Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs/Scene 1
The Throne Room in
Queen Brangomar's Palace
The Throne Room is a fine apartment, hung with blue damask embroidered with silver peacocks—birds of which Queen Brangomar is very fond. At the back wide steps lead to a terrace of white marble. Beyond shines the blue sea. On one side stands the great throne, inlaid with coloured mosaics. Opposite is an entrance leading to the other rooms of the palace.
When the Play begins, seven of the Maids of Honour to Princess Snow White are playing a game with coloured balls. They are little girls about twelve years old, and their names are Rosalys, Amelotte, Ermengarde, Guinivere, Christabel, Ursula and Linnette. As they play they sing:
- Maids of Honour.
High and low,
High and low,
- Round about and 'cross they go.
Blue and green,
Gold and white,
- Toss them true and hold them tight.
Miss a ball,
Let it fall,
- Make the least mistake at all;
One, two, three,
Out goes she!
- One, two, three, and out goes she!
[Just here Rosalys does miss, and the oth- ers rush to "tag" her, crying, "Rosalys is out!" "Rosalys is out!"
Rosalys. I don't care. It's not an interesting game anyway!
Christabel. Play again?
Ermengarde. One game.
Guinivere. I will.
- [But just as they are about to begin again, Sir Dandiprat Bombas, the court Chamberlain, appears on the terrace. He is a fat, puffy little man, with an enormous wig and a great sense of his own importance.
Sir Dandiprat. Ah, young ladies . . . What? Playing in the Throne Room? Tut, tut! Tut, tut!
Maids of Honour. Oh, please don't tell.
Don't tell the Queen. We didn't break anything.
Sir Dandiprat. No, on the whole I won't tell her Majesty. She might blame me. As I was going to say, I have an important announcement to make. Since Lady Cecily was sent home with the mumps your usual number, eight, has been reduced to seven. Am I right? One from eight leaves seven I think? [He tries to do the sum on his fingers.]
Rosalys. Yes, it is seven.
Sir Dandiprat. I am right. Her Majesty the Queen wishes your number kept complete, so I have brought another young lady to take the vacant place. [He leads on little Lady Astolaine and presents her:] The Lady Astolaine. These are the Maids of Honour to the Princess Snow White.
- [Lady Astolaine curtsies to the Maids of Honour and they in turn curtsey to her. Sir Dandiprat goes on
You must teach Lady Astolaine all she ought to know as a Maid of Honour. You'd better teach her your gavotte first; you may have to dance it almost immediately. [And the little man dances a few steps, puffing out the tune meantime:]"Tum, tum, tum, ti; dum, tum, tum, ti! And how to make a proper curtsey—so. [And he tries to make one.] And how to retire backwards gracefully—so! [But as he retires backwards he stumbles against the terrace steps, and falls flat on his back. He is so embarrassed by this mishap that he scrambles out of the room as fast as he can, puffing:] Gracefully, young ladies! Gracefully! Gracefully! [till he is out of sight].
Astolaine. [Laughing].] Who's that old thing?
Rosalys. [Mimicking Sir Dandiprat's voice and strut.] That's Sir Dandiprat Bombas, Court Chamberlain to the Queen.
Christabel. He gives us our instructions."
Ermengarde. But we don't mind him.
Astolaine. Do you have good times here?
Rosalys. Splendid; except [confidentially] when the Queen is especially cross.
Christabel. And then, oh me! we have to be careful!
Astolaine. I don't think I shall like the Queen!
Maids of Honour. [Hastily] Ssh! Astolaine. Why, ssh?
Rosalys. [Whispering.] Never say anything uncomplimentary about the Queen!
Maids of Honour. [Loudly, intending to be overheard.] We all adore the Queen! [But they shake their heads, and make little faces to show Astolaine that they don't mean it.]
Astolaine. [Whispering.] I shall hate the Queen!
Maids of Honour. [Also whispering.] We all do!
Astolaine. But I'm to be Maid of Honour to the Princess Snow White, so I'll take my orders from her.
Rosalys. Oh, Snow White never gives orders.
Astolaine. I shall like her. When shall I see her?
Christabel. Sometimes, every day; and then again not for ever so long. It just depends on the Queen's temper.
appears on the terrace.
Ermengarde. And how much Snow White has to do.
Astolaine. I thought a Princess never had anything to do.
Christabel. [Confidentially.] Well, you see, Snow White isn't exactly a regular Princess.
Rosalys. Why, Christabel! Of course she's a regular Princess, but . . .
Astolaine. But what? [Wonderingly.] You don't hate Snow White too?
Maids of Honour. [In indignant chorus.] Hate Snow White! The idea! She's the dearest! Loveliest! Kindest! We just adore her!
Rosalys. [To the others] Oh, do you think we could get Snow White to come and see Astolaine now, while we're all alone?
Christabel. Oh, let's try! [And all the little Maids hop up and down and clap their hands with glee at the idea.]
Rosalys. Where is she?
Christabel. Kitchen, I think. She said she had to bake bread first and cookies afterward.
Rosalys. Bread is important, but cookies aren't. Anyway it can't do any harm to ask her.
Amelotte. I'll go ! I'll go ! [And off she darts to the kitchen.]
Astolaine. [Wonderingly.] But what is the Princess doing in the kitchen?
