The Pink Fairy Book HTML version

The Snow-queen
There was once a dreadfully wicked hobgoblin. One day he was in capital spirits because
he had made a looking-glass which reflected everything that was good and beautiful in
such a way that it dwindled almost to nothing, but anything that was bad and ugly stood
out very clearly and looked much worse. The most beautiful landscapes looked like
boiled spinach, and the best people looked repulsive or seemed to stand on their heads
with no bodies; their faces were so changed that they could not be recognised, and if
anyone had a freckle you might be sure it would be spread over the nose and mouth.
That was the best part of it, said the hobgoblin.
But one day the looking-glass was dropped, and it broke into a million-billion and more
And now came the greatest misfortune of all, for each of the pieces was hardly as large as
a grain of sand and they flew about all over the world, and if anyone had a bit in his eye
there it stayed, and then he would see everything awry, or else could only see the bad
sides of a case. For every tiny splinter of the glass possessed the same power that the
whole glass had.
Some people got a splinter in their hearts, and that was dreadful, for then it began to turn
into a lump of ice.
The hobgoblin laughed till his sides ached, but still the tiny bits of glass flew about.
And now we will hear all about it.
In a large town, where there were so many people and houses that there was not room
enough for everybody to have gardens, lived two poor children. They were not brother
and sister, but they loved each other just as much as if they were. Their parents lived
opposite one another in two attics, and out on the leads they had put two boxes filled with
flowers. There were sweet peas in it, and two rose trees, which grow beautifully, and in
summer the two children were allowed to take their little chairs and sit out under the
roses. Then they had splendid games.
In the winter they could not do this, but then they put hot pennies against the frozen
window-panes, and made round holes to look at each other through.
His name was Kay, and hers was Gerda.
Outside it was snowing fast.
'Those are the white bees swarming,' said the old grandmother.
'Have they also a queen bee?' asked the little boy, for he knew that the real bees have one.
'To be sure,' said the grandmother. 'She flies wherever they swarm the thickest. She is
larger than any of them, and never stays upon the earth, but flies again up into the black