Snow-white And Rose-red





A poor widow once lived in a little cottage with a

garden in front of it, in which grew two rose trees, one

bearing white roses and the other red. She had two

children, who were just like the two rose trees; one was

called Snow-white and the other Rose-red, and they were

the sweetest and best children in the world, always diligent

and always cheerful; but Snow-white was quieter and

more gentle than Rose-red. Rose-red loved to run about

the fields and meadows, and to pick flowers and catch

butterflies; but Snow-white sat at home with her mother

and helped her in the household, or read aloud to her when

there was no work to do. The two children loved each

other so dearly that they always walked about hand in

hand whenever they went out together, and when Snow-white

said, "We will never desert each other," Rose-red

answered: "No, not as long as we live"; and the mother

added: "Whatever one gets she shall share with the

other." They often roamed about in the woods gathering

berries and no beast offered to hurt them; on the

contrary, they came up to them in the most confiding

manner; the little hare would eat a cabbage leaf from their

hands, the deer grazed beside them, the stag would bound

past them merrily, and the birds remained on the branches

and sang to them with all their might.



No evil ever befell them; if they tarried late in the

wood and night overtook them, they lay down together

on the moss and slept till morning, and their mother knew

they were quite safe, and never felt anxious about them.

Once, when they had slept all night in the wood and had

been wakened by the morning sun, they perceived a

beautiful child in a shining white robe sitting close to

their resting-place. The figure got up, looked at them

kindly, but said nothing, and vanished into the wood.

And when they looked round about them they became

aware that they had slept quite close to a precipice, over

which they would certainly have fallen had they gone on

a few steps further in the darkness. And when they told

their mother of their adventure, she said what they had

seen must have been the angel that guards good children.



Snow-white and Rose-red kept their mother's cottage

so beautifully clean and neat that it was a pleasure to go

into it. In summer Rose-red looked after the house, and

every morning before her mother awoke she placed a

bunch of flowers before the bed, from each tree a rose.

In winter Snow-white lit the fire and put on the kettle,

which was made of brass, but so beautifully polished that

it shone like gold. In the evening when the snowflakes

fell their mother said: "Snow-white, go and close the

shutters," and they drew round the fire, while the mother

put on her spectacles and read aloud from a big book and

the two girls listened and sat and span. Beside them on

the ground lay a little lamb, and behind them perched a

little white dove with its head tucked under its wings.



One evening as they sat thus cosily together someone

knocked at the door as though he desired admittance.

The mother said: "Rose-red, open the door quickly; it

must be some traveler seeking shelter." Rose-red

hastened to unbar the door, and thought she saw a poor man

standing in the darkness outside; but it was no such thing,

only a bear, who poked his thick black head through the

door. Rose-red screamed aloud and sprang back in

terror, the lamb began to bleat, the dove flapped its

wings, and Snow-white ran and hid behind her mother's

bed. But the bear began to speak, and said: "Don't be

afraid: I won't hurt you. I am half frozen, and only wish

to warm myself a little." "My poor bear," said the

mother, "lie down by the fire, only take care you don't

burn your fur." Then she called out: "Snow-white and

Rose-red, come out; the bear will do you no harm; he is

a good, honest creature." So they both came out of their

hiding-places, and gradually the lamb and dove drew near

too, and they all forgot their fear. The bear asked the

children to beat the snow a little out of his fur, and they

fetched a brush and scrubbed him till he was dry. Then

the beast stretched himself in front of the fire, and

growled quite happily and comfortably. The children soon

grew quite at their ease with him, and led their helpless

guest a fearful life. They tugged his fur with their hands,

put their small feet on his back, and rolled him about here

and there, or took a hazel wand and beat him with it; and

if he growled they only laughed. The bear submitted to

everything with the best possible good-nature, only when

they went too far he cried: "Oh! children, spare my life!



"Snow-white and Rose-red,

Don't beat your lover dead."



When it was time to retire for the night, and the others

went to bed, the mother said to the bear: "You can lie

there on the hearth, in heaven's name; it will be shelter

for you from the cold and wet." As soon as day dawned

the children led him out, and he trotted over the snow

into the wood. From this time on the bear came every

evening at the same hour, and lay down by the hearth and

let the children play what pranks they liked with him;

and they got so accustomed to him that the door was

never shut till their black friend had made his appearance.



When spring came, and all outside was green, the bear

said one morning to Snow-white: "Now I must go away,

and not return again the whole summer." "Where are you

going to, dear bear?" asked Snow-white. "I must go to

the wood and protect my treasure from the wicked dwarfs.

In winter, when the earth is frozen hard, they are obliged

to remain underground, for they can't work their way

through; but now, when the sun has thawed and warmed

the ground, they break through and come up above to spy

the land and steal what they can; what once falls into

their hands and into their caves is not easily brought back

to light." Snow-white was quite sad over their friend's

departure, and when she unbarred the door for him, the

bear, stepping out, caught a piece of his fur in the

door-knocker, and Snow-white thought she caught sight of

glittering gold beneath it, but she couldn't be certain of

it; and the bear ran hastily away, and soon disappeared

behind the trees.



A short time after this the mother sent the children into

the wood to collect fagots. They came in their wanderings

upon a big tree which lay felled on the ground, and

on the trunk among the long grass they noticed something

jumping up and down, but what it was they couldn't

distinguish. When they approached nearer they perceived

a dwarf with a wizened face and a beard a yard long. The

end of the beard was jammed into a cleft of the tree, and

the little man sprang about like a dog on a chain, and

didn't seem to know what he was to do. He glared at the

girls with his fiery red eyes, and screamed out: "What are

you standing there for? Can't you come and help me?"