Rosalys. Of course you don't understand about Snow White yet. It's a court secret. [To the others] But I think we ought to tell her right away, don't you? before she sees Snow White, or she might think . . .
- [They evidently agree, for they all rush at Astolaine and begin to speak at once.
Maids of Honour. I'll tell her! No, let me, I know! Snow White was born . . . This Oueen isn't her real mother. It's like a fairy-tale!
Astolaine. [Stopping her ears] I can't possibly understand if you all talk at once. [But each little Maid, thinking that the others will stop, again begins to tell Snow White's story, so that the confusion is worse than before. Astolaine has to hold her ears a second time.] That's worse! There's only one fair way to decide. I'll "count out," and the one that's out shall tell.
Rosalys. Hm! I suppose that's fair, —only I should tell it so much the best.
Christabel. [To Astolaine.] Well then, you count.
- [So Astolainesings the "Counting-out Song," counting as she sings.
"Intry, mintry, cutry, corn,
"Apple seed and apple thorn ;
"Wire, briar, limber, lock,
"Five grey geese in a flock.
"Eeny, meeny, mona, mi,
"Bassalona, bona stri.
"One, two, three,
"Out goes she!
"Out goes she!"
- [The last count falls on Rosalys.
Maids of Honour. [Regretfully.] Oh, it's Rosalys!
Rosalys. I was so afraid it wouldn't be me. Come over here where we can talk quietly. [She runs to the throne and climbs into the big seat. The others cuddle close beside her.] Now, nobody must interrupt, except by 'spress permission. Button mouths! First, Queen Brangomar isn't Snow White's real mother.
Astolaine. Oh, I know that! Christabel. But my father says that her real father and mother were the best King and Queen . . .
Rosalys. [Glaring at Christabel.] What about interrupting?
Christabel. I forgot. 'Scuse me! [And she "buttons" her mouth again.]
Rosalys. [Continuing. ] One day in winter before Snow White was born, her real mother was sitting by the window embroidering at an ebony frame. And she pricked her finger, so she opened the window and shook the drop of blood on the snow outside. And it looked so beautiful that she said, "Oh, how I wish I had a little daughter with hair as black as ebony, skin as white as snow, and lips as red as blood. She'd never had a baby before; but a little while after a baby daughter was born with ...
Maids of Honour. [Chanting impressively.] Hair as black as ebony, skin as white as snow, and lips as red as blood.
Astolaine. So that's why they named her Snow White.
Rosalys. But then Snow White's mother died; and I suppose the King thought there ought to be somebody to mind the baby, for he married Queen Brangomar—she's Queen now.
Astolaine. Oh, I see! Rosalys. As long as the King lived, Queen Brangomar was as sweet as sugar to Snow White.
Christabel. [Interrupting in a whisper.] I am glad she was ever nice to somebody.
Rosalys. But after he died, then [She pauses impressively.]
Astolaine. Then . . . what?
Rosalys. Then she grew awfully jealous of Snow White.
Astolaine. Not really?
Ermengarde. Of course everybody loved the Princess best.
Christabel. And Brangomar really is the horridest woman !
Rosalys. Ssh! First she pretended that Snow White might grow up vain, so she took away all her princessy clothes and made her wear old, rag-baggety things.
Christabel. Then she pretended that she might grow up lazy, so she made her sweep and dust the Palace.
Rosalys. And Snow White is really almost like a kitchen-maid, and sleeps in a little closet under the stairs where we keep the umbrellas and overshoes.
Astolaine. [Springing up.] I think it's outrageous! Why does Princess Snow White stand it? I wouldn't?
Maids of Honour. [Apprehensively.] Oh, ssh!
Astolaine. Why "ssh"? I never heard anything so "sshy" as this Palace.
Rosalys. [Whispering.] But what can she do? The Queen...
Astolaine. I don't want to hear any more about that hateful Queen.
Rosalys. But you must. It isn't safe that you shouldn't. We'll have to tell her. [To Christabel.] You tell. Christabel. No, you. It makes me feel all creepy.
Rosalys. [To Emengarde.] Well. you!
Emengarde. No! You were counted out.
Astolaine. Well, please somebody!
Rosalys. Oh, dear! [She goes in a hushed whisper.] The reason it's not safe to do or say anything against the Queen is—that she might magic you!
Astolaine. What do you mean?
Rosalys. Enchant you, bewitch you;—do some terrible magic thing to you!
Astolaine. You don't mean that she's a . . . Witch? [The others not silently, and snuglle closer together.]
Rosalys. If she isn't a Witch herself she is friends with one. You see she must really be very old.
Christabel. She's thirty if she's a minute. Rosalys. And she's still the most beautiful woman in the Seven Kingdoms.
Christabel. And once a chamber-maid found a broom-stick, the kind that witches rid on, in her bed-room.
Rosalys. So you see if you did anything against her she might magic you, and turn you into a toad.
Ermengarde. Or a toad.
Rosalys. Or a caterpillar.
Christabel. Or something worse.
Astolaine. There isn't anything worse than a caterpillar! Oh, I want to go home! I am afraid! [And she bursts into tears. The others gather about to comfort her.]
Maids of Honour. Please, Astolaine, there's really nothing to be afraid of. It's all right, honestly. The Queen hardly every notices us! And we all want you to stay, for we like you ever so much.
Rosalys. [In despair.] Oh, if Snow White would only come now! Then she wouldn't want to go home.
