THE SNOW QUEEN 283
wood rascals, those two ; they fly' away directly if one does not keep them well locked up. And here 's my old sweetheart " Ba "/ And she pulled out by the horn a Reindeer, that was tied up, and had a polished copper ring round its neck. ' We're obliged to keep him tight too, or he'd run away from us. Every evening I tickle his neck with a sharp knife, and he 's very frightened at that/
And the little girl drew a long knife from a cleft in the wall, and let it glide over the Reindeer's neck ; the poor creature kicked out its legs, and the little robber girl laughed, and drew Gerda into bed with her.
' Do you keep the knife beside you while you're asleep ? ' asked Gerda, and looked at it in rather a frightened way.
' I always sleep with my knife,' replied the robber girl. 1 One does not know what may happen. But now tell me again what you told me just now about little Kay, and why you came out into the wide world.'
And Gerda told it again from the beginning ; and the Wood Pigeons cooed above them in their cage, and the other pigeons slept. The little robber girl put her arm round Gerda's neck, held her knife in the other hand, and slept so that one could hear her ; but Gerda could not close her eyes at all—she did not know whether she was to live or die.
The robbers sat round the fire, singing and drinking, and the old robber woman tumbled about. It was quite terrible for a little girl to behold.
Then the Wood Pigeons said, ' Coo ! coo ! we have seen little Kay. A white hen was carrying his sledge : he sat in the Snow Queen's carriage, which drove close by the forest as we lay in our nests. She blew upon us young pigeons, and all died except us two. Coo ! coo ! '
1 What are you saying there ? ' asked Gerda. c Whither was the Snow Queen travelling ? Do you know anything about it ? '
* She was probably journeying to Lapland, for there they have always ice and snow. Ask the Reindeer that is tied up with the cord.'
1 There is ice and snow yonder, and it is glorious and fine/ said the Reindeer. * There one may run about free in great glittering plains. There the Snow Queen has her summer