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Adapted from Grimm

 

 

Once upon a time, a queen sat by her window sewing with an ebony frame. Instead of paying attention to her work, she watched the snow falling on her windowsill, and so she pricked her finger. Three drops of blood fell on to the snow-covered windowsill. The queen thought to herself, "If only I had a daughter as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the ebony of this frame!"

Now this queen was a favorite of the fairies of the area for both her beauty and her kind and gentle ways. The fairies knew the queen’s great desire to have a child, and when they heard her wish, they granted it. Soon she gave birth to a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as ebony. She called the child Snow White, and she and the king were beside themselves with joy.

But this would not last. The queen died before Snow White was a year old, and there was nothing the fairies could do about that. However, they all decided to protect Snow White from any harm in memory of her mother.

Another year passed, and the king remarried. The new queen was beautiful, but vain and haughty. She had a magic mirror she kept in her room, and every night she stood before it and said:

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall,

Who is the fairest of them all?"

And every night the mirror answered:

"You, my queen, are the fairest in the realm."

The queen knew that the mirror could never lie, so she was quite pleased with the answer.

But the years passed, and Snow White grew into a beautiful young woman. One night, the queen asked her magic mirror:

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall,

Who is the fairest of them all?"

And the mirror had to answer:

"You, my queen, are a lovely sight,

But the fairest of all is young Snow White."

For some minutes the queen was still and silent, seething with anger. Then she stormed out of the room, screaming for her servants. She had them remove the magic mirror from her room. Her hatred for Snow White grew stronger every day. Soon she devised a plan to rid herself of the girl forever.

She called the best of the royal huntsmen to her room, and said, "I command you to take the girl Snow White out into the forest. There you are to kill her, and bring back her lungs and her liver to me as proof that you have done as I have asked."

The huntsman, though he loved Snow White as much as everyone else in the realm, had no choice but to obey his queen. He found Snow White and led her out into the forest. He drew his knife and was about to stab her, but could not bring himself to do it. Snow White said to him, "Dear huntsman, please spare my life. I will escape into the forest and no one will ever see me again."

The huntsman did not believe that Snow White would last long out in the great forest by herself, but he was happy that he did not have to kill her. He stayed in the forest until he shot and killed a wild boar. He cut out the boar’s lungs and liver, and brought them back to his queen. She brought them to the kitchen, and had the cook boil them in salt, and the queen, wicked woman that she was, proceeded to eat what she believed were the lungs and liver of her beautiful stepdaughter.

In the meantime, Snow White wandered through the huge forest. She was lost, and cold, and hungry. But her fairy friends had not forgotten her. She could not hear or see them, or even feel their presence, but somehow they led her to a tiny cottage deep in the forest. Snow White knocked, but there was no answer, and as she turned to leave, the fairies opened the door for her. It looked so warm and inviting inside that Snow White had to go in and rest for just a minute. It was a lovely, neatly kept cottage, but everything was so tiny! There was a table all set up for dinner, with seven places set. Snow White did not want to take anything that did not belong to her, but she was so hungry and thirsty. She decided to take a bite from each tiny plate of food, and a sip from each small cup. After eating, she became very sleepy, so she lay down on one of the beds that stood lined up against the far wall, and fell immediately to sleep.

While she slept, night fell, and the owners of the cottage returned from their work. These were seven dwarfs, who mined for minerals in the nearby hills. They each lit a candle upon entering the cottage, and saw that everything was not as they had left it. After much confusion and talk, they finally looked around the cottage and discovered Snow White asleep in one of the seven beds. They all gathered around her with their candles. They decided that she was the most beautiful girl they had ever seen, and all were overjoyed to have them as their guest. The dwarf whose bed Snow White had adopted was happy to sleep on the floor, and so the eight spent the night.

Snow White woke the next morning, and was frightened to see the seven dwarfs, for she thought they might be angry at her for eating their food and sleeping in someone’s bed. But they were very friendly to her, and asked her name and from where she had come. She told them who she was and how the huntsman had been ordered to kill her, probably by her stepmother, the wicked queen, and how she wandered in the forest and stumbled upon their cottage.

The dwarfs invited Snow White to stay and live with them, in exchange for doing some cooking and cleaning and sewing. She agreed, because she felt very comfortable with the dwarfs, and because she had no place else to go.

