Grimms' Fairy Tales - 09

to the cellar for the ale.’ So she left the pan on the fire and took a
large jug and went into the cellar and tapped the ale cask. The beer ran
into the jug and Catherine stood looking on. At last it popped into her
head, ‘The dog is not shut up--he may be running away with the steak;
that’s well thought of.’ So up she ran from the cellar; and sure enough
the rascally cur had got the steak in his mouth, and was making off with
Away ran Catherine, and away ran the dog across the field: but he ran
faster than she, and stuck close to the steak. ‘It’s all gone, and “what
can’t be cured must be endured”,’ said Catherine. So she turned round;
and as she had run a good way and was tired, she walked home leisurely
to cool herself.
Now all this time the ale was running too, for Catherine had not turned
the cock; and when the jug was full the liquor ran upon the floor till
the cask was empty. When she got to the cellar stairs she saw what had
happened. ‘My stars!’ said she, ‘what shall I do to keep Frederick from
seeing all this slopping about?’ So she thought a while; and at last
remembered that there was a sack of fine meal bought at the last fair,
and that if she sprinkled this over the floor it would suck up the ale
nicely. ‘What a lucky thing,’ said she, ‘that we kept that meal! we have
now a good use for it.’ So away she went for it: but she managed to set
it down just upon the great jug full of beer, and upset it; and thus
all the ale that had been saved was set swimming on the floor also. ‘Ah!
well,’ said she, ‘when one goes another may as well follow.’ Then she
strewed the meal all about the cellar, and was quite pleased with her
cleverness, and said, ‘How very neat and clean it looks!’
At noon Frederick came home. ‘Now, wife,’ cried he, ‘what have you for
dinner?’ ‘O Frederick!’ answered she, ‘I was cooking you a steak; but
while I went down to draw the ale, the dog ran away with it; and while
I ran after him, the ale ran out; and when I went to dry up the ale
with the sack of meal that we got at the fair, I upset the jug: but the
cellar is now quite dry, and looks so clean!’ ‘Kate, Kate,’ said he,
‘how could you do all this?’ Why did you leave the steak to fry, and the
ale to run, and then spoil all the meal?’ ‘Why, Frederick,’ said she, ‘I
did not know I was doing wrong; you should have told me before.’
The husband thought to himself, ‘If my wife manages matters thus, I must
look sharp myself.’ Now he had a good deal of gold in the house: so he
said to Catherine, ‘What pretty yellow buttons these are! I shall put
them into a box and bury them in the garden; but take care that you
never go near or meddle with them.’ ‘No, Frederick,’ said she, ‘that
I never will.’ As soon as he was gone, there came by some pedlars with
earthenware plates and dishes, and they asked her whether she would buy.
‘Oh dear me, I should like to buy very much, but I have no money: if
you had any use for yellow buttons, I might deal with you.’ ‘Yellow
buttons!’ said they: ‘let us have a look at them.’ ‘Go into the garden
and dig where I tell you, and you will find the yellow buttons: I dare
not go myself.’ So the rogues went: and when they found what these
yellow buttons were, they took them all away, and left her plenty of
plates and dishes. Then she set them all about the house for a show:
and when Frederick came back, he cried out, ‘Kate, what have you been
doing?’ ‘See,’ said she, ‘I have bought all these with your yellow
buttons: but I did not touch them myself; the pedlars went themselves
and dug them up.’ ‘Wife, wife,’ said Frederick, ‘what a pretty piece of
work you have made! those yellow buttons were all my money: how came you
to do such a thing?’ ‘Why,’ answered she, ‘I did not know there was any
harm in it; you should have told me.’
Catherine stood musing for a while, and at last said to her husband,
‘Hark ye, Frederick, we will soon get the gold back: let us run after
the thieves.’ ‘Well, we will try,’ answered he; ‘but take some butter
and cheese with you, that we may have something to eat by the way.’
‘Very well,’ said she; and they set out: and as Frederick walked the
fastest, he left his wife some way behind. ‘It does not matter,’ thought
she: ‘when we turn back, I shall be so much nearer home than he.’
