Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs/Scene 2
Great trees meet over a wild and overgrown path. It is after sunset, and the light is fading fast. A small Brown Bird flies above the path, chirping a little call, and perches in a tree just out of sight Snow White running gaily, follows the Bird.
Snow White. Yes, little brown bird, I hear you. You want another answer? Wait until I get my breath. [She whistles an imitation of the bird's call.] What? Flying on again, as soon as you've made sure I've heard? Where are you trying to lead us? [She calls back to Berthold.] Berthold, there's the brown bird again. He seems to be trying to get me to follow him. He's perched on that tree now waiting for me to come up. [The Bird calls again, and Snow White tries to imitate the call in words.] "Come, Snow White, come, Snow White!" Is that what you are trying to say? I'm coming! I'm coming! [And she runs on, following the Bird.]
- [Berthold comes into sight. As he sees how lonely the spot is, and how dark with the shadows of the great trees, he halts irresolutely and murmurs to himself.
Berthold. It may as well be here as anywhere. Mile after mile you have put it off till the next turn or some more shadowed spot. But that is no kindness to the Princess. Remember your own children, man! It must be here! [He calls after Snow White—and his voice is hoarse.] Princess! Come back!
Snow White. [Answering.] What is it, Berthold? You want me? [She runs back and slips her hand into his.] There's the bird again. He seems to know the way better than you do. Do you think he can know that I'm going to boarding-
school? [The bird calls again, and she answers,] Don't be so impatient! I shall stay with Berthold just as long as I like! He's a much older friend of mine than you are. What did you want, Berthold?
Berthold. Oh, dear Princess . . . [But he cannot go on.]
Snow White. Why are you so pale? Have you hurt yourself? [She tries to take his hand again, but he draws it away.] Oh, you're angry with me? Something I did or said hurt your feelings? I didn't mean to. Please forgive me!
Berthold. Forgive you, Princess! [He kneels before her, and cries out in anguish.] Say you can forgive me!
Snow White. [Wonderingly.] Forgive you? For what? [She tries to raise his bowed head, that she may see his face.] What is it, Berthold?
Berthold. Don't look at me, Princess! Don't look at me! [He folds his arms about her, and hides his face in her dress.] Snow White. Oh, whatever it is, tell me! I'm afraid!
Berthold. The Queen . . . Snow White. The Queen?
Berthold. The Queen . . . has commanded me to . . . kill you . . . here . . . in this forest . . . now!
Snow White. [Looking down at him in wonder.] Kill me? I don't understand. You're taking me to school! . . . Oh, you're joking! I call that a silly joke, stupid old Berhold—a very silly joke. Look at me! No, look at me! [Slowly he raises his had. She reads the truth in his face, and with a cry springs from him.] Oh, it's true, it's true! I know it! That was why the Queen . . . ! But you won't, will you? See, Berthold, I don't run away. I come right to you. I creep into your arms. You won't hurt me, will you?
Berthold. Oh, my darling! If it were my life alone that were at stake I would suffer any torture rather than harm a hair of your beloved head. But the Queen . . .
Snow White. Oh, you mean—that the Queen will kill you, unless . . . ?
Berthold. Not me, Princess, but my children. She has shut them up in the Grey Tower, and she will starve them to death . . .
Snow White. Oh, Berthold! [Then after a little pause, she goes on softly.] I know your little children. They have blue eyes and yellow hair. I've played with them. She would do it, too. [She thinks a moment; then with sudden resolution, goes on.] Kiss me good-bye, Berthold. I couldn't live and think of your children. See, I'm not crying—I'm not even very frightened. I'll turn away and shut my eyes. But please be quick!
Berthold. [Staggers to his feet and makes a fumbling movement for his knife; but as he touches it he sinks down again with a cry.] I cannot, Princess, I cannot!
Snow White. But you must, Berthold! How else can you save your children?
Berthold. [Sobbing.] I will find some way some way.
Snow White. No, it's not possible, Berthold!
Berthold. It's not possible for me to—kill—your Highness.[There is a silence.]
Snow White. Berthold, considering the way the Queen has behaved do you think it would be very wrong to tell her a story?
Berthold. [Dazed.] Wrong?
Snow White. Because if it weren't wrong, mightn't you tell her that you'd killed me without doing it? Berthold. But the proof! She has commanded me to bring her your heart before midnight.
Snow White. My heart? I've never seen a heart. I don't suppose a little piece of beef-steak would look at all like it, would it?
Berthold. No, but . . . [He springs up.]Why not the heart of some beast! I might catch a wild pig here in the forest, and . . . [Suddenly his voice drops.] But no! I couldn't leave you here alone. You would starve.
Snow White. Couldn't I live like the birds, on berries?
Berthold. But the winter will come—and—oh, your Highness, there are savage beasts in this wood.
Snow White. I haven't seen one;—not a living creature but my little brown bird.
Berthold. It was daytime and I was with you; but it is growing dark, and at night . . . Snow White. But if you don't take the heart to the Queen before midnight you know what she will do. The most savage beast would be less cruel. And you must catch the wild pig before it is too dark to see.
Berthold. No! I dare not leave your Highness!
Snow White. [Pretending to be struck with a new idea.] Berthold, could you find this place again?
Berthold. Find it? Every inch of the way is branded on my brain!
Snow White. Then to-morrow hide some food in your tunic and come back again, and we can plan. You might build me a little hut, and bring me food every day like a mother-bird, and I could live a little lone forest Princess.
Berthold. [Slowly.] I might . . . but . . .
Snow White. Oh, please! There is no other hope, is there? Berthold. None that I can see.
Snow White. Then hurry. It's getting darker every moment. Kiss me good-bye quickly. [She puts her face up to his.] Until to-morrow, dear Berthold!
Berthold. My Princess! Heaven keep you! Until to-morrow!
- [He hastens away.
Snow White. [Calling after him.] Good-bye, dearest Berthold! [Then, to herself.] Poor Berhold, does he think the Queen will ever let him out of her sight again? No, she will shut him up in that prison for fear that he might tell. He will never come back! Good-bye forever, Berthold! [A sudden terror seizes her.] Oh, it's good-bye forever, everybody! [She starts after him, crying,] Berthold, come back, come back! [But remembering, she clasps her hands over her mouth to stifle the cry.] Hush! Snow White! Think of his children, think of his children! [With a little moan, she sinks to the ground.] But what shall I do ? Where shall I go? I'm afraid—I'm afraid—afraid! [And she hides her face among the leaves.]
- [The call of the little Brown Bird is heard almost overhead. At first Snow White does not hear, and the Bird repeats the cry that sounds almost like "Come, Snow White!"
Snow White. [Looking up in wonder.] Oh little bird, are you still here? You haven't left me. I think you are my friend the only friend I have in all this world now. [The Bird flies off a little way and then perches and repeats his call.] Are you telling me to follow you, as you did before? But where shall I follow? I have nowhere to go. I wish I might live in your nest, little bird. [Again the Bird calls and Snow White rises and follows where he flies.] Yes, I will follow, I trust you. [She runs out of sight among the trees, calling softly as she goes.] I hear! I am coming! I am following, little brown bird!