Snow-White And Rose-Red

Sacred Texts  Household Tales Index  Previous: One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes 

Snow-White And Rose-Red

     There was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of
the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore
white and the other red roses. She had two children who were like the two rose
- trees, and one was called Snow-white and the other Rose-red. They were
as good and happy, as busy and cheerful, as ever two children in the world
were, only Snow-white was more quiet and gentle than Rose-red. Rose-red
liked better to run about in the meadows and fields seeking flowers and
catching butterflies; but Snow-white sat at home with her mother, and helped
her with her house-work, or read to her when there was nothing to do.

     The two children were so fond of each other that they always held each
other by the hand when they went out together, and when Snow-white said, "We
will not leave each other," Rose-red answered, "Never so long as we live,"
and their mother would add, "What one has she must share with the other."

     They often ran about the forest alone and gathered red berries, and no
beasts did them any harm, but came close to them trustfully. The little hare
would eat a cabbage-leaf out of their hands, the roe grazed by their side,
the stag leapt merrily by them, and the birds sat still upon the boughs, and
sang whatever they knew.

     No mishap overtook them; if they had stayed too late in the forest and
night came on, they laid themselves down near one another upon the moss, and
slept until morning came, and their mother knew this and had not distress on
their account.

     Once when they had spent the night in the wood and the dawn had roused
them, they saw a beautiful child in a shining white dress sitting near their
bed. He got up and looked quite kindly at them, but said nothing and went away
into the forest. And when they looked round they found that they had been
sleeping quite close to a precipice, and would certainly have fallen into it
in the darkness if they had gone only a few paces further. And their mother
told them that it must have been the angel who watches over good children.

     Snow-white and Rose-red kept their mother's little cottage so neat
that it was a pleasure to look inside it. In the summer Rose-red took care
of the house, and every morning laid a wreath of flowers by her mother's bed
before she awoke, in which was a rose from each tree. In the winter Snow -
white lit the fire and hung the kettle on the wrekin. The kettle was of copper
and shone like gold, so brightly was it polished. In the evening, when the
snowflakes fell, the mother said, "Go, Snow-white, and bolt the door," and
then they sat round the hearth, and the mother took her spectacles and read
aloud out of a large book, and the two girls listened as they sat and span.
And close by them lay a lamb upon the floor, and behind them upon a perch sat
a, white dove with its head hidden beneath its wings.

     One evening, as they were thus sitting comfortably together, some one
knocked at the door, as if he wished to be let in. The mother said. "Quick,
Rose-red, open the door, it must be a traveller who is seeking shelter."
Rose-red went and pushed back the bolt, thinking that it was a poor man, but
it was not; it was a bear that stretched his broad, black head within the

     Rose-red screamed and sprang back, the lamb bleated, the dove
fluttered, and Snow-white hid herself behind her mother's bed. But the bear
began to speak and said, "Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm! I am half -
frozen, and only want to warm myself a little beside you."

     "Poor bear," said the mother, "lie down by the fire, only take care that
you do not burn your coat." Then she cried, "Snow-white, Rose-red, come
out, the bear will do you no harm, he means well." So they both came out, and
by-and-by the lamb and dove came nearer, and were not afraid of him. The
bear said, "Here, children, knock the snow out of my coat a little;" so they
brought the broom and swept the bear's hide clean; and he stretched himself by
the fire and growled contentedly and comfortably. It was not long before they
grew quite at home, and played tricks with their clumsy guest. They tugged his
hair with their hands, put their feet upon his back and rolled him about, or
they took a hazel-switch and beat him, and when he growled they laughed. But
the bear took it all in good part, only, when they were too rough, he called
out, "Leave me alive, children,

"Snowy-white, Rosy-red,
Will you beat your lover dead?"

     When it was bed-time, and the others went to bed, the mother said to
the bear, "You can lie there by the hearth, and then you will be safe from the
cold and the bad weather." As soon as day dawned the two children let him out,
and he trotted across the snow into the forest.

     Henceforth the bear came every evening at the same time, laid himself
down by the hearth, and let the children amuse themselves with him as much as
they liked; and they got so used to him that the doors were never fastened
until their black friend had arrived.

     When spring had come and all outside was green, the bear said one morning
to Snow-white, "Now I must go away, and cannot come back for the whole
summer." "Where are you going, then, dear bear,?" asked Snow-white. "I must
go into the forest and guard my treasures from the wicked dwarfs. In the
winter, when the earth is frozen hard, they are obliged to stay below and
cannot work their way through; but now, when the sun has thawed and warmed the
earth, they break through it, and come out to pry and steal; and what once
gets into their hands, and in their caves, does not easily see daylight

     Snow-white was quite sorry for his going away, and as she unbolted the
door for him, and the bear was hurrying out, he caught against the bolt and a
piece of his hairy coat was torn off, and it seemed to Snow-white as if she
had seen gold shining through it, but she was not sure about it. The bear ran
away quickly, and was soon out of sight behind the trees.

     A short time afterwards the mother sent her children into the forest to
get fire-wood. There they found a big tree which lay felled on the ground,
and close by the trunk something was jumping backwards and forwards in the
grass, but they could not make out what it was. When they came nearer they saw
a dwarf with an old withered face and a snow-white beard a yard long. The
end of the beard was caught in a crevice of the tree, and the little fellow
was jumping backwards and forwards like a dog tied to a rope, and did not know
what to do.

