Snow-White and Rose-Red (end)
"Where are you going?" said Rose-red; "you surely don't want to go into the water?"
"I am not such a fool!" cried the dwarf; "don't you see that the accursed fish wants to pull me in?"
The little man had been sitting there fishing, and unluckily the wind had twisted his beard with the fishing-line; just then a big fish bit, and the feeble creature had not strength to pull it out: the fish kept the upper hand and pulled the dwarf towards him. He held on to all the reeds and rushes, but it was of little good; he was forced to follow the movements of the fish and was in urgent danger of being dragged into the water.
The girls came just in time; they held him fast and tried to free his beard from the line, but all in vain: beard and line were entangled fast together. Nothing was left but to bring out the scissors and cut the beard, whereby a small part of it was lost.
When the dwarf saw that he screamed out, "Is that civil, you toad-stool, to disfigure one's face? Was it not enough to clip off the end of my beard? Now you have cut off the best part of it. I cannot let myself be seen by my people. I wish you had been made to run the soles off your shoes!"
Then he took out a sack of pearls which lay in the rushes and, without saying a word more, he dragged it away and disappeared behind a stone.
It happened that soon afterwards the mother sent the two children to the town to buy needles and thread, and laces and ribbons. The road led them across a heath upon which huge pieces of rock lay strewn here and there. Now they noticed a large bird hovering in the air, flying slowly round and round above them; it sank lower and lower, and at last settled near a rock not far off. Directly afterwards they heard a loud, piteous cry. They ran up and saw with horror that the eagle had seized their old acquaintance the dwarf and was going to carry him off.
The children, full of pity, at once took tight hold of the little man and pulled against the eagle so long that at last he let his booty go. As soon as the dwarf had recovered from his first fright, he cried with his shrill voice, "Could you not have done it more carefully! You dragged at my brown coat so that it is all torn and full of holes, you helpless clumsy creatures!" Then he took up a sack full of precious stones and slipped away again under the rock into his hole. The girls, who by this time were used to his thanklessness, went on their way and did their business in the town.
As they crossed the heath again on their way home, they surprised the dwarf, who had emptied out his bag of precious stones in a clean spot and had not thought that anyone would come there so late. The evening sun shone upon the brilliant stones; they glittered and sparkled with all colors so beautifully that the children stood still and looked at them.
"Why do you stand gaping there?" cried the dwarf, and his ashen-gray face became copper-red with rage. He was going on with his bad words when a loud growling was heard, and a black bear came trotting towards them out of the forest.
The dwarf sprang up in a fright, but he could not get to his cave, for the bear was already close. Then in the dread of his heart he cried, "Dear Mr. Bear, spare me: I will give you all my treasures; look, the beautiful jewels lying there! Grant me my life; what do you want with such a slender little fellow as I? Uou would not feel me between your teeth. Come, take these two wicked girls: they are tender morsels for you, fat as young quails; for mercy's sake eat them!" The bear took no heed of his words but gave the wicked creature a single blow with his paw, and he did not move again.
The girls had run away, but the bear called to them, "Snow-white and Rose-red, do not be afraid; wait, I will come with you."
Then they knew his voice and waited, and when he came up to them, suddenly his bearskin fell off, and he stood there, a handsome man, clothed all in gold.
"I am a King's son," he said, "and I was bewitched by that wicked dwarf, who had stolen my treasures; I have had to run about the forest as a savage bear until I was freed by his death. Now he has got his well-deserved punishment."
Snow-white was married to him, and Rose-red to his brother, and they divided between them the great treasure which the dwarf had gathered together in his cave. The old mother lived peacefully and happily with her children for many years. She took the two rose-trees with her, and they stood before her window, and every year bore the most beautiful roses, white and red.