THE SNOW-QUEEN 93
which seemed to be asleep, but they moved a little when the two girls came up.
There was also, near by, a reindeer which the robber-girl teased by tickling it with her long sharp knife.
Gerda lay awake for some time.
' Coo, coo!' said the wood-pigeons. ' We have seen little Kay. A white bird carried his sledge; he was sitting in the Snow-queen's carriage which drove over the forest when our little ones were in the nest. She breathed on them, and all except we two died. Coo, coo!'
'What are you saying over there?' cried Gerda. ' Where was the Snow-queen going to? Do you know at all?'
' She was probably travelling to Lapland, where there is always ice and snow. Ask the reindeer.'
' There is capital ice and snow there! ' said the reindeer. ' One can jump about there in the great sparkling valleys. There the Snow-queen has her summer palace, but her best palace is up by the North Pole, on the island called Spitzbergen.'
' O Kay, my little Kay !' sobbed Gerda.
' You must lie still!' said the little robber-girl, 'or else I shall stick my knife into you ! '
In the morning Gerda told her all that the wood-pigeons had said. She nodded. ' Do you know where Lapland is? ' she asked the reindeer.
' Who should know better than I ?' said the beast, and his eyes sparkled. ' I was born and bred there on the snow-fields.'
' Listen !' said the robber-girl to Gerda; ' you see that all the robbers have gone; only my mother is left, and she will fall asleep in the afternoon — then I will do something for you ! '
When her mother had fallen asleep, the robber-girl went up to the reindeer and said, ' I am going to set you free so that you can run to Lapland. But you must go