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Snow-white And Rose-red

from Boys And Girls Bookshelf - THE OLD FAIRY TALES





BY THE BROTHERS GRIMM


There was once a poor Widow, who lived alone in her hut with her two
children, who were called Snow-White and Rose-Red, because they were
like the flowers which bloomed on two rose-bushes which grew before the
cottage. But they were two as pious, good, industrious, and amiable
children as any that were in the world, only Snow-White was more quiet
and gentle than Rose-Red. For Rose-Red would run and jump about the
meadows, seeking flowers, and catching butterflies, while Snow-White
sat at home helping her Mother to keep house, or reading to her, if
there were nothing else to do.

The two children loved one another dearly, and always walked
hand-in-hand when they went out together; and ever when they talked of
it they agreed that they would never separate from each other, and that
whatever one had the other should share. Often they ran deep into the
forest and gathered wild berries; but no beast ever harmed them. For
the hare would eat cauliflowers out of their hands, the fawn would
graze at their side, the goats would frisk about them in play, and the
birds remained perched on the boughs singing as if nobody were near.

No accidents ever befell them; and if they stayed late in the forest,
and night came upon them, they used to lie down on the moss and sleep
till morning; and because their Mother knew they would do so, she felt
no concern about them. One time when they had thus passed the night in
the forest, and the dawn of morning awoke them, they saw a beautiful
Child dressed in shining white sitting near their couch. She got up
and looked at them kindly, but without saying anything went into the
forest; and when the children looked round they saw that where they
had slept was close to the edge of a pit, into which they would have
certainly fallen had they walked a couple of steps further in the dark.

Their Mother told them the figure they had seen was, doubtless, the
good angel who watches over children.

Snow-White and Rose-Red kept their Mother's cottage so clean that it
was a pleasure to enter it. Every morning in the summertime Rose-Red
would first put the house in order, and then gather a nosegay for her
Mother, in which she always placed a bud from each rose-tree. Every
winter's morning Snow-White would light the fire and put the kettle on
to boil, and, although the kettle was made of copper, it yet shone like
gold, because it was scoured so well. In the evenings, when the flakes
of snow were falling, the Mother would say, "Go, Snow-White, and bolt
the door;" and then they used to sit down on the hearth, and the Mother
would put on her spectacles and read out of a great book while her
children sat spinning. By their side, too, lay a little lamb, and on a
perch behind them a little white dove reposed with her head tucked
under her wing.

One evening when they were thus sitting comfortably together, there
came a knock at the door, as if somebody wished to come in. "Make
haste, Rose-Red," cried her Mother; "make haste and open the door;
perhaps there is some traveler outside who needs shelter."

So Rose-Red went and drew the bolt and opened the door, expecting to
see some poor man outside; but instead, a great fat bear poked his
black head in. Rose-Red shrieked out and ran back, the little lamb
bleated, the dove fluttered on her perch, and Snow-White hid herself
behind her Mother's bed. The Bear, however, began to speak, and said,
"Be not afraid, I will do you no harm; but I am half frozen, and wish
to come in and warm myself."

"Poor Bear!" cried the Mother; "come in and lie down before the fire;
but take care you do not burn your skin;" and then she continued, "Come
here, Rose-Red and Snow-White, the Bear will not harm you, he means
honorably." So they both came back, and by degrees the lamb too and the
dove overcame their fears and welcomed the rough visitor.

"You children!" said the Bear, before he entered, "come and knock the
snow off my coat." And they fetched their brooms and swept him clean.
Then he stretched himself before the fire and grumbled out his
satisfaction, and in a little while the children became familiar enough
to play tricks with the unwieldy animal. They pulled his long shaggy
skin, set their feet upon his back and rolled him to and fro, and even
ventured to beat him with a hazel-stick, laughing when he grumbled. The
Bear bore all their tricks good-temperedly, and if they hit too hard he
cried out,--

"Leave me my life, you children,
Snow-White and Rose-Red,
Or you'll never wed."

When bedtime came and the others were gone, the Mother said to the
Bear, "You may sleep here on the hearth if you like, and then you will
be safely protected from the cold and bad weather."

As soon as day broke the two children let the Bear out again, and he
trotted away over the snow, and ever afterward he came every evening at
a certain hour. He would lie down on the hearth and allow the children
to play with him as much as they liked, till by degrees they became so
accustomed to him that the door was left unbolted till their black
friend arrived.

But as soon as spring returned, and everything out of doors was green
again, the Bear one morning told Snow-White that he must leave her, and
could not return during the whole summer. "Where are you going, then,
dear Bear?" asked Snow-White. "I am obliged to go into the forest and
guard my treasures from the evil Dwarfs; for in winter, when the ground
is hard, they are obliged to keep in their holes and cannot work
through; but now, since the sun has thawed the earth and warmed it, the
Dwarfs pierce through and steal all they can find; and what has once
passed into their hands, and gets concealed by them in their caves, is
not easily brought to light."

Snow-White, however, was very sad at the departure of the Bear, and
opened the door so hesitatingly, that when he pressed through it he
left behind on the latch a piece of his hairy coat; and through the
hole which was made in his coat Snow-White fancied she saw the
glittering of gold, but she was not quite certain of it. The Bear,
however, ran hastily away, and was soon hidden behind the trees.

Some time afterward the Mother sent the children into the woods to
gather sticks, and while doing so they came to a tree which was lying
across the path, on the trunk of which something kept bobbing up and
down from the grass, and they could not imagine what it was. When
they came nearer they saw a Dwarf, with an old wrinkled face and a
snow-white beard a yard long. The end of this beard was fixed in a
split of the tree, and the little man kept jumping about like a dog
tied by a chain, for he did not know how to free himself. He glared at
the Maidens with his red, fiery eyes, and exclaimed, "Why do you stand
there? Are you going to pass without offering me any assistance?"

