Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

by N Fourbois

Part 3

Hans was still making his way to the dwarves' cottage and had just ridden off onto a side path to visit the mine first. He could hear some approaching hooves and through the trees he saw a black Arab stallion galloping past. Naturally he recognised it and the Prince Regent riding it. He geed up the two horses in order to get to the mine as quickly as possible. He jumped off his horse and banged on the wooden door at the entrance. Arsey soon appeared and asked, not without a great deal of annoyance in his voice, what the impetuous youth wanted. "It's Snow White," he panted. "He's in great danger. I've just seen the Prince Regent riding off through the forest, alone." Arsey was not slow to react. He mustered the other six dwarves and quickly explained the situation.

"Only the kiss of true love can save him now," wept Chunky. Once the mine was secured, Hans took three dwarves on his horse and four climbed with difficulty onto the back of the Prince's horse, and they rode off towards the cottage. When they reached the clearing, they noticed straightaway what had been dumped. The dwarves jumped or rather fell off the horses. Spunky ran towards the front door, Jumpy to the back to see if they could get in, but to no avail for Snow White had indeed barred all the doors. Thickie spotted the gold ring and picked it up, that being what he was trained to do in the mine. Cutie saw the wicker basket of apples and guessed what had happened. How could they get into the cottage? Then Weeny spotted the open window. He was the only one small enough to climb through it. Hans lifted him up and Weeny gave an involuntary scream as he saw Snow White lying on the floor, dead. He entered through the window, ran and unbolted the doors so that the others could come in.

Hans, tears in his eyes, fell to the ground and took Snow White in his arms and as he did, there fell from Snow White's mouth a sliver of apple, and as it did, Hans was sure he could hear a faint murmur. He kissed his loved one's brow and his eyes opened. "Oh, Hans," came a hoarse whisper. (If the situation had not been so dire, there would have been opportunity here for a joke about a hoarse whisperer.)

"Oh, Snow White," and Hans kissed him again, all this followed by cheering, whistling, hooting and clapping from the dwarves. A smile crept even across Arsey's face. They gently lifted him up and laid him across the dwarves' bed and Spunky made them all cup of tea. Decisions now had to be made.

Prince Rupert arrived back at the palace as quickly as possible. It was midmorning. The fewer people who knew of his absence, the better. "Where have you been?" asked his Gentleman-in-Waiting.

"Out exercising the black stallion. I couldn't sleep."

"I noticed that. There was a lot of tossing and turning in bed last night. Well, not much tossing, rather more kicking."

"Tell the chef to prepare me some breakfast."

The Gentleman-in-Waiting joined the Prince for breakfast and they talked as they normally would in private over a meal. "Rupert, I see you're not wearing your signet ring today."

"OMG, I wonder where I could have left that."

"Without it you can't seal any state documents."

"It's all right. It's probably in the bedchamber. I did get up rather early this morning."

"Would you like an apple?" The Gentleman-in-Waiting passed him the fruit bowl. Prince Rupert bit his lip.

"No. I think I'll pass on that this morning, thanks."

"Mind if I have one?"

"No. Help yourself."

As soon as he could decently get away, Prince Rupert disappeared up to the deserted part of the palace. He unlocked the door and the cupboard where the magic mirror was kept, and brought it out. Before he asked the question, he looked at himself. After getting up early and a strenuous ride, he admitted to himself that he was not looking at his best.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall,

Who's the greatest hunk of them all?"

Safe in the knowledge that the mirror could and would only speak the truth, he awaited its answer.

"Your Royal Highness, no man in the land could exceed your handsome visage and superb physique. You were certainly the greatest hunk of all the men in the land," at which he kissed his biceps in a self-congratulatory manner. "However, there is a boy, soon to become a man, who already surpasses you, both in fairness of face and with his superb physique." Prince Rupert's face turned white with rage.

"How can this be? Snow White is dead! Mirror, who is this upstart? Tell me."

"Your son, the Prince Otto."

"You mean the Crown Prince Otto?"

"No, sire, the Prince Otto." With Prince Rupert no longer being the hunkiest man in the kingdom, the mirror felt no obligation to answer him further. It misted over and closed itself down.

Prince Rupert's rage subsided. He had just rid himself of one rival and another appeared. Except that this time it was his own flesh and blood. The Prince Regent was being torn in two directions.