Presently she came to the top of a hill, down the side of which there
was a road so narrow that the cart wheels always chafed the trees
on each side as they passed. ‘Ah, see now,’ said she, ‘how they have
bruised and wounded those poor trees; they will never get well.’ So she
took pity on them, and made use of the butter to grease them all, so
that the wheels might not hurt them so much. While she was doing this
kind office one of her cheeses fell out of the basket, and rolled down
the hill. Catherine looked, but could not see where it had gone; so she
said, ‘Well, I suppose the other will go the same way and find you; he
has younger legs than I have.’ Then she rolled the other cheese after
it; and away it went, nobody knows where, down the hill. But she said
she supposed that they knew the road, and would follow her, and she
could not stay there all day waiting for them.
At last she overtook Frederick, who desired her to give him something to
eat. Then she gave him the dry bread. ‘Where are the butter and cheese?’
said he. ‘Oh!’ answered she, ‘I used the butter to grease those poor
trees that the wheels chafed so: and one of the cheeses ran away so I
sent the other after it to find it, and I suppose they are both on
the road together somewhere.’ ‘What a goose you are to do such silly
things!’ said the husband. ‘How can you say so?’ said she; ‘I am sure
you never told me not.’
They ate the dry bread together; and Frederick said, ‘Kate, I hope you
locked the door safe when you came away.’ ‘No,’ answered she, ‘you did
not tell me.’ ‘Then go home, and do it now before we go any farther,’
said Frederick, ‘and bring with you something to eat.’
Catherine did as he told her, and thought to herself by the way,
‘Frederick wants something to eat; but I don’t think he is very fond of
butter and cheese: I’ll bring him a bag of fine nuts, and the vinegar,
for I have often seen him take some.’
When she reached home, she bolted the back door, but the front door she
took off the hinges, and said, ‘Frederick told me to lock the door, but
surely it can nowhere be so safe if I take it with me.’ So she took
her time by the way; and when she overtook her husband she cried
out, ‘There, Frederick, there is the door itself, you may watch it as
carefully as you please.’ ‘Alas! alas!’ said he, ‘what a clever wife I
have! I sent you to make the house fast, and you take the door away, so
that everybody may go in and out as they please--however, as you have
brought the door, you shall carry it about with you for your pains.’
‘Very well,’ answered she, ‘I’ll carry the door; but I’ll not carry the
nuts and vinegar bottle also--that would be too much of a load; so if
you please, I’ll fasten them to the door.’
Frederick of course made no objection to that plan, and they set off
into the wood to look for the thieves; but they could not find them: and
when it grew dark, they climbed up into a tree to spend the night there.
Scarcely were they up, than who should come by but the very rogues they
were looking for. They were in truth great rascals, and belonged to that
class of people who find things before they are lost; they were tired;
so they sat down and made a fire under the very tree where Frederick and
Catherine were. Frederick slipped down on the other side, and picked up
some stones. Then he climbed up again, and tried to hit the thieves on
the head with them: but they only said, ‘It must be near morning, for
the wind shakes the fir-apples down.’
Catherine, who had the door on her shoulder, began to be very tired;
but she thought it was the nuts upon it that were so heavy: so she said
softly, ‘Frederick, I must let the nuts go.’ ‘No,’ answered he, ‘not
now, they will discover us.’ ‘I can’t help that: they must go.’ ‘Well,
then, make haste and throw them down, if you will.’ Then away rattled
the nuts down among the boughs and one of the thieves cried, ‘Bless me,
it is hailing.’
A little while after, Catherine thought the door was still very heavy:
so she whispered to Frederick, ‘I must throw the vinegar down.’ ‘Pray
don’t,’ answered he, ‘it will discover us.’ ‘I can’t help that,’ said
she, ‘go it must.’ So she poured all the vinegar down; and the thieves
said, ‘What a heavy dew there is!’
At last it popped into Catherine’s head that it was the door itself that
was so heavy all the time: so she whispered, ‘Frederick, I must throw
the door down soon.’ But he begged and prayed her not to do so, for he
was sure it would betray them. ‘Here goes, however,’ said she: and down
went the door with such a clatter upon the thieves, that they cried
out ‘Murder!’ and not knowing what was coming, ran away as fast as they
could, and left all the gold. So when Frederick and Catherine came down,
there they found all their money safe and sound.


