Open main menu
SnowWhite14.jpg

In the House of the Seven Dwarfs

The room is the same as before, but quite transformed by Snow White's house-keeping. It shines with cleanness. There are white coverlets on all the beds, curtains at the window, and flowers on the window-sill. Snow White's silver dress has been carefully put away, and she wears a little frock made of squirrel skins and trimmed with bright leaves.

It is early in the morning, and the Dwarfs are just starting off for the day's work. each carries a neat little basket of luncheon which Snow White has put up, and each wears a bright bow tie which she has made for him. They are so proud of these ties that they have parted their beards over their shoulders to show them. Snow White has just finished tying Quee's bow. She pats it into shape, kisses him, and says:

SnowWhite13.jpg

Snow White. There! Off you go!

Blick. Couldn't you please give us all another kiss?

Snow White. [Merrily.] No indeed!

Flick. Just one?

Snow White. Not one!

Glick. A little one?

Snow White. No! That's the rule: one a day, morning or night, but not both.

Blick. You see none of us ever, er—should I say "ate" or "tasted"—a kiss till you came, so perhaps we are a little eager about them.

Snow White. I should say you were! Why, you're perfect children about kisses and games. Blick. [Sadly.] That comes of our being dwarfs. You see, no dwarf is ever born till he's fifty. So, as we've never been young, we enjoy games all the more now.

Snow White. Oh, I understand, you little old dears; but still I musn't spoil you. And that reminds me, you're not to come home any more in the middle of the morning to play games. Tuesday you came back at eleven, Wednesday at ten, and yesterday morning at nine! What sort of a way to work is that?

Blick. [Penitently.] I know, but . . .

Snow White. Now not a moment before five to-day, because—[She beckons them together and whispers.] this is a secret—I'm going to make an enormous cake with sugar frosting for supper! Now, off with you.

Blick. Well, brothers, ready. To-day we go into the forest for firewood. March!

[In their usual military file the Dwarfs
march off into the forest. Snow White stands in the doorway, waving her hand after them till they are out of sight. Then with a little sigh of content she returns to the room.
Snow White. Oh, I'm so happy here. I've never been so happy in all my life. Of course I miss my dear Maids of Honour and the others; but the Dwarfs are so funny and loving and kind. [She looks out of the window.] It's a beautiful day. [With a little pensive sigh.] I wonder if I shall ever see Prince Florimond again. [But she checks herself sharply.]
SnowWhite54.jpg
Stop that, Snow White! You wonder about him much too often. Remember, you're not a Princess any more, only just house-keeper to the Seven Dwarfs. You must forget all about the other things. To work! Now for that cake.
[She fetches the mixing bowl. As she does so the little Brown Bird that guided her
through the forest, flies to the window, perches on the sill, and gives his call.

Snow White. Ah, my little brown bird, back again for your morning crumbs? Here they are. [She scatters the crumbs, but instead of eating them, the little Bird breaks into full song.] Not hungry? Just come to sing for me? You dear! [The song is so merry that she dances a step or two.] Whenever you sing, brown bird, I feel like dancing. But I do need somebody to dance with. The Dwarfs never can learn.

[Just then she spies a big White Butterfly that is fluttering gaily by the window.

Snow White. Oh, there's a big white butterfly. I wonder if it would come and dance with me. [She runs to the open door and calls.] White butterfly, white butterfly, will you come and dance with Snow White? Oh, it's coming, it's coming! Sing, little brown bird! The butterfly is coming to dance with me!

[And indeed the Butterfly does follow
her into the room, and flits about here and there—now just within her grasp, now high over her head; and Snow White, now pursuing it, now letting it follow her, does contrive a little romping dance with her new friend. And all the time the little Brown Bird sings lustily on the window sill.

the butterfly dance

[Suddenly the Brown Bird stops singing and flies away, and the White Butterfly darts to the door and flutters up among the tree-tops.

Snow White. Oh, don't stop, little Bird. We want to go on. Where are you going, White Butterfly? They've both flown away! They seemed frightened.

[She turns to see what has frightened them. The Queen, disguised as the Pedlar-Woman, is leaning in at the window. Snow White's hand springs to her heart.

Snow White. Oh . . . !

The Pedlar-Woman. Did I frighten you, dearie? No harm in an old Pedlar-Woman.

Snow White. You did startle me.

The Pedlar-Woman. So that's the way you pass your time in the forest, is it—singing and dancing? What a thing it is to be rich.

Snow White. But I'm not rich. I suppose I'm very poor now.

