The Snow Queen calls me the Mirror of Understanding, but I am cracked in a thousand pieces. She has recruited an intelligent little boy named Kay to fit my pieces together, but he has gone quite black and blue with cold. His heart has become a lump of ice, and yet he can think of nothing but the perfection of snow. He hopes to fit my pieces together to form the perfect word: eternity. But he is under an enchantment. He will never succeed.

The queen has gone now. She has flown to warmer lands, leaving Kay alone in the empty halls of ice. He isn’t trying to puzzle me out anymore. He sits numb and motionless. I think he has frozen to death.

The Mirror of Understanding in The Snow Queen, Hans Christian Andersen. Illustration by Sulamith Wulfing.