288 THE SNOW QUEEN
* But cannot you give something to little Gerda, so as to give her power over all this ? '
c I can give her no greater power than she possesses already : don't you see how great that is ? Don't you see how men and animals are obliged to serve her, and how she gets on so well in the world, with her naked feet ? She must not learn her power from us : it consists in this, that she is a dear innocent child. If she herself cannot penetrate to the Snow Queen and get the glass out of little Kay, we can be of no use ! Two miles from here the Snow Queen's garden begins ; you can carry the little girl thither: set her down by the great bush that stands with its red berries in the snow. Don't stand gossiping, but make haste, and get back here !'
And then the Finland woman lifted little Gerda on the Reindeer, which ran as fast as it could.
1 Oh, I haven't my boots ! I haven't my mufflers !' cried Gerda.
She soon noticed that in the cutting cold; but the Reindeer dare not stop : it ran till it came to the bush with the red berries ; there it set Gerda down, and kissed her on the mouth, and great bright tears ran over the creature's cheeks ; and then it ran back, as fast as it could. There stood poor Gerda without shoes, without gloves, in the midst of the terrible cold Finmark.
She ran forward as fast as possible ; then came a whole regiment of snowflakes ; but they did not fall down from the sky, for that was quite bright, and shone with the Northern Lights : the showflakes ran along the ground, and the nearer they came the larger they grew. Gerda still remembered how large and beautiful the snowflakes had appeared when she looked at them through the burning-glass. But here they were certainly far longer and much more terrible—they were alive. They were the advanced posts of the Snow Queen, and had the strangest shapes. A few looked like ugly great porcupines ; others like knots formed of snakes, which stretched forth their heads ; and others like little fat bears, whose hair stood on end : all were brilliantly white, all were living snowflakes.
Then little Gerda said her prayer ; and the cold was so great that she could see her own breath, which went