THE SNOW QUEEN 291
wept hot tears, that fell upon his breast; they penetrated
into his heart, they thawed the lump of ice, and consumed
the little piece of glass in it. He looked at her, and she
Roses bloom and roses decay,
But we the Christ-child shall see one day.
Then Kay burst into tears ; he wept so that the splinter of glass came out of his eye. Now he recognized her, and cried rejoicingly,
1 Gerda, dear Gerda ! where have you been all this time ? And where have I been ? ' And he looked all around him. ' How cold it is here ! how large and empty ! '
And he clung to Gerda, and she laughed and wept for joy. It was so glorious that even the pieces of ice round about danced for joy ; and when they were tired and lay down, they formed themselves just into the letters of which the Snow Queen had said that if he found them out he should be his own master, and she would give him the whole world and a new pair of skates.
And Gerda kissed his cheeks, and they became blooming ; she kissed his eyes, and they shone like her own ; she kissed his hands and feet, and he became well and merry. The Snow Queen might now come home ; his letter of release stood written in shining characters of ice.
And they took one another by the hand, and wandered forth from the great palace of ice. They spoke of the grandmother, and of the roses on the roof ; and where they went the winds rested and the sun burst forth ; and when they came to the bush with the red berries, the Reindeer was standing there waiting : it had brought another young reindeer, which gave the children warm milk, and kissed them on the mouth. Then they carried Kay and Gerda, first to the Finnish woman, where they warmed themselves thoroughly in the hot room, and received instructions for their journey home, and then to the Lapland woman, who had made their new clothes and put their sledge in order.
The Reindeer and the young one sprang at their side, and followed them as far as the boundary of the country. There the first green sprouted forth, and there they took