Snow Queen: The Finale
The walls of the palace were made of snow drifts in which sharp winds had cut out windows and a door. It had over a hundred halls, many so long that it was not possible to see from one end to the other. All were lit up by the Northern Lights and all were empty, icy cold and dazzling white. No sounds of laughter resounded in those dreary chamber; no cheerful scene refreshed the heart.
In the center of the main snow chamber was a frozen lake that had cracked into a thousand pieces like a vast mosaic. When at home, the Snow Queen always sat upon her throne of ice in the middle of the lake; she called it her Mirror of True Reason and declared it to be the wisest mirror in the world.
Meanwhile, little Kai was blue - no, almost black - with cold, though he did not notice, for the Snow Queen had kissed away the pain and turned his heart to ice. He was busy with the lake mosaic, joining together the icy pieces into varied patterns; the Snow Queen called this the Game of Reason and, in his eyes, the patterns were of the outmost beauty. He even formed entire words, but there was one word he could never spell:
The Snow Queen said that if he could form that word she would reward his with his freedom and a new pair of skates besides. Yet he could never do it.
'I am going now to warmer climes,' the Snow Queen said one morning. 'I shall take a look at cooking pots (by which she meant the volcanoes, Etna and Vesuvius). I'll whiten them a little with frosty caps,'
So away she flew and Kai was left alone in the empty hall of ice. He sat pondering over the pieces of the lake, thinking and thinking until poor head ached. He sat so stiff and still that one might have taken him for another block of ice.
It was at that moment that little Gerda passed through the palace gates, braving the icy winds that cut her to the bone, and entered the enormous hall.
She saw Kai at once and ran towards him, hugging him tight and crying, 'Kai, dear Kai, I've found you at last, my dear companion.'
But he sat still and cold, unfeeling, silent, stony-faced. His lack of feeling wounded Gerda deeply and she burst into bitter tears. Some of her warm teardrops fell upon his breat, touched his heart and thawed the icy splinter there as well.
'Gerda, Gerda!' he cried with joy. 'Why have you been so long?'
Kai looked abo9ut him. 'How cold it is! What am I doing here?' he said.
And he embraced her whilst she laughed and wept by turns. Even the icy pieces of the lake shared in their joy and danced about, tinkling and jigging; when they were tired they lay down to form the letters of one word:
The very word the Snow Queen had said would gain Kai his freedom!
Gerda kissed his cheeks they turned pink and glowing. She kissed his eyes; and they sparkled like her own. She kissed his hands and feet; and their color flooded back. Kai soon became quite well and strong. Now the Snow Queen could come back just when she liked. it mattered not, for Kai's freedom was inscribed in icy letters on the floor.
They took each other by the hand and wandered from the palace, talking all the while about their lovely roses back at home. As they passed out through the palace gates the winds were hushed to calm and the Sun broke through the clouds. At the gates they found the reindeer standing by, awaiting their return; he had summoned another, younger reindeer whose udder was full of milk. And she gladly gave her milk to refresh the young companions. Then the old buck and his hind carried the children back to the land where green leaves begin to sprout. There they made their farewells.
Soon the young pair heard the chirping of the first birds of spring and saw the greenwood in full bloom. Kai and Gerda walked on hand in hand, and wherever they went spring greeted them in all its splendours. Finally they arrived at Copenhagen and recognized the sound of bells from the church near their home.
With hearts beating fast they climbed the stairs to their familiar attic rooms: the clock greeted them as ever with its tick, tick, tick, and the hands moved onwards as before. The rose trees on the rooftop were in full bloom before the open window and there beneath them stood the little stools. Still hand in hand, Kai and Gerda sat down underneath the arch of roses. All memory of the Snow Queen's palace with its empty splendour was far behind.
Only one thing was now different.
For as they gazed fondly at each other they saw that they were now full-grown, no longer children. And they were full content. While all around them blossomed the warm and glorious summer.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009