Hans Christian Andersen
its painted flowers, and the very prettiest one of them all was a rose. The old woman had forgotten her hat when she charmed the others away. This is the consequence of being absent-minded.
'What!' said Gerda, 'are there no roses here?' and she sprang in among the flower-beds and sought, but in vain! Her hot tears fell on the very places where the roses used to be; when the warm drops moistened the earth the rose-trees shot up again, just as full of bloom as when they sank. Gerda embraced the roses and kissed them, and then she thought of the lovely roses at home, and this brought the thought of little Kay.
'Oh, how I have been delayed,' said the little girl, 'I ought to have been looking for Kay! Don't you know where he is?' she asked the roses. 'Do you think he is dead and gone?'
'He is not dead,' said the roses. 'For we have been down under- ground, you know, and all the dead people are there, but Kay is not among them.'
'Oh, thank you!' said little Gerda, and then she went to the other flowers and looked into their cups and said, 'Do you know where Kay is?'
But each flower stood in the sun and dreamt its own dreams. Little Gerda heard many of these, but never anything about Kay.
And what said the Tiger lilies? 'Do you hear the drum? rub-a-dub, it has only two notes, rub-a- dub, always the same. The wailing of women and the cry of the preacher. The Hindu woman in her long red garment stands on the pile, while the flames surround her and her dead husband. But the woman is only thinking of the living man in the circle round, whose eyes burn with a fiercer fire than that of the flames which consume the body. Do the flames of the heart die in the fire?'
'I understand nothing about that,' said little Gerda. 'That is my story,' said the Tiger lily. 'What does the convolvulus say?' 'An old castle is perched high over a narrow mountain path, it is closely covered with ivy, almost hiding the old red walls, and creep- ing up leaf upon leaf right round the balcony where stands a beau- tiful maiden. She bends over the balustrade and looks eagerly up the road. No rose on its stem is fresher than she; no apple blossom