The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson

Once upon a time, there lived a wicked dwarf. He invented a magic mirror in which everything kind and beautiful diminished and everything bad and disgusting increased. Wonderful lawns, reflected in it, looked like boiled spinach and the kindest people looked like monsters. The wicked dwarf and his pupils went round the world and soon all people reflected in it. After all they wished to mock at angels and rose to the sky, but they couldn't realize their idea as the mirror slipped through their hands and broke to pieces. Millions and billions of these pieces brought misfortune to people. They scattered in the air and some of them fell into the eyes of people. A man with such a piece in his eye noticed in everything only its bad sides, because the fragment possessed the properties of the magic mirror. Some of the pieces fell into the hearts of people and it was the worst because their hearts turned into pieces of ice. We will soon hear about it!


In a big town there lived two poor children - Kay and Gerda. They weren't related but loved each other like brother and sister. Their parents lived in the adjoining attics and they allowed children to visit each other crossing the roof. The children liked to play on the roof and sit on the bench under the wonderful bushes of roses that grew in two big boxes.

One winter evening the children looked through the window and admired snowflakes.

- These snowflakes look like white bees! - said Gerda's grandmother.

- Do they have a queen? - asked the boy, he knew that real bees always have a queen.

- Yes, they do. Snowflakes always whirl around her. She flies over the ground on the black cloud and peeps in windows.

At these words Kay really saw in the window a face of a wonderful woman. She was wrapped up in the white tulle that seemed to be woven of snowflakes and her eyes were shining like bright stars. The boy was frightened by it and ran off the window.

Soon the spring came and the children could again sit in their little garden on the roof among wonderful roses growing in the big boxes.

Once, when they were reading an interesting book, Kay suddenly exclaimed: "Ah! Something fell into my eye and I have a stitch in my heart". Two pieces of the dwarf's mirror had fallen into the boy's eyes and since that time he became wicked. He offended Gerda and mimicked her grandmother. The fragments of the dwarf's mirror changed his character and his heart turned into a piece of ice.

One winter day Kay went to sledge. In the square children fastened their small sledges to big peasants' sledges and drove at high speed. Kay also fastened his small sledges to someone's sledges. The sledges rushed along the streets and left the town. The boy was very frightened, he cried but nobody heard him. Soon Kay saw that wonderful Snow Queen was sitting in the sledges. She took him in her hands and kissed him. After this kiss Kay stopped fearing Snow Queen and he forgot his parents, Gerda and her grandmother. Snow Queen carried Kay to her North Icy Kingdom.

People said that Kay died but little girl Gerda didn't believe it and she decided to find him. She sat in a boat and went down stream. Soon she reached the shoe and saw a nice house with many-colored windows standing in a big cherry orchard. In this house lived an old woman who could practice witchcraft. The old woman liked Gerda very much and decided to leave the girl in her house. She enchanted her and Gerda forgot everything about her parents, grandmother and Kay. The girl lived happily with the old woman till she saw by chance a bush of wonderful roses in the garden and remembered her sworn brother Kay. She left the old woman and her beautiful house overgrown with flowers.


Soon the autumn came and it had got colder. Despite cold and rainy weather Gerda dressed in light dress and barefooted went on looking for Kay.

Soon she met a big raven and told him about her life and asked if it had seen Kay or heard something about him. The Raven said that it knew where Kay was. The Princess of the nearest kingdom married him and he lived in her palace. Gerda was very happy to hear this news and asked the Raven to lead her in the palace. The Raven was very sorry for a poor little girl who loved her sworn brother Kay so much and agreed. So, Gerda, the Raven and his bride stole in the palace and soon they found themselves in a Princess's bedroom. Gerda couldn't wait for meeting with Kay and she shouted when she saw the back of his head. Prince turned his head but, unfortunately, he wasn't Kay. Gerda became to cry bitterly and told Prince and Princess her sad story. The story of the little, brave girl touched them very much and they gave her warm clothes and a gold carriage harnessed with beautiful horses. So, Gerda decided to went on looking for Kay though she could stay in the palace and live there happily.


When Gerda was driving through the forest robbers saw gold carriage and attacked it. The robbers wanted to kill Gerda, but gang-leader's daughter saved her. She said: "I will play with her and if I am angry with her you may kill her". Little Robber was a girl of Gerda's age with big black and sad eyes.

- Are you a Princess - she asked Gerda.

- No, - answered Gerda and told Little Robber her story.

Little Robber looked at Gerda seriously and said: "Come with me. I will show you my pets". She led Gerda to the robber's castle and showed the girl her room. The room was full of animals. There were hares, pigeons, foxes and even a reindeer. Gerda asked the animals if the had heard something about Kay. Forest pigeons answered: "We saw Kay! He was sitting in the sledges of Snow Queen. They were driving over the forest when we were sitting in the nest. Snow Queen breathed at us and all nestlings, except us, died. Snow Queen carried Kay to her Icy Kingdom situated in Lapland.

- Do you know where Lapland is situated? - asked Little Robber the reindeer.

- Yes, know. I was born there. It is a wonderful country where eternal snow and icy valleys shine like the stars!

At these words little robber unfastened the reindeer and said to it: "Carry Gerda to Snow Queen's palace in Lapland! If you do it I will set you free!".

The reindeer accepted her offer with joy and Gerda went to distant and cold Lapland to look for her sworn brother Kay.


The reindeer stopped near a wretched house where lived Laplander. She fed Gerda and the reindeer and said: "Lapland is far away from here! Go to my friend Finish woman and she will tell you how you could overpower Snow Queen". Laplander gave the girl a fish with something written on it and Gerda went to Finland.

When they reached the place, Finish woman fed Gerda and the reindeer. After the supper the reindeer said: "You are a wise woman. You can tie together four winds with a thread. Can you give Gerda strength to win Snow Queen?". Finish woman opened a big magic book, read it and answered: "Kay really is in the Snow Queen's Kingdom. He is happy and doesn't want to leave it. The reason of it is the fragments of the dwarf's mirror in his eye and heart. I can't make Gerda stronger than she is. Look at her! She went all over the world barefooted. She wasn't afraid of cold and wind. She is very strong. People and animals serve her. Her strength is in her kind, innocent child's heart and in her love for Kay. Carry Gerda to the Snow Queen's garden and leave her near the bush covered with red berries and come back!".

The reindeer carried the girl in the Snow Queen's garden, left her near the bush covered with red berries, kissed her and went away in tears.

The girl went through the snowstorm to the Snow Queen's Palace. She was very tired and cold when she reached the palace. Gerda entered it and saw Kay playing with small pieces of ice. He was blue from the cold and didn't recognize her. The girl threw herself on Kays neck and began to cry. Her tears melted the piece of ice in the Kay's heart and he also broke into tears. He cried so hard that the fragment of the dwarf's mirror fell out of his eye. Kay and Gerda were so happy that they cried and laughed with joy. Evil spell disappeared and Kay was saved owing to sincere love of his brave and devoted sworn sister Gerda.

Random House / Grandfather Frost / Alaska Gallery

Russian American Company