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COMPREHENSION WEEK 24 Q7

In a large town, where there were so many houses, and so many people, that there was no room left for everybody to have a little garden; and where, on this account, most people are obliged to content themselves with flowers in pots; there lived two little children, who had a garden somewhat larger than a flower-pot. They were not brother and sister, but they cared for each other as much as if they were. Their parents lived exactly opposite each other. They inhabited two attic flats, and where the roof of the one house joined that of the other, and the gutter ran along the extreme end of it, there was a small window to each flat: one needed only to step over the gutter to get from one window to the other.

The children’s parents had large wooden boxes there, in which vegetables for the kitchen were planted, and little rose trees besides: there was a rose in each box, and they grew splendidly. They now thought of placing the boxes across the gutter, so that they nearly reached from one window to the other, and looked just like two walls of flowers. The tendrils of the peas hung down over the boxes; and the rose-trees shot up long branches, twined round the windows, and then bent towards each other: it was almost like a triumphant arch of foliage and flowers. The boxes were very high, and the children knew that they must not creep over them; so they often obtained permission to get out of the windows to each other, and to sit on their little stools among the roses, where they could play happily. In winter there was an end of this pleasure. The windows were often frozen over; but then they heated copper pennies on the stove, and laid the hot penny on the windowpane, and then they had a capital peep-hole, quite nicely rounded; and out of each peeped a gentle friendly eye—it was the little boy and the little girl who were looking out. His name was Kay, hers was Gerda. In summer, with one jump, they could get to each other; but in winter they were obliged first to go down the long stairs, and then up the long stairs again: and out-of-doors there was quite a snow-storm.

“It is the white bees that are swarming,” said Kay’s old grandmother.

“Do the white bees choose a queen?” asked the little boy; for he knew that the honey-bees always have one.

“Yes,” said the grandmother, “she flies where the swarm hangs in the thickest clusters. She is the largest of all; and she can never remain quietly on the earth, but goes up again into the black clouds. Many a winter’s night she flies through the streets of the town, and peeps in at the windows; and they then freeze in so wondrous a manner that they look like flowers.”

“Yes, I have seen it,” said both the children; and so they knew that it was true.

“Can the Snow Queen come in?” said the little girl.

“Only let her come in!” said the little boy. “Then I’d put her on the stove, and she’d melt.”

And then his grandmother patted his head and told him other stories.

Text adapted from The Snow Queen, by Hans Christian Andersen, which is in the public domain.

 

What did the children use coins for?