Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Seven Dwarfs in the Enchanted Kingdom

((In the eighty-ninth year of my sweet and innocent queen’s reign I write to you, dear cousin, to relate to you my tale. You, Frumpy, are the only family I could trust with this autobiography of Queen White and her time amongst my brothers and I. (We both know I could never entrust this to those three little idiots, our shared cousins the Pygs; not after their run in with that wolf of a Sherriff.) With the passing of my queen and being the last of my brothers to still draw breath I know now it is time to pass on what have been the sweetest memories to me. Keep them cousin, and let them grow and flourish amongst your own family – we dwarfs have need of hopeful tales in these dark times.))

I must first start with my eldest brother, Doc, for it is because of him that the seven of us fell in with the humans of the Enchanted Kingdom. Like our father, Regent, he was a wise fellow, but ever a dreamer. After our father and mother passed it fell to him to raise his brothers. Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Myself, and Dopey (listed by our ages). The lands of the dwarfs, as you well know, are stuck in the ruts of tradition and serfdom Doc would always say those first years. He spent his time planning and studying maps after our long hours in the mines, trying to divine a place where he and his brother might be free.
I remember one night he piqued up as if lightning had struck him in the rear. “The humans,” he exclaimed. “The humans will take us in! They have even more love for gems and gold then we dwarfs do. We’ll mine for them, in their lands…”
“And become slaves to them, eh? Is that your answer?” Grumpy cut in. He and Doc were constantly at odds with one another, since they were the closest in age and always of two minds about everything. Grumpy’s interjection gave Doc pause, but then he lit up again.
“No. In secret we will work for them. We have but to strike the deal in secret and all the riches of their land will be laid bare for them! But which kingdom?” Doc went back to his studies and the rest of us went back to our own interests.
“Humans indeed.” Grumpy humphed and went back to his sock darning.
Many long nights passed before Doc decided on the kingdom we would secret off to. Most of us sat in anticipation, although Sleepy simply slept though it and Grumpy was less than interested to hear.
“There are several human kingdom’s near enough to our own that to slip into them would not be difficult and they would be aware of our kind’s skill at working the earth. Of the first two I would be reluctant to enter since they are a more harsh and destructive people, ruled by vice and emotion. More are too small and would lack any suitable sites to mine. There were several that I considered based off of their political structure and economies, but their overall populations would be insuffi…”
“GET TO THE POINT.” Grumpy growled from his seat.
Doc, acting like he had never been interrupted said, “The Enchanted Kingdom.”
That night we packed everything we would need and more, as Doc never planned to return to our homeland. We brought our tools, both for the mine and for woodworking, pots, pans, food stores, rope, bedding, silverware, musical instruments, and books. The next day, our final day as serfs, was one of the longest I could remember. The sweat clung to us as we left the fiery bowels of the earth and made the slow weary march to our home. We all quietly hummed the song our father taught us during happier times.
Once home we put on our packs, and with only the slightest grumble from Grumpy that we might have forgotten something, we slipped off into the night towards the border of the Enchanted Kingdom – and our new home.
We made camp in the woods, where there was more than abundant life to sustain us, and more importantly, Doc pointed out, plenty of places to hide should anyone seek us out. The next day he and Happy left us to make their way to the King’s castle and entreat him in secret. Grumpy reluctantly agree to watch over the rest of us, but he took affront at being made the babysitter. We busied ourselves with securing food and shelter for the next week as we waited for Doc and Happy to return – all the while Grumpy disapproved of everything we did (even while performing as he had instructed). Finally, Doc and Happy returned.
To say Doc was excited would be unfair to those reading, because that would not fully impress upon the reader the look of satisfaction and joy that was shining on his face (Happy of course always looked happy so we paid him no never mind). They carried between them a chest, large enough to put one of us inside.
“The deal has been struck! The king will take us, in secret, as his subjects as long as we delivery to him this chest filled with jewels and gold in three months time and every month thereafter.” We all waited for Grumpy to object but he instead stood away from the group with his hard eyes looking at the ground. While Doc was like father in mind and spirit, it was Grumpy who inherited his ability to find the richest veins of gold and the deepest deposits of gems.
“Well, what are you all lollygagging about for then, eh? We have a mine to find.” With that we all scattered into the woods to find sites for Grumpy to inspect.
Happy found a deep pit not far from our site. Grumpy took one sniff and then walked on, mumbling about dampness and dunderheads. Sleepy was found asleep in a small cave along a shallow rock wall. Grumpy was unimpressed and suggested we move Sleepy before the bear woke up and ate him. My own find was dashed aside with a wave of Grumpy’s hand; too shallow a vein he said and too hard the stone, but most likely the only one we would find in this forsaken place. Doc and Sneezy both shared the same find and the same disappointment as Grumpy shook his head and asked them if Quartz was worth anything amongst the humans.
It was up to Dopey, who no one had seen for some hours. We all found him some miles from our site in what could only be described as a forest quarry. Huge boulders were exposed under the roots of large pine and fir trees centuries old, a stream picked its way between the mighty stones and then disappeared into a dwarf sized cave. Dopey was hopping up and down, pointing madly at a butterfly resting atop one of the boulders. Grumpy stepped up next to Dopey, hit him on the shoulder, said “Dad would be proud, boy.”

