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THE SNOW QUEENOnce upon a time a magician made a magic mirror. In this mirrora kind face became wickeda look of hate was reflected as a look of love. One dayhoweverthe mirror brokeand if a sliver of glass from the mirror entered someone's eyethat person's soul became evilif another pierced a heartthat heart grew hard and cold as ice.

In a big town two childrencalled Karl and Gerda were very close friendsand even the sweet pea that grew on Karl's window sill spread across the street to entwine with Gerda's little rose bush. One evening Karl was watching the snow drift downwhen he noticed a white flake slowly turn into a beautiful ice maiden. Karl was startled to hear the ice maiden speak his nameand he was not to know he had set eyes on the Snow Queen. Winter passedand one spring afternoonas Karl and Gerda pored over a bookthe little boy told her: "I feel a pain in my heart! And something's pricking my eye!"

" Don t worrysaid Gerda comfortingly. "I can't see anything!" Butalassplinters from the shattered mirror had pierced the little boy.

Now in the grip of the evil spellhe snapped: "You're so ugly!" And ripping two roses from her bushhe ran off. From that day onKarl turned into a very nasty boyand nobody could understand what had happened to him to cause such a change. Only Gerda still loved himthough all she got in return were insults and spite. 79

Winter came round againthough earlier than usualand bringing far more snow than anyone could remember.

One dayjust after going outdoors to play in the snowKarl saw the beautiful maiden he had seen that nightcoming towards him wrapped in a white fur coat. She stood in front of him and told him to tie his sledge to her owndrawn by a white horse. Then they sped away. Suddenlythe great sledge soared into the sky and through the clouds. Stretched out on his own little sledgeKarl didn't dare move a muscle for fear of falling into space. At lastthey came to a halt on an immense white plaindotted with lots of sparkling frozen lakes.

"Come into my arms" said the Snow Queenopening her soft fur coat. "Come and keep warm!"

Karl allowed himself to be hugged by the unknown maiden and a chill ran up his spine as two icy lips touched his forehead. The Snow Queen kissed him againand in an instantthe little boy forgot all about Gerda and his past lifeas he fell into a deep sleep.

In the meantimeGerda was anxiously searching for Karlbut no one had seen him. Finallyshe went down to the river.

"Great river" she said"please tell me if you've seen Karl or if you've carried him away! I'll give you theseif you do!" And she threw her shoes into the river. But the current paid no heed and just swept them back to the bank. Not far away stood an old boatand Gerda climbed into it. As she drifted with the currentshe pleaded: "Great riversilently flowing and knowing all things about men's livestake me to Karl."

At duskshe stopped by a river bank carpeted with all kinds of flowers.

After resting she went into the forestand though she did not know how she would ever find her frienda mysterious voice inside her told her to be brave. After wandering far and wideshe stoppedtired and hungry. A crow flapped out from a hollow tree.

"If you're looking for Karl" it said"I know where he is! I saw him with the Snow Queen on her sledge in the sky!"

"And where is her kingdom?" Gerda asked the crow.

"In Laplandwhere all is icy cold. That reindeer over there might take you! "

Gerda ran over to the big reindeerthrew her arms around its neck andlaying her cheek against its soft muzzlesaid: "Please help me to find my friend!" The reindeer's kindly eyes told her that he wouldand she climbed onto its back. They travelled till they came to the frozen tundralit by the fiery glow of the Northern Lights.

"Karl! Karl! Where are you?" shouted Gerda as loudly as she could. Whenat lastshe found the little boyKarl did not recognize her. Gerda threw her arms round himand teardrops dripped onto his chest and heart. This broke the evil spell. Karl woke from his long sleepand when he set eyes on Gerdahe too began to cry. The second cold splinter of mirror vanished. They had found each other again at lastthanks to Gerda's loveand the reindeer galloped them home. The two plants on the window sills started to blossom again and to twinea sign of their everlasting friendship.




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