The Pedlar-Woman. I've come a weary way. I'm that worn and footsore . . . !

Snow White. Oh, do come in. I'm so sorry.

The Pedlar-Woman. [Entering.] Thank you, dearie. I'll just bar the door behind me for fear of the rheumatic drafts. I've been wandering days and days in this forest, and never met a soul to buy the least trinket of me.

Snow White. I'm afraid I don't think a deserted forest is a very good place to sell things.

The Pedlar-Woman. But you'll buy some little thing, my pet, some pretty little thing?

Snow White. I'm awfully sorry, but . . .

The Pedlar-Woman. Don't any of my pretty things tempt you? And cheap!—really cost more to sell'em than they're worth. Look sweatheart!

Here's ribbons and laces,
And gentlemen's braces,
   A feather as white as foam;
A chain and a locket,
A purse for your pocket,
   And oh, what a beautiful comb,
      That comb!
Just see, what a beautiful comb!

Here's bangles and spangles,
A bracelet with dangles,
   A necklace with beads from Rome;
An outfit for cross-stitch,
The egg of an ostrich,
   But oh, what a beautiful comb,
      That comb!
   A really magnificent comb!
 
Here's powder and patches,
And Lucifer matches,
   A motto with "Home, sweet Home,"
And trimmings for frockings,

And stockings with clockings'
   But nothing so fine as this comb,
      This comb!
   Just look, what a beautiful comb!

Snow White. They're very attractive, but I've no money.

The Pedlar-Woman. Now that's too bad, dearie. I don't hardly feel as if I could go without leaving some little thing behind me. Rather make you a present, so I would.

Snow White. Oh, I couldn't take a present from you. I ought to be giving you something instead.

The Pedlar-Woman. You gave me kind words and bid me in friendly. I'll tell you what, if you've no money I'll make you a free gift, sweetheart.

Snow White. I couldn't really!

The Pedlar-Woman. I'm set on it, my lamb, set on it! Name your choice and yours it shall be. Snow White. Well, since you're so very kind, I'll take [she names the least valuable article] that spool of thread.

The Pedlar-Woman. [With pretended umbrage.] Spool o' thread, indeed! Would you mock a poor body? Now what do you say to this comb?

Snow White. That? Why that's the finest thing you have.

The Pedlar-Woman. Just why I give it to you, my dear; and lovely it will look, a-shining in your black hair.

Snow White. [Shrinking away.] No, no! I couldn't take anything so valuable!

The Pedlar-Woman. Come, dearie, just let me put it in for you, and then if you don't like the look of it—well, I'll say no more and be on my way.

Snow White. I should like to see how it looks—just for fun. The Pedlar-Woman. That's my pet; that's my sweetheart! Now sit you down, [Snow White sits on a stool] and shut your eyes so you shan't peep till it's in . . . are they shut?

Snow White. [Laughing.] Yes, tight shut!

The Pedlar-Woman. Then, here goes!

[She puts the poisoned comb in Snow White's hair. For a moment Snow White does not move. Then with a little moan, she rises, swaying.

Snow White. Oh, my head—my head! [She tries to put her hand to her head; but suddenly she totters, falls in a heap on the floor and lies quite still.]

The Pedlar-Woman. [Watches her for a moment, then cries exultingly.] Ah, ha! So, my dear step-daughter, Queen Brangomar laughs last, after all! Now, to count one hundred while the poison works. [And she begins to count.] "One, two, three, four, five . . ." [Suddenly she stops to listen.] What's that?

[Steps are heard outside the little house. They come nearer. There is a knock at the door, and Blick's voice is heard.

Blick. Snow White, it's us, the Dwarfs. Open the door. [He knocks again.]

The Pedlar-Woman. [In terror.] The Dwarfs! They'll tear me to pieces if they find me here. I must hide her! Where, where? [She looks about for a place to hide Snow White and seeing no other hope, drags the big table over her and pulls the table cloth down to hide her. Meantime the Dwarfs knock more and more impatiently.]

Blick. Please open, Snow White. We haven't come back for games, honestly. We want to go down into the mines again.

[The Pedlar-Woman crouches along the wall, looking for some means of escape.

Flick. [Outside, calling.] Snow White!

Glick. [Calling.] Snow White! All the Dwarfs. [Calling together.] Snow White!

Blick. [Outside.] Brothers, there's something wrong! The window!

[The Dwarfs run to the window and look in. They spy the crouching Pedlar-Woman.

Pedlar-Woman. [Realising that she is caught and ducking and curtseying.] Oh, it's you, my little gentlemen!

