(illustration by Otto Ubbelohde)
Snow-White and Rose-Red (cont.)
Then she cried, "Snow-white, Rose-red, come out! The bear will do you no harm; he means well."
So they both came out, and by-and-by the lamb and dove came nearer and were not afraid of him.
The bear said, "Here, children, knock the snow out of my coat a little," so they brought the broom and swept the bear's hide clean, and he stretched himself by the fire and growled contentedly and comfortably.
It was not long before they grew quite at home and played tricks with their clumsy guest. They tugged his hair with their hands, put their feet upon his back and rolled him about, or they took a hazel-switch and beat him, and when he growled, they laughed. But the bear took it all in good part; only when they were too rough, he called out, "Leave me alive, children,
Will you beat your lover dead?
When it was bedtime, and the others went to bed, the mother said to the bear, "You can lie there by the hearth, and then you will be safe from the cold and the bad weather." As soon as day dawned, the two children let him out, and he trotted across the snow into the forest.
Henceforth the bear came every evening at the same time, laid himself down by the hearth, and let the children amuse themselves with him as much as they liked, and they got so used to him that the doors were never fastened until their black friend had arrived.
When spring had come and all outside was green, the bear said one morning to Snow-white, "Now I must go away and cannot come back for the whole summer."
"Where are you going, then, dear bear?" asked Snow-white.
"I must go into the forest and guard my treasures from the wicked dwarfs. In the winter, when the earth is frozen hard, they are obliged to stay below and cannot work their way through, but now, when the sun has thawed and warmed the earth, they break through it and come out to pry and steal, and what once gets into their hands and in their caves does not easily see daylight again."
Snow-white was quite sorry for his going away, and as she unbolted the door for him and the bear was hurrying out, he caught against the bolt and a piece of his hairy coat was torn off, and it seemed to Snow-white as if she had seen gold shining through it, but she was not sure about it. The bear ran away quickly and was soon out of sight behind the trees.
A short time afterwards, the mother sent her children into the forest to get fire-wood. There they found a big tree which lay felled on the ground, and close by the trunk something was jumping backwards and forwards in the grass, but they could not make out what it was. When they came nearer, they saw a dwarf with an old withered face and a snow-white beard a yard long. The end of the beard was caught in a crevice of the tree, and the little fellow was jumping backwards and forwards like a dog tied to a rope and did not know what to do.
He glared at the girls with his fiery red eyes and cried, "Why do you stand there? Can you not come here and help me?"
"What are you about there, little man?" asked Rose-red.
"You stupid, prying goose!" answered the dwarf; "I was going to split the tree to get a little wood for cooking. The little bit of food that one of us wants gets burnt up directly with thick logs; we do not swallow so much as you coarse, greedy folk. I had just driven the wedge safely in, and everything was going as I wished, but the wretched wood was too smooth and suddenly sprang asunder, and the tree closed so quickly that I could not pull out my beautiful white beard, so now it is tight in and I cannot get away, and the silly, sleek, milk-faced things laugh! Ugh! how odious you are!"
The children tried very hard, but they could not pull the beard out; it was caught too fast. "I will run and fetch someone," said Rose-red.
"You senseless goose!" snarled the dwarf; why should you fetch someone? You are already two too many for me; can you not think of something better?"
"Don't be impatient," said Snow-white. "I will help you," and she pulled her scissors out of her pocket and cut off the end of the beard.
As soon as the dwarf felt himself free, he laid hold of a bag which lay amongst the roots of the tree and which was full of gold, and lifted it up, grumbling to himself, "Uncouth people, to cut off a piece of my fine beard. Bad luck to you!" and then he swung the bag upon his back and went off without even once looking at the children.