' Good-day, mother, what have you to sell'?'
' Good wares, fine wares,' she answered ; ' laces of every shade and description,' and she held one up that was made of some gay coloured silk.
' Surely I can let the honest woman in,' thought Snowdrop ; so she unbarred the door and bought the pretty lace.
' Good gracious! child,' said the old woman,' what a figure you've got. Come ! I'll lace you up properly for once.'
Snowdrop, suspecting no evil, stood before her and let her lace her bodice up, but the old woman laced her so quickly and so tightly that it took Snowdrop's breath away, and she fell down dead.
' Now you are no longer the fairest,' said the wicked old woman, and then she hastened away.
In the evening the seven Dwarfs came home, and you may think what a fright they got when they saw their dear Snowdrop lying on the floor, as still and motionless as a dead person. They lifted her up tenderly, and when they saw how tightly laced she was they cut the lace in two, and she began to breathe a little and gradually came back to life. When the Dwarfs heard what had happened, they said:
' Depend upon it, the old peddler wife was none other than the old Queen. In future you must be sure to let no one in, if we are not at home.'
As soon as the wicked old Queen got home she went straight to her mirror, and said :
' Mirror, mirror, hanging there, Who in all the land's most fair ? '
and the mirror answered as before :
' My Lady Queen, you are fair, 'tis true, But Snowdrop is fairer far than you. Snowdrop, who dwells with the seven little men, Is as fair as you, as fair again.'
When she heard this she became as pale as death, because she saw at once that Snowdrop must be alive again.
' This time,' she said to herself, ' I will think of something that will make an end of her once and for all.'
And by the witchcraft which she understood so well she made a poisonous comb ; then she dressed herself up and assumed the form of another old woman. So she went over the seven hills till