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Hans Christian Andersen

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 flow- ers.'

'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 sto- ries.

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 fin- est 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 ap- pear, 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—


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