Volume 2 Issue 62 | July 18, 2009 |


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Snow Queen: Looking For Kai

Continued from Snow Queen

NENT day she played again among the flowers, warmed by dancing sunbeams. Many days thus passed in happy playtime. Gerda soon knew every flower in the garden and, although there were more than she could count, it seemed that one kind was missing. She could not think which it was.

One afternoon, she was sitting with the lady and by chance looked at her wide-brimmed hat, the one adorned with all the flowers. The most beautiful amongst them was the rose - the old woman had quite forgotten the rose upon her hat when she'd hidden all the roses in her garden.

'That's the flower that's missing!' cried Gerda. 'There are no roses in the garden.'

And she ran to search among the flower; but she did not find the rose. So sad was she that she sat and wept, and her teardrops fell upon the spot where a rose bush once grew. As soon as her warm tears touched the earth, the bush climbed up anew, as fresh and blooming as it ever was before. At one Gerda kissed the blossoms and thought of those at home and dearest Kai.

'Oh, how could I remain so long?' she cried, 'I mist find little Kai. Do you know where he is?' she asked the roses. 'Do you think he is dead?'

'No, he can't be dead,' the roses said, 'for we've been underground, where dead people are, and Kai wasn't there.'

'I thank you,' said little Gerda, and she went to ask the other flowers in turn if they knew where Kai was now.

But none could help here.

Finally, she fled as fast as she could to the garden gate, turned the rusty latch and pushed it open; she ran barefoot into the wide, wide world. Three times she glanced back to see if she was being followed. But no one came, so she ran on. When she could run no more she sank down upon stone to rest. Casting a glance around she noticed in alarm that it was autumn in the outside world. Three times she glanced back to see if she was being followed. But no one came, so she ran on. When she could run no more she sank down upon a stone to rest. Casting a glance around she noticed in alarm that it was autumn in the outside world. Of course, in the enchanted garden, time stood still and it was always summer, with warm
sunshine and full blooms.

'I've wasted so much time!' cried little Gerda. 'It is now late autumn; there's no time to lose.'

And off she ran again. But her little feet were base and sore and all around her were so cold and barren. Droplets of autumn mist dripped down from the willow whose long yellow leaves were falling one by one. The hawthorn alone still bore a fruit, but its berries were so sharp and bitter. The world seemed cold and gray and sad that autumn day.

'How will I find Kai now?' she groaned aloud.

Suddenly she heard a cooing above her in the trees. It was a lone wood pigeon.

'I have seen your little friend. He was in the Snow Queen's chariot which passed above this wood while I was in my nest. The Snow Queen breathed on my young and killed them all; I alone survived - coo, coo, coo.'

'Where was the Snow Queen going, do you know?' asked the barefoot girl.

'She was traveling to Lapland where there's snow and ice the whole year around,' the pigeon said.' Asl the reindeer over there, he's bound to know the way.'

When Gerda approached him and told her tale, the reindeer said, 'It really is a glorious land, where you can run and play in quiet valleys, with snow and ice all through the year. It's there the Snow Queen has he summer tent but her palace is a good way further, near the North Pole on the island that men call Spitsbergen.'

'Poor Kai, dear Kai,', sighed Gerda.

'Climb upon my back. I'll take you if you like,' he offered.

Gerda clambered up and the reindeer bounded through the forest and across the plain; the wolves howled, the ravens shrieked and suddenly the sky was filled with shimmering coloured light.

'Those are the Northern Lights,' the reindeer said. 'See how beautiful they are.'

After some time they came to a little hut in the middle of a valley; it was the home of a wise old Lapp woman.

The reindeer related Gerda's story and in reply the Lapp woman told them, 'Kai is with the Snow Queen; in her palace everything is as he likes. He thinks it the best place in the world to be. That is because he has magic splinters in his heart and eyes. As long as they remain he will never become a boy again, and the Snow Queen will keep him in her power.'

'But can you not help Gerda to save the lad?' the reindeer said.

He pleaded so earnestly and Gerda had such tearful eyes that the old Lapp woman spoke again, 'I can grant her no power as great as she has already. Do you not realise how great it is? Do you not see how creatures help her on her way? How else could a little barefoot maid have come so far? He power is more than ours because it comes from a loving heart. She is young and kind and would give her life to help another. Therein lies her power. If by herself she cannot reach the Snow Queen's palace and melt Kai's icy splinters, there is nothing we can do.'

So said the wise old woman of Lapland.

Off race the reindeer once again, faster than the wind until at last, after many days and nights, he reached the icy gates of the Snow Queen's palace.

Retold by James Riordan

To be continued

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