'Oh, yes; that was Kay!' said Gerda. 'He was so clever; he could do sums with fractions. Oh, do lead me to the palace ! '
' That's easily said! ' answered the crow, ' but how are we to manage that? I must talk it over with my tame sweetheart. She may be able to advise us, for I must tell you that a little girl like you could never get permission to enter it.'
' Yes, 1 wTill get it!' said Gerda. ' When Kay hears that I am there he will come out at once and fetch me! '
' Wait for me by the railings,' said the crow, and he nodded his head and flew away.
It was late in the evening when he came back.
' Caw, caw! ' he said, ' I am to give you her love, and here is a little roll for you. She took it out of the kitchen; there 's plenty there, and you must be hungry. You cannot come into the palace. The guards in silver and the footmen in gold would not allow it. But don't cry! You shall get in all right. My sweetheart knows a little back-stairs which leads to the sleeping-room, and she knows where to find the key.'
They went into the garden, and when the lights in the palace were put out one after the other, the crow led Gerda to a back-door.
Oh, how Gerda's heart beat with anxiety and longing! It seemed as if she were going to do something wrong, but she only wanted to know if it were little Kay. Yes, it must be he! She remembered so well his clever eyes, his curly hair. She could see him smiling as he did when they were at home under the rose trees! He would be so pleased to see her, and to hear how they all were at home.
Now they were on the stairs; a little lamp was burning, and on the landing stood the tame crow. She put. her head on one side and looked at Gerda, who bowed as her grandmother had taught her.
' My betrothed has told me many nice things about