264 THE SNOW QUEEN
Kay and Gerda sat and looked at the picture-book of beasts and birds. Then it was, while the clock was just striking five on the church tower, that Kay said,
* Oh ! something struck my heart and pricked me in the eye/
The little girl fell upon his neck ; he blinked his eyes. No, there was nothing at all to be seen.
11 think it is gone/ said he ; but it was not gone. It was just one of those glass fragments which sprang from the mirror—the magic mirror that we remember well, the ugly glass that made everything great and good which was mirrored in it to seem small and mean, but in which the mean and the wicked things were brought out in relief, and every fault was noticeable at once. Poor little Kay had also received a splinter just in his heart, and that will now soon become like a lump of ice. It did not hurt him now, but the splinter was still there.
' Why do you cry ? ' he asked. ' You look ugly like that. There 's nothing the matter with me. Oh, fie !' he suddenly exclaimed, ' that rose is worm-eaten, and this one is quite crooked. After all, they're ugly roses. They're like the box in which they stand.'
And then he kicked the box with his foot, and tore both the roses off.
1 Kay, what are you about ?' cried the little girl.
And when he noticed her fright he tore off another rose, and then sprang in at his own window, away from pretty little Gerda.
When she afterwards came with her picture-book, he said it was only fit for babies in arms ; and when grandmother told stories he always came in with a but; and when he could manage it, he would get behind her, put on a pair of spectacles, and talk just as she did; he could do that very cleverly, and the people laughed at him. Soon he could mimic the speech and the gait of everybody in the street. Everything that was peculiar or ugly about them Kay could imitate ; and people said, ' That boy must certainly have a remarkable head.' But it was the glass he had got in his eye, the glass that stuck deep in his heart; so it happened that he even teased little Gerda, who loved him with all her heart.