Andersen's Fairy Tales HTML version
gutter ran along the extreme end of it, there was to each house a small window: one needed
only to step over the gutter to get from one window to the other.
The children's parents had large wooden boxes there, in which vegetables for the kitchen
were planted, and little rosetrees besides: there was a rose in each box, and they grew
splendidly. They now thought of placing the boxes across the gutter, so that they nearly
reached from one window to the other, and looked just like two walls of flowers. The
tendrils of the peas hung down over the boxes; and the rose-trees shot up long branches,
twined round the windows, and then bent towards each other: it was almost like a
triumphant arch of foliage and flowers. The boxes were very high, and the children knew
that they must not creep over them; so they often obtained permission to get out of the
windows to each other, and to sit on their little stools among the roses, where they could
play delight fully. In winter there was an end of this pleasure. The windows were often
frozen over; but then they heated copper farthings on the stove, and laid the hot farthing on
the windowpane, and then they had a capital peep-hole, quite nicely rounded; and out of
each peeped a gentle friendly eye--it was the little boy and the little girl who were looking
out. His name was Kay, hers was Gerda. In summer, with one jump, they could get to each
other; but in winter they were obliged first to go down the long stairs, and then up the long
stairs again: and out-of-doors there was quite a snow-storm.
"It is the white bees that are swarming," said Kay's old grandmother.
"Do the white bees choose a queen?" asked the little boy; for he knew that the honey-bees
always have one.
"Yes," said the grandmother, "she flies where the swarm hangs in the thickest clusters. She
is the largest of all; and she can never remain quietly on the earth, but goes up again into
the black clouds. Many a winter's night she flies through the streets of the town, and peeps
in at the windows; and they then freeze in so wondrous a manner that they look like
"Yes, I have seen it," said both the children; and so they knew that it was true.
"Can the Snow Queen come in?" said the little girl.
"Only let her come in!" said the little boy. "Then I'd put her on the stove, and she'd melt."
And then his grandmother patted his head and told him other stories.
In the evening, when little Kay was at home, and half undressed, he climbed up on the
chair by the window, and peeped out of the little hole. A few snow-flakes were falling, and
one, the largest of all, remained lying on the edge of a flower-pot.
The flake of snow grew larger and larger; and at last it was like a young lady, dressed in the
finest white gauze, made of a million little flakes like stars. She was so beautiful and
delicate, but she was of ice, of dazzling, sparkling ice; yet she lived; her eyes gazed fixedly,