With oodles of TLC Snow White recovered from his misadventure. It was generally agreed that immediate action was required to support his claim to the throne and charge the Prince Regent with incitement to murder and attempted murder, although the 'ambulance-chasing' lawyers would have a field day with the second charge since it occurred on foreign territory. They must act quickly while people still believed Snow White to be dead. Arsey insisted Snow White and Hans spent the night with them and over the supper table they all put their heads together to formulate a plan of action. They celebrated Snow White's survival by boiling the last piece of salted venison from the stag that had in its own way sacrificed its life to save Snow White's. None of them could face the apple pie that Cutie had made for the previous day.

That night Hans slept up in the loft with Snow White. It was warm and they had several months of being apart to make up for. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, according to the saying.

In the morning there was an early breakfast since preparations for Snow White's return to the palace needed to be made. The dwarves had to go off to work. Half a day's production had already been lost. Finally Snow White and Hans were ready to set off on their horses. Snow White put the dropped signet ring with the royal seal on his little finger and draped the old crone's robes over his horse's saddle. Before leaving there were hugs from the dwarves, which because of the height difference were amusing in themselves. Spunky's farewell was particularly drawn out as he nuzzled his nose in Snow White's crotch. The dwarves waved their handkerchieves, some with tears in their eyes, until the horses and their riders disappeared out of view. Then the cottage was secured and it was 'heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work we go.'

Before entering the city, Snow White donned the old crone's robes and huddled deeper into them before arriving at the palace gates. He did not know what sort of reception they would receive. Hans's father was patrolling the open gates along with the Royal Lifeguard. He saw his son arrive and at first he wondered who the crabby old person with him was, but as they drew closer he recognised the second horse as belonging to Snow White. He knew something was afoot, and he wasn't talking about twelve inches. He told the sergeant that it was okay to let them in. He took the horses' reins and led them round to the back of the lodge. Only once they were safely inside did Hans reveal who his companion was. His mother and father hugged the new arrival with great joy, while she and his sisters burst into tears. After hearing briefly what had happened – Hans had after all spent a night away from home without telling his parents – his father said they must inform the Lord Chamberlain straightaway.

He went outside the lodge and sought the Captain of the Lifeguard, explaining that it was a matter of national urgency that he had a meeting with the Lord Chamberlain immediately. The Captain himself marched up to the palace and through to the Lord Chamberlain's office. He explained the circumstances and advised out of security grounds that it would be better if he came with him to the lodge rather than arouse suspicion by bringing a stranger into the palace. The Lord Chamberlain, a wise old bird, concurred and accompanied by his secretary, he went with the Captain to the lodge by the palace gates.

Snow White was still wrapped in the old robes. "Your Excellency," said Hans's father, "I want to present you to this young man," at which Snow White dropped his robe. "Crown Prince Alexander James Richard."

"Oh, good gracious!" exclaimed the Lord Chamberlain and he immediately fell to one knee. "Your Majesty, for that is what you rightfully are. Having passed your eighteenth birthday, you are the lawful King of this realm and, I note, you wear on your finger the Royal Seal of the Kingdom." The Secretary, following his superior, knelt and kissed the hand, followed by Hans, his father and mother and three sisters, and finally by the Captain of the Royal Lifeguard. "For the first time I proclaim you rightful King of this Realm. Long live the King."

"Long live the King," hailed the others.

Businesslike as ever, the Lord Chamberlain issued his commands, chiefly to the Captain of the Lifeguard. "Firstly I will address your men. Meanwhile nobody is to leave or enter the palace or its grounds. Your men will do exactly what they are commissioned to do, guard the life of the King at all costs. Prince Rupert's tenure as Prince Regent has expired and he is to be put under house arrest and solitary confinement in his quarters. All this until further notice, and that personally from me. After your men have taken up their posts, I shall make the official proclamation. Hans, you and your family are to remain in the lodge. Sire, you will remain in the protective custody of your Lifeguard."

The Captain saluted, left and ordered his Sergeant to muster the whole Lifeguard. The Lord Chamberlain proclaimed Snow White as King Alexander James Richard for the second time, repeated his orders and handed command back to the Captain. He and his Secretary with a detachment of Lifeguards made for the palace.

While all this was happening, Prince Rupert, no longer the Prince Regent, although he didn't yet know it, had climbed the stairs to the abandoned part of the palace. Also unaware of the fact, one of his pageboys, realising that his royal master disappeared from time to time, out of the sheer devilment that boys of his age enjoy, took it upon himself to tail the Prince. He remained a respectful distance behind, sufficiently to see that Prince Rupert was going to a part of the palace he had never been to. However, he was thwarted when the Prince unlocked a door leading to a flight of stairs and locked it behind him. Disappointed the page retraced his steps to the main part of the palace and the pages' mess.

