TKE SNOW QUEEN 275
' That may be ! that may be 1 '
1 What, do you think so ?' cried the little girl, and nearly pressed the Crow to death, she kissed it so.
' Gently, gently!' said the Crow. ' I think I know: I believe it may be little Kay, but he has certainly forgotten you, with the Princess.'
' Does he live with a Princess ? ' asked Gerda.
' Yes ; listen,' said the Crow. ' But it's so difficult for me to speak your language. If you know the Crows' language, I can tell it much better.'
' No, I never learned it,' said Gerda ; ' but my grandmother understood it, and could speak the language too. I only wish I had learned it.'
1 That doesn't matter,' said the Crow. ' I shall tell you as well as I can.'
And then the Crow told what it knew.
' In the country in which we now are, lives a Princess who is quite wonderfully clever, but then she has read all the newspapers in the world, and has forgotten them again, she is so clever. Lately she was sitting on the throne—and that's not so pleasant as is generally supposed—and she began to sing a song, and it was just this, " Why should
I not marry now % " You see, there was something in that,' said the Crow. ' And so she wanted to marry, but she wished for a husband who could answer when he was spoken to, not one who only stood and looked handsome, for that is so tiresome. And so she had all her maids of honour summoned, and when they heard her intention they were very glad. " I like that," said they ; "I thought the very same thing the other day." You may be sure that every word I am telling you is true,' added the Crow.
II have a tame sweetheart who goes about freely in the castle, and she told me everything.'
Of course the sweetheart was a crow, for one crow always finds out another, and birds of a feather flock together.
' Newspapers were published directly, with a border of hearts and the Princess's initials. One could read in them that every young man who was good-looking might come to the castle and speak with the Princess, and him who spoke so that one could hear he was at home there, and who spoke best, the Princess would choose for her husband.