THE SNOW QUEEN 273
' Kling ! klang ! ' tolled the Hyacinth Bells. ' We are not tolling for little Kay—we don't know him ; we only sing our song, the only one we know/
And Gerda went to the Buttercup, gleaming forth from the green leaves.
' You are a little bright sun,' said Gerda. ' Tell me, if you know, where I may find my companion.'
And the Buttercup shone so gaily, and looked back at Gerda. What song might the Buttercup sing ? It was not about Kay.
' In a little courtyard the clear sun shone warm on the first day of spring. The sunbeams glided down the white wall of the neighbouring house ; close by grew the first yellow flower, glancing like gold in the bright sun's ray. The old grandmother sat out of doors in her chair ; her granddaughter, a poor handsome maidservant, was coming home for a short visit: she kissed her grandmother. There was gold, heart's gold, in that blessed kiss, gold in the mouth, gold in the south, gold in the morning hour. See, that's my little story,' said the Buttercup.
' My poor old grandmother ! ' sighed Gerda. ' Yes, she is surely longing for me and grieving for me, just as she did for little Kay. But I shall soon go home and take Kay with me. There is no use of my asking the flowers, they only know their own song, and give me no information.' And then she tied her little frock round her, that she might run the faster ; but the Jonquil struck against her leg as she sprang over it, and she stopped to look at the tall yellow flower, and asked, ' Do you, perhaps, know anything of little Kay ? '
And she bent quite down to the flower, and what did it say ?
' I can see myself ! I can see myself ! ' said the Jonquil. ' Oh ! oh ! how I smell! Up in the little room in the gable stands a little dancing girl: she stands sometimes on one foot, sometimes on both; she seems to tread on all the world. She's nothing but an ocular delusion : she pours water out of a teapot on a bit of stuff—it is her bodice. " Cleanliness is a fine thing," she says ; her white frock hangs on a hook ; it has been washed in the teapot too, and dried on the roof : she puts it on and ties her saffron handker-