Prince Rupert unlocked the mirror to carry out his daily routine. OCS, less sympathetic people might term it.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall,

Who's the greatest hunk of them all?"

He was safe in the knowledge that the mirror could only speak the truth, but not so secure in answer he might get, whether it was himself, much improved after a good night's sleep, or his son, Prince Otto. He could accept his own flesh and blood… just.

"Your Royal Highness, no man in the land could exceed your handsome visage and superb physique. You were certainly the greatest hunk of them all," at which in a Pavlovian response he kissed his biceps, rather than listening closely to the mirror. "But now the hunkiest man in the land is your stepson, Snow White." Knowing this to be the unbearable truth, Prince Rupert let out a piercing scream which could even be heard by the retreating pageboy.

"So he didn't die after all. I'll have that old witch burnt at the stake. The poison can't have worked!" In his rage he forgot to lock the mirror away, although he locked all the other doors. He stomped off to his quarters, sent everybody away, including his Gentleman-in-Waiting and sulked. In such a mega sulk he was oblivious of what was going on around him and he was in this state when the Lord Chamberlain under his own authority and under the protection of the King's Lifeguard marched into Prince Rupert's private apartment.

"Under the royal authority granted to me by the King I inform you, Your Royal Highness Prince Rupert, that the former Crown Prince Alexander James Richard, now being of age, has returned to claim his throne. He has been proclaimed King twice and the intention is to proclaim him a third time before sunset. You, sir, are no longer Prince Regent. You are stripped of any regal authority in this realm and are now placed under house arrest while serious allegations against you, including attempted murder and incitement to murder, are investigated." He left two members of the Lifeguard to guard the royal quarters.

The job is never finished until the paperwork is done. The Lord Chamberlain called the Privy Council together and presented the new King. Messengers were sent out to herald the proclamation of King Alexander, which over the following days was enthusiastically received by the nation. Even the dwarves as registered taxpayers received a visit at their remote mine and all seven of them, including Arsey, were visibly jubilant. Arsey closed the mine for the rest of the day and warned the dwarves that it was not to become a habit or to be seen as a precedent that there should be holiday every time a new king was proclaimed. Spunky announced that he was so overcome he needed to go off and celebrate privately and Cutie followed him to give him a hand in the celebration.

Back at the palace and in the capital things were happening at a pace. Arrangements had to be made to deal with the folk who were gathering outside the palace gates. At six o'clock the third and final proclamation was due to be announced to the nation. Before that suitable clothing needed to be found for the presentation of the new monarch. Snow White issued his first edict. Hans was to be at his side during all the formal royal duties and he was ennobled to the rank of a duke.

The sundial in the palace gardens was edging its way from five to six o'clock and the crowds had already massed in the square in front of the palace. At six o'clock the cathedral bell tolled and the royal party appeared on the balcony. Hans was at Snow White's side, along with his own family. Prince Otto was on the other side, chaperoned by various functionaries and flunkies. The royal standard was lowered and to the sound of a fanfare the Lord Chamberlain made the third proclamation. The royal standard was raised over the palace and a great cheer went up. The only unanswered question among the royal chroniclers, represented by one Niklaus Hexel*, was 'Where is Prince Rupert?'

The crowds cheered the new monarch, not only on his own behalf, but because they remembered the good times when his father was on the throne. Snow White declared the following day a national holiday and the celebrations in the city went on late into the night.

While all this was going on, Prince Rupert was languishing in his quarters, almost forgotten. He was fed and watered, but denied the services of his Gentleman-in-Waiting. Solitary confinement meant solitary confinement. No proceedings could be taken against him because the morrow had been declared a public holiday.

The page who had shadowed his former master to the abandoned part of the palace just had to talk about it in the pages' mess and his superiors soon got to hear and duly reported the matter to the Lord Chamberlain. In response he had the keys confiscated and accompanied by a detail of Lifeguards and the original page, made diligent search of the area. They soon came upon the magic mirror covered by a silken cloth, but were unable to discover its import immediately. However, since it was the only object of significance there, the Lord Chamberlain had it removed to his office to await due enquiries. The area was locked up again and the matter reported to the King.

The national holiday over and done with, the kingdom returned to normality. The Lord Chamberlain had two matters of state to concern himself with, the arraignment of Prince Rupert and the coronation of King Alexander. Within a few days there would be a third. He sent an ambassador to the royal court of Prince Rupert's native country to apprise his brother, the Elector, of what had happened.

