Little Snow-White

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Little Snow-White

     Once upon a time in the middle of winter, when the flakes of snow were
falling like feathers from the sky, a queen sat at a window sewing, and the
frame of the window was made of black ebony. And whilst she was sewing and
looking out of the window at the snow, she pricked her finger with the needle,
and three drops of blood fell upon the snow. And the red looked pretty upon
the white snow, and she thought to herself, "Would that I had a child as white
as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood of the window frame."

     Soon after that she had a little daughter, who was as white as snow, and
as red as blood, and her hair was as black as ebony; and she was therefore
called Little Snow-white. And when the child was born, the Queen died.

     After a year had passed, the King took to himself another wife. She was a
beautiful woman, but proud and haughty, and she could not bear that any one
else should surpass her in beauty. She had a wonderful looking-glass, and
when she stood in front of it and looked at herself in it, and said -

"Looking-glass, Looking-glass, on the wall,
Who in this land is the fairest of all?"

The looking-glass answered -

"Thou, O Queen, art the fairest of all!"

     Then she was satisfied, for she knew that the looking-glass spoke the

     But Snow-white was growing up, and grew more and more beautiful; and
when she was seven years old she was as beautiful as the day, and more
beautiful than the Queen herself. And once when the Queen asked her looking -
glass -

"Looking-glass, Looking-glass, on the wall,
Who in this land is the fairest of all?"

It answered -

"Thou art fairer than all who are here, Lady Queen,
But more beautiful still is Snow-white, as I ween."

Then the Queen was shocked, and turned yellow and green with envy. From that
hour, whenever she looked at Snow-white, her heart heaved in her breast, she
hated the girl so much.

     And envy and pride grew higher and higher in her heart like a weed, so
that she had no peace day or night. She called a huntsman, and said, "Take the
child away into the forest; I will no longer have her in my sight. Kill her,
and bring me back her heart as a token." The huntsman obeyed, and took her
away; but when he had drawn his knife, and was about to pierce Snow-white's
innocent heart, she began to weep, and said, "Ah, dear huntsman, leave me my
life! I will run away into the wild forest and never come home again."

     And as she was so beautiful the huntsman had pity on her and said, "Run
away, then, you poor child." "The wild beasts will soon have devoured you,"
thought he, and yet it seemed as if a stone had been rolled from his heart
since it was no longer needful for him to kill her. And as a young boar just
then came running by he stabbed it and cut out its heart and took it to the
Queen as a proof that the child was dead. The cook had to salt this, and the
wicked Queen ate it, and thought she had eaten the heart of Snow-white.

     But now the poor child was all alone in the great forest, and so
terrified that she looked at every leaf of every tree, and did not know what
to do. Then she began to run, and ran over sharp stones and through thorns,
and the wild beasts ran past her, but did her no harm.

     She ran as long as her feet would go until it was almost evening; then
she saw a little cottage and went into it to rest herself. Everything in the
cottage was small, but neater and cleaner than can be told. There was a table
on which was a white cover, and seven little plates, and on each plate a
little spoon; moreover, there were seven little knives and forks, and seven
little mugs. Against the wall stood seven little beds side by side, and
covered with Snow-white counterpanes.

     Little Snow-white was so hungry and thirsty that she ate some
vegetables and bread from each plate and drank a drop of wine out of each mug,
for she did not wish to take all from one only. Then, as she was so tired, she
laid herself down on one of the little beds, but none of them suited her; one
was too long, another too short, but at last she found that the seventh one
was right, and so she remained in it, said a prayer and went to sleep.

     When it was quite dark the owners of the cottage came back; they were
seven dwarfs who dug and delved in the mountains for ore. They lit their seven
candles, and as it was not light within the cottage they saw that some one had
been there, for everything was not in the same order in which they had left

     The first said, "Who has been sitting on my chair?"

     The second, "Who has been eating off my plate?"

     The third, "Who has been taking some of my bread?"

     The fourth, "Who has been eating my vegetables?"

     The fifth, "Who has been using my fork?"

     The sixth, "Who has been cutting with my knife?"

     The seventh, "Who has been drinking out of my mug?"

     Then the first looked round and saw that there was a little hole on his
bed, and he said, "Who has been getting into my bed?" The others came up and
each called out, "Somebody has been lying in my bed too." But the seventh when
he looked at his bed saw little Snow-white, who was lying asleep therein.
And he called the others, who came running up, and they cried out with
astonishment, and brought their seven little candles and let the light fall on
little Snow-white. "Oh, heavens! oh, heavens!" cried they, "what a lovely
child!" and they were so glad that they did not wake her up, but let her sleep
on in the bed. And the seventh dwarf slept with his companions, one hour with
each, and so got through the night.

