| Snow-White And The Seven Dwarfs |
"BUT I AM all right," said the farmer's wife. "Stay, I will show you my apples. Are they not beautiful? let me make you a present of one."
"No, thank you," cried Snow-white; "I dare not take it."
"What!" cried the woman, "are you afraid it is poisoned? Look here now, I will cut the apple in halves; you shall have the rosy-cheek side, and I will eat the other."
The apple was so cleverly made that the red side alone was poisonous. Snow-white longed so much for the beautiful fruit as she saw the farmer's wife eat one half that she could not any longer resist, but stretched out her hand from the window and took the poisoned half. But no sooner had she taken one mouthful than she fell on the ground dead.
Then the wicked queen glanced in at the window with a horrible look in her eye, and laughed aloud as she exclaimed:
"White as snow, red as blood, and black as ebony; this time the dwarfs will not be able to awake thee."
And as soon as she arrived at home, and asked her mirror who was the most beautiful in the land, it replied:
"Fair queen, there is none in all the land
So beautiful as thou."
Then had her envious heart rest, at least such rest as a heart full of envy and malice ever can have.
The little dwarfs, when they came home in the evening, found poor Snow-white on the ground; but though they lifted her up, there were no signs of breath from her mouth, and they found she was really dead. Yet they tried in every way to restore her; they tried to extract the poison from her lips, they combed her hair, and washed it with wine and water, but all to no purpose: the dear child gave no signs of life, and at last they knew she was dead. Then they laid her on a bier, and the seven dwarfs seated themselves round her, and wept and mourned for three days. They would have buried her then, but there was no change in her appearance; her face was as fresh, and her cheeks and lips had their usual colour. Then said one, "We cannot lay this beautiful child in the dark, cold earth."
So they agreed to have a coffin made entirely of glass, transparent all over, that they might watch for any signs of decay, and they wrote in letters of gold her name on the lid, and that she was the daughter of a king. The coffin was placed on the side of the mountain, and each of them watched it by turns, so that it was never left alone. And the birds of the air came near and mourned for Snow-white; first the owl, then the raven, and at last the dove. Snow-white lay for a long, long time in the glass coffin, but showed not the least signs of decay. It seemed as if she slept; for her skin was snow white, her cheeks rosy red, and her hair black as ebony.
It happened one day that the son of a king, while riding in the forest, came by chance upon the dwarfs' house and asked for a night's lodging. As he left the next morning he saw the coffin on the mountain-side, with beautiful Snow-white lying in it, and read what was written upon the lid in letters of gold.
Then he said to the dwarfs, "Let me have this coffin, and I will give you for it whatever you ask."
But the elder dwarf answered, "We would not give it thee for all the gold in the world."
But the prince answered, "Let me have it as a gift, then. I know not why, but my heart is drawn towards this beautiful child, and I feel I cannot live without her. If you will let me have her, she shall be treated with the greatest honour and respect as one dearly beloved."
As he thus spoke the good little dwarfs were full of sympathy for him, and gave him the coffin. Then the prince called his servants, and the coffin was placed on their shoulders, and they carried it away, followed by the king's son, who watched it carefully. Now it happened that one of them made a false step and stumbled. This shook the coffin, and caused the poisoned piece of apple which Snow-white had bitten to roll out of her mouth. A little while after she suddenly opened her eyes, lifted up the coffin-lid, raised herself and was again alive.
"Oh! where am I?" she cried.
Full of joy, the king's son approached her, and said, "Dear Snow-white, you are safe; you are with me."
Then he related to her all that had happened, and what the little dwarfs had told him about her, and said at last, "I love you better than all in the world besides, dear little Snow-white, and you must come with me to my father's castle and be my wife."
Then was Snow-white taken out of the coffin and placed in a carriage to travel with the prince, and the king was so pleased with his son's choice that the marriage was soon after celebrated with great pomp and magnificence.
Now it happened that the stepmother of Snow-white was invited, among other guests, to the wedding-feast. Before she left her house she stood in all her rich dress before the magic mirror to admire her own appearance, but she could not help saying;
"Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Am I most beautiful of all?"
Then to her surprise the mirror replied:
"Fair queen, thou art the fairest here,
But at the palace, now,
The bride will prove a thousand times
More beautiful than thou."
Then the wicked woman uttered a curse, and was so dreadfully alarmed that she knew not what to do. At first she declared she would not go to this wedding at all, but she felt it impossible to rest until she had seen the bride, so she determined to go. But what was her astonishment and vexation when she recognised in the young bride Snow-white herself, now grown a charming young woman, and richly dressed in royal robes! Her rage and terror were so great that she stood still and could not move for some minutes. At last she went into the ballroom, but the slippers she wore were to her as iron bands full of coals of fire, in which she was obliged to dance. And so in the red, glowing shoes she continued to dance till she fell dead on the floor, a sad example of envy and jealousy.