284 THE SNOW QUEEN
tent; but her strong castle is up towards the North Pole, on the island that's called Spitzbergen.'
* Oh, Kay, little Kay ! ' cried Gerda.
' You must lie still,' exclaimed the robber girl, ' or I shall thrust my knife into your body.'
In the morning Gerda told her all that the Wood Pigeons had said, and the robber girl looked quite serious, and nodded her head and said,
* That's all the same, that's all the same !'
' Do you know where Lapland is I ' she asked the Reindeer.
1 Who should know better than I ? ' the creature replied, and its eyes sparkled in its head. ' I was born and bred there ; I ran about there in the snow-fields.'
* Listen ! ' said the robber girl to Gerda. ' You see all our men have gone away. Only mother is here still, and she'll stay; but towards noon she drinks out of the big bottle, and then she sleeps for a little while ; then I'll do something for you.'
Then she sprang out of bed, and clasped her mother round the neck and pulled her beard, crying
' Good morning, my own old nanny-goat.' And her mother filliped her nose till it was red and blue ; but it was all done for pure love.
When the mother had drunk out of her bottle and had gone to sleep upon it, the robber girl went to the Reindeer, and said,
* I should like very much to tickle you a few times more with the knife, for you are very funny then ; but it's all the same. I'll loosen your cord and help you out, so that you may run to Lapland ; but you must use your legs well, and carry this little girl to the palace of the Snow Queen, where her playfellow is. You've heard what she told me, for she spoke loud enough, and you were listening.'
The Reindeer sprang up high for joy. The robber girl lifted little Gerda on its back, and had the forethought to tie her fast, and even to give her a little cushion as a saddle.
1 There are your fur boots for you,' she said, ' for it's growing cold ; but I shall keep the muff, for that's so