But now we must see what little Kay is doing. To tell the truth, he did not think of Gerda and could not suppose that she was standing in front of the palace. The walls of the palace were formed of snow and its windows and doors of the winds. There were more than a hundred rooms in it, and they were so large and empty, so icy cold and sparkling! The flame of the northern lights could be seen from every part of the palace. In the middle of its empty hall of snow was a frozen lake and in the center of this lake sat the Snow Queen when she was at home.
Little Kay was quite blue, almost black with cold, but he did not feel it for the Snow Queen kissed him and his heart was already a piece of ice. He was moving some pieces of ice and putting them together in all kinds of positions, as if he wanted to make something out of them as we try to form various pictures in a puzzle. He composed many different words but there was one word he could not form though he wished it very much. It was the word «Eternity». The Snow Queen said to him, ‘When you form this word you will overcome my power and become your own master.’ But Kay could not do it.
‘Now I must hurry to warmer countries’ said the Snow Queen, and she flew away leaving little Kay quite alone in the great hall. Just at this time Gerda came through the great door of the palace. She went on till she came to the large empty hall and saw Kay. She ran to him and threw her arms round his neck and cried out, ‘Kay, dear Kay, I’ve found you at last!’
But he sat quite still as if frozen. Little Gerda began to cry and her hot tears fell on his breast and inside to his heart. Her tears melted the piece of ice which was there. Then she looked at him and began to sing the song that they often sang together and Kay burst into tears, and he wept so that the bit of the magic glass swam out of his eye. Then he recognized Gerda and cried out joyfully, ‘Gerda, dear Gerda, where were you all this time and where was I?’ And he looked around and said, ‘How cold it is and how large and empty it all looks!’ And they began to dance, and when they were tired and lay down, the pieces of ice formed themselves into the letters of the word «Eternity» which the Snow Queen told Kay to form before he could overcome her power.
Then they took each other by the hands and went out from the great palace of ice. When they arrived at the bush with red berries, there stood the reindeer waiting for them. He brought a young she-reindeer with him and the children drank her warm milk and kissed her on the mouth. The reindeers carried Kay and Gerda first to the Finland woman where they warmed themselves in the hot room. And then to the Lapland woman who made some new clothes for them. The reindeers carried them to the borders of Lapland and said, ‘Farewell.’
* * *
Suddenly the birds began to sing and the forest was full of green leaves. And out of the forest came a beautiful horse which Gerda remembered because it was the horse which drew the golden coach. A young girl with a red cap on her head and pistols in her belt was riding it. It was the little robber-girl. The girls were very glad to see each other.’
‘You must be a fine fellow’ the robber-girl said to Kay, ‘if Gerda went to the end of the world to find you.’ Then Gerda and Kay told her the end of their story. ‘Sneep, snup, snare. It’s all right at last,’ said the little robber-girl. And she rode away into the wide world. And Gerda and Kay went hand-in-hand towards home.
When they came to their town, it was already spring and everywhere there were beautiful flowers. They went upstairs into their grandmother’s room where all looked as before. But when they passed through the door into the room, they realized that they were both grown up. And when Kay and Gerda sat down on their chairs and held each other by the hand, the cold empty palace of the Snow Queen vanished from their memory like a bad dream.