266 THE SNOW QUEEN
The snowflakes became larger and larger, at last they looked like great white fowls. All at once they sprang aside and the great sledge stopped, and the person who had driven it rose up. The fur and the cap were made altogether of ice. It was a lady, tall and slender, and brilliantly white : it was the Snow Queen.
1 We have driven well!' said she. ' But why do you tremble with cold ? Creep into my fur.'
And she seated him beside her in her own sledge, and wrapped the fur round him, and he felt as if he sank into a snow-drift.
' Are you still cold ? ' asked she, and then she kissed him on the forehead.
Oh, that was colder than ice ; it went quite through to his heart, half of which was already a lump of ice : he felt as if he were going to die ; but only for a moment; for then he seemed quite well, and he did not notice the cold all about him.
* My sledge ! don't forget my sledge.'
That was the first thing he thought of ; and it was bound fast to one of the white chickens, and this chicken flew behind him with the sledge upon its back. The Snow Queen kissed Kay again, and then he had forgotten little Gerda, his grandmother, and all at home.
1 Now you shall have no more kisses,' said she, ' for if you did I should kiss you to death.'
Kay looked at her. She was so beautiful, he could not imagine a more sensible or lovely face ; she did not appear to him to be made of ice now as before, when she sat at the window and beckoned to him. In his eyes she was perfect; he did not feel at all afraid. He told her that he could do mental arithmetic as far as fractions, that he knew the number of square miles, and the number of inhabitants in the country. And she always smiled, and then it seemed to him that what he knew was not enough, and he looked up into the wide sky, and she flew with him high up upon the black cloud, and the storm blew and whistled ; it seemed as though the wind sang old songs. They flew over woods and lakes, over sea and land : below them roared the cold wind, the wolves howled, the snow crackled ; over them flew the black screaming crows;