- [Just at this moment Amelotte reappears in the doorway.
Amelotte. Princess Snow White says she'll come if nobody's here.
Guinivere. There isn't anybody.
Amelotte. She'll come! She'll come! She's right here! [And she darts out of sight again.]
Rosalys. Oh, she's coming! Snow White's coming! Now you'll see!
- [In joyous excitement the Maids of Honour join hands and dance a "ring-around," and then wind up into a little squirming knot, hugging each other and dancing up and down.
Amelotte. [Re-entering, announces.] The Princess Snow White!
- [Instantly the Maids of Honour separate and kneel to receive their little Princess.
- [Snow White appears in the doorway. She is dressed in a frock of ragged black, and she has on neither shoes nor stockings. Nevertheless she has the air of a little Princess.
Snow White. Is this my new playmate, Lady Astolaine? I hope you'll like me.
Astolaine. [Kissing the hand which Snow White holds out to her.] I love you already, dear Princess.
- [Like a little flight of birds the Maids of Honour run to surround Snow White.
Maids of Honour. We all love you, dear Princess!
Snow White. [Laughing down at them.] And I love you, all of you! But did you want anything particular? I've left hundreds of cookies in my oven.
Rosalys. Can't you stay just a moment and teach Astolaine our gavotte? Sir Dandiprat said that she must learn it at once; and you dance so much the best.
Snow White. Do you think I have time?
Maids of Honour. Oh yes, yes!
Rosalys. [Running out onto the terrace.] I'll watch, and tell if anybody's coming.
Snow White. [To Astolaine.] You'd better be my partner. It's very simple.
- [The Maids of Honour take positions for their Dance, and as Snow White teaches Astolaine the steps they sing:
- Turn to me and curtsey low.
- One, two, three,
- One, two, three.
- Turn away and point your toe.
- One and two and three.
- Turn again and hand in hand,
- Hand in hand,
- Hand in hand
- Turn your partner where you stand.
- One and two and three.
- One and two . . .
- [But just here Rosalys comes running in from the terrace.
Rosalys. Ssh! Old Dandiprat's coming!
Snow White. Oh dear, I must run . . .
Rosalys. [Catching her.] No, don't He won't stay a minute. Hide behind the throne till he's gone.
Maids of Honour. Yes, yes. Quickly! Behind the throne! [Snow White runs behind the throne, and the Maids of Honour spread themselves out before it so that she is quite hidden. But they are not a moment too soon, for Sir Dandiprat. waddles in from the terrace, followed by two solemn Flunkies in gorgeous liveries.]
Sir Dandiprat. Ah, young ladies! I am fortunate to have found you all together. I have a most important announcement to make. I composed it myself. [He unrolls an imposing parchment, and reads.] "Whereas, our gracious Queen has been informed that his Highness, Prince Florimond, heir to the Kingdom of Calydon, will call upon her Majesty this afternoon to deliver an important letter from his royal father, I have arranged for the following reception. At four-fifteen precisely this Proclamation will be read." [He consults his watch.] Dear me! Five minutes late already! I shall have to alter it. [And with a sigh he makes the correction with a gold pencil.] "At fourteen-twenty precisely this Proclamation will be read. At four-thirty Prince Florimond will arrive, and be shown at once to the throne-room by—ahem!—myself. The Maids of Honour will dance their gavotte to amuse his Highness until the Queen is announced, when they will immediately retire. By order of me, Sir Dandiprat Bombas, Court Chamberlain.
- "Signed, Yours very truly,
- Sir Dandiprat Bombas."
- "Signed, Yours very truly,
"P.S. Her Majesty the Queen regrets that, owing to her duties in the kitchen, Princess Snow White will be unable to attend." You understand young ladies? Rosalys. Perfectly, Sir Dandiprat.
Sir Dandiprat. You have eight minutes and thirty-one seconds to prepare. [And he trips busily away again, followed by the Flunkies.]
Astolaine. Gracious! I can't possibly learn that dance in eight minutes and thirty-one seconds!
Christabel. And we must dance in pairs!
Ermengarde. What shall we do?
Rosalys. [Calling to Snow White who is still hidden behind the throne.] Princess Snow White, what shall we do?
- [There is no answer.]
Astolaine. It's all right, Princess. Sir Dandiprat has gone.
- [Still there is no answer; and puzzled, the little Maids call, on after another:
Rosalys. Princess Snow White!
Christabel. Princess Snow White!
Guinivere. Princess Snow White!
- [Still no answer. Rosalys runs behind the throne.
Rosalys. Oh, she's crying! Oh, dear Princess!
- [They all run to Snow White, and find her hiding her face and sobbing silently.
Maids of Honour. [Surrounding and embracing her.] Oh, what's the matter? Please don't cry! We can't bear to see you unhappy! If you cry we shall cry, too!
Snow White. I didn't mean to cry. I won't! A princess should never cry. [She smiles resolutely, though her eyes are full of tears.] There! But I did so want to see Prince Florimond again. He sends me a valentine every year; and long ago, when his father came to visit mine, we were wheeled about in the same baby-carriage. He must be grown up now.
Astolaine. I think it's an outrageous shame!
Snow White. But what can I do? You hear. [Quoting.] "P.S. Her Majesty regrets that the Princess will be unable to attend." Astolaine. If I were a princess I'd do what I chose, and if the Queen didn't like it I'd . . .
