Gerda had lost her friend Kay. He had disappeared. “Kay is dead and gone,” she said to the sun. But the sun said, “I don’t believe it.” The sparrows didn’t believe it, either. That’s when Gerda came to get us, her brand-new red shoes. She put us on her feet, walked us through the muck to the town gate, and then down to the river.
“Is it true that you have taken my playmate away from me?” she said to the river. “l’ll 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 waves tossed us back to shore. Even the river didn’t want to part Gerda from what she loved best.
She picked us up, got into a boat, and threw us into the water behind her. The boat was not fastened to the shore and the current swept her down the river. We floated behind her, trying to reach her, for quite a while—but she went beyond us, beyond where even we could go.