as retold by Denise Sagers
|Edited by Carolyn M. Heard|
Once upon a time in a kingdom far away there lived a very happy king with his beautiful queen. After a few years, the Queen gave birth to a lovely little girl. The child had skin as white as the newly fallen snow, lips the color of blood, and hair as black as ebony. Thus, they decided to call her Snow White.
Not long after this sweet child was born, the beautiful Queen became deathly ill. Much to the sorrow of the King, his beloved wife passed away, leaving him alone with his tiny daughter. He knew without a mother’s care, the baby, whose health was delicate, would die, so he remarried. The woman he chose to become Snow White's stepmother was a stunning sorceress. She had dark brown tresses that fell just below her tiny waist. Full, red lips graced her perfectly oval face. Her delicate fingers tapered into smooth, rounded nails. But for all her outward beauty, the stepmother was shrewd, cold-hearted, and very vain. Each morning when her husband left to attend to his royal duties, the wicked stepmother would venture down the cold, damp stairway to her secret lair, where she would cast evil spells. Lighting the candles on her work table, she would gaze into a large oval mirror. After admiring herself for a moment, she would say to the mirror, "Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?"
The mirror, which was magic, would respond without hesitation, "Hear my voice and know it's true, there's no one in the land as fair as you." The evil Queen, satisfied with this response, would then blow out the candles and, after busying herself with some magic, would return to the main part of the castle.
One day, the King died and left Snow White alone with her wicked stepmother. Despite the tragedy of having lost both parents, Snow White grew to be a good-natured and kind-hearted little girl. As time passed, she became a charming, beautiful princess. So great did she grow in beauty and goodness that one day as the wicked stepmother gazed into her magic mirror and asked, “Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, Who’s the fairest one of all?” the mirror, instead of giving its usual answer, this time replied by saying, "Hear my voice and know it's true, Snow White has become more fair than you!"
Outraged, the queen grabbed a glass vial and shattered it against the stone wall. She paused for a moment to think. Then she hatched a wicked plan. Seizing a velvet-lined wooden box and tucking it beneath her arm, she dashed up the stairs. She did not stop running until she had located the royal woodsman, who was also a hunter. "Woodsman," she panted, "I command you to take Snow White deep into the forest and kill her. Bring me back her heart in this box."
The poor man pleaded with the Queen to save Snow White's life, but when the Queen threatened to kill his family if he did not obey, he reluctantly agreed.
It only took a moment to find the young Snow White picking wildflowers outside the castle walls. Gently, he took her by the hand and led her into the woods, telling her he knew of a place where even more beautiful flowers grew. They hadn't gone far when he stopped. "Snow White," he said. "Your stepmother is a wicked sorceress, and has ordered me to take you into the forest not to pick flowers, but to kill you."
"Oh no!" gasped Snow White.
"Yes, I'm afraid it's true," responded the man. "Snow White, I do not wish to kill you, but if I do not bring back proof that you are dead, the Queen will kill my family. You must run into the woods and never, ever return. I will kill a deer and bring its heart to the Queen and tell her that it is yours."
With these final words, the Woodsman turned and left Snow White alone. He soon found a deer, and drawing his bow, shot an arrow through the animal’s body. He then cut out the heart and placed it in the box to take to the Queen.
The Queen was delighted when she was given the box. She lifted the lid and gazed inside. Then, smiling wickedly, she stole away to her bedchamber to wait for morning, when she could go down to her secret lair and ask her mirror who now was the fairest in the land.
Deep in the heart of the forest, Snow White wandered. Night began closing in all around her. As a chill settled over the land, Snow White covered herself with dried leaves. She closed her eyes and tried to shut out the frightening sounds of the forest. Finally, she slept. The next morning she awoke to the sound of birds chirping. When she opened her eyes, she was surprised to see the deer of the forest all around her, gazing at her with curiosity. She smiled timidly. Suddenly, the animals scattered and Snow White heard the sound of heavy footsteps approaching. She slipped quietly behind a tree to see what it was. Soon came seven little men with long white beards carrying shovels and picks on their shoulders. The sight delighted Snow White, and she giggled. The little menthey were dwarvesstopped and looked in the direction of the sound. With their picks raised, they crept toward the tree behind which Snow White was hiding. A few yards away, they stopped. Finally, the bravest among them tiptoed forward until he came face-to-face with Snow White. After inspecting her for a moment and deciding she was harmless, he lowered his pick to the ground. The other six dwarves joined him.