Maids of Honour. [Apprehensively.] Astolaine! Hush!
Astolaine. I'm tired of hushing.
Snow White. She's right! I am a king's daughter after all; and if I am always meek and do just what I'm told I'll stay in that hateful kitchen all my life. Oh! wouldn't I like to march right in before everybody and say, "Prince Florimond, I'm your cousin Snow White. I apologise for my frock, but it's all I have; and I can't let you kiss my hand because it's all covered with flour. But I did want to see you again, after riding with you in a baby-carriage when you were two and I was a half—and I have! Good-bye!" And then I'd march back to my kitchen.
Maids of Honour. Oh, please, please don't dear Princess!
Rosalys. The Queen would be so angry she might even . . .
Astolaine. [Struck with an idea.] Wait! The Queen won't be here when we dance for the Prince?
Rosalys. No. Why?
Astolaine. Then why can't the Princess dance in my place? She could wear my veil over her face, and I'd say afterward that I had—oh, measles or something else spotty.
Christabel. [In delight.] Oh, Astolaine! [She runs to hug her for the suggestion.]
Snow White. Oh dear! I wish it were possible,—but my frock!
Rosalys. Why can't we all lend her something?
Christabel. Why not? We have on heaps more than we need.
Rosalys. She could have my over-skirt. [She pulls it up to show an under-skirt almost as elaborate.]
Christabel. And my "watteau." Amelotte. And my lace jacket.
Ermengarde. And my cap and pearls.
Rosalys. We could dress her perfectly! [And they all hop up and down with little squeaks of delight.]
Astolaine. Will you do it, Princess? Oh, will you?
Snow White. You darlings! I suppose I oughtn't but I will!
- [And she runs behind the throne to dress, with Guinivere to help her. the other little Maids unpin and unhook and twist and turn to reach hard buttons at a great rate, as you can judge from the things they say.
Maids of Honour. Here's my veil! Oh, she doesn't want a veil first; help me with this skirt. I can't unhook me! These pearls just wont untangle! Please come and unpin this. No, me first! I won't go to either if you don't decide! She's ready for the skirt now. You unhook while I squeeze. Now! one, two three! There isn't room for all our fingers on one little hook! Here's the jacket!
- [And now they're all behind the throne helping Snow White on with the new things, except poor Christabel, who is left writhing to reach a pin at the back of her neck.
Christabel. I think you're just mean! I know it will prick! It did! Well, anyway, I know where it is now. [And with an enormous twist, she succeeds in unfastening her "watteau."]
Rosalys. [Dancingout, waving Snow White's black frock.] Here's her little black dress. What shall I do with it?
Astolaine. [Following.] Oh, put it anywhere!
Rosalys. But where is anywhere?
Astolaine. Here, stuff it under this cushion on the throne. [She does so.] They'll never find it there. Won't it be a joke when the Queen sits on it?
Rosalys. Oh, why did you say that? Now, I shall just giggle and giggle and giggle! [And they run behind the throne again.]
- [Snow White is almost dressed now; and the little Maids, one after another, tip-toe away from the throne whispering:
Oh, she looks like a bride, and she's perfectly sweet.
All silver and white from her head to her feet.
Her lips red as blood, and her hair black as night!
She's lovely, she's lovely, our Princess Snow White.
- [They stand waiting for her. There is a moment's pause, and then Rosalys calls:
Rosalys. Aren't you coming, Princess? Snow White. [From behind the throne.] Just a moment, till I shake out my hair. There!
- [She steps into sight. The Maids sink down in involuntary curtsies at the sight of her.
Christabel. She is lovelier than apple blossoms.
Astolaine. Lovelier than anybody I ever saw.
Rosalys. [In a hushed voice.] More beautiful than the Queen.
Christabel. [Whispering.] The Queen must never see her like this.
Snow White. [Who has been putting the last touches to her dress,—suddenly.] Oh look! My feet! [And indeed her little white feet are bare!]
Astolaine. [After a pause.] Oh, I don't think it matters. The Prince is a gentleman, and no gentleman would look at a lady's feet except to admire them. Snow White. But I'd be different.
Astolaine. Then let's all take off our shoes and stockings.
Rosalys. Of course!
- [Immediately they plump down on the floor. But they have hardly begun when a trumpet sounds from the terrace.
Snow White. There's the Prince now!
Astolaine. We can't stay here. Let's run into the anteroom to finish.
Snow White. I am so afraid something may happen. Really I ought not to, but I do so want to see him!
Maids of Honour. Hurry! Hurry! dear Princess! [And they hasten off into the anteroom, drawing Snow White with them.]
- [They are only just in time, for music sounds on the terrace, and the throne-room fills with Dukes and Duchesses (none of lower rank are allowed) all in
- their best robes and Sunday coronets. Then on struts Sir Dandiprat, more important and puffy than ever.
Sir Dandiprat. [Announcing.] His Highness, Prince Florimond, Heir Apparent to the Kingdom of Calydon.
- [The Prince appears, followed by his pages, Valentine and Vivian. He is a handsome, manly youth, dressed in blue and gold. He bows politely to the kneeling Dukes and Duchesses as Sir Dandiprat ushers him to the throne.
Sir Dandiprat. I regret, your Highness, that the Queen hasn't quite finished doing her hair; but she will be here in a moment. Meantime, may the Maids of Honour entertain your Highness with a little dance?
