One day the old woman sat in her arm-chair at the house door wearing the hat with painted roses on it. Gerda looked at her hat and for the first time noticed the painted roses and thought of the beautiful roses in their garden. ‘Why are there no roses here?’ thought Gerda, and she ran out into the garden and examined all the flower-beds. But she found no one rose. She sat down on the ground and wept, and her warm tears fell on the place where one of the rose-trees was before. The rose-tree came out at once. Gerda kissed the rose-tree and asked it, ‘Do you know where Kay is? Do you think he is dead?’

And the roses answered, ‘No, he is not dead. We were in the ground where all the dead lie but Kay is not there.’

‘Thank you,’ said little Gerda, and she ran to the other end of the garden. She opened the door and ran out with bare feet into the wide world. Nobody followed her, and she ran and ran until she got tired and sat down on a big stone. When she looked round, she saw that the summer was over and there was late autumn. She knew nothing of this in the beautiful garden where the sun shone all the year round.

‘Oh, how much time I have wasted,’ said little Gerda. ‘It’s autumn already. I mustn’t rest any longer.’ And she stood up to walk on. But her feet were cold and it was so dark around. She sat down to rest again and saw a big crow. The crow stood looking at her for some time and then said, ‘Caw, caw, good-day.’ And then he asked the little girl where she was going alone.

Gerda told the crow the whole story of her adventures and asked, ‘Do you know anything about little Kay?’ The crow nodded his head and said, ‘Perhaps I do. I think I saw him near the princess’s castle. But he has forgotten you with the princess.’

‘Does he live with a princess?’ asked Gerda.

The crow told her what he knew. ‘In this kingdom where we are now’ said he, ‘there lives a princess who is wonderfully clever. A short time ago she decided to get married, but she wanted to find a husband who was very clever, too. Many handsome young men came to the castle, but she liked only one of them. It was a boy with clear sparkling eyes and long hair’.

‘That was Kay!’ cried Gerda happily. ‘He was so clever! Oh, I have found him’ and she clapped her hands. ‘Can you take me to the castle?’

‘It’s very easy to ask that’ replied the crow, ‘but how can we do it? I must tell you that it will be very difficult for a little girl to get a permission to enter the palace. But I’ll try to help you. Wait for me here.’ And he flew away.


next page