to speak it. If only I had learnt it!' 'It doesn't matter,' said the crow. 'I will tell you as well as I can, although I may do it rather badly.' Then he told her what he had heard.



'In this kingdom where we are now,' said he, 'there lives a Princess who is very clever. She has read all the newspapers in the world, and forgotten them again, so clever is she. One day she was sitting on her throne, which is not such an amusing thing to do either, they say; and she began humming a tune, which happened to be "Why should I not be married, oh why?" "Why not indeed?" said she. And she made up her mind to marry, if she could find a husband who had an answer ready when a question was put to him. She called all the court ladies together, and when they heard what she wanted they were delighted. '"I like that now," they said. "I was thinking the same thing myself the other day." 'Every word I say is true,' said the crow, 'for I have a tame sweetheart who goes about the palace whenever she likes. She told me the whole story.'



Of course his sweetheart was a crow, for 'birds of a feather flock together,' and one crow always chooses another. The newspapers all came out immediately with borders of hearts and the Princess's initials. They gave notice that any young man who was handsome enough might go up to the Palace to speak to the Princess. The one who spoke as if he were quite at home, and spoke well, would be chosen by the Princess as her husband. Yes, yes, you may believe me, it's as true as I sit here,' said the crow. 'The people came crowding in; there was such running, and crushing, but no one was fortunate enough to be chosen, either on the first day, or on the second. They could all of them talk well enough in the street, but when they entered the castle gates, and saw the guard in silver uniforms, and when they went up the stairs through rows of lackeys in gold embroidered liveries, their courage forsook them. When they reached the brilliantly lighted reception-rooms, and stood in front of the throne where the Princess was seated, they could think of nothing to say, they only echoed her last words, and of course that was not what she wanted. 'It was just as if they had all taken some kind of sleeping-powder, which made them lethargic; they did not recover themselves until they got out into the street again, and then they had plenty to say. There was quite a long line of them, reaching from the town gates up to the Palace.



'I went to see them myself,' said the crow. 'They were hungry and thirsty, but they got nothing at the Palace, not even as much as a glass of tepid water. Some of the wise ones had taken sandwiches with them, but they did not share them with their neighbours; they thought if the others went in to the Princess looking hungry, that there would be more chance for themselves.' 'But Kay, little Kay!' asked Gerda; 'when did he come? was he amongst the crowd?' 'Give me time, give me time! we are just coming to him. It was on the third day that a little personage came marching cheerfully along, without either carriage or horse. His eyes sparkled like yours, and he had beautiful long hair, but his clothes were very shabby.' 'Oh, that was Kay!' said Gerda gleefully; 'then I have found him!' and she clapped her hands. 'He had a little knapsack on his back!' said the crow. 'No, it must have been his sledge; he had it with him when he went away!' said Gerda.



Gerda was soon obliged to rest again. A big crow hopped on to the snow, just in front of her. It had been sitting looking at her for a long time and wagging its head. Now it said, 'Caw, caw; good-day, good-day,' as well as it could; it meant to be kind to the little girl, and asked her where she was going, alone in the wide world. Gerda understood the word 'alone' and knew how much there was in it, and she told the crow the whole story of her life and adventures, and asked if it had seen Kay. The crow nodded its head gravely and said, 'May be I have, may be I have.' 'What, do you really think you have?' cried the little girl, nearly smothering him with her kisses. 'Gently, gently!' said the crow. 'I believe it may have been Kay, but he has forgotten you by this time, I expect, for the Princess.' 'Does he live with a Princess?' asked Gerda. 'Yes, listen,' said the crow; 'but it is so difficult to speak your language. If you understand "crow's language,"[1] I can tell you about it much better.' 'No, I have never learnt it,' said Gerda; 'but grandmother knew it, and used to speak it. If only I had learnt it!' 'It doesn't matter,' said the crow. 'I will tell you as well as I can, although I may do it rather badly.' Then he told her what he had heard.

       



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