The Prince. It would give me great pleasure.
Sir Dandiprat. It is a very simple dance, your Highness; but considering their youth, the . . .[But he stops because his eye falls upon a little pink shoe that Guinevere has left behind. He picks it up, hides it under his coat-tails and stumbles on] . . . the young persons do it very ... er ... very . . . [And now he spies a stocking, and in hiding that the clumsy little man lets the shoe fall. This confuses him still more, but he goes on.] er, very creditably indeed . . . [And he sees a garter! This completes his embarrassment. He forgets the rest of his speech altogether, and cries:] Really they will drive me distracted! And where are they now? [He dives about among the Dukes and Duchesses hunting for them, just as they appear in the doorway.] Ah, here you are! Well, begin your dance at once! [And off he puffs to find the Queen, wiping his forehead alternately with shoe and stocking as he goes.]
- [The Maids of Honour begin their Gavotte. They are all veiled and all barefooted, so that you couldn't tell Snow White from the others unless you happened to know that she was dressed in silver and white. But there is something about her that attracts the young
- Prince from the first; and as the dance progresses he becomes so interested that he comes down from the throne to watch her more closely. As the first figure ends he is close beside her.
The Prince. [To Snow White.]
- In the measure to ensue,
- Lady, may I dance with you?
Snow White. [Giving him her hand.]
- Sir, could any maid withstand
- Such a flattering command ?
- Then I ask another grace,
- Won't you please unveil your face?
Snow White. [Hesitating, and then,]
- Yes, if secret it may be,
- Secret between you and me.
[The second figure of the Dance begins, Snow White now dancing with the Prince. Once in awhile we overhear what they are saying. Snow White. [Playfully.]
- You look at me as if—we—bow
- You'd never seen my face till now.
- Do you think I could forget
- If we two had ever met?
- Yet, in silence, side by side,
- Once we sat—until I cried!
The Prince. [Puzzled.]
- Now I fear 'twill be my heart
- That will weep when we must part.
Snow White. [Embarrassed.]
- Now we turn and bow. Dear me!
- You don't know this dance, I see.
- Can I think to bow and turn
- When I'm learning what I learn?
- [The Dance ends, and a trumpet sounds to announce the coming of the Queen But the Prince still holds Snow White's hand.
- There's the trumpet! I must fly!
- Please, my hand, sir, and—good-bye!
The Prince. [Detaining her.]
- I don't even know your name!
- Don't go yet—I'll take the blame!
- Oh, I can't, nor tell you why!
- Please! I beg you! Let me fly!
- [And she runs off, surrounded by the Maids of Honour who have been terribly frightened lest the Queen should spy her.
The Prince. [Gazing after her.]
- Do you think to steal my hear,
- Little thief, and so depart?
- Nay, I'll follow, fast and true,
- Till I find my heart and you!
- [Sir Dandiprat appears on the terrace. Sir Dandiprat. [Announcing.] Her Majesty the Queen!
- [To a crash of music and blare of trumpets Queen Brangomar enters. She is dark, languorous and very beautiful. She wears her crown; and her long robes are embroidered in the blues and greens of the peacock's tail. She holds out a jeweled hand for Prince Florimond to kiss, and then sweeps to the throne.
The Queen. So you are Prince Florimond? I'm sorry you chose to-day to come. I'm not looking my best.
The Prince. [Politely.] I have always heard of Queen Brangomar as the most beautiful . . .
The Queen. [Interrupting rudely.] Of course, of course! I am told you bring a message from your father. What is it?
The Prince. This letter. I don't know its contents, your Majesty.
The Queen. [Reading the letter.] Your father writes that if you did know it might embarrass you. M-m-m-m-m . . . wretched handwriting. "My son Florimond, now of an age to marry . . ."
The Prince. [Startled.] Marry?
The Queen. So your foolish old father is intending to marry you off, is he? I hope he isn't thinking of me. How many proposals would that make this week, Dandiprat?
Sir Dandiprat. Eleven, your Majesty—including those from the lunatic asylums.
The Queen. [Still reading.] What's this? To "his cousin the Princess Snow White"! To Snow White! [She rises in anger, crushing the letter.] To Snow White! [Then, trying not to betray her jealousy, and with a bitter laugh, she reseats herself.] Really, my dear Florimond! of course I regret to say so, but Snow White isn't a possible choice. I'm sorry to disappoint you.
The Prince. [Interrupting.] But you don't, I . . . The Queen. I was speaking! Snow White is most malicious and ill-tempered; and so stupid and common that she prefers to associate with the kitchen-maids. Indeed, I believe she's in the kitchen at this very moment. She wouldn't do for you at all. Are not these the facts, Sir Dandiprat?
Sir Dandiprat. [Hesitating.] Well, your Majesty, . . . perhaps . . .
The Queen. [Sternly.] Are not these the facts, Sir Dandiprat?
Sir Dandiprat. [Crushed.] They are, your Majesty.
The Prince. Your Majesty has made me very happy!
The Queen. Happy? I supposed . . .
The Prince. Five minutes ago such an account of Snow White would have made me miserable, for even as a little boy I always dreamed of marrying my cousin when I grew up. But now—oh, will your Majesty help me if I confess? The Queen. Help you? How?
The Prince. You see I've fallen in love witch someone else meantime.