     When it was morning little Snow-white awoke, and was frightened when
she saw the seven dwarfs. But they were friendly and asked her what her name
was. "My name is Snow-white," she answered. "How have you come to our
house?" said the dwarfs. Then she told them that her step-mother had wished
to have her killed, but that the huntsman had spared her life, and that she
had run for the whole day, until at last she had found their dwelling. The
dwarfs said, "If you will take care of our house, cook, make the beds, wash,
sew and knit, and if you will keep everything neat and clean, you can stay
with us and you shall want for nothing." "Yes," said Snow-white, "with all
my heart," and she stayed with them. She kept the house in order for them; in
the mornings they went to the mountains and looked for copper and gold, in the
evenings they came back, and then their supper had to be ready. The girl was
alone the whole day, so the good dwarfs warned her and said, "Beware of your
step-mother, she will soon know that you are here; be sure to let no one
come in."

     But the Queen, believing that she had eaten Snow-white's heart, could
not but think that she was again the first and most beautiful of all; and she
went to her looking-glass and said -

"Looking-glass, Looking-glass, on the wall,
Who in this land is the fairest of all?"

And the glass answered -

"Oh, Queen, thou art fairest of all I see,
But over the hills, where the seven dwarfs dwell,
Snow-white is still alive and well,
And none is so fair as she."

     Then she was astounded, for she knew that the looking-glass never spoke
falsely, and she knew that the huntsman had betrayed her, and that little Snow
- white was still alive.

     And so she thought and thought again how she might kill her, for so long
as she was not the fairest in the whole land, envy let her have no rest. And
when she had at last thought of something to do, she painted her face, and
dressed herself like an old peddler-woman, and no one could have known her.
In this disguise she went over the seven mountains to the seven dwarfs, and
knocked at the door and cried, "Pretty things to sell, very cheap, very
cheap." Little Snow-white looked out of the window and called out, "Good -
day, my good woman, what have you to sell?" "Good things, pretty things, she
answered; "stay-laces of all colours," and she pulled out one which was
woven of bright-coloured silk. "I may let the worthy old woman in," thought
Snow-white, and she unbolted the door and bought the pretty laces. "Child,"
said the old woman, "what a fright you look; come, I will lace you properly
for once." Snow-white had no suspicion, but stood before her, and let
herself be laced with the new laces. But the old woman laced so quickly and
laced so tightly that Snow-white lost her breath and fell down as if dead.
"Now I am the most beautiful," said the Queen to herself, and ran away.

     Not long afterwards, in the evening, the seven dwarfs came home, but how
shocked they were when they saw their dear little Snow-white lying on the
ground, and that she neither stirred nor moved, and seemed to be dead. They
lifted her up, and, as they saw that she was laced too tightly, they cut the
laces; then she began to breathe a little, and after a while came to life
again. When the dwarfs heard what had happened they said, "The old peddler-
woman was no one else than the wicked Queen; take care and let no one come in
when we are not with you."

     But the wicked woman when she had reached home went in front of the glass
and asked -

"Looking-glass, Looking-glass, on the wall,
Who in this land is the fairest of all?"

And it answered as before -

"Oh, Queen, thou art fairest of all I see,
But over the hills, where the seven dwarfs dwell,
Snow-white is still alive and well,
And none is so fair as she."

     When she heard that, all her blood rushed to her heart with fear, for she
saw plainly that little Snow-white was again alive. "But now," she said, "I
will think of something that shall put an end to you," and by the help of
witchcraft, which she understood, she made a poisonous comb. The she disguised
herself and took the shape of another old woman. So she went over the seven
mountains to the seven dwarfs, knocked at the door, and cried, "Good things to
sell cheap, cheap!" Little Show-white looked out and said, "Go away; I
cannot let any one come in." "I suppose you can look," said the old woman, and
pulled the poisonous comb out and held it up. It pleased the girl so well that
she let herself be beguiled, and opened the door. When they had made a bargain
the old woman said, "Now I will comb you properly for once." Poor little Snow
- white had no suspicion, and let the old woman do as she pleased, but hardly
had she put the comb in her hair than the poison in it took effect, and the
girl fell down senseless. "You paragon of beauty," said the wicked woman, "you
are done for now," and she went away.

     But fortunately it was almost evening, when the seven dwarfs came home.
When they saw Snow-white lying as if dead upon the ground, they at once
suspected the step-mother, and they looked and found the poisoned comb.
Scarcely had they taken it out when Snow-white came to herself, and told
them what had happened. Then they warned her once more to be upon her guard
and to open the door to no one.

     The Queen, at home, went in front of the glass and said -

"Looking-glass, Looking-glass, on the wall,
Who in this land is the fairest of all?"