     He glared at the girls with his fiery red eyes and cried, "Why do you
stand there? Can you not come here and help me?" "What are you about there,
little man?" asked Rose-red. "You stupid, prying goose!" answered the dwarf;
"I was going to split the tree to get a little wood for cooking. The little
bit of food that one of us wants get burnt up directly with thick logs; we do
not swallow so much as you coarse, greedy folk. I had just driven the wedge
safely in, and everything was going as I wished; but the wretched wood was too
smooth and suddenly sprang asunder, and the tree closed so quickly that I
could not pull out my beautiful white beard; so now it is tight in and I
cannot get away, and the silly, sleek, milk-faced things laugh! Ugh! how
odious you are!"

     The children tried very hard, but they could not pull the beard out, it
was caught too fast. "I will run and fetch some one," said Red-rose. "You
senseless goose!" snarled the dwarf; "why should you fetch some one? You are
already two too many for me; can you not think of something better?" "Don't be
too impatient," said Snow-white, "I will help you," and she pulled her
scissors out of her pocket, and cut off the end of the beard.

     As soon as the dwarf felt himself free he laid hold of a bag which lay
amongst the roots of the tree, and which was full of gold, and lifted it up,
grumbling to himself, "Uncouth people, to cut off a piece of my fine beard.
Bad luck to you!" and then he swung the bag upon his back, and went off
without even once looking at the children.

     Some time after that Snow-white and Rose-red went to catch a dish of
fish. As they came near the brook they saw something like a large grasshopper
jumping towards the water, as if it were going to leap in. They ran to it and
found it was the dwarf. "Where are you going?" said Rose-red; "you surely
don't want to go into the water?" "I am not such a fool!" cried the dwarf;
"don't you see that the accursed fish wants to pull me in?" The little man had
been sitting there fishing, and unluckily the wind had twisted his beard with
the fishing-line; just then a big, fish bit, and the feeble creature had not
the strength to pull it out; the fish kept the upper hand and pulled the dwarf
towards him. He held on to all the reeds and rushes, but it was of little
good, he was forced to follow the movements of the fish, and was in urgent
danger of being dragged into the water.

     The girls came just in time; they held him fast and tried to free his
beard from the line, but all in vain, beard and line were entangled fast
together. Nothing was left but to bring out the scissors and cut the beard,
whereby a small part of it was lost.

     When the dwarf saw that he screamed out, "Is that civil, you toad -
stool, to disfigure one's face? Was it not enough to clip off the end of my
beard? Now you have cut off the best part of it. I cannot let myself be seen
by my people. I wish you had been made to run the soles off your shoes!" Then
he took out a sack of pearls which lay in the rushes, and without saying a
word more he dragged it away and disappeared behind a stone.

     It happened that soon afterwards the mother sent the two children to the
town to buy needles and thread, and laces and ribbons. The road led them
across a heath upon which huge pieces of rock lay strewn here and there. Now
they noticed a large bird hovering in the air, flying slowly round and round
above them; it sank lower and lower, and at last settled near a rock not far
off. Directly afterwards they heard a loud, piteous cry. They ran up and saw
with horror that the eagle had seized their old acquaintance the dwarf, and
was going to carry him off.

     The children, full of pity, at once took tight hold of the little man,
and pulled against the eagle so long that at last he let his booty go. As soon
as the dwarf had recovered from his first fright he cried with his shrill
voice, "Could you not have done it more carefully? You dragged at my brown
coat so that it is all torn and full of holes, you helpless clumsy creatures!"
Then he took up a sack full of precious stones and slipped away again under
the rock into his hole. The girls, who by this time were used to his
thanklessness, went on their way and did their business in the town.

     As they crossed the heath again on their way home they surprised the
dwarf, who had emptied out his bag of precious stones in a clean spot, and had
not thought that any one would come there so late. The evening sun shone upon
the brilliant stones; they glittered and sparkled with all colours so
beautifully that the children stood still and looked at them. "Why do you
stand gaping there?" cried the dwarf, and his ashen-grey face became copper
- red with rage. He was going on with his bad words when a loud growling was
heard, and a black bear came trotting towards them out of the forest. The
dwarf sprang up in a fright, but he could not get to his cave, for the bear
was already close. Then in the dread of his heart he cried, "Dear Mr. Bear,
spare me, I will give you all my treasures; look, the beautiful jewels lying
there! Grant me my life; what do you want with such a slender little fellow as
I? you would not feel me between your teeth. Come, take these two wicked
girls, they are tender morsels for you, fat as young quails; for mercy's sake
eat them!" The bear took no heed of his words, but gave the wicked creature a
single blow with his paw, and he did not move again.

     The girls had run away, but the bear called to them, "Snow-white and
Rose-red, do not be afraid; wait, I will come with you." Then they knew his
voice and waited, and when he came up to them suddenly his bearskin fell off,
and he stood there a handsome man, clothed all in gold. "I am a King's son,"
he said, "and I was bewitched by that wicked dwarf, who had stolen my
treasures; I have had to run about the forest as a savage bear until I was
freed by his death. Now he has got his well-deserved punishment."

     Snow-white was married to him, and Rose-red to his brother, and they
divided between them the great treasure which the dwarf had gathered together
in his cave. The old mother lived peacefully and happily with her children for
many years. She took the two rose-trees with her, and they stood before her
window, and every year bore the most beautiful roses, white and red.