The Queen. Meantime? When?
The Prince. Here, just now, in this very room. She is the most beautiful . . .
The Queen. [With a pleased laugh.] Oh, my poor boy! Really, I'm so much older than you . . .
The Prince. [With boyish frankishness.] Oh, not your Majesty. She's one of Snow White's Maids of Honour.
The Queen. A Maid of Honour? You don't mean to say you want to marry one of them! Your father would never consent. They're nice girls and come of quite respectable families—daughters of dukes and earls and that class—but you can only marry a Princess.
The Prince. I'd marry her without my father's consent, even if we had to set up house-keeping in a poor cottage! The Queen. Don't be heroic! What is the young paragon's name?
The Prince. She . . . she didn't tell me. We danced together, that was all.
The Queen. [Sarcastically.] ARe you quite sure you would even know her again?
The Prince. Your Majesty is unkind!
THe Queen. Apparently the only way to discover the young person is to summon all the Maids of Honour. [She motions Sir Dandiprat, who hurries off.] I am curious to know your taste. Stand here by me and point her out when she comes.
- [Sir Dandiprat reappears in the doorway and introduces the Maids of Honour one by one. As each Maid is named she curtsies to the Prince.
Sir Dandiprat. The Maids of Honour. The Lady Rosalys. The Lady Amelotte. The Lady Ermengarde. The Guinivere. The Lady Christabel. The Lady Astolaine. The Lady Ursula. The Lady Linnette. The Prince. [After a pause of astonishment.] But she's not there! There was another—!
The Queen Another? Eight—that is all.
Sir Dandiprat. [Counting his fingers.] Only eight, your Highness.
The Prince. But there was another!
The Queen. [Suspiciously.] Another? What was she like?
The Prince. Her hair was black as polished ebony, her skin was whiter than new fallen snow, her lips were redder than a drop of blood!
The Queen. [In a terrible voice.] Snow White! Summon Snow White!
- [Snow White. appears timidly in the entrance. I suspect she had been listening behind the curtains.
Snow White. I am here, your Majesty. The Prince. That is she! And oh, she is Snow White! You are Snow White! [He rushes to kneel at her feet.]
The Queen. [Her anger quite overcoming her as she sees Snow White's changed appearance.] Snow White! You! you dared! [She rushes toward the little Princess, but suddenly, half way, she falters, and falls fainting.]
Sir Dandiprat. [Hopping about in great excitement.] The Queen has fainted! The Queen has fainted! Oh, this is most important! Princess, Princess, see what you've done! Take her away, take her away! [The Maids of Honour lead Snow White away; and Sir Dandiprat turns to the astonished Prince.] Most deplorable! Would your Highness withdraw to the terrace until the Queen recovers? It's most distracting. Air, air! Out of the room, everybody! Giver her air!
- [The Prince and the Courtiers hurry out of the room. But no sooner is the
- Queen alone with Sir Dandiprat than she recovers from her swoon.
Sir Dandiprat. Shall I fan your Majesty? Oh, I hope . . .
The Queen. Where is the Prince?
Sir Dandiprat. Waiting on the terrace, your Majesty. The Queen. Keep him there till I ring.
Sir Dandiprat. Oh, pray don't anger him! Gain time! Gain time!
The Queen. Get out, you idiot! [This rude exclamation so startles Sir Dandiprat that he stumbles backwards up the terrace steps, and waddles out of sight as fast as his fat legs will carry him.]
The Queen. [Alone.] The Witch! Witch Hex! I must summon her. She must help me now. [She draws the curtains over both entrances so that she may not be seen at her magic.] What. was the spell! Ah, I remember! [In a hushed mysterious voice she chants.]
From my eyebrow pluck a hair,
Blow it high up in the air,
Where it lands a circle trace,
Three times pace about the space,
Knock, knock, knock!
[As she knocks smoke rises form the circle she has traced, and there is a sound of distant thunder.
Thunder says the spell grows warm,
Now I speak the mystic Charm,
Ee, Eye-sof-o-gos. Ee, Eye-sof-a-giddle!
Ee, Eye-sof-o-gos. Ee, Eye-sof-a-giddle!
- [The Charm sounds like nonsense; but it must be true magic, for the smoke increases as she chants it, and the thunder comes nearer.
The Spell's wound up, the charm is clear! I summon thee, Witch Hex, appear!
- [Lo! through the smoking circle in the floor, Witch Hex does appear. She looks exactly like all witches in fairy-tale pictures, with her black, pointed hat, red cloak, and crutched stick. It is evident that she is in a bad temper.
The Witch. Here, help me out, help me out! [The Queen assists her out of the smoking circle.] What's the meaning of this? I'm getting tired of being called up by you night and day. Last time I was in my night-gown, and it was snowing too. I was an idiot to teach you that spell. Whatever is the trouble now? The Queen. Don't be angry, dear godmother. You know how much I love you!
The Witch. Stuff! You don't love me. You don't love anybody but yourself. That's the matter with you. If you only knew the trouble I have to take to keep you beautiful! Your disposition keep wearing through. If I should one say, "Bang! no more charms for that wretched Brangomar," how would you look then? [She chuckles at the thought.] I believe you'd be uglier than I am.
The Queen. I know, I know, dear Hex, but you wouldn't!
