THE SNOW QUEEN 287
night long the most beautiful blue Northern Lights were burning. —■
And then they got to Finmark, and knocked at the chimney of the Finland woman, for she had not even a door.
There was such a heat in the chimney that the woman herself went about almost naked. She was little and very dirty. She at once loosened little Gerda's dress and took off the child's mufflers and boots ; otherwise it would have been too hot for her to bear. Then she laid a piece of ice on the Reindeer's head, and read what was written on the codfish ; she read it three times, and when she knew it by heart, she popped the fish into the soup-cauldron, for it was eatable, and she never wasted anything.
Now the Reindeer first told his own history, and then little Gerda's ; and the Finland woman blinked with her clever eyes, but said nothing.
' You are very clever,' said the Reindeer: ' I know you can tie all the winds of the world together with a bit of twine : if the seaman unties one knot, he has a good wind ; if he loosens the second, it blows hard ; but if he unties the third and the fourth, there comes such a tempest that the forests are thrown down. Won't you give the little girl a draught, so that she may get twelve men's power, and overcome the Snow Queen ? '
1 Twelve men's power ! ' repeated the Finland woman. 1 Great use that would be ! '
And she went to a shelf, and brought out a great rolled-up fur, and unrolled it; wonderful characters were written upon it, and the Finland woman read until the water ran down over her forehead.
But the Reindeer again begged so hard for little Gerda, and Gerda looked at the Finland woman with such beseeching eyes full of tears, that she began to blink again with her own, and drew the Reindeer into a corner, and whispered to him, while she laid fresh ice upon his head,
* Little Kay is certainly at the Snow Queen's, and finds everything there to his taste and liking, and thinks it the best place in the world ; but that is because he has a splinter of glass in his eye, and a little fragment in his heart; but these must be got out, or he will never be a human being again, and the Snow Queen will keep her power over him.'