"What have you done, little man?" asked Rose-Red.

"You stupid, gazing goose!" exclaimed he, "I wanted to have split the
tree in order to get a little wood for my kitchen, for the little food
which we use is soon burnt up with great faggots, not like what you
rough greedy people devour! I had driven the wedge in properly, and
everything was going on well, when the smooth wood flew upward, and the
tree closed so suddenly together, that I could not draw my beautiful
beard out; and here it sticks, and I cannot get away. There, don't
laugh, you milk-faced things! Are you dumbfounded?"

The children took all the pains they could to pull the Dwarf's beard
out, but without success. "I will run and fetch some help," cried
Rose-Red at length.

"Crack-brained sheep's-head that you are!" snarled the Dwarf; "what are
you going to call other people for? You are two too many now for me;
can you think of nothing else?"

"Don't be impatient," replied Snow-White: "I have thought of
something;" and pulling her scissors out of her pocket, she cut off the
end of the beard. As soon as the Dwarf found himself at liberty he
snatched up his sack, which laid between the roots of the tree filled
with gold, and, throwing it over his shoulder, marched off, grumbling,
and groaning, and crying "Stupid people! to cut off a piece of my
beautiful beard. Plague take you!" And away he went without once
looking at the children.

Some time afterward Snow-White and Rose-Red went a-fishing and as they
neared the pond they saw something like a great locust hopping about
on the bank, as if going to jump into the water. They ran up and
recognized the Dwarf; "What are you after?" asked Rose-Red; "you will
fall into the water."

"I am not quite such a simpleton as that," replied the Dwarf; "but do
you not see this fish will pull me in?"

The little man had been sitting there angling, and, unfortunately, the
wind had entangled his beard with the fishing-line; and so when a great
fish bit at the bait, the strength of the weak little fellow was not
able to draw it out, and the fish had the best of the struggle. The
Dwarf held on by the reeds and rushes which grew near, but to no
purpose, for the fish pulled him where it liked, and he must soon have
been drawn into the pond. Luckily just then the two Maidens arrived,
and tried to release the beard of the Dwarf from the fishing-line, but
both were too closely entangled for it to be done. So the Maiden pulled
out her scissors again and cut off another piece of the beard.

When the Dwarf saw this done he was in a great rage, and exclaimed,
"You donkey! that is the way to disfigure my face. Was it not enough to
cut it once, but you must now take away the best part of my fine beard?
I dare not show myself again now to my own people. I wish you had run
the soles off your boots before you had come here!" So saying he took
up a bag of pearls, which lay among the rushes, and, without speaking
another word, slipped off and disappeared behind a stone.

Not many days after this adventure, it chanced that the Mother sent the
two Maidens to the next town to buy thread, needles and pins, laces,
and ribbons. Their road passed over a common, on which, here and there,
great pieces of rock were lying about. Just over their heads they saw a
great bird flying round and round, and every now and then dropping
lower and lower, till at last it flew down behind a rock. Immediately
afterward they heard a piercing shriek, and, running up, they saw with
affright that the eagle had caught their old acquaintance, the Dwarf,
and was trying to carry him off. The compassionate children thereupon
laid hold of the little man, and held him fast till the bird gave up
the struggle and flew off.

As soon, then, as the Dwarf had recovered from his fright, he exclaimed
in his squeaking voice:

"Could you not hold me more gently? You have seized my fine brown coat
in such a manner that it is all torn and full of holes, meddling and
interfering rubbish that you are!" With these words he shouldered a bag
filled with precious stones, and slipped away to his cave among the
rocks.

The Maidens were now accustomed to his ingratitude, and so they walked
on to the town and transacted their business there. Coming home they
returned over the same common, and unawares walked up to a certain
clean spot, on which the Dwarf had shaken out his bag of precious
stones, thinking nobody was near. The sun was shining and the bright
stones glittered in its beams, and displayed such a variety of colors
that the two Maidens stopped to admire them.

"What are you standing there gaping for?" asked the Dwarf, while his
face grew as red as copper with rage: he was continuing to abuse the
poor Maidens, when a loud roaring noise was heard, and presently a
great black Bear came rolling out of the forest. The Dwarf jumped up
terrified, but he could not gain his retreat before the Bear overtook
him. Thereupon he cried out, "Spare me, my dear Lord Bear! I will give
you all my treasures. See these beautiful precious stones which lie
here; only give me my life; for what have you to fear from a little
fellow like me? You could not touch me with your big teeth. There are
two wicked girls, take them; they would make nice morsels; as fat as
young quails; eat them, for heaven's sake!"

The Bear, however, without troubling himself to speak, gave the
bad-hearted Dwarf a single blow with his paw, and he never stirred
after.

The Maidens were then going to run away, but the Bear called after
them, "Snow-White and Rose-Red, fear not! Wait a bit, and I will
accompany you." They recognized his voice and stopped; and when the
Bear came, his rough coat suddenly fell off, and he stood up a tall
man, dressed entirely in gold. "I am a King's son," he said, "and was
condemned by the wicked Dwarf, who stole all my treasures, to wander
about in this forest in the form of a bear till his death released me."

Then they went home, and Snow-White was married to the Prince, and
Rose-Red to his brother, with whom they shared the immense treasure
which the Dwarf had collected. The old Mother also lived for many years
happily with her two children; and the rose-trees which had stood
before the cottage were planted now before the palace, and produced
every year beautiful red and white roses.





Next: Hansel And Grethel

Previous: Rapunzel Or The Fair Maid With Golden Hair



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