SIXTH STORY The Lapland Woman and the Finland Woman(One)
Suddenly they stopped before a little house, which looked very miserable. The roof reached to the ground; and the door was so low, that the family were obliged to creep upon their stomachs when they went in or out.
Nobody was at home except an old Lapland woman, who was dressing fish by the light of an oil lamp. And the Reindeer told her the whole of Gerda's history, but first of all his own; for that seemed to him of much greater importance. Gerda was so chilled that she could not speak.
"Poor thing," said the Lapland woman, "you have far to run still. You have more than a hundred miles to go before you get to Finland; there the Snow Queen has her country-house, and burns blue lights every evening. I will give you a few words from me, which I will write on a dried haberdine, for paper I have none; this you can take with you to the Finland woman, and she will be able to give you more information than I can."
When Gerda had warmed herself, and had eaten and drunk, the Lapland woman wrote a few words on a dried haberdine, begged Gerda to take care of them, put her on the Reindeer, bound her fast, and away sprang the animal.
"Ddsa! Ddsa!"was again heard in the air; the most charming blue lights burned the whole night in the sky, and at last they came to Finland.
They knocked at the chimney of the Finland woman; for as to a door, she had none.
SIXTH STORY The Lapland Woman and the Finland Woman(Two)
There was such a heat inside that the Finland woman herself went about almost naked. She was diminutive and dirty.
She immediately loosened little Gerda's clothes, pulled off her thick gloves and boots; for otherwise the heat would have been too great--and after laying a piece of ice on the Rein deer's head, read what was written on the fish-skin.
She read it three times: she then knew it by heart; so she put the fish into the cupboard--for it might very well be eaten, and she never threw anything away.
Then the Reindeer related his own story first, and afterwards that of little Gerda; and the Finland woman winked her eyes, but said nothing.
"You are so clever," said the Reindeer; "you can, I know, twist all the winds of the world together in a knot. If the seaman loosens one knot, then he has a good wind; if a second, then it blows pretty stiffly; if he undoes the third and fourth, then it rages so that the forests are upturned.
Will you give the little maiden a potion, that she may possess the strength of twelve men, and vanquish the Snow Queen?"
"The strength of twelve men!" said the Finland woman. "Much good that would be!"
Then she went to a cupboard, and drew out a large skin rolled up. When she had unrolled it, strange characters were to be seen written thereon; and the Finland woman read at such a rate that the perspiration trickled down her forehead.