The prince and princess helped her into the carriage and wished her good luck.
The wild crow who was now married drove with her for the first three miles ; the other crow could not come because she had a bad headache.
' Good-bye, good-bye ! ' called the prince and princess ; and little Gerda cried, and the crow cried.
When he said good-bye, he flew on to a tree and waved with his black wings as long as the carriage, which shone like the sun, was in sight.
They came at last to a dark wood, but the coach lit it up like a torch. When the robbers saw it, they rushed out, exclaiming ' Gold ! gold !'
They seized the horses, killed the coachman, footmen and postilions, and dragged Gerda out of the carriage.
'She is plump and tender! I will eat her!' said the old robber-queen, and she drew her long knife, which glittered horribly.
' You shall not kill her!' cried her little daughter. ' She shall play with me. She shall give me her muff and her beautiful dress, and she shall sleep in my bed.'
The little robber-girl was as big as Gerda, but was stronger, broader, with dark hair and black eyes. She threw her arms round Gerda and said, ' They shall not kill you, so long as you are not naughty. Aren't you a princess? '
' No,' said Gerda, and she told all that had happened to her, and how dearly she loved little Kay.
The robber-girl looked at her very seriously, and nodded her head, saying, ' They shall not kill you, even if you are naughty, for then I will kill you myself! '
And she dried Gerda's eyes, and stuck both her hands in the beautiful warm muff.
The little robber-girl took Gerda to a corner of the robbers' camp where she slept.
All round were more than a hundred wood-pigeons