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Snowdrop. By the Brothers Grimm.

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Poor Snowdrop, suspecting no evil, let the Old Woman have her way, but scarcely was the poisoned comb fixed in her hair than the poison took effect, and the maiden fell down unconscious. 'You paragon of beauty,' said the wicked woman, 'now it is all over with you,' and she went away. Happily it was near the time when the seven Dwarfs came home. When they saw Snowdrop lying on the ground as though dead, they immediately suspected her stepmother, and searched till they found the poisoned comb. No sooner had they removed it than Snowdrop came to herself again and related what had happened. They warned her again to be on her guard, and to open the door to no one. When she got home the Queen stood before her Glass and said-- '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 the Glass speak these words she trembled and quivered with rage. 'Snowdrop shall die,' she said, 'even if it cost me my own life.'



Thereupon she went into a secret room, which no one ever entered but herself, and made a poisonous apple. Outwardly it was beautiful to look upon, with rosy cheeks, and every one who saw it longed for it, but whoever ate of it was certain to die. When the apple was ready she dyed her face and dressed herself like an old Peasant Woman and so crossed the seven hills to the Dwarfs' home. There she knocked. Snowdrop put her head out of the window and said, 'I must not let any one in, the seven Dwarfs have forbidden me.' 'It is all the same to me,' said the Peasant Woman. 'I shall soon get rid of my apples. There, I will give you one.' 'No; I must not take anything.' 'Are you afraid of poison?' said the woman. 'See, I will cut the apple in half: you eat the red side and I will keep the other.' Now the apple was so cunningly painted that the red half alone was poisoned. Snowdrop longed for the apple, and when she saw the Peasant Woman eating she could hold out no longer, stretched out her hand and took the poisoned half. Scarcely had she put a bit into her mouth than she fell dead to the ground.



The Queen looked with a fiendish glance, and laughed aloud and said, 'White as snow, red as blood, and black as ebony, this time the Dwarfs cannot wake you up again.' And when she got home and asked the Looking-glass-- 'Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Who is fairest of us all?' it answered at last-- 'Queen, thou'rt fairest of them all.' Then her jealous heart was at rest, as much at rest as a jealous heart can be. The Dwarfs, when they came at evening, found Snowdrop lying on the ground and not a breath escaped her lips, and she was quite dead. They lifted her up and looked to see whether any poison was to be found, unlaced her dress, combed her hair, washed her with wine and water, but it was no use; their dear child was dead. They laid her on a bier, and all seven sat down and bewailed her and lamented over her for three whole days. Then they prepared to bury her, but she looked so fresh and living, and still had such beautiful rosy cheeks, that they said, 'We cannot bury her in the dark earth.' And so they had a transparent glass coffin made, so that she could be seen from every side, laid her inside and wrote on it in letters of gold her name and how she was a King's daughter. Then they set the coffin out on the mountain, and one of them always stayed by and watched it. And the birds came too and mourned for Snowdrop, first an owl, then a raven, and lastly a dove.



Now Snowdrop lay a long, long time in her coffin, looking as though she were asleep. It happened that a Prince was wandering in the wood, and came to the home of the seven Dwarfs to pass the night. He saw the coffin on the mountain and lovely Snowdrop inside, and read what was written in golden letters. Then he said to the Dwarfs, 'Let me have the coffin; I will give you whatever you like for it.' But they said, 'We will not give it up for all the gold of the world.' Then he said, 'Then give it to me as a gift, for I cannot live without Snowdrop to gaze upon; and I will honour and reverence it as my dearest treasure.' When he had said these words the good Dwarfs pitied him and gave him the coffin. The Prince bade his servants carry it on their shoulders. Now it happened that they stumbled over some brushwood, and the shock dislodged the piece of apple from Snowdrop's throat. In a short time she opened her eyes, lifted the lid of the coffin, sat up and came back to life again completely. 'O Heaven! where am I?' she asked.



The Prince, full of joy, said, 'You are with me,' and he related what had happened, and then said, 'I love you better than all the world; come with me to my father's castle and be my wife.' Snowdrop agreed and went with him, and their wedding was celebrated with great magnificence. Snowdrop's wicked stepmother was invited to the feast; and when she had put on her fine clothes she stepped to her Glass and asked-- 'Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Who is fairest of us all?' The Glass answered-- 'Queen, thou art fairest here, I hold, The young Queen fairer a thousandfold.' Then the wicked woman uttered a curse, and was so terribly frightened that she didn't know what to do. Yet she had no rest: she felt obliged to go and see the young Queen. And when she came in she recognised Snowdrop, and stood stock still with fear and terror. But iron slippers were heated over the fire, and were soon brought in with tongs and put before her. And she had to step into the red-hot shoes and dance till she fell down dead.

       



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