'I always sleep with a knife,' said the little robber girl. 'You never know what will happen. But now tell me again what you told me before about little Kay, and why you went out into the world.' So Gerda told her all about it again, and the wood pigeons cooed up in their cage above them; the other pigeons were asleep. The little rob- ber girl put her arm round Gerda's neck and went to sleep with the knife in her other hand, and she was soon snoring. But Gerda would not close her eyes; she did not know whether she was to live or to die. The robbers sat round the fire, eating and drinking, and the old woman was turning somersaults. This sight terrified the poor little girl. Then the wood pigeons said, 'Coo, coo, we have seen little Kay; his sledge was drawn by a white chicken, and he was sitting in the Snow Queen's sledge; it was floating low down over the trees, while we were in our nests. She blew upon us young ones, and they all died except we two; coo, coo.'
'What are you saying up there?' asked Gerda. 'Where was the Snow Queen going? Do you know anything about it?'
'She was most likely going to Lapland, because there is always snow and ice there! Ask the reindeer who is tied up there.'
'There is ice and snow, and it's a splendid place,' said the reindeer. 'You can run and jump about where you like on those big glittering plains. The Snow Queen has her summer tent there, but her perma- nent castle is up at the North Pole, on the island which is called Spitzbergen!'
'Oh Kay, little Kay!' sighed Gerda. 'Lie still, or I shall stick the knife into you!' said the robber girl. In the morning Gerda told her all that the wood pigeons had said, and the little robber girl looked quite solemn, but she nodded her head and said, 'No matter, no matter! Do you know where Lapland is?' she asked the reindeer.
'Who should know better than I,' said the animal, its eyes danc- ing. 'I was born and brought up there, and I used to leap about on the snowfields.'
'Listen,' said the robber girl. 'You see that all our men folks are away, but mother is still here, and she will stay; but later on in the morning she will take a drink out of the big bottle there, and after that she will have a nap—then I will do something for you.' Then she