Blick. Open the door!

Pedlar-Woman. Yes, indeed, your honours! At once, your honours! [But as she goes to unbar the door she continues to count, under her breath.] Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four . . .

Blick. [Beating on the door.] Quickly, I tell you!

The Pedlar-Woman. Yes, your honours! [She throws the door open. The Dwarfs

rush in fiercely, their little knives drawn, and surround the Pedlar-Woman.

Blick. What are you doing here?

Flick. Where is Snow White?

The Pedlar-Woman. Safe and sound, my little gentlemen. But I've scarce breath to tell you. Just give me thirty seconds—or thirty-one or thirty-two or thirty-three . . .

Blick. What are you mumbling?

The Pedlar-Woman. I was passing by with my basket o' wares . . . [Blick makes a threatening gesture and she hurries on with a little cry.] . . . just passing—when your sweet little lady calls me to step in.

Blick. Where is she now?

The Pedlar-Woman. She stepped into the forest on an errand, and bid me mind the house till she got back.

Blick. Errand? What errand? Flick. How long has she been gone?

The Pedlar-Woman. A matter of seconds, your honour. Fifty seconds, maybe, or fifty-one or fifty-two or fifty-three or fifty-four . . .

Blick. [Interrupting.] Well, you need stay no longer. Go!

The Pedlar-Woman. Yes, your honours. Certainly, your honours. [She goes courtesying to the door, but turns to say,] Could you tell a poor peddling body how fart it might be to the next town? Is it fifty-five miles now, or fifty-six or fifty-seven or . . .

Blick. [Fiercely.] Be off, or we'll lay hands on you!

[With a little scream the Pedlar-Woman makes off; but as she passes the window she is heard still counting "fifty-eight, fifty-nine, sixty, sixty-one . . ." till her voice dies away in the distance.

Blick. Brothers, something's wrong! What errand could Snow White have in the forest? Flick. And why didn't we meet her?

Blick. She'd never leave the house in her charge.

Glick. Unless she was frightened.

Snick. And ran away.

Flick. That's it!

Blick. She may be hiding in the forest now. Quick, brothers; go east, west, north and I'll go south.

[All the Dwarfs rush out except Blick, who hesitates.

Blick. Yet it's not like Snow White to be frightened. I wonder . . . [Suddenly he spies something on the floor near the table. It is one of Snow White's slippers that came off when she fell, and which the Pedlar-Woman had overlooked.] What's that? Her slipper! [He calls loudly.] Brothers, Brothers! She is here ! Here is her slipper! Search the house! [The Dwarfs rush back into the room, and

begin to seek under the beds, and behind the pump; but Flick pulls up the tablecloth and cries:

Flick. Look! Here she is!

[They move the table away and kneel about her in consternation.

Blick. She has fainted. Water!

Glick. Is she hurt?

Flick. Unlace her bodice.

Blick. It's loose. She's breathing, faintly.

Flick. What's that in her hair?

Blick. A comb. She never wore it before. Out with it! [He draws the comb from Snow White's hair; but suddenly hurls it away, crying.] Oh! it burned my fingers!

Snick. Poisoned?

Glick. Look!

[Snow White's eyelids flutter and she sighs.

Blick. See! her eyes! She's coming to!

[Snow White stirs; then opens her eyes and lifts her head.

Snow White. Oh . . . what . . . what happened?

The Dwarfs. [Tenderly.] Snow White!

Snow White. I was talking with the old Pedlar-woman . . .

Blick. Ah! the old woman!

Snow White. And . . . where is she? Why, there's the comb!

Blick. The comb?

Snow White. She wanted to give it to me. I let her put it in my hair just to see how it looked and then I must have fainted.

Blick. Brothers, that comb was poisoned.

Flick. She tried to poison our Snow White.

Snow White. To poison me? Perhaps it may have been the comb. But she didn't. You saved me, didn't you, my dear brothers. I'm all alive again! And quite well! see? [She rises.]

Blick. [Ominously.] Brothers! [He draws his knife, and the others follow his example.] Snick, you stay to guard Snow White. The rest follow me. [They hasten toward the door.

Snow White. [Stopping them.] Where are you going?

Blick. [Terribly.] To catch that Pedlar-woman.

Snow White. Oh, please don't! Why should she want to poison me? The only one who might want to harm me is Queen Brangomar.

Blick. Snow White, I believe that was Queen Brangomar. Snow White. Oh, no! Brangomar is very beautiful.