There was once upon a time a woman who was a real witch and had two
daughters, one ugly and wicked, and this one she loved because she was
her own daughter, and one beautiful and good, and this one she hated,
because she was her stepdaughter. The stepdaughter once had a pretty
apron, which the other fancied so much that she became envious, and
told her mother that she must and would have that apron. ‘Be quiet, my
child,’ said the old woman, ‘and you shall have it. Your stepsister has
long deserved death; tonight when she is asleep I will come and cut her
head off. Only be careful that you are at the far side of the bed, and
push her well to the front.’ It would have been all over with the poor
girl if she had not just then been standing in a corner, and heard
everything. All day long she dared not go out of doors, and when bedtime
had come, the witch’s daughter got into bed first, so as to lie at the
far side, but when she was asleep, the other pushed her gently to the
front, and took for herself the place at the back, close by the wall. In
the night, the old woman came creeping in, she held an axe in her right
hand, and felt with her left to see if anyone were lying at the outside,
and then she grasped the axe with both hands, and cut her own child’s
head off.
When she had gone away, the girl got up and went to her sweetheart, who
was called Roland, and knocked at his door. When he came out, she said
to him: ‘Listen, dearest Roland, we must fly in all haste; my stepmother
wanted to kill me, but has struck her own child. When daylight comes,
and she sees what she has done, we shall be lost.’ ‘But,’ said Roland,
‘I counsel you first to take away her magic wand, or we cannot escape
if she pursues us.’ The maiden fetched the magic wand, and she took the
dead girl’s head and dropped three drops of blood on the ground, one in
front of the bed, one in the kitchen, and one on the stairs. Then she
hurried away with her lover.
When the old witch got up next morning, she called her daughter, and
wanted to give her the apron, but she did not come. Then the witch
cried: ‘Where are you?’ ‘Here, on the stairs, I am sweeping,’ answered
the first drop of blood. The old woman went out, but saw no one on the
stairs, and cried again: ‘Where are you?’ ‘Here in the kitchen, I am
warming myself,’ cried the second drop of blood. She went into the
kitchen, but found no one. Then she cried again: ‘Where are you?’ ‘Ah,
here in the bed, I am sleeping,’ cried the third drop of blood. She went
into the room to the bed. What did she see there? Her own child,
whose head she had cut off, bathed in her blood. The witch fell into
a passion, sprang to the window, and as she could look forth quite far
into the world, she perceived her stepdaughter hurrying away with her
sweetheart Roland. ‘That shall not help you,’ cried she, ‘even if you
have got a long way off, you shall still not escape me.’ She put on her
many-league boots, in which she covered an hour’s walk at every step,
and it was not long before she overtook them. The girl, however, when
she saw the old woman striding towards her, changed, with her magic
wand, her sweetheart Roland into a lake, and herself into a duck
swimming in the middle of it. The witch placed herself on the shore,
threw breadcrumbs in, and went to endless trouble to entice the duck;
but the duck did not let herself be enticed, and the old woman had to
go home at night as she had come. At this the girl and her sweetheart
Roland resumed their natural shapes again, and they walked on the whole
night until daybreak. Then the maiden changed herself into a beautiful
flower which stood in the midst of a briar hedge, and her sweetheart
Roland into a fiddler. It was not long before the witch came striding up
towards them, and said to the musician: ‘Dear musician, may I pluck that
beautiful flower for myself?’ ‘Oh, yes,’ he replied, ‘I will play to
you while you do it.’ As she was hastily creeping into the hedge and was
just going to pluck the flower, knowing perfectly well who the flower
was, he began to play, and whether she would or not, she was forced
to dance, for it was a magical dance. The faster he played, the more
violent springs was she forced to make, and the thorns tore her clothes
from her body, and pricked her and wounded her till she bled, and as he
did not stop, she had to dance till she lay dead on the ground.
As they were now set free, Roland said: ‘Now I will go to my father and
arrange for the wedding.’ ‘Then in the meantime I will stay here and
wait for you,’ said the girl, ‘and that no one may recognize me, I will
change myself into a red stone landmark.’ Then Roland went away, and the
girl stood like a red landmark in the field and waited for her beloved.