"What is a young girl like you doing in the middle of the forest?" he asked.
"My wicked stepmother wants to kill me!" responded Snow White. She then related her sad tale. By the time she had finished, the seven dwarves had a plan.
"Why don't you come live with us?" they asked her. "You could cook for us and clean our house while we work in the mines all day. In return, we will protect you and be your friends."
Snow White agreed and followed them to their home. As Snow White took care of the kind-hearted Dwarves, so they took care of her. She cleaned their house and cooked their meals; they brought home diamonds and told her tales of the mines. It was a happy arrangement, but Snow White was often lonely during the day. The Dwarves, concerned that the Queen might find out that Snow White was still alive, warned her never to talk to strangers and never to let any one into the house. Fortunately, no one came by.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, the wicked Queen returned to her magic mirror and said, "Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?"
The mirror responded, "Hear my voice and know it's true, Snow White is still more fair than you!"
"But that is impossible!" screeched the Queen. "Snow White is dead! I saw her heart torn from her body!"
"No," responded the mirror. "What you saw was the heart of a deer. Snow White lives on, deep in the forest, in the cottage of the Seven Dwarves."
The evil Queen resolved then and there to search for cottage of the Seven Dwarves. She went into the forest every day until she found it. The next day, she returned, disguised as young dressmaker. She rapped at the door. Snow White opened it and invited her in. "I'd like to make you a beautiful frock," offered the woman. As the Queen was taking Snow White’s measurements, she wrapped the tape so tightly around the girl’s waist that she stopped breathing and collapsed.
When the Dwarves returned home, they discovered what had happened and quickly loosened the tape measure. Miraculously, Snow White began to breathe and was restored to her normal self. The Dwarves, worried, reminded Snow White not to allow strangers into the cottage.
After the Queen had returned to the castle and found out through her mirror that Snow White was still alive, she was furious. She realized then that more permanent measures had to be taken, so she went to the orchard behind the castle and picked a basket of juicy, crisp red apples. Then, returning to her lair, she chose the most tempting-looking apple and poisoned it on one side. The next morning, disguised as an old hag selling fruit, she returned to the thatched-roof cottage of the Seven Dwarves.
"May I come in?" the old woman called in a raspy voice.
"I'm sorry," replied Snow White, "But I cannot let you in."
"Then come to the window, my child," invited the evil stepmother.
Snow White saw no harm in this and pushed open the shutters.
"Would you like a shiny, juicy apple?" offered the fruit vendor.
Snow White tried to resist, but when the Queen bit from one side of the apple, the side that was not poisoned, to show her how good it was, Snow White decided it must be safe, so she took a bite from the other side. No sooner had her lips touched the skin of the apple than she dropped to the floor, lifeless.
That night when the Dwarves returned and found their precious Snow White on the floor with an apple still clasped in her hand, they knew the wicked Queen must have returned. So sad were they about the loss of their treasure that they placed her in a glass coffin on a golden platform in the heart of the forest so that all who passed by could admire her beauty.
One day, a young prince was out hunting in the forest when he noticed a distant gleam of light. He followed it until he came to the coffin where Snow White lay. Noting her beauty, he leapt from his horse to get a better view. As he did so, his boot became tangled in the stirrup and he fell onto the coffin, knocking it to the ground. This was enough to dislodge the piece of apple from Snow White's throat, and she began to breathe. The Prince pulled himself to his feet and watched as Snow White's eyes fluttered open. Then he gently reached down and helped her to her feet. He climbed back on his horse, lifted her onto the saddle in front of him, and together they rode to his castle. Not long after that, Snow White and the Prince fell in love and were married. The Dwarves attended their wedding and were invited to come and live at their castle.
When the Queen found out what had happened, she was so angry that she began pounding on her mirror. As she did so, she was sucked into the mirror and was never heard from again.
As for Snow White, the Prince, and the Seven Dwarves, they all lived happily ever after.
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Modified August 4, 2006