House of God
And Knud was made apprentice to a shoemaker, for such a big boy was too old to run around wild any longer; and, furthermore, he was confirmed.
Oh, how he would have liked to see little Johanne in Copenhagen on that day of celebration! But he didn't go; and he had never been there, although Kjöge is only five Danish miles away. On a clear day Knud could see the distant towers of the city across the bay, and on the day of his confirmation he could even see the golden cross on the tower of the Church of Our Lady glitter in the sun.
Ah, how often his thoughts turned toward Johanne! And did she remember him? Yes! At Christmastime a letter came from her father to Knud's parents, saying that they were doing very well in Copenhagen, and Johanne could look forward to a brilliant career on the strength of her lovely voice. She already had a position in the opera house and was already earning a little money, out of which she sent her dear neighbors of Kjöge a dollar for a merry Christmas Eve. Johanne herself added a postscript, asking them to drink to her health, and in the same postscript was also written, "Friendly greetings to Knud!"
From the church near by came the strains of an organ; they rang as familiar to him as the tones of the organ at home in Kjöge church, and he entered the great cathedral. The sunlight streamed in through the high stained-glass windows and down between the lofty, slender pillars. His spirit found rest.
At last he reached that great, glorious city called Milan, and here he found a German master who gave him work. The master an his wife, in whose workshop he labored now, were a pious old couple. And they became quite fond of the quiet journeyman, who said little but worked all the harder and led a devout Christian life. And to Knud also it seemed that God had lifted the heavy burden from his heart.
His favorite relaxation was to climb from time to time to the mighty marble church, which seemed to him to have been built of the snow of his native Northland, formed into images, pointed towers, and decorated open halls; from every corner and every niche the white statues smiled down upon him. Above him was the blue sky; below him were the city and the wide-spreading green plains of Lombardy, and toward the north the high mountains capped with perpetual snow. Then he thought of the church at Kjöge, with its red ivy-colored walls, but he did not long to go there again. Here, beyond the mountains, he would be buried.
Then they walked hand in hand through the street s of Kjöge, and looked very respectable even on the wrong side; no one could have found any fault with them. On they went, straight toward Kjöge Church, and Knud and Johanne followed them – they, too, walked hand in hand. The church stood there as it had always stood, with the beautiful green ivy growing on its red walls, and the great door of the church swung open, and the organ pealed, and the gingerbread couple walked up the aisle.
"Our master first," said the cake pair, and made room for Johanne and Knud to kneel before the altar. And she bent her head over him, and the tears fell from her eyes, but they were icy cold, for it was the ice around her heart that was melting, softened by his strong love.
The tears fell upon his burning cheeks, and then he awoke – and he was sitting under the old willow tree in a foreign land on that cold winter evening; an icy hail from the could s was beating on his face.
"That was the most wonderful hour of my life!" he cried. "And it was just a dream. Oh, God, let me dream again!
Then he closed his eyes once more and dreamed again.
Knud's wish comes true in a dream: he is united with the beloved in church. he awakes, but prefers to dream on, in spite of the obvious dangers of sleeping sitting in the cold. He chooses the dream and death instead of life, and he is found dead in the snow the next day, like the little match girl and the old oak tree.
The motif of tears, that sets free, is reversed: In The Snow Queen Gerda's tears thaw Kay's frozen heart, but her her icecold tears fall on his cheek and wake him up to the tragic reality.