The Snow Queen... Once upon a time a magician made a magic mirror. It was a mirror of opposites. If a kind face looked into the mirror, a wicked face looked back. If a loving look was cast at the mirror, a look of hate was reflected.
One day the mirror broke. If a sliver of glass from the mirror entered someone's eye, that person became evil; if another sliver pierced a heart, that heart grew hard and cruel.
Two children, Karl and Gerda, were very close friends. One evening Karl was watching the snow fall when he noticed a white flake slowly turn into a beautiful ice maiden. Karl was startled to hear the ice maiden speak his name. He didn't know he was looking at the Snow Queen.
Spring came and one afternoon, as Karl and Gerda looked at a book, the little boy told her, “I feel a pain in my heart! And something's pricking my eye!”
“Don't worry,” said Gerda comfortingly. “I don't see anything!”
But, unfortunately, splinters from the shattered mirror had pierced the little boy. Now he was under an evil spell. Because of this, he snapped at his best friend, “You're so ugly!”
Ripping two roses from her rosebush, he ran off. From that day on, Karl turned into a very nasty boy, and nobody knew what had happened to cause this. Only Gerda still loved him, though all she got in return were insults and angry words.
Winter came again, bringing far more snow than anyone could remember. One day, just after going outdoors to play in the snow, Karl saw the beautiful maiden he had seen before. She was coming toward him wrapped in a luxurious white fur coat. She stood in front of him and told him to tie his sled to her own, which was drawn by a white horse, and they sped away.
Suddenly, the great sled soared into the sky and through the clouds. Stretched out on his own little sled, Karl didn't dare move a muscle for fear of falling into space. At last, they came to a halt on a huge white plain, dotted with lots of sparkling frozen lakes.
“Come into my arms,” said the Snow Queen, opening 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 again, and in an instant, the little boy forgot all about Gerda and his past life and fell into a deep sleep.
In the meantime, Gerda was anxiously searching for Karl, but no one had seen him. Finally, she 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 these, if you do!” And she threw her shoes into the river.
But the river's swift current paid no attention to her and just swept the shoes back to the bank. Not far away stood an old boat and Gerda climbed into it. As she drifted with the current, she pleaded, “Great River, take me to Karl.”
As night fell, she stopped by a riverbank carpeted with all kinds of colorful flowers. After resting, she went into the forest. Although she did not know how she would ever find her friend, a mysterious voice inside her told her to be brave. After wandering for hours, Gerda stopped, tired and hungry. A crow flapped out from a hollow tree. “Caw! Caw! If you're looking for Karl,” it said, “I know where he is! I saw him with the Snow Queen on her sled in the sky!”
“And where is her kingdom?” Gerda asked the crow.
“In Lapland, where all is icy cold. That reindeer over there might take you!”
Gerda ran over to the big reindeer, threw her arms around his neck, and, laying her cheek against his soft muzzle, said, “Please help me to find my friend!”
The reindeer's kindly eyes told her that he would, and she climbed onto his back. They traveled 'till they came to the frozen tundra, lit by the fiery glow of the Northern Lights.
“Karl! Karl! Where are you?” shouted Gerda.
When, at last, she found the little boy, Karl was still in the deep sleep of the wicked spell. Gerda threw her arm around him, and teardrops dripped onto his chest and heart. The tears washed away the slivers of glass, and the evil spell was broken. Karl woke from his long sleep, and when he set eyes on Gerda, he too began to cry. They had found each other again at last, thanks to Gerda's love, and the reindeer carried them home.
From then on, they remained close friends, happily ever after.