But when Roland got home, he fell into the snares of another, who so
fascinated him that he forgot the maiden. The poor girl remained there a
long time, but at length, as he did not return at all, she was sad, and
changed herself into a flower, and thought: ‘Someone will surely come
this way, and trample me down.’
It befell, however, that a shepherd kept his sheep in the field and saw
the flower, and as it was so pretty, plucked it, took it with him, and
laid it away in his chest. From that time forth, strange things happened
in the shepherd’s house. When he arose in the morning, all the work was
already done, the room was swept, the table and benches cleaned, the
fire in the hearth was lighted, and the water was fetched, and at noon,
when he came home, the table was laid, and a good dinner served. He
could not conceive how this came to pass, for he never saw a human being
in his house, and no one could have concealed himself in it. He was
certainly pleased with this good attendance, but still at last he was so
afraid that he went to a wise woman and asked for her advice. The wise
woman said: ‘There is some enchantment behind it, listen very early some
morning if anything is moving in the room, and if you see anything, no
matter what it is, throw a white cloth over it, and then the magic will
be stopped.’
The shepherd did as she bade him, and next morning just as day dawned,
he saw the chest open, and the flower come out. Swiftly he
sprang towards it, and threw a white cloth over it. Instantly the
transformation came to an end, and a beautiful girl stood before him,
who admitted to him that she had been the flower, and that up to this
time she had attended to his house-keeping. She told him her story,
and as she pleased him he asked her if she would marry him, but she
answered: ‘No,’ for she wanted to remain faithful to her sweetheart
Roland, although he had deserted her. Nevertheless, she promised not to
go away, but to continue keeping house for the shepherd.
And now the time drew near when Roland’s wedding was to be celebrated,
and then, according to an old custom in the country, it was announced
that all the girls were to be present at it, and sing in honour of the
bridal pair. When the faithful maiden heard of this, she grew so sad
that she thought her heart would break, and she would not go thither,
but the other girls came and took her. When it came to her turn to sing,
she stepped back, until at last she was the only one left, and then she
could not refuse. But when she began her song, and it reached Roland’s
ears, he sprang up and cried: ‘I know the voice, that is the true
bride, I will have no other!’ Everything he had forgotten, and which had
vanished from his mind, had suddenly come home again to his heart. Then
the faithful maiden held her wedding with her sweetheart Roland, and
grief came to an end and joy began.


It was the middle of winter, when the broad flakes of snow were falling
around, that the queen of a country many thousand miles off sat working
at her window. The frame of the window was made of fine black ebony, and
as she sat looking out upon the snow, she pricked her finger, and three
drops of blood fell upon it. Then she gazed thoughtfully upon the red
drops that sprinkled the white snow, and said, ‘Would that my little
daughter may be as white as that snow, as red as that blood, and as
black as this ebony windowframe!’ And so the little girl really did grow
up; her skin was as white as snow, her cheeks as rosy as the blood, and
her hair as black as ebony; and she was called Snowdrop.
But this queen died; and the king soon married another wife, who became
queen, and was very beautiful, but so vain that she could not bear
to think that anyone could be handsomer than she was. She had a fairy
looking-glass, to which she used to go, and then she would gaze upon
herself in it, and say:
‘Tell me, glass, tell me true!
Of all the ladies in the land,
Who is fairest, tell me, who?’
And the glass had always answered:
‘Thou, queen, art the fairest in all the land.’
But Snowdrop grew more and more beautiful; and when she was seven years
old she was as bright as the day, and fairer than the queen herself.
Then the glass one day answered the queen, when she went to look in it
as usual:
‘Thou, queen, art fair, and beauteous to see,
But Snowdrop is lovelier far than thee!’
When she heard this she turned pale with rage and envy, and called to
one of her servants, and said, ‘Take Snowdrop away into the wide wood,
that I may never see her any more.’ Then the servant led her away; but
his heart melted when Snowdrop begged him to spare her life, and he
said, ‘I will not hurt you, thou pretty child.’ So he left her by
herself; and though he thought it most likely that the wild beasts would
tear her in pieces, he felt as if a great weight were taken off his
heart when he had made up his mind not to kill her but to leave her to
her fate, with the chance of someone finding and saving her.