So time passed, and every day the dwarfs went to the hills to look for minerals, and Snow White stayed home and cleaned the house and cooked their dinner and mended their clothes. The dwarfs were concerned about her being home alone all day, for they knew that the queen would eventually discover that she had been tricked, so they warned the girl never to open the door to anyone during the day.

Back at the castle, the queen, believing Snow White was dead, had her magic mirror brought up from the dungeon and hung back on the wall of her room. That night, she asked the mirror:

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall,

Who is the fairest of them all?"

And to the queen’s horror, the mirror replied:

"You, my queen, are a lovely sight,

but deep in the forest every night

sleeps Snow White and seven friends small

and she is the fairest of them all."

Once again the queen spent sleepless nights plotting Snow White’s death. Some days later, she dressed herself up as an old woman and took a basket of apples from the kitchen. In the most beautiful apple she placed a deadly poison. She went into the woods and walked until she came to the cottage of the seven dwarfs. Snow White happened to be sitting outside, for it was a lovely autumn day, and when she heard someone approaching through the woods, she grew afraid. But then she saw that it was only an old woman, and what harm could she be? The woman, as she came closer, began calling, "Apples for sale! Apples for sale!" Snow White loved apples, so she called back, "Come and show me your apples!" The old woman brought the basket over, but Snow White had no money. The crafty queen thought for a moment and replied, "I will give you this apple, which is the loveliest I have, because you are the most beautiful child I have ever seen!" Snow White smiled and took a bite from the apple. She fell to the ground immediately, for of course the queen had given her the poisoned one. She was sure that she had killed Snow White at last. And she hurried back to the castle to consult her mirror again.

The queen, of course, did not know that the fairies were watching over Snow White. They could not prevent her from taking a bite of the poisoned apple, but instead of killing her, the poison only sent her into a deep, deep sleep.

When the dwarfs came home that night, they discovered Snow White lying on the ground in front of their cottage. They assumed she was dead, and brought her inside and lay her in bed, and proceeded to cry and wail over her for three full days.

In the meantime, the queen had returned to her room, and she asked her magic mirror:

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall,

Who is the fairest of them all?"

And the mirror, which, through the spell of the fairies, believed Snow White was dead, replied:

"You, my queen, are the fairest of all."

Now the queen was satisfied that she alone was the most beautiful woman in the realm.

After three days of mourning, the dwarfs knew it was time to bury their dead friend, but they could not bear to put her in the ground, because, even in death, she had lost none of her beauty. So they made her a glass coffin, and placed it near the cottage on a bier of flowers and fragrant branches. The seven dwarfs took turns sitting by the coffin each night, so that Snow White would not be lonely. When they went to work each day, the animals of the forest came and sat by her coffin.

Years passed, and the queen, according to her mirror, was still the most beautiful in all the realm, and yet Snow White still did not decay in her coffin, but retained the beauty she had been born with. One day a handsome young king was passing through the forest, and came upon the dwarfs’ cottage. He saw the glass coffin, and he was overcome by Snow White’s beauty. He begged the dwarfs to let him have the coffin, for he could not bear the thought of never seeing her again. He offered them gold and jewels and power, but they wanted none of it. Then he begged them to give him the coffin as a gift, for truly he did not believe he could survive without her by his side. But they could not let her go, for they loved her, too. So finally he asked them to open the coffin just for a moment, so that he could kiss her before he went on his way. The dwarfs, taking pity on him, agreed. The fairies, who are always nearby, heard the king’s wish, and as his lips touched hers, the spell was broken. Snow White awoke, as young and as beautiful as she had been the day she ate the poisoned apple. The king and the dwarfs rejoiced, and all returned to the young king’s castle, where he and Snow White were eventually married, and they all lived there happily ever after.

The wicked queen, however, was not so fortunate. The very evening that the handsome young king discovered Snow White, the queen asked her mirror:

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall,

Who is the fairest of them all?"

And the mirror answered:

"You, my queen, are a lovely sight,

But the fairest of all is Snow White."

The queen immediately fell dead from shock in front of the mirror. When her servants found her later, her face was contorted into a most unpleasing angry snarl, and everyone at her funeral commented on what a hideous corpse she made…

 


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Adapted by Queen Moon on July 5, 1998