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A Glade in the Deep Wood

The Dwarfs have laid Snow White in a coffin made all of clear crystal and wrought silver, and set it in this secret glade. The glade is near to their house, but so encircled by great trees as to be hidden from every side. Here for nearly a year they have watched over her, day and night, two watching at a time. Every morning they weave a fresh pall of ferns and wild flowers to lay over the coffin when the sun has risen high; and so covered it looks like a ferny mound blossoming.

To-night Snick and Flick are on watch. They sit silent for a time.

Snick. The moon has been up an hour. Flick. It is time Blick came to take my place.

Snick. I wish it were always my turn to watch. I have no heart for anything else.

Flick. Nor I, brother, nor I!

Snick. Here comes Blick now.

Flick. Why is he running?

[Blick enters breathless.

Blick. Danger! Put out your lanterns! A man has been prowling about the forest since sundown. He is ragged and wild and carries a knife. We have surrounded him; we will pounce out and bind him; but he looks strong. We shall need you, Snick. Flick must guard alone. Come this way, but keep behind the trees. The others are closing in.

[They creep off. Flick, left alone, covers the coffin with the pall, and then goes to the edge of the glade.

Flick. Ah, I see him. He has come out into the open. They are stealing up behind him. He sees them ! his knife is out ! Quick, quick, brothers ! They have him now. Down he goes like a falling tree. Bind him fast, brothers! [He shouts.] This way! This way!

[Presently the other Dwarfsdrag the strange man to the spot, They have bound him with many ropes. His clothes are ragged and he looks unkempt and wild. It is Berthold the Huntsman.

Blick. Let him get up, but take away his knife. [They wrest Berthold's knife from him. He staggers to his feet.

Berthold. What is all this"? The first I know I am on my back and bound. Who are you that are so little and so strong?

Blick. We are the Seven Dwarfs of this Forest. What are you doing in our domain?

Berthold. Dwarfs? I mean you no harm. Blick. What are you doing here?

Berthold. I am seeking some one who was lost here—lost long ago ; but I must search every inch of this wood. Let me go.

Blick. Tell us who you are.

Berthold. No!

Blick. We shall keep you prisoner till you do.

Berthold. I cannot tell you.

Blick. Bind him to a tree till he is ready to speak.

Berthold. No, no, let me go! I must search all night. I must not lose a moment. If I tell you why I am searching will you let me go?

Blick. We make no promises.

Berthold. You have good faces; I will trust you. A year ago in this forest I—left—a young girl. I cannot tell you why, but oh, I thought it wise at the time. I was to come back next day and care for her; but when I reached the city I was seized and imprisoned.

Flick. [Crying out.] Can he be . . .?

Blick. Hush! [To Berthold.] Go on!

Berthold. It has taken me a whole year to escape. I dug a tunnel under the prison tower with that broken knife. I first saw daylight yesterday. I stopped only to hide my children; then I fled here to the forest to search. I have little hope—how could she live a year?—but I must search! Now, will you let me go?

[There is a moment's silence. Blick consults the others with a look, and replies.

Blick. If you can answer three questions we will let you go.

Berthold. [Wonderingly.] Questions?

Blick. Who was the woman who imprisoned you?

Berthold. Woman? How did you know that? It was a woman, and the wickedest on this earth—Queen Brangomar!

Blick. Your name is—Berthold?

Berthold. [Amazed.] You know me?

Blick. [Softly.] Who was the—child?

Berthold. Her name was Snow White.

Blick. [Gently.] Loose him, brothers.

[Quickly the Dwarfs strip the ropes from Berthold's arms; but he cries out.

Berthold. No, no, do not stop for that! Do you know anything of her? Tell me in pity's name. Is she alive?

Blick. Alas, poor Berthold, one look will tell you more than many words. Brothers, uncover her.

[Reverently two of the Dwarfs strip back the pall from the coffin and reveal Snow White. Her little silver dress
gleams in the moonlight. She looks as fair as if she had just fallen asleep.
[With a cry Berthold sinks on his knees beside her.

Berthold. Snow White! Oh my Princess! Dead ! I knew it must be so; but I hoped against hope!

Whick. [Gently.] She wandered to us in the Forest. She lived with us. We cared for her.

Blick. Once before she was in peril, and we saved her; but this time we came too late.

Berthold. When did it happen,—yesterday?

Blick. No, many months ago. But her red lips have never paled, nor her white skin looked less fair than snow. We could not bear to hide her away in the black earth, so we made this coffin of crystal and silver, and wrote her name upon it, "The Princess Snow White." And here we watch over her night and day. We loved her so! Berthold. You could not love her more than I. [His head sinks on his arms and he sobs.]

[With a quick gesture Blick gathers the Dwarfs about him, and whispers to them.

Blick. Brothers, he loved her, and he is a man! Let us ask what he would do.

The Dwarfs. [In eager whispers.] Yes! Yes!

[Blick gently replaces the pall.

Berthold. No, no, do not cover her! Let me look at her always.

Blick. Berthold, is it enough to watch? Month after month, we have watched, but we are Dwarfs. We thought a Man would not be satisfied to weep.

Berthold. [Rising.] You do well to rouse me. She shall be avenged! [The Dwarfs look at one another their

eyes burning with excitement; but Blick goes on quietly.

Blick. Ah, that is what we have longed to do—how we have longed!

Berthold. But you have done nothing?

Blick. What could we do? [He bows his head.] We are Dwarfs. We know nothing of the world of men and cities. We hoped that her enemy might some day creep back here. But we are not even sure who . . .

Berthold. Sure? It was Brangomar, the only enemy our little Princess ever had.

Blick. And Brangomar is—a Queen!

Snick. Upon a Throne!

Glick. With a great Court about her!

Flick. In a great City!

Whick. Full of tall people!

Blick. [Bursting out with passionate ness.] But oh, do not think we are afraid. No! We will follow if you will but lead us. Say you will lead us, Berthold!

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Berthold. I will lead you. You are my brothers now.

Blick. You know the way?

Berthold. Like my name.

Blick. Is it very far?

Berthold. If we journey all night we shall see the city wall by noon.

Flick. How many people make a city?

Snick. Shall we fight all the court?

Blick. Will they—will they laugh at us?

Berthold. [Fiercely.] Laugh? Not for long! The people love her even as we do. You shall bear her on your shoulders. When they see her they will rise to avenge her! And, to the Queen—death!

The Dwarfs. [Solemnly.] Death!

Berthold. We will enter the city crying, "In the name of our Princess Snow White!"

The Dwarfs. [Repeating solemnly.] "In the name of our Princess Snow White!"

Berthold. Lift her up and come.

[Gently Dwarfs raise Snow White's coffin on their shoulders, and following Berthold, march out of the moonlit glade and into the deep shadow of the Forest on their way to the City as
the curtain falls