Very soon after this the queen had a little daughter who was very fair, had rosy cheeks, and hair as black as ebony; and they gave her the name of Snow-white. But at the birth of the little child the queen died.
When Snow-white was a year old, the king took another wife. She was veryhandsome, but so proud and vain that she could not endure that anyone should surpass her in beauty. She possessed a wonderfulmirror, and when she stood before it to look at herself she would say:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Am I most beautiful of all?"
Then the mirror would reply:
"Young queen, thou are so wondrous fair,
None can with thee at all compare."
Then she would go away quitecontented, for she knew the magic mirror could speak only the truth.
Years went by, and as Snow-white grew up, she became day after day more beautiful, till she reached the age of seven years, and then people began to talk about her, and say that she would be more lovely even than the queen herself. So the proud woman went to her magic looking-glass, and asked:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall,Am I most beautiful of all?"
But the mirror answered:
"Queen, thou are lovely still to see,
But Snow-white will be
A thousand times more beautiful than thee."
Then the queen was terrified, and turned green and yellow with jealousy. If she had caught sight of Snow-white at that moment, she would have been ready to tear her heart out of her body, she hated the maiden so fiercely.
Andthis jealousy and envy grew every day stronger and stronger in her heart, like a disease, till she had no rest day or night.
At last she sent for a hunter, who lived near a forest, and said to him, "Hunter, I want to get rid of that child. Take her out into the wood, and if you bring me some proofs that she is dead, I will reward you handsomely. Never let her appear before my eyes again."
Sothe hunter enticed the child into the wood; but when he took out his hunting-knife to thrust into Snow-white's innocent heart, she fell on her knees and wept, and said, "Ah, dear hunter, leave me my life; I will run away into the wild wood, and never, never come home any more."
She looked so innocent and beautiful as she knelt, that the hunter's heart was moved with compassion: "Run away, then,thou poor child," he cried; "I cannot harm thee."
Snow-white thanked him so sweetly, and was out of sight in a few moments.
"She will be devoured by wild beasts," he said to himself. But the thought that he had not killed her was as if a stone-weight had been lifted from his heart.
To satisfy the queen, he took part of the inside of a young fawn, which the wicked woman thought was poorlittle Snow-white, and was overjoyed to think she was dead.
But the poor little motherless child, when she found herself alone in the wood, and saw nothing but trees and leaves, was dreadfully frightened, and knew not what to do. At last she began to run over the sharp stones and through the thorns, and though the wild beasts sprang out before her, they did her no harm. She ran on as long as shecould till her little feet became quite sore; and towards evening she saw, to her great joy, a pretty little house. So she went up to it, and found the door open and no one at home.
It was a tiny little house, but everything in it was so clean and neat and elegant that it is beyond description. In the middle of the room stood a small table, covered with a snow-white table-cloth, ready for...