The Snow White and Hans spent quality time together. Now that it was safe to do so, they rode out one morning on a sentimental journey to the village where they had watched the Morris Dancing. This time, however, they were accompanied by a detachment of Lifeguard, but at a discreet distance. And by coincidence, the travelling fair was again camped there. The King and Duke mingled anonymously in the crowd and naturally watched the dancing. During a pause for refreshment they went up to the foreman and made themselves known to him, but just as Snow White and Hans. He immediately remembered them from the previous occasion and asked if they could still dance the set after all these years. They thought with a little rehearsal they might and the squire introduced them to the crowd as the boys who had danced with them some years ago. After the set was over, the squire publicly thanked Snow White and Hans, explaining that they had visited the dancing before and they received warm acclamation. They tossed a few silver Pfennige into the fool's pail and took their leave. The fool checked the coins, but by this time the young men had reached the edge of the crowd, some of whom, including the fool, watched them go. When, on the edge of the village green, the Lifeguard brought them their horses, the folk suddenly recognised who they were. The fool just uttered "Amazing." But he was not such a fool, for during their first encounter he had realised just who that Alexander was. Suddenly the crowd burst into cheers and shouts of 'God save the King', but by now they had ridden off.

The sentimental journey would not have been complete without a diversion to the clearing in the forest. It was getting late. The sun was in the west, but still quite high in the sky. When they reached the clearing, the young King commanded the Lifeguards to give them some personal space, which they did while looking after the horses. When they reached the glade, they looked around to ensure they were alone and held hands. "Hans, do you remember Reinhardt, the Master of the King's Hunt?"

"I do. I wonder whatever happened to him."

"There are rumours he fled to America to escape the revenge of my stepfather. Did he ever give you a message?"

"He assured me that you were alive."

"Did he mention anything else maybe, Hans?"

"Mmm, there was something else, now you come to mention it. Now what was it?" Snow White realised that Hans was now pulling his plonker. Not literally, you understand. That would come later. Snow White gave Hans a friendly joshing punch on the shoulder.

"I am now going to fulfil that promise," and Snow White dropped to one knee. "Hans, will you grant me the honour of marrying me?" No hesitation. Hans raised his soul mate, took him into an embrace and said

"Alexander, of course I will," and they kissed.

By now the sun was hidden behind the trees and it was growing cool. Their moment of being alone was over and hand in hand they returned to the Lifeguards and to their horses for the ride home. But their moment of being alone had never begun. For hidden behind the trees, seven pairs of eyes had witnessed the whole scene.

Back at the palace King Snow White and Duke Hans celebrated their engagement privately. In the morning they would send for the Lord Chamberlain and inform him officially.

While Snow White and Hans were on their sentimental journey, the Lord Chamberlain, as head of the independent judiciary, started the proceedings against Prince Rupert. He could expedite this case and then clear his desk for organising the coronation. Formally, in front of the Privy Councillors, he explained the charges against the Prince. They were incitement to murder, attempted murder of the rightful King (attempted regicide) and witchcraft. The Lord Chamberlain explained that these were specimen charges and that others could be brought, if necessary. Prince Rupert was asked to plead guilty or not guilty, and should he plead not guilty, the trial would be held in public and witnesses including the King himself would be called to testify. Should he subsequently be found guilty, he would lay himself open to the full severity of the law and he was reminded that the penalty for regicide and attempted regicide was execution, and the only mitigation was that as a member of the nobility he would be hanged with a silken rope, and that were he guilty of witchcraft, the ultimate penalty was to wear iron slippers heated over a charcoal fire and dance until he fell down dead. The Prince uttered a string of swear words which did little to further his case. "Your Royal Highness is permitted a 'friend' as counsel. The court will retire while the defendant considers his plea." With that the Lord Chamberlain banged his gavel. The Prince was this time taken to cells, accompanied by his Gentleman-in-Waiting.

The court reconvened. It was opened with a bang of the Lord Chamberlain's gavel and the charges read out again. "How does your Royal Highness plead?" asked the Lord Chamberlain after each. Three times and with great difficulty Prince Rupert said


"You will withdraw while Privy Council considers the sentence."

In a very short time Prince Rupert was brought back to the dock. "The Privy Council has considered the sentences for your heinous crimes. May I remind you that this is a Realm of Culture and so the court has decided against the ultimate penalty for witchcraft. The penalties cover all three pleas of guilty. Before that have you anything to say in mitigation?" Prince Rupert claimed to have fallen under the spell of the magic mirror. "Magic mirror? Is that the one taken from the abandoned apartment in the palace?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Will you explain how this is a magic mirror?" Prince Rupert told of how it would answer questions and that one day it told him that he was no longer the hunkiest man in the land, but that he had been surpassed by Snow White." The court listened patiently. The Lord Chamberlain then handed down the sentence.