Then poor Snowdrop wandered along through the wood in great fear; and
the wild beasts roared about her, but none did her any harm. In the
evening she came to a cottage among the hills, and went in to rest, for
her little feet would carry her no further. Everything was spruce and
neat in the cottage: on the table was spread a white cloth, and there
were seven little plates, seven little loaves, and seven little glasses
with wine in them; and seven knives and forks laid in order; and by
the wall stood seven little beds. As she was very hungry, she picked
a little piece of each loaf and drank a very little wine out of each
glass; and after that she thought she would lie down and rest. So she
tried all the little beds; but one was too long, and another was too
short, till at last the seventh suited her: and there she laid herself
down and went to sleep.
By and by in came the masters of the cottage. Now they were seven little
dwarfs, that lived among the mountains, and dug and searched for gold.
They lighted up their seven lamps, and saw at once that all was not
right. The first said, ‘Who has been sitting on my stool?’ The second,
‘Who has been eating off my plate?’ The third, ‘Who has been picking my
bread?’ The fourth, ‘Who has been meddling with my spoon?’ The fifth,
‘Who has been handling my fork?’ The sixth, ‘Who has been cutting with
my knife?’ The seventh, ‘Who has been drinking my wine?’ Then the first
looked round and said, ‘Who has been lying on my bed?’ And the rest came
running to him, and everyone cried out that somebody had been upon his
bed. But the seventh saw Snowdrop, and called all his brethren to come
and see her; and they cried out with wonder and astonishment and brought
their lamps to look at her, and said, ‘Good heavens! what a lovely child
she is!’ And they were very glad to see her, and took care not to wake
her; and the seventh dwarf slept an hour with each of the other dwarfs
in turn, till the night was gone.
In the morning Snowdrop told them all her story; and they pitied her,
and said if she would keep all things in order, and cook and wash and
knit and spin for them, she might stay where she was, and they would
take good care of her. Then they went out all day long to their work,
seeking for gold and silver in the mountains: but Snowdrop was left at
home; and they warned her, and said, ‘The queen will soon find out where
you are, so take care and let no one in.’
But the queen, now that she thought Snowdrop was dead, believed that she
must be the handsomest lady in the land; and she went to her glass and
‘Tell me, glass, tell me true!
Of all the ladies in the land,
Who is fairest, tell me, who?’
And the glass answered:
‘Thou, queen, art the fairest in all this land:
But over the hills, in the greenwood shade,
Where the seven dwarfs their dwelling have made,
There Snowdrop is hiding her head; and she
Is lovelier far, O queen! than thee.’
Then the queen was very much frightened; for she knew that the glass
always spoke the truth, and was sure that the servant had betrayed her.
And she could not bear to think that anyone lived who was more beautiful
than she was; so she dressed herself up as an old pedlar, and went
her way over the hills, to the place where the dwarfs dwelt. Then she
knocked at the door, and cried, ‘Fine wares to sell!’ Snowdrop looked
out at the window, and said, ‘Good day, good woman! what have you to
sell?’ ‘Good wares, fine wares,’ said she; ‘laces and bobbins of all
colours.’ ‘I will let the old lady in; she seems to be a very good
sort of body,’ thought Snowdrop, as she ran down and unbolted the door.
‘Bless me!’ said the old woman, ‘how badly your stays are laced! Let me
lace them up with one of my nice new laces.’ Snowdrop did not dream of
any mischief; so she stood before the old woman; but she set to work
so nimbly, and pulled the lace so tight, that Snowdrop’s breath was
stopped, and she fell down as if she were dead. ‘There’s an end to all
thy beauty,’ said the spiteful queen, and went away home.
In the evening the seven dwarfs came home; and I need not say how
grieved they were to see their faithful Snowdrop stretched out upon the
ground, as if she was quite dead. However, they lifted her up, and when
they found what ailed her, they cut the lace; and in a little time she
began to breathe, and very soon came to life again. Then they said, ‘The
old woman was the queen herself; take care another time, and let no one
in when we are away.’
