THE SNOW QUEEN 289
forth out of her mouth like smoke. ■ The breath became thicker and thicker, and formed itself into little angels, who grew and grew whenever they touched the earth ; and all had helmets on their heads and shields and spears in their hands ; their number increased more and more, and when Gerda had finished her prayer a whole legion stood round about her, and struck with their spears at the terrible snowflakes, so that these were shattered into a thousand pieces ; and little Gerda could go forward afresh, with good courage. The angels stroked her hands and feet, and then she felt less how cold it was, and hastened on to the Snow Queen's palace.
But now we must see what Kay is doing. He certainly was not thinking of little Gerda, and least of all that she was standing in front of the palace.
Of the Snow Queen's Castle, and what happened
there at last
The walls of the palace were formed of the drifting snow, and the windows and doors of the cutting winds. There were more than a hundred halls, all blown together by the snow : the greatest of these extended for several miles ; the strong Northern Lights illumined them all, and how great and empty, how icily cold and shining they all were ! Never was merriment there, not even a little bears' ball, at which the storm could have played the music, while the bears walked about on their hind legs and showed off their pretty manners ; never any little coffee gossip among the young lady white foxes. Empty, vast, and cold were the halls of the Snow Queen. The Northern Lights flamed so brightly that one could count them where they stood highest and lowest. In the midst of this immense empty snow hall was a frozen lake, which had burst into a thousand pieces ; but each piece was like the rest, so that it was a perfect work of art; and in the middle of the lake sat the Snow Queen when she was at home, and then she said