THE SNOW QUEEN 267
but above all the moon shone bright and clear, and Kay looked at the long, long winter night p by day he slept at the feet of the Queen.
The Flower Garden of the Woman who could
But how did it fare with little Gerda when Kay did not return ? What could have become of him ? No one knew, no one could give information. The boys only told that they had seen him bind his sledge to another very large one, which had driven along the street and out at the town gate. Nobody knew what had become of him ; many tears were shed, and little Gerda especially wept long and bitterly : then they said he was dead—he had been drowned in the river which flowed close by their town. Oh, those were very dark long winter days ! But now spring came, with warmer sunshine.
I Kay is dead and gone,' said little Gerda.
II don't believe it,' said the Sunshine.__
' He is dead and gone,' said she to the Swallows.
'We don't believe it,' they replied; and at last little Gerda did not believe it herself.
' I will put on my new red shoes,' she said one morning, 1 those that Kay has never seen ; and then I will go down to the river, and ask for him.'
It was still very early ; she kissed the old grandmother, who was still asleep, put on her red shoes, and went quite alone out of the town gate towards the river.
' Is it true that you have taken away my little playmate from me ? I will give you my red shoes if you will give him back to me !'
And it seemed to her as if the waves nodded quite strangely ; and then she took her red shoes, that she liked best of anything she possessed, and threw them both into the river; but they fell close to the shore, and the little wavelets carried them back to her, to the land. It seemed as if the river would not take from her the dearest things she possessed because it had not her little Kay ; but she