Andersen's Fairy Tales HTML version

The Snow Queen
FIRST STORY. Which Treats of a Mirror and of the Splinters
Now then, let us begin. When we are at the end of the story, we shall know more than we
know now: but to begin.
Once upon a time there was a wicked sprite, indeed he was the most mischievous of all
sprites. One day he was in a very good humor, for he had made a mirror with the power of
causing all that was good and beautiful when it was reflected therein, to look poor and
mean; but that which was good-for-nothing and looked ugly was shown magnified and
increased in ugliness. In this mirror the most beautiful landscapes looked like boiled
spinach, and the best persons were turned into frights, or appeared to stand on their heads;
their faces were so distorted that they were not to be recognised; and if anyone had a mole,
you might be sure that it would be magnified and spread over both nose and mouth.
"That's glorious fun!" said the sprite. If a good thought passed through a man's mind, then a
grin was seen in the mirror, and the sprite laughed heartily at his clever discovery. All the
little sprites who went to his school--for he kept a sprite school--told each other that a
miracle had happened; and that now only, as they thought, it would be possible to see how
the world really looked. They ran about with the mirror; and at last there was not a land or
a person who was not represented distorted in the mirror. So then they thought they would
fly up to the sky, and have a joke there. The higher they flew with the mirror, the more
terribly it grinned: they could hardly hold it fast. Higher and higher still they flew, nearer
and nearer to the stars, when suddenly the mirror shook so terribly with grinning, that it
flew out of their hands and fell to the earth, where it was dashed in a hundred million and
more pieces. And now it worked much more evil than before; for some of these pieces were
hardly so large as a grain of sand, and they flew about in the wide world, and when they got
into people's eyes, there they stayed; and then people saw everything perverted, or only had
an eye for that which was evil. This happened because the very smallest bit had the same
power which the whole mirror had possessed. Some persons even got a splinter in their
heart, and then it made one shudder, for their heart became like a lump of ice. Some of the
broken pieces were so large that they were used for windowpanes, through which one could
not see one's friends. Other pieces were put in spectacles; and that was a sad affair when
people put on their glasses to see well and rightly. Then the wicked sprite laughed till he
almost choked, for all this tickled his fancy. The fine splinters still flew about in the air:
and now we shall hear what happened next.
SECOND STORY. A Little Boy and a Little Girl
In a large town, where there are so many houses, and so many people, that there is no roof
left for everybody to have a little garden; and where, on this account, most. persons are
obliged to content themselves with flowers in pots; there lived two little children, who had
a garden somewhat larger than a flower-pot. They were not brother and sister; but they
cared for each other as much as if they were. Their parents lived exactly opposite. They
inhabited two garrets; and where the roof of the one house joined that of the other, and the