Then it answered as before -

"Oh, Queen, thou art fairest of all I see,
But over the hills, where the seven dwarfs dwell,
Snow-white is still alive and well,
And none is so fair as she."

     When she heard the glass speak thus she trembled and shook with rage.
"Snow-white shall die," she cried, "even if it costs me my life!"

     Thereupon she went into a quite secret, lonely room, where no one ever
came, and there she made a very poisonous apple. Outside it looked pretty,
white with a red cheek, so that every one who saw it longed for it; but
whoever ate a piece of it must surely die.

     When the apple was ready, she painted her face, and dressed herself up as
a country-woman, and so she went over the seven mountains to the seven
dwarfs. She knocked at the door. Show-white put her head out of the window
and said, "I cannot let any one in; the seven dwarfs have forbidden me." "It
is all the same to me," answered the woman, "I shall soon get rid of my
apples. There, I will give you one."

     "No," said Snow-white, "I dare not take anything." "Are you afraid of
poison?" said the old woman; "look, I will cut the apple in two pieces; you
eat the red cheek, and I will eat the white." The apple was so cunningly made
that only the red cheek was poisoned. Show-white longed for the fine apple,
and when she saw that the woman ate part of it she could resist no longer, and
stretched out her hand and took the poisonous half. But hardly had she a bit
of it in her mouth than she fell down dead. Then the Queen looked at her with
a dreadful look, and laughed aloud and said, "White as snow, red as blood,
black as ebony-wood! this time the dwarfs cannot wake you up again."

     And when she asked of the Looking-glass at home -

"Looking-glass, Looking-glass, on the wall,
Who in this land is the fairest of all?"

It answered at last -

"Oh, Queen, in this land thou art fairest of all."

Then her envious heart had rest, so far as an envious heart can have rest.

     The dwarfs, when they came home in the evening, found Snow-white lying
upon the ground; she breathed no longer and was dead. They lifted her up,
looked to see whether they could find anything poisonous, unlaced her, combed
her hair, washed her with water and wine, but it was all of no use; the poor
child was dead, and remained dead. They laid her upon a bier, and all seven of
them sat round it and wept for her, and wept three days long.

     Then they were going to bury her, but she still looked as if she were
living, and still had her pretty red cheeks. They said, "We could not bury her
in the dark ground," and they had a transparent coffin of glass made, so that
she could be seen from all sides, and they laid her in it, and wrote her name
upon it in golden letters, and that she was a king's daughter. Then they put
the coffin out upon the mountain, and one of them always stayed by it and
watched it. And birds came too, and wept for Snow-white, first an owl, then
a raven, and last a dove.

     And now Snow-white lay a long, long time in the coffin, and she did not
change, but looked as if she were asleep; for she was as white as snow, as red
as blood, and her hair was as black as ebony.

     It happened, however, that a king's son came into the forest, and went to
the dwarfs' house to spend the night. He saw the coffin on the mountain, and
the beautiful Snow-white within it, and read what was written upon it in
golden letters. Then he said to the dwarfs, "Let me have the coffin, I will
give you whatever you want for it." But the dwarfs answered, "We will not part
with it for all the gold in the world." Then he said, "Let me have it as a
gift, for I cannot live without seeing Snow-white. I will honour and prize
her as my dearest possession." As he spoke in this way the good dwarfs took
pity upon him, and gave him the coffin.

     And now the King's son had it carried away by his servants on their
shoulders. And it happened that they stumbled over a treestump, and with the
shock the poisonous piece of apple which Snow-white had bitten off came out
of her throat. And before long she opened her eyes, lifted up the lid of the
coffin, sat up, and was once more alive. "Oh, heavens, where am I?" she cried.
The King's son, full of joy, said, "You are with me," and told her what had
happened, and said, "I love you more than everything in the world; come with
me to my father's palace, you shall be my wife."

     And Snow-white was willing, and went with him, and their wedding was
held with great show and splendour. But Snow-white's wicked step-mother
was also bidden to the feast. When she had arrayed herself in beautiful
clothes she went before the Looking-glass, and said -

"Looking-glass, Looking-glass, on the wall,
Who in this land is the fairest of all?"

The glass answered -

"Oh, Queen, of all here the fairest art thou,
But the young Queen is fairer by far as I trow."

     Then the wicked woman uttered a curse, and was so wretched, so utterly
wretched, that she knew not what to do. At first she would not go to the
wedding at all, but she had no peace, and must go to see the young Queen. And
when she went in she knew Snow-white; and she stood still with rage and
fear, and could not stir. But iron slippers had already been put upon the
fire, and they were brought in with tongs, and set before her. Then she was
forced to put on the red-hot shoes, and dance until she dropped down dead.