The Witch. Don't be too sure. Just summon me once too often, and you may find out how it feels to be the ugliest woman in the Seven Kingdoms.
The Queen. Oh, tell me I am still the most beautiful!
The Witch. You look all right to me. But I warn you. I'm using my strongest magic now. You'd be much safer if you'd try to be good once in a while. Well, whom are you jealous of this time?
The Queen. Snow White.
The Witch. Snow White? She's only a child!
The Queen. So I thought till to-day, when I saw her for the first time prettily dressed.
The Witch. Well, why in the name of my cat Fiddle, did you dress her up?
The Queen. I didn't. She tricked me.
The Witch. Who thought she was fairer than you?
The Queen. Prince Florimond. He wants to marry her.
The Witch. Prince Flormiond? Pooh! Mere boy! Probably said it to plague you, knowing your wretched disposition. But I've brought something with me this time that may help to keep you quiet. Just had time to snatch it when I felt you spelling away. It's a Magic Mirror.
- [She takes from her pocket and holds before Queen Brangomar's dazzled eyes a hand mirror, carved from a single crystall. It glows and gleams like an opal.
The Queen. [Seizing the Mirror and gazing into it.] Magic! . . . [But suddenly she cries out in horror.] Oh!
The Witch. Ah, you see! Reflects you as you really are. If I stopped my spells that's what you'd look like. Now it makes me quite decent looking. That's because my character's better.
The Queen. Oh, the hateful thing! I never saw anything so terrible. Why, I looked almost funny! Take it away! Take it away!
The Witch. Wait! That's not all its magic. Hold it in your hand and say:
- Mirror, Mirror, in my hand,
- Who's the fairest in the land?
and it will answer truthfully.
The Queen. [Snatching the Mirror, but shut- ting her eyes that she may not see her reflection.] Oh, let me try!
- Mirror, Mirror, in my hand,
- Who's the fairest in the land?
The Witch. Listen!
- [There is a faint strain of music, and then a clear far-away voice that sounds like crystal bells, sings:
- You who hold me in your hand,
- You were fairest in the land;
- But, to-day, I tell you true,
- Snow White is more fair than you!
- [With a scream of rage the Queen would dash the Mirror to the floor, but the Witch rescues it just in time.
The Witch. Stop! Stop! Stop! Gracious! Listen to me, now. If you ever break that Mirror you will become as ugly as you really are and for life, too! None of my spells can beauty you again either, for the Mirror is made with those same charms. [Scornfully.] I thought you knew enough common, every-day magic for that!
The Queen. [Pacing up and down, weeping with rage.] But Snow White is more beautiful than I! Snow White is more beautiful than I!
The Witch. [Mocking her.] Snow White is more beau-hoo-hoo-tiful than I? Stop that wauling. The Queen. But I can't bear it! Oh, make a spell and turn her ugly—as ugly as a toad!
The Witch. Won't! Refuse to make any more bad spells. If you can't bear the sight of her why not send her away somewhere,— say to boarding-school.
The Queen. But she'd come back.
The Witch. Why should she? Suppose at boarding-school she gets mumps or freckles, or whatever those children's diseases are, and dies of it.
The Queen. Oh, I see! You'll make a spell and give her the disease.
The Witch. No, no, no! Won't do any more bad magic, I tell you. You must contrive to have her lost on the way to boarding-school, and then just tell some tarradiddle to explain why she never comes back—and there you are ! Everything permanently settled, and a little peace for me I hope.
The Queen. I might! I could send Berthold,
my Huntsman, as if he were taking her to school, and then . . . oh! . . . in the deep forest . . . [She whispers,] he shall put her to death!
The Witch. [Starting.] Goodness-gracious-mercy-me! I never suggested anything like that! Why I hear she's quite a nice child.
The Queen. I shall never know a happy hour while she's alive!
The Witch. Well, there's no arguing with you. But can you trust your Huntsman?
The Queen. I know a way to make him obey.
The Witch. Glad you know something! And look here, if your resolved to have Snow White killed there's a little favour you might do me. I'm making a new spell that is really hard magic—a hair restorer that will restore hair. Want it for my personal use. [She pops off her cap and shows a perfectly bald head.] I'd about given it up for want of the last ingredient—the heart of a nice young girl. Now I wouldn't harm a nice young girl myself for anything; but if you're dedetermined to dispose of Snow White I'd be obliged for her heart.
The Queen. I promise. Berthold shall bring it to me as proof. And now good-bye, dear Hexy. I must summon him at once.
The Witch. Hm! It's always, "Good-bye, dear Hexy," as soon as I've done what you want. I'm afraid you don't love me for myself alone dear Brangomary! But I'm as glad to go as you are to have me. Say the "Quick Spell" and get me off. Ready!
- [The Queen and the Witch join hands, shut their eyes and chant in chorus.]
The Queen and Witch
- Bangaboo whack;
- Crow eat sun,
- Make all black!
[Everything suddenly becomes black. In
- the darkness the two voices are still heard, chanting:
- Mole dig hole;
- Witch go back,
- [There is a queer sound, something like a very small earthquake. Then only the Queen's voice is heard.
- the darkness the two voices are still heard, chanting:
- Witch is gone,
- Sun come back,
- [The light returns as suddenly as it went. The Witch has vanished. Quite calmly the Queen goes to the bell-cord.