When the queen got home, she went straight to her glass, and spoke to it
as before; but to her great grief it still said:
‘Thou, queen, art the fairest in all this land:
But over the hills, in the greenwood shade,
Where the seven dwarfs their dwelling have made,
There Snowdrop is hiding her head; and she
Is lovelier far, O queen! than thee.’
Then the blood ran cold in her heart with spite and malice, to see that
Snowdrop still lived; and she dressed herself up again, but in quite
another dress from the one she wore before, and took with her a poisoned
comb. When she reached the dwarfs’ cottage, she knocked at the door, and
cried, ‘Fine wares to sell!’ But Snowdrop said, ‘I dare not let anyone
in.’ Then the queen said, ‘Only look at my beautiful combs!’ and gave
her the poisoned one. And it looked so pretty, that she took it up and
put it into her hair to try it; but the moment it touched her head,
the poison was so powerful that she fell down senseless. ‘There you may
lie,’ said the queen, and went her way. But by good luck the dwarfs
came in very early that evening; and when they saw Snowdrop lying on
the ground, they thought what had happened, and soon found the poisoned
comb. And when they took it away she got well, and told them all that
had passed; and they warned her once more not to open the door to
Meantime the queen went home to her glass, and shook with rage when she
read the very same answer as before; and she said, ‘Snowdrop shall die,
if it cost me my life.’ So she went by herself into her chamber, and got
ready a poisoned apple: the outside looked very rosy and tempting, but
whoever tasted it was sure to die. Then she dressed herself up as a
peasant’s wife, and travelled over the hills to the dwarfs’ cottage,
and knocked at the door; but Snowdrop put her head out of the window and
said, ‘I dare not let anyone in, for the dwarfs have told me not.’ ‘Do
as you please,’ said the old woman, ‘but at any rate take this pretty
apple; I will give it you.’ ‘No,’ said Snowdrop, ‘I dare not take it.’
‘You silly girl!’ answered the other, ‘what are you afraid of? Do you
think it is poisoned? Come! do you eat one part, and I will eat the
other.’ Now the apple was so made up that one side was good, though the
other side was poisoned. Then Snowdrop was much tempted to taste, for
the apple looked so very nice; and when she saw the old woman eat, she
could wait no longer. But she had scarcely put the piece into her mouth,
when she fell down dead upon the ground. ‘This time nothing will save
thee,’ said the queen; and she went home to her glass, and at last it
‘Thou, queen, art the fairest of all the fair.’
And then her wicked heart was glad, and as happy as such a heart could
When evening came, and the dwarfs had gone home, they found Snowdrop
lying on the ground: no breath came from her lips, and they were afraid
that she was quite dead. They lifted her up, and combed her hair, and
washed her face with wine and water; but all was in vain, for the little
girl seemed quite dead. So they laid her down upon a bier, and all seven
watched and bewailed her three whole days; and then they thought they
would bury her: but her cheeks were still rosy; and her face looked just
as it did while she was alive; so they said, ‘We will never bury her in
the cold ground.’ And they made a coffin of glass, so that they might
still look at her, and wrote upon it in golden letters what her name
was, and that she was a king’s daughter. And the coffin was set among
the hills, and one of the dwarfs always sat by it and watched. And the
birds of the air came too, and bemoaned Snowdrop; and first of all came
an owl, and then a raven, and at last a dove, and sat by her side.
And thus Snowdrop lay for a long, long time, and still only looked as
though she was asleep; for she was even now as white as snow, and as red
as blood, and as black as ebony. At last a prince came and called at the
dwarfs’ house; and he saw Snowdrop, and read what was written in golden
letters. Then he offered the dwarfs money, and prayed and besought them
to let him take her away; but they said, ‘We will not part with her for
all the gold in the world.’ At last, however, they had pity on him, and
gave him the coffin; but the moment he lifted it up to carry it home
with him, the piece of apple fell from between her lips, and Snowdrop
awoke, and said, ‘Where am I?’ And the prince said, ‘Thou art quite safe
with me.’
Then he told her all that had happened, and said, ‘I love you far better
than all the world; so come with me to my father’s palace, and you shall
be my wife.’ And Snowdrop consented, and went home with the prince;