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IT was in the middle of winter, when the broad flakes of snow were falling around, that a certain queen sat working at a window, the frame of which was made of fine black ebony; and as she was 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 which sprinkled the white snow, and said, ‘Would that my little daughter may be as white as that snow, as red as the blood, and as black as the ebony window-frame !’ And so the little girl grew 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 Snow-drop. But this queen died; and the king soon married another wife, who was very beautiful, but so proud that she could not bear to think that any one could surpass her. She bad a magical looking-glass, to which she used to go and gaze upon herself in it, and say, ‘Tell me, glass, tell me true! Of all the ladies in the land, Who Is the fairest? tell me who?’ And the glass answered, ‘Thou, queen, art fairest In the land.’ But Snow-drop 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 consult it as usual, ‘Thou, queen, may’st fair and beauteous be, But Snow-drop 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 Snow-drop away into the wide wood, that I may never see her more.’ Then the servant led her away; but his heart melted when she begged him to spare her life, and he said, ‘I will not hurt thee, thou pretty child.’ So he left her by herself; and though bethought it most likely that the wild beasts would tear her in pieces, be felt as if a great weight were taken off his heart when he had made up his mind not to kill her, but leave her to her fate. Then poor Snow-drop 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 little cottage, and went in there to rest herself for her little feet would carry her no farther. Every thing was spruce and neat in the cottage : on the table was spread a white cloth, and there were seven little plates with seven little loaves, and seven little glasses with wine in them; and knives and forks laid in order; and by the wall stood seven little beds. Then, as she was very hungry, she picked a little piece off 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; and 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. Presently in came the masters of the cottage, who were seven little dwarfs that lived among the mountains, and dug and searched for gold. They lighted up their seven lamps, and saw directly 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 every one cried out that somebody had been upon his bed. But the seventh saw Snow-drop, and called all his brethren to come and see her; and then 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 delighted 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, Snow-drop 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; and Snow-drop remained 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 Snow-drop was dead, believed that she was certainly the handsomest lady in the land; and she went to her glass and said, ‘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 Snow-drop is biding her head, and she Is lovelier far, O queen! than thee.’ Then the queen was very much alarmed; 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 any one lived who was more beautiful than she was; so she disguised herself as an old pedlar, and went her way over the bills to the place where the dwarfs dwelt. Then she knocked at the door, and cried ‘Fine wares to sell!’ Snow-drop 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 Snow-drop; so she ran down, and unbolted the door. ‘Bless me!’ said the old woman, ‘bow badly your stays are laced! Let me lace them up with one of my nice new laces.’ Snow-drop did not dream of any mischief; so she stood up before the old woman; but she set to work so nimbly, and pulled the lace so tight, that Snowdrop lost her breath, and fell down as if she were dead. ‘There’s an end of all thy beauty,’ said the spiteful queen, and went away home. In the evening the seven dwarfs returned; and I need not say how grieved they were to see their faithful Snow-drop stretched upon the ground motionless, as if she were quite dead. However, they lifted her up, and when they found what was the matter, they cut the lace; and in a little time she began to breathe, and 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 usual; but to her great surprise 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 Snow-drop 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 Snow-drop still lived; and she dressed herself up again in a disguise, but very different 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 Snow-drop 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 returned very early ...