272 THE SNOW QUEEN
the road. No rose on its branch is fresher than she ; no apple blossom wafted onward by the wind floats more lightly along. How her costly silks rustle ! " Comes he not yet ?"'
' Is it Kay whom you mean ? ' asked little Gerda.
1 I'm only speaking of my own story—my dream,' replied the Convolvulus.
What said the little Snowdrop ?
' Between the trees a long board hangs by ropes ; that is a swing. Two pretty little girls, with clothes white as snow and long green silk ribbons on their hats, are sitting upon it, swinging ; their brother, who is greater than they, stands in the swing, and has slung his arm round the rope to hold himself, for in one hand he has a little saucer, and in the other a clay pipe ; he is blowing bubbles. The swing flies, and the bubbles rise with beautiful changing colours; the last still hangs from the pipe-bowl, swaying in the wind. The swing flies on : the little black dog, light as the bubbles, stands up on his hind legs and wants to be taken into the swing ; it flies on, and the dog falls, barks, and grows angry, for he is teased, and the bubble bursts. A swinging board and a bursting bubble—that is my song.'
' It may be very pretty, what you're telling, but you speak it so mournfully, and you don't mention little Kay at all.'
What do the Hyacinths say ?
1 There were three beautiful sisters, transparent and delicate. The dress of one was red, that of the second blue, and that of the third quite white; hand in hand they danced by the calm lake in the bright moonlight. They were not elves, they were human beings. It was so sweet and fragrant there ! The girls disappeared in the forest, and the sweet fragrance became stronger : three coffins, with the three beautiful maidens lying in them, glided from the wood-thicket across the lake ; the glow-worms flew gleaming about them like little hovering lights. Are the dancing girls sleeping, or are they dead ? The flower-scent says they are dead and the evening bell tolls their knell.'
' You make me quite sorrowful,' said little Gerda. ' You scent so strongly, I cannot help thinking of the dead maidens. Ah ! is little Kay really dead ? The roses have been down in the earth, and they say no.'