On the day that the girl Gerda decided to ask the river what had become of her friend Kay, she came to get us. Kay had never seen us. He would have been scandalized! Gerda put us on, kissed her sleeping grandmother goodbye, and went out the town gate to the river.

“Is it true that you have taken my best friend away from me?” she called to the river. “I will give you my red shoes if you will give him back to me!”

She took us off and threw us into the water but the river tossed us back to her. Then she got into a boat and she threw us further into the current. The current swept the boat down the river, and we floated behind her for quite awhile—but she went beyond us, beyond where even we could go.

The Red Shoes in The Snow Queen, Hans Christian Andersen. Illustration by Arthur Rackham.

snow queen red shoes