The Queen. Let me see. I ring three times for the Huntsman. [She rings; but it is Sir Dandiprat who enters.] Sir Dandiprat. Your Majesty you rang for me?
The Queen. Not for you, idiot, for Berthold. Give me a minute alone with him and then summon the Prince and Snow White. Off with you!
- [Sir Dandiprat. hurries away, just as Chief Huntsman Berthold enters. Berthold. is tall and big. He has a thick, square beard and a kind, ruddy face.
The Queen. Berthold, I have a task for you.
Berthold. I hope it is to take you a-hunting, your Majesty. Your forests are full of game, wild pigs, deer—indeed there may be even a unicorn or two.
The Queen. It's other game I propose this time. Berthold. You have been a faithful Chief Huntsman. Suppose I promote you to be Lord High Admiral? As we have no navy the duties will be light.
Berthold. Oh, your Majesty, how can I thank you? The Queen. It depends upon your carrying out a task with absolute obedience.
Berthold. Give me a chance to show my gratitude.
The Queen. Come nearer. The Princess Snow White is to set out for boarding-school this afternoon. You will conduct her. At the western gates, you will take the old road that turns to the left . . .
Berthold. But, your Majesty, that road leads into the deep wood.
The Queen. You will take that road. When you have come to the very heart of the forest—then [and she hisses the words] you will kill the Princess.
Berthold. [Springing back.] Never, your Majesty, never!
The Queen. It is my command. She has disobeyed me. She must be punished.
Berthold. Kill Snow White? My late King's daughter, the loveliest maid in the Seven Kingdoms? I would slay myself first! There is no man in your dominions base enough to do such a deed. Pray dismiss me! [He turns to go.]
The Queen. [In a terrible voice.] Wait! I have a surer means to command your obedience. You have six small children I believe?
Berthold. [Wonderingly.] Yes, your Majesty.
The Queen. Suppose I lock your six children in the Grey Tower. Suppose I order that no one shall take them food or drink.
Berthold. Oh, your Majesty, have mercy!
The Queen. Think! Can you not hear their six small voices calling to you from the dark. "We are hungry, Papa," they will cry; and they will beat on the door with their little hands.
Berthold. [Sinking to the ground.] Spare me! Spare me!
The Queen. At last they will be too weak to cry or beat. Then, when all has grown still within the Tower, I will say, "Berthold, here is the key. Go and see how Queen Brangomar punishes disobedience."
Berthold. [Rising with a cry.] Oh, I will obey, your Majesty! Heaven forgive me, but I cannot let my children starve!
The Queen. That's much better, Berthold. You understand clearly?
Berthold. Alas! Too well!
The Queen. Oh, what a tone of voice. Remember the motto: "A task cheerfully done is well done." And, oh, I almost forgot. You must bring me Snow White's heart, before midnight, as a proof. Here comes the Prince. Do try to look more pleasant.
- [Prince Florimond returns, ushered in by Sir Dandiprat, and followed by all the Courtiers.
The Prince. I hope your Majesty has recovered. The Queen. Quite, thank you. I beg everybody's pardon. Something I had for lunch no doubt. [To Sir Dandiprat.] Where is the Princess Snow White?
Snow White. [Appearing.] I am here, your Majesty.
The Queen. My dear Snow White, Prince Florimond has come to ask your hand in marriage. What do you say?
Snow White. [Drooping her head.] What may I say?
The Queen. Have you any reasons against it?
Snow White. [Softly.] None, your Majesty.
The Queen. I was obliges to tell him how un-fitted you are at present to become a Queen. Indeed, I've long been thinking of sending you away to some select boarding-school for backward Princesses. This seems the opportunity. You will remain at the school for a year and a day. The Prince. [Exclaiming.] Oh, your Majesty!
The Queen. [Firmly.] And the Prince must promise not to see or write to you until the end of that time.
The Prince. That seems too hard!
The Queen. Otherwise, I shall refuse my consent. Do you agree?
The Prince. Since I must.
The Queen. Then that's settled! Return here one year and one day hence, and we can then [and here she means more than she says,] discuss the engagement. Now, Snow White, bid farewell to Prince Florimond. [The Prince starts forward to kiss Snow White's hand, but the Queen intervenes.] No, no! A respectful bow, and a curtsey, will be quite sufficient. Good-bye, Florimond. Hasten back to your father.
- [So poor Prince Florimond bows himself out, followed by his Pages; but he looks
- back at Snow White as long as he can see her.
The Queen. [Continuing.] Now, Snow White, I've arranged all the details about the boarding-school. You must leave immediately or you won't arrive before night-fall. Berthold will conduct you. Say your good-byes quickly.
Snow White. Thank you so much, your Majesty, I'm not quite sure that I want toQueen's hand but the Queen withdraws it hastily.]
The Queen You are keeping Berthold waiting. Off with you at once.
Snow White. [Turning to her Maids of Honour. Good-bye, my little playmates! Good-bye, Amelotte and Ermengarde and Christabel and Rosalys. Don't cry, Rosalys, it will only be a year ; and I promise not to come back so grown-up and princessy that you won't recognise your Snow White. Good-bye, dear ladies and gentlemen who have all been so good to me. I kiss you all!
- [She blows them a kiss, Then, slipping her little hand into Berthold's big one, she says:
Now Berthold !
- [And Berthold and the Princess Snow White, go off along the terrace toward the deep forest as