From the Grim Brothers
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 rosebushes 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 accident 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 summer time 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, laid a little lamb, and on a perch behind them a little white dove reposed with her head 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 him 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 Dwarf’s 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 sneck 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 wood 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, gaping goose!” exclaimed he. “I wanted to have split the tree, in order to get a little wood for my kitchen, for the little wood which we use is soon burned up with great fagots, 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 dumfounded?”
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 lay 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 weak 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. Now he has received his well-deserved punishment.”
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.