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'They are travelling in foreign countries,' said the robber girl. 'But the crow?' asked Gerda. 'Oh, the crow is dead!' she answered. 'The tame sweetheart is a widow, and goes about with a bit of black wool tied round her leg. She pities herself bitterly, but it's all nonsense! But tell me how you got on yourself, and where you found him.'

Gerda and Kay both told her all about it. 'Snip, snap, snurre, it's all right at last then!' she said, and she took hold of their hands and promised that if she ever passed through their town she would pay them a visit. Then she rode off into the wide world. But Kay and Gerda walked on, hand in hand, and wherever they went they found the most delightful spring and bloom- ing flowers. Soon they recognised the big town where they lived, with its tall towers, in which the bells still rang their merry peals. They went straight on to grandmother's door, up the stairs and into her room. Everything was just as they had left it, and the old clock ticked in the corner, and the hands pointed to the time. As they went through the door into the room they perceived that they were grown up. The roses clustered round the open window, and there stood their two little chairs. Kay and Gerda sat down upon them, still holding each other by the hand. All the cold empty grandeur of the Snow Queen's palace had passed from their memory like a bad dream. Grandmother sat in God's warm sunshine reading from her Bible.

'Without ye become as little children ye cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.'

Kay and Gerda looked into each other's eyes, and then all at once the meaning of the old hymn came to them.

'Where roses deck the flowery vale, There, Infant Jesus, we thee hail!'

And there they both sat, grown up and yet children, children at heart; and it was summer—warm, beautiful summer.


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