"What were you doing, little man?" asked Rose-red.

"You stupid, inquisitive goose!" replied the dwarf; "I

wanted to split the tree, in order to get little chips of wood

for our kitchen fire; those thick logs that serve to make

fires for coarse, greedy people like yourselves quite burn

up all the little food we need. I had successfully driven

in the wedge, and all was going well, but the cursed wood

was so slippery that it suddenly sprang out, and the tree

closed up so rapidly that I had no time to take my

beautiful white beard out, so here I am stuck fast, and I

can't get away; and you silly, smooth-faced, milk-and-water

girls just stand and laugh! Ugh! what wretches you are!"



The children did all in their power, but they couldn't

get the beard out; it was wedged in far too firmly. "I

will run and fetch somebody," said Rose-red. "Crazy

blockheads!" snapped the dwarf; "what's the good of calling

anyone else? You're already two too many for me.

Does nothing better occur to you than that?" "Don't be

so impatient," said Snow-white, "I'll see you get help,"

and taking her scissors out of her pocket she cut off the

end of his beard. As soon as the dwarf felt himself free he

seized a bag full of gold which was hidden among the

roots of the tree, lifted it up, and muttered aloud: "Curse

these rude wretches, cutting off a piece of my splendid

beard!" With these words he swung the bag over his

back, and disappeared without as much as looking at the

children again.



Shortly after this Snow-white and Rose-red went out

to get a dish of fish. As they approached the stream they

saw something which looked like an enormous grasshopper

springing toward the water as if it were going to jump in.

They ran forward and recognized their old friend the

dwarf. "Where are you going to?" asked Rose-red; "you're

surely not going to jump into the water?" "I'm not such

a fool," screamed the dwarf. "Don't you see that cursed

fish is trying to drag me in?" The little man had been

sitting on the bank fishing, when unfortunately the wind

had entangled his beard in the line; and when immediately

afterward a big fish bit, the feeble little creature had no

strength to pull it out; the fish had the upper fin, and

dragged the dwarf toward him. He clung on with all his

might to every rush and blade of grass, but it didn't help

him much; he had to follow every movement of the fish,

and was in great danger of being drawn into the water.

The girls came up just at the right moment, held him

firm, and did all they could to disentangle his beard from

the line; but in vain, beard and line were in a hopeless

muddle. Nothing remained but to produce the scissors

and cut the beard, by which a small part of it was sacrificed.



When the dwarf perceived what they were about he

yelled to them: "Do you call that manners, you toad-stools!

to disfigure a fellow's face? It wasn't enough that

you shortened my beard before, but you must now needs

cut off the best bit of it. I can't appear like this before

my own people. I wish you'd been in Jericho first." Then

he fetched a sack of pearls that lay among the rushes, and

without saying another word he dragged it away and

disappeared behind a stone.



It happened that soon after this the mother sent the

two girls to the town to buy needles, thread, laces, and

ribbons. Their road led over a heath where huge boulders

of rock lay scattered here and there. While trudging

along they saw a big bird hovering in the air, circling

slowly above them, but always descending lower, till at

last it settled on a rock not far from them. Immediately

afterward they heard a sharp, piercing cry. They ran

forward, and saw with horror that the eagle had pounced

on their old friend the dwarf, and was about to carry him

off. The tender-hearted children seized hold of the little

man, and struggled so long with the bird that at last he

let go his prey. When the dwarf had recovered from the

first shock he screamed in his screeching voice: "Couldn't

you have treated me more carefully? You have torn my

thin little coat all to shreds, useless, awkward hussies that

you are!" Then he took a bag of precious stones and

vanished under the rocks into his cave. The girls were

accustomed to his ingratitude, and went on their way and

did their business in town. On their way home, as they

were again passing the heath, they surprised the dwarf

pouring out his precious stones on an open space, for he

had thought no one would pass by at so late an hour. The

evening sun shone on the glittering stones, and they

glanced and gleamed so beautifully that the children stood

still and gazed on them. "What are you standing there

gaping for?" screamed the dwarf, and his ashen-gray face

became scarlet with rage. He was about to go off with

these angry words when a sudden growl was heard, and

a black bear trotted out of the wood. The dwarf jumped

up in great fright, but he hadn't time to reach his place of

retreat, for the bear was already close to him. Then he

cried in terror: "Dear Mr. Bear, spare me! I'll give you

all my treasure. Look at those beautiful precious stones

lying there. Spare my life! what pleasure would you get

from a poor feeble little fellow like me? You won't feel

me between your teeth. There, lay hold of these two

wicked girls, they will be a tender morsel for you, as fat

as young quails; eat them up, for heaven's sake." But the

bear, paying no attention to his words, gave the evil little

creature one blow with his paw, and he never moved

again.



The girls had run away, but the bear called after them:

"Snow-white and Rose-red, don't be afraid; wait, and

I'll come with you." Then they recognized his voice and

stood still, and when the bear was quite close to them his

skin suddenly fell off, and a beautiful man stood beside

them, all dressed in gold. "I am a king's son," he said,

"and have been doomed by that unholy little dwarf, who

had stolen my treasure, to roam about the woods as a

wild bear till his death should set me free. Now he has

got his well-merited punishment."



Snow-white married him, and Rose-red his brother, and

they divided the great treasure the dwarf had collected

in his cave between them. The old mother lived for many

years peacefully with her children; and she carried the

two rose trees with her, and they stood in front of her

window, and every year they bore the finest red and white

roses.





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