Blick. But she knows magic; she may have disguised herself. Come, brothers!

Snow White. [Barring the way.] Oh, please, please don't go. She might harm you!

Blick. [Scornfully.] Harm us! Let me go, Snow White.

Snow White. [Clinging to him.] No, no! Listen! If that was Brangomar she'll think I'm all dead now and won't try again; but if she finds out that I am still alive, she might. Don't you see?

Blick. [Hesitating.] I see,—but . . .

Snow White. Oh, I ask you, please!

Blick. It's not fair to ask us "please."

Snow White. But I do. I ask you please, please, please!

Blick. [As he sheathes his knife.] Well—this time. But, brothers, we must guard our Princess more carefully in future.

The Dwarfs. Yes, indeed!

Blick. Snow White, promise that when we're away you will keep the door barred, and never let any one in.

Glick. No matter who they are.

Flick. No matter what they look like.

Snow White. Oh, I'm not afraid!

Blick. But you must promise, solemnly.

Snow White. Oh, very well, I promise—

"Truly, rooly,
"Black and bluely,
"Cross my heart!"

Now, let's forget all about such disagreeable things. To celebrate—[She claps her hands.] I'll tell you, let's declare this morning a holiday!

The Dwarfs. [Dancing with delight.] A holiday? Snow White. And we'll all play a game before you go back to the mines.

The Dwarfs. Hip, hip, hurrah!

Snow White. Shall we play "Blind Man's Buff," "Puss-in-the-Corner" or "Snap the Whip"?

The Dwarfs. [Chanting in chorus.] "Blind Man's Buff," "Puss-in-the-Corner" AND "Snap the Whip"!

Snow White. All three? Well, "Blind Man's Buff" first.

Blick. Clear away!

They clear the floor for Games, and begin with "Blind Man's Buff." The Dwarfs always want Snow White to choose who shall be blind-folded—they never can agree among themselves—and she chooses Glick. Now Glick is a very spry old fellow, and he nearly catches Whick on the very first dash; so nearly
that Whick only escapes by crawling under a bed. Next, he corners Quee; but Quee is so small that he creeps out between Glick's legs. It is a long while before Glick can touch anybody else; and indeed he only catches Snick at the last because Snick trips over his own long beard, and falls flat. Even then it takes Glick some time to tell whom he has caught, for the Dwarfs are all very much alike. But at last Glick feels a bump on Snick's bald head that came at least a hundred and twenty-five years ago when an enormous diamond fell on him in the mines, and has never gone away again.
Next they play, "Puss-in-the-Corner," and get so excited about it that they clamber all over the clean, starched coverlets that Snow White had only just finished ironing; so she is relieved when the game is over.
Finally comes "Snap-the-Whip." They
"snap" it so hard that when the line breaks they all fall down, puffing and holding their old sides; and little Quee the "snapper," has to turn four complete somersaults before he can stop.
No sooner have they got breath again than they all surround Snow White, dancing up and down, and crying: "More, more, more!" But she shakes her head firmly.

Snow White. Dear me, no! Remember, I have that cake to bake before supper. You really must go. And don't come back till five.

Flick. Oh, please make it four.

Snick. Or half past, anyhow.

Snow White. No, five. Not a moment sooner.

Blick. [Resignedly.] Well, brothers, march. [And down they all file into the underground passage leaving Snow White alone.] Snow White. Hasn't this been a morning! I only got as far with that cake as the bow. Now, first the flour. [She puts some flour in the bowl, and then suddenly remembers.] Gracious! I almost forgot my promise to bar the door!

[She bars the door; but as she does so she hears, in the forest, a distant sort of chanting song. It comes nearer.

Snow White. What's that? Somebody singing? I was only just in time. Why, they're coming here!

[You can hear the words of the chanting clearly now. They are:
Anybody want to buy,
Any sort of baker's pie?
Pies! Pies! Pies! Pies!

Snow White. Oh, a baker-man selling pies. Really, people do have the most curious ideas about this forest.

[The person coming is, as a matter of fact Queen Brangomar in another disguise.
She suspected that the Dwarfs might take the comb from Snow White's hair before the poison had time to do its work; so she hastened back to the Witchwho wasn't a bit glad to see her—and with a dose from the orange bottle transformed herself again, this time into the likeness of the One-eyed Pieman. Then she—or I suppose I should say he—hastened back to the forest, and now, after spying about to make sure that the Dwarfs are not near, has approached the house with the tray of pies on his head.

The Pieman. [Close behind the door now.]

