I like a good fairy tale as much as the next person, but sometimes they're just so saccharine-sweet that you could go into diabetic shock. So what if the tales we know and love had different outcomes? Outcomes that weren't so great for the usual suspects?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Frightening Fairy Tales!
Once upon a time in the middle of winter, when the flakes of snow were falling like feathers from the clouds, a Queen sat at her palace window, which had an ebony black frame, stitching her husband's shirts. While she was thus engaged and looking out at the snow she pricked her finger, and three drops of blood fell upon the snow. Now the red looked so well upon the white that she thought to herself, "Oh, that I had a child as white as this snow, as red as this blood, and as black as the wood of this frame!" Soon afterwards a little daughter came to her, who was as white as snow, and with cheeks as red as blood, and with hair as black as ebony, and from this she was named "Snow-White." And at the same time her mother died.
About a year afterwards the King married another wife, who was very beautiful, but so proud and haughty that she could not bear anyone to be better-looking than herself. She owned a wonderful mirror, and when she stepped before it and said:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of us all?"
"The Queen is the fairest of the day."
Then she was pleased, for she knew that the mirror spoke truly.
Little Snow-White, however, grew up, and became prettier and prettier, and when she was seven years old she was as fair as the noonday, and more beautiful than the Queen herself. When the Queen now asked her mirror:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of us all?"
"The Queen was fairest yesterday;
Snow-White is the fairest, now, they say."
This answer so angered the Queen that she became quite yellow with envy. From that hour, whenever she saw Snow-White, her heart was hardened against her, and she hated the little girl. Her envy and jealousy increased so that she had no rest day or night, and she said to a Huntsman, "Take the child away into the forest. I will never look upon her again. You must kill her, and bring me her heart and tongue for a token."
The Huntsman obeyed. He took Snow White away, killed her, and presented her tongue and heart to the Queen, for a token of his deed.
THE LAST GIFT
Once upon a time there lived a King and Queen who had no children. They longed very much for a child; and when at last they had a little daughter they were both delighted, and great rejoicings took place.
When the time came for the little Princess to be christened, the King made a grand feast and invited all but one of the fairies in his kingdom to be godmothers. There happened to be thirteen fairies in the kingdom; but as the King had only twelve gold plates, he had to leave one of them out.
The twelve fairies that were invited came to the christening, and presented the little Princess with the best gifts in their possession. One gave her beauty, one gave her wisdom, another grace, another goodness, until they had all presented their offerings. Just as the last fairy was stepping back, there came a tremendous knocking at the door, and before anybody could get there to open it, it was burst open, and in came the thirteenth fairy, in a furious rage at not having been invited to the feast.
When she saw all the gifts which the other fairies had presented the child, she laughed and exclaimed:
"A lot of good all this beauty and virtue and wealth will do to you, my pretty Princess! You shall pay for the slight your Royal Father has put upon me!" Then, turning to the terrified King and Queen, she said, in a loud voice:
"When the Princess is fifteen years old she shall prick her finger with a spindle and die!" Having said this she flew away as noisily as she came.
The King and Queen were in despair, and the courtiers stood aghast at the terrible disaster; while the little Princess began to cry piteously, as if she knew the fate in store for her.
But the King hoped to save his daughter from such a terrible misfortune. So he ordered all the spinning-wheels in his kingdom to be burnt or destroyed, and made a law that no one was to use one on pain of instant death. But all his care was useless. On her fifteenth birthday the Princess slipped away from her attendants, and wandered all through the Palace. At last she came to a tower which she had never seen before, and, wondering what it contained, she climbed the stairs. From a room at the top came a curious humming noise, and the Princess, wondering what it could be, pushed open the door and stepped inside.
There sat an old woman, bent with age, working at a strangely shaped wheel. The Princess was full of curiosity.
"What is that funny-looking thing?" she asked.
"It is a spinning-wheel, Princess," answered the old woman, who was no other than the wicked fairy in disguise.
"A spinning-wheel—what is that? I have never heard of such a thing," said the Princess. She stood watching for a few minutes, then she added:
"It looks quite easy. May I try to do it?"
"Certainly, gracious lady," said the wicked fairy, and the Princess sat down and tried to turn the wheel. But no sooner did she lay her hand upon it than the spindle, which was enchanted, pricked her finger, and the Princess fell back against a silk-covered couch—dead.
THE CLEVER WOLF
Once upon a time there lived a little girl, who was so sweet and pretty and good that everybody loved her. Her old grandmother, who was very fond of her, made her a little red cloak and hood, which suited her so well that everyone called her "Little Red Riding-Hood."
One day, Little Red Riding-Hood's mother told her to take a basket with some butter and eggs and fresh-baked cake to her grandmother, who was ill. The little girl, who was always willing and obliging, ran at once to fetch her red cloak, and, taking her basket, set out on her journey.
On her way she met a wolf, who wished very much to eat her up; but who dared not do so because some wood-cutters were working close by. So he only said:
"Good-morning, Little Red Riding-Hood; where are you off to so early?"
Little Red Riding-Hood, who did not know how dangerous it was to talk to a wolf, replied:
"I am going to see my grandmother, who is ill in bed, to take her some butter and eggs and a fresh-baked cake that my mother has made for her!"
"Where does your grandmother live?" asked the wolf.
"In the little white cottage at the other side of the wood," answered Red Riding-Hood.
"Well," said the wolf, "I am going that way, too. If you will let me, I will walk part of the way with you." So Little Red Riding-Hood, who suspected no harm, set off with the wolf for her companion.
Presently Red Riding-Hood stopped to gather a nosegay of wild flowers for her grandmother, and the wolf, who had thought of a plan to get the little girl for his dinner, said "Good morning," and trotted away.
As soon as he was out of sight, he began to run as fast as he could. In a short time he reached the grandmother's cottage and knocked at the door.
"Who is there?" asked the old grandmother, as she lay in bed.
"It is Little Red Riding-Hood," answered the wolf. "I have brought you some butter and eggs and a fresh-baked cake which mother has made for you."
"Pull the bobbin and the latch will go up," said the old grandmother. So the wolf pulled the bobbin and opened the door, and sprang upon the poor old grandmother and ate her all up in a twinkling.
Then he put on her night-cap and got into bed, and lay down to wait for Red Riding-Hood.
Very soon there came a little soft tap at the door.
"Who is there?" called out the wolf.
"It is Little Red Riding-Hood, grandmother dear. I have brought you some butter and eggs and a fresh-baked cake which mother has made for you."
Then the wolf called out, disguising his voice as much as he could:
"Pull the bobbin and the latch will go up." So Little Red Riding-Hood pulled the bobbin and went inside.
"Good morning, dear grandmother," she said. "How are you feeling today?"
"Very bad indeed, my dear," answered the wolf, trying to hide himself under the bedclothes.
"How strange and hoarse your voice sounds, grandmother," said the little girl.
"I have got a bad cold, my dear," said the clever wolf.
"Grandmother, what very bright eyes you have!" went on Red Riding-Hood, surprised to see how strange her grandmother looked in her nightclothes.
"The better to see you with, my dear," said the wolf.
"Grandmother, what very big ears you have!"
"The better to hear you with, my child."
"Grandmother, what very long arms you have!"
"The better to hug you with, my dear."
"But, grandmother, what great big teeth you have," said Red Riding-Hood, who was beginning to get frightened.
"The better to eat you with," roared the wolf, suddenly jumping out of bed. He seized hold of poor Little Red Riding-Hood, and ate her up, cloak and all.