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Snowdrop. By the Brothers Grimm.

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Then the first looked and saw a slight impression on his bed, and said, 'Who has been treading on my bed?' The others came running up and said, 'And mine, and mine.' But the seventh, when he looked into his bed, saw Snowdrop, who lay there asleep. He called the others, who came up and cried out with astonishment, as they held their lights and gazed at Snowdrop. 'Heavens! what a beautiful child,' they said, and they were so delighted that they did not wake her up but left her asleep in bed. And the seventh Dwarf slept with his comrades, an hour with each all through the night. When morning came Snowdrop woke up, and when she saw the seven Dwarfs she was frightened. But they were very kind and asked her name. 'I am called Snowdrop,' she answered. 'How did you get into our house?' they asked. Then she told them how her stepmother had wished to get rid of her, how the Huntsman had spared her life, and how she had run all day till she had found the house. Then the Dwarfs said, 'Will you look after our household, cook, make the beds, wash, sew and knit, and keep everything neat and clean? If so you shall stay with us and want for nothing.' 'Yes,' said Snowdrop, 'with all my heart'; and she stayed with them and kept the house in order.



In the morning they went to the mountain and searched for copper and gold, and in the evening they came back and then their meal had to be ready. All day the maiden was alone, and the good Dwarfs warned her and said, 'Beware of your stepmother, who will soon learn that you are here. Don't let any one in.' But the Queen, having, as she imagined, eaten Snowdrop's liver and lungs, and feeling certain that she was the fairest of all, stepped in front of her Glass, and asked-- 'Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Who is fairest of us all?' the Glass answered as usual-- 'Queen, thou art fairest here, I hold, But Snowdrop over the fells, Who with the seven Dwarfs dwells, Is fairer still a thousandfold.' She was dismayed, for she knew that the Glass told no lies, and she saw that the Hunter had deceived her and that Snowdrop still lived. Accordingly she began to wonder afresh how she might compass her death; for as long as she was not the fairest in the land her jealous heart left her no rest. At last she thought of a plan. She dyed her face and dressed up like an old Pedlar, so that she was quite unrecognisable. In this guise she crossed over the seven mountains to the home of the seven Dwarfs and called out, 'Wares for sale.'



Snowdrop peeped out of the window and said, 'Good-day, mother, what have you got to sell?' 'Good wares, fine wares,' she answered, 'laces of every colour'; and she held out one which was made of gay plaited silk. 'I may let the honest woman in,' thought Snowdrop, and she unbolted the door and bought the pretty lace. 'Child,' said the Old Woman, 'what a sight you are, I will lace you properly for once.' Snowdrop made no objection, and placed herself before the Old Woman to let her lace her with the new lace. But the Old Woman laced so quickly and tightly that she took away Snowdrop's breath and she fell down as though dead. 'Now I am the fairest,' she said to herself, and hurried away. Not long after the seven Dwarfs came home, and were horror-struck when they saw their dear little Snowdrop lying on the floor without stirring, like one dead. When they saw she was laced too tight they cut the lace, whereupon she began to breathe and soon came back to life again. When the Dwarfs heard what had happened, they said that the old Pedlar was no other than the wicked Queen. 'Take care not to let any one in when we are not here,' they said.



Now the wicked Queen, as soon as she got home, went to the Glass and asked-- 'Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Who is fairest of us all?' and it answered as usual-- 'Queen, thou art fairest here, I hold, But Snowdrop over the fells, Who with the seven Dwarfs dwells, Is fairer still a thousandfold.' When she heard it all her blood flew to her heart, so enraged was she, for she knew that Snowdrop had come back to life again. Then she thought to herself, 'I must plan something which will put an end to her.' By means of witchcraft, in which she was skilled, she made a poisoned comb. Next she disguised herself and took the form of a different Old Woman. She crossed the mountains and came to the home of the seven Dwarfs, and knocked at the door calling out, 'Good wares to sell.' Snowdrop looked out of the window and said, 'Go away, I must not let any one in.' 'At least you may look,' answered the Old Woman, and she took the poisoned comb and held it up. The child was so pleased with it that she let herself be beguiled, and opened the door. When she had made a bargain the Old Woman said, 'Now I will comb your hair properly for once.'

       



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