| Snow-White And The Seven Dwarfs |
HEN IT WAS quite dark the masters of the house came home. They were seven little dwarfs, who dug and searched in the mountains for minerals. First they lighted seven little lamps, and as soon as the room was full of light they saw that some one had been there, for everything did not stand in the order in which they had left it.
Then said the first, "Who has been sitting in my little chair?"
The second exclaimed, "Who has been eating from my little plate?"
The third cried, "Some one has taken part of my bread."
"Who has been eating my vegetables?" said the fourth.
Then said the fifth, "Some one has used my fork."
The sixth cried, "And who has been cutting with my knife?"
"And some one has been drinking out of my cup," said the seventh.
Then the eldest looked at his bed, and, seeing that it looked tumbled, cried out that some one had been upon it. The others came running forward, and found all their beds in the same condition. But when the seventh approached his bed, and saw Snow-white lying there fast asleep, he called the others, who came quickly, and holding their lights over their heads, cried out in wonder as they beheld the sleeping child. "Oh, what a beautiful little child!" they said to each other, and were so delighted that they would not awaken her, but left her to sleep as long as she liked in the little bed, while its owner slept with one of his companions, and so the night passed away.
In the morning, when Snow-white awoke, and saw all the dwarfs, she was terribly frightened. But they spoke kindly to her, till she lost all fear, and they asked her name.
"I am called Snow-white," she replied.
"But how came you to our house?" asked one.
Then she related to them all that had happened; how her stepmother had sent her into the wood with the hunter, who had spared her life, and that, after wandering about for a whole day, she had found their house.
The dwarfs talked a little while together, and then one said, "Do you think you could be our little housekeeper, to make the beds, cook the dinner, and wash and sew and knit for us, and keep everything neat and clean and orderly? If you can, then you shall stay here with us, and nobody shall hurt you."
"Oh yes, I will try," said Snow-white. So they let her stay, and she was a clever little thing. She managed very well, and kept the house quite clean and in order. And while they were gone to the mountains to find gold, she got their supper ready, and they were very happy together.
But every morning when they left her, the kind little dwarfs warned Snow-white to be careful. While the maiden was alone they knew she was in danger, and told her not to show herself, for her stepmother would soon find out where she was, and said, "Whatever you do, let nobody into the house while we are gone."
After the wicked queen had proved, as she thought, that Snow-white was dead, she felt quite satisfied there was no one in the world now likely to become so beautiful as herself, so she stepped up to her mirror and asked:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is most beautiful of all?"
To her vexation the mirror replied:
"Fair queen, at home there is none like thee,
But over the mountains is Snow-white free,
With seven little dwarfs, who are strange to see;
A thousand times fairer than thou is she."
The queen was furious when she heard this, for she knew the mirror was truthful, and that the hunter must have deceived her, and that Snow-white still lived. So she sat and pondered over these facts, thinking what would be best to do, for as long as she was not the most beautiful woman in the land, her jealousy gave her no peace. After a time, she decided what to do. First, she painted her face, and whitened her hair; then she dressed herself in old woman's clothes, and was so disguised that no one could have recognised her.
Watching an opportunity, she left the castle, and took her way to the wood near the mountains, where the seven little dwarfs lived. When she reached the door, she knocked, and cried, "Beautiful goods to sell; beautiful goods to sell."
Snow-white, when she heard it, peeped through the window, and said, "Good-day, old lady. What have you in your basket for me to buy?"
"Everything that is pretty," she replied; "laces, and pearls, and earrings, and bracelets of every colour;" and she held up her basket, which was lined with glittering silk.