I will spare the reader the details of how we made a new life for ourselves out in the lonely woods of the Enchanted Kingdom, only to mention that the mine we carved out of that forest quarry was one of the richest any of us had ever seen. We also built a house not far from the mine and filled it with all the things of home. We easily met the challenge give us by the king, rewarding him with a ruby the size of his head. Every month after we filled a chest with new and greater wonders. My eye was ever looking over the gems and stones the others pulled from the earth, sifting the wheat from the chaff: giving the king only the best.
It was hard work, but unlike in our homeland where we would hum songs to lift our spirits, we now sung the songs boldly and with cheer (except Grumpy of course). At the end of the day Doc would sing out the first note of our father’s end of day song.
The note would echo through the cave until Grumpy would take up the note with his own powerful voice and so on down the line until all seven of us brothers (save Dopey who could not speak or sing, but he would mouth the words) sang in perfect harmony. Then the song would begin in full and we would leave our tools and head to our beds. This carried on for many years and probably would have carried on for many more, had she not entered into our lives.
She was the new wife of the king, and a shrewd woman she was for she used our fear of being found out against us. Without her husband’s knowing, she increased out monthly quota to include a small chest for herself, which we were to fill with the dark and strange stones found in the deepest parts of the earth. While we chaffed somewhat under this new yoke, it was still far lighter than any we would have bore back amongst the other dwarfs.
It was not much longer that the king passed away, from what we could not say, but Doc worried some that the Queen would demand even more of us. He of course was not wrong for the next month’s chest was the size of three dwarfs. Grumpy’s muttered under his breath, Happy laughed, Sleepy slept, Sneezy sneezed, I watched it all from the corner of the room, and Dopey played with the trunk’s latches.
This was a change none of us approved of.

Yet it was the way of life for us now. Our freedom, albeit diminished, was still too sweet to give up for the life of servitude destined for us in the dwarven lands. ((You, cousin, can appreciate the dilemma we were in as you yourself, at the same time, were gaining a taste of freedom with the reforms under Shifty the Great only to lose much of those freedoms during the reign of Jumpy the IX some years later .))
Our overall home life suffered however from this new more demanding life we now had to live, so the dishes were not as well washed, the rooms not as picked up, or our own cleanliness not though of often. We were becoming quite miserable, Happy became quite ill over that year’s winter and we had to work especially hard to meet the Queen’s demands. The walk home across the snow was now a bitter one and our father’s end of day song became a melancholy dirge.
Come winter thaw Happy was back amongst us, and merry as ever, but the work held less of the joy it once did as a second chest now awaited filling every month. We shuffled home without song, the sun already set behind the mountains, to our humble home. At the front of us walked Doc, his head lowered and his eyes distant. A brief look up to check his steps made him stop and consequently made all of us stop as well as we crashed into one another. Grumpy made to loudly complain, but Doc hushed him and pointed to our home.
Tucked into a copse of trees sat our small home alone and silent, but the door hung wide open. We all looked back down the line to Dopey, who task it was to close the door as we left in the mornings, but he mimed locking a door and shrugged his shoulders. Grumpy grumbled to himself and then stomped up to the house – the rest of us follow close behind.
Peering into the still darkness that hangs over the inside of the house from outside the door is an eerie feeling. We could see things misplaced, chairs moved, and trinkets unsettled. A bear or other animal would not take the time to move things, so that left one the animal we feared – dwarfs. Our own kind had finally found us.
Doc was the first to enter, stopping at the door to take up a stout walking stick; the rest of us entered and took up similar weapons. If dwarfs meant to take us back to our old lands they would take us fighting. A quick look around revealed there was no one in the kitchen or great room, or the workshop under the stairs, or the library at the back of the house. Our doom awaited us upstairs and while we dwarfs are no cowards we forcefully made Doc take the first step up the stairs.
Up the creaking steps we tread, seven dwarf brothers armed with canes, pots, logs, and a rolled up parchment (Dopey’s weapon). A more shameful memory I cannot think of; we were like children jumping at every noise and cringing from every shadow. Doc’s study to the left of the stairs was empty, and the bath straight ahead, leaving only our shared bedroom to search.
Happy made to open the door that was half ajar when Sneezy made to live up to his name! A mighty sneeze broke the calm silence, followed by two smaller ah chews that would have awoken a sleeping dragon. We all held our breaths, Sneezy made to apologize but Dopey put his hand over his mouth, and we all listened. Not out sound came out of the bedroom. Happy swung the door on its squeaky hinges to reveal a seemingly empty room. Led by Doc we stepped inside, weapons at the ready, and nerves at the fraying point. The slightest movement would have caused us to strike like a coiled viper. We came to the end of the room, all of us looking in all directions – it was empty.
Or so we thought. I caught the stirring of the blankets on Dopey’s bed and instead of coiled vipers we shrunk like opossum to the farthest corner. The blankets slipped off the form in Dopey’s bed and onto the floor. We caught our first glimpse of our assailant and she was… beautiful. Never before and never again would I describe anything as beautiful, it is a term I have reserved only for her. She was human, for sure, pale skinned, dark red lips, and lustful black hair. Young and in the prime of life, her face was one of royalty and grace. From that day forward, for good or ill, she was my queen.
Grumpy and Doc began to talk and that of course led to arguing. Their heated debate was what finally awoke the beauty from her sleep; she sat up with a start.
“Oh!” She cried and made to flee, but Grumpy rushed to cut her off and hold her at bay with his iron pot. She fell back to the bed and looked to faint, but Doc motioned for all of us to lower our weapons; which all but Grumpy did.
“What is your name child,” asked Doc, stepping closer to the bed. She looked taken aback that we could speak or even form clear sentences, but that passed from her face and she looked to speak.
“Your name or we take your head!” Grumpy barked. She jumped at his words and the rest of shushed him violently.
“My name is Snow White.” Her voice was perfect, the memory of which warms me still.
“And how did you come to be here,” Doc pressed now at her feet, the stout walking stick lying on the floor out of reach. The rest of us circled around her, save Grumpy who stood at the door with a scowl on his face.
She related her tale to us, of her mother’s final embrace, her father’s pain, her step mother’s envy, the plot to kill her, and the hunter’s kindness