"Firstly, you are stripped of all royal titles and privileges pertaining to this kingdom. Secondly, you are sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. You will carry out six months of that sentence, and dependent on the satisfactory completion of the six months, the remaining sentence will be suspended for life, and life means life. You will then be banished from the kingdom, never to return. Should you, however, return, you will serve the remaining part of the sentence, again with hard labour and with no remission. There is no appeal against the sentence. Finally, the mirror shall be smashed so that it can no longer, either wittingly or unwittingly, be the harbinger of evil it had become. Sergeant, take the prisoner down." The Lord Chamberlain banged his gavel and declared "Court is dismissed."

The following day King Snow White and Duke Hans slept in late and took breakfast in bed. When the page came to take away the breakfast things, Snow White said "Would you present my compliments to the Lord Chamberlain and say that I request his presence?"

"Sire, he and his Secretary are already without, and pacing the corridor rather impatiently, may I be so bold to add."

"Advise him that we shall be but ten minutes."

Hans had to get dressed, but Snow White simply washed his hands and face, which were still rather sticky, and wrapped the kingly robe around himself. Snow White offered their apologies, for even a King must keep on the right side of his Lord Chamberlain, and explained that the page had been rather tardy in announcing his arrival. The Lord Chamberlain, as gracious as ever, said it was of little matter, while his body language communicated otherwise.

He gave the King a full account of what had happened the previous day and said he just needed a signature to confirm the sentence. "Now, I have some information for you, Lord Chamberlain."


"Duke Hans has consented to become my husband and we would be honoured if you would arrange the wedding."

"Your Majesty, your Grace, may I offer you both congratulations and wish you every happiness." The Lord Chamberlain's Secretary looked up from writing his minutes and said

"My Lord, the law does not permit same sex marriage." The happy couple's faces were no longer happy. The Lord Chamberlain considered.

"Secretary, the law does not prohibit it either." The couple looked relieved. "And I think by the time of the wedding the law will permit it." The Secretary wrote all this down. The King continued.

"We should like the ceremony to take place on the same day as and before the coronation so that Duke Hans may become the anointed Prince Consort."

"Very good, sire."

The Lord Chamberlain worked with the utmost fidelity and the date for the wedding and coronation was set. Invitations had to be sent out, the law amended and practical arrangements made. On the eve of the wedding Hans slept for the last time in the lodge by the palace gates. On that evening an edict was issued with the Coronation Honours List. Upon marrying, Duke Hans would have the further honour conferred on him of His Royal Highness Prince Johannes, Prince Consort of the Realm. Hans's father was created an earl and so his mother became a countess. The seven dwarves were to be knighted and were guests of honour at the wedding, coronation and afterwards at the breakfast. A special table and chairs had to be made to accommodate them. Arsey complained that it meant the loss of two days' work in the mine until it was pointed out that the coronation was taking place on a Saturday and so only one day was lost, and that also any losses of production would be tax deductible. Hans's sisters were invited to be groomsmaids and Prince Otto and Hans's father, the earl, were to be best men. In addition the grooms would personally invite selected royal pageboys to join the procession.

The day itself came and was a great success. Rupert could hear the wedding bells from the prison yard where he was breaking rocks. The wedding was almost marred by the uninvited old witch who had provided Rupert with the poison and who was now trying to gatecrash the celebrations, but eventually she was persuaded that this was Snow White and that she was in the wrong pantomime and should be in Sleeping Beauty .

After the toasts at the combined wedding breakfast and coronation banquet the two grooms withdrew to the honeymoon suite which had been prepared in the palace. That night the King's Lifeguards stood watch outside the suite. Immediately after the royal couple emerged the following morning, the Lord Chamberlain, in the line of duty, rushed in, examined the linen of the matrimonial bed and officially proclaimed that the marriage had been consummated, then left to carry on with his routine duties.

After his release from prison, Rupert was deported to his own country, but his brother, the Elector, considered that he had brought such shame on the Electoral family that he banished him and he reportedly followed Reinhardt's path to the Americas. Whether they met or not, is not known.

King Alexander and his Cohort, Prince Johannes, ruled long and successfully. With a little aid from the Royal Physician and Hans's sisters, they were able to produce a line of sons to ensure the royal succession, and it is reported that they lived happily ever after. Und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, dann leben sie heute noch.

© N Fourbois 2016

*Hexe = German for witch. Work it out from there.

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