you, my dear young lady,' she said. ' Will you take the lamp while I go in front? We go this way so as to meet no one.'
Through beautiful rooms they came to the sleeping-room. In the middle of it, hung on a thick rod of gold, were two beds, shaped like lilies, one all white, in which lay the princess, and the other red, in which Gerda hoped to find Kay. She pushed aside the curtain, and saw a brown neck. Oh, it was Kay! She called his name out loud, holding the lamp towards him.
He woke up, turned his head and — it was not Kay!
It was only his neck that was like Kay's, but he was young and handsome. The princess sat up in her lily-bed and asked who was there.
Then Gerda cried, and told her story and all that the crows had done.
' You poor child! ' said the prince and princess, and they praised the crows, and said that they were not angry with them, but that they must not do it again. Now they should have a reward.
' Would you like to fly away free?' said the princess, ' or will you have a permanent place as court crows with what you can get in the kitchen? '
And both crows bowed and asked for a permanent appointment, for they thought of their old age.
And they put Gerda to bed, and she folded her hands, thinking, as she fell asleep, ' How good people and animals are to me !'
The next day she was dressed from head to foot in silk and satin. They wanted her to stay on in the palace, but she begged for a little carriage and a horse, and a pair of shoes so that she might go out again into the world to look for Kay.
They gave her a muff as well as some shoes; she was warmly dressed, and when she was ready, there in front of the door stood a coach of pure gold, with a coachman, footmen and postilions with gold crowns on.