286 THE SNOW QUEEN
girl opened the door, coaxed in all the big dogs, and then cut the rope with her sharp knife, and said to the Reindeer,
' Now run, but take good care of the little girl.'
And Gerda stretched out her hands with the big mufflers towards the little robber girl, and said, ' Farewell!'
And the Reindeer ran over stock and stone, away through the great forest, over marshes and steppes, as quick as it could go. The wolves howled and the ravens croaked. ' Hiss ! hiss !' it went in the air. It seemed as if the sky were flashing fire.
1 Those are my old Northern Lights,' said the Reindeer. ' Look how they glow ! ' And then it ran on faster than ever, day and night.
The loaves were eaten, and the ham as well, and then they were in Lapland.
The Lapland Woman and the Finland Woman
At a little hut they stopped. It was very humble ; the roof sloped down almost to the ground, and the door was so low that the family had to creep on their stomachs when they wanted to go in or out. No one was in the house but an old Lapland woman, cooking fish on a train-oil lamp ; and the Reindeer told Gerda's whole history, but it related its own first, for this seemed to the Reindeer the more important of the two. Gerda was so exhausted by the cold that she could not speak.
1 Oh, you poor things,' said the Lapland woman, ' you've a long way to run yet! You must go more than a hundred miles into Finmark, for the Snow Queen is there, staying in the country, and burning Bengal lights every evening. I'll write a few words on a dried cod, for I have no paper, and I'll give you that as a letter to the Finland woman; she can give you better information than I.'
And when Gerda had been warmed and refreshed with food and drink, the Lapland woman wrote a few words on a dried codfish, and telling Gerda to take care of it, tied her again on the Reindeer, and the Reindeer sprang away. Flash ! flash ! it went high in the air ; the whole