Anybody want to buy,
Any sort of baker's pie?
Pies! Pies! Pies! Pies! Pies!
[He knocks at the door, "rat-a-tat-tat;tat-tat." Snow White does not answer. The Pieman goes to the window and looks in. The Pieman. Hello! Didn't you hear the knock?

Snow White. I'm sorry, but I can't let you in.

The Pieman. Oh, cooking, I see. Just ready to mix, eh? That's my line of business; baker—pies, all kinds. [He chants rapidly.]

Pumpkin, custard, veal-and-ham,
Chocolate, lemon, squash and lamb,
Gooseberry, blueberry, peach and quince,
Chicken, cocoanut, apple, mince.

Snow White. I really don't want any, thank you.

The Pieman. Of course not. No good cook would ever eat a baker's pie; and you are a good cook.

Snow White. [A little flattered.] Well, I've had some experience.

The Pieman. I can tell that by the hitch of your apron. Now my specialty is apple pies, and . . . Snow White. [Interrupting.] Oh, please don't offer to give me one. I couldn't take it.

The Pieman. Who was offering? I just wanted to ask your opinion.

Snow White. [Contritely.] I beg your pardon. Of course I'll give you my opinion.

The Pieman. You know that old apple tree half a mile back? Do those apples make good pies?

Snow White. I don't know.

The Pieman. They look splendid. Here's one I picked. It's as red and white as your face. If it is a good pie apple, I'll go back and get a sackful.

Snow White. You can't tell from the looks, you know. Some are too sweet and some are too sour.

The Pieman. Well, taste, and we'll compare opinions. You eat the red half and I'll eat the white. [He splits the apple in two, and tosses the red half through the window into Snow White's apron.] Catch! [He eats his half.] Just right to me, sweet and sour.

Snow White. [Starts to taste her half; but then, with a faint suspicion, she sets it down and says:] Thank you, but I don't eat between meals.

The Pieman. [Munching luxuriously.] What, temper touchy? Well, I don't blame you. Often feel like that myself on baking days. But this tastes to me like a prime pie apple. I advise you to get some. Luck to your baking! Good-day. [Repeating his cry.]

Anybody want to buy,
Any sort of baker's pie,
Pies! Pies! Pies! Pies! Pies!
[He makes off into the forest.

Snow White. [Alone and penitently.] I was horrid to him.l He only wanted my advice. He didn't try to come in. It is a splendid apple. [She looks at it longingly.] If it's good I could make the Dwarfs an apple-dumpling apiece. He ate his half.

[She bites the red cheek of the apple. Suddenly she grasps her thoat, whirls about once, falls, and lies quite still. After a moment, the face of the Pieman appears at the window, peering in cautiously.

The Pieman. Ah, she did taste it! I thought she would if I went away. But there must be no mistake this time. No more mistakes! [He leans through the window, and with his staff pries up the bar that fastens the door.] First, off with this disguise. [He repeats:]

Old days nine,
Pot in the porridge peas,
Cold porridge peas,
Hot porridge peas.
[And instantly the Pieman's outward appearance changes, and it is Queen Brangomar in her royal robes that
sweeps into the room and hastens to Snow White's body.

The Queen. [Kneeling beside Snow White.] No breath! No heart! Quite dead at last! This time, my lady, white as now, red as blood and black as ebony the Dwarfs cannot wake you. But I must hide that. [She picks up the apple.] They musn't trace me. [Then rising she strides to the door and cries:] Now, you wretched little dwarfs, you miserable little gnomes, you moles, you earth-worms, bring her to life this time if you can. I defy you! Queen Brangomar defies you! [She rushes off into the wood crying as she goes:] Dead at last! At last! At last!

[Hardly has the Queen's voice died away, when the stone over the underground passage is lifted, and Blick appears.]

Blick. [Anxiously.] Did you call, Snow White? I was standing guard, and I thought I heard . . . [He sees Snow White's prostrate body. He goes

to her and touches her hand. It is cold. With a voice of agony, he cries down the passage:] Brothers! Brothers!

the curtain falls
[After a moment it rises again. It is moonlight now; and the Dwarfs, with lighted lanterns are grouped about the bed on which they have laid Snow White. All day long they have tried to restore her. They have bathed her face with water and wine, and fanned her, and chafed her little hands and feet, but without avail. After a long silence Blick speaks.

Blick. There is no hope, my brothers. There is nothing more to do. Our Snow White is dead.

[One by one they kneel about her, silently; but little Quee, unable to restrain his tears, falls sobbing at her feet.
again the curtain falls