274 THE SNOW QUEEN
chief round her neck, and the dress looks all the whiter. Point your toes ! look how she seems to stand on a stalk. I can see myself ! I can see myself ! '
11 don't care at all about that,' said Gerda. ' That is nothing to tell me about/
And then she ran to the end of the garden. The door was locked, but she pressed against the rusty lock, and it broke off, the door sprang open, and little Gerda ran with naked feet out into the wide world. She looked back three times, but no one was there to pursue her ; at last she could run no longer, and seated herself on a great stone, and when she looked round the summer was over—it was late in autumn : one could not notice that in the beautiful garden, where there was always sunshine, and the flowers of every season always bloomed.
* Alas ! how I have loitered !' said little Gerda. ' Autumn has come. I may not rest again.'
And she rose up to go on. Oh ! how sore and tired her little feet were. All around it looked cold and bleak; the long willow leaves were quite yellow, and the mist dropped from them like water ; one leaf after another dropped ; only the sloe-thorn still bore fruit, but the sloes were sour, and set the teeth on edge. Oh ! how grey and gloomy it looked, the wide world !
FOURTH STORY The Prince and Princess
Gerda was compelled to rest again ; then there came hopping across the snow, just opposite the spot where she was sitting, a great Crow. This Crow had long been sitting looking at her, nodding its head—now it said, ' Krah ! krah ! Good day ! good day ! ' It could not pronounce better, but it felt friendly towards the little girl, and asked where she was going all alone in the wide world. The word ' alone ' Gerda understood very well, and felt how much it expressed ; and she told the Crow the whole story of her life and fortunes, and asked if it had not seen Kay.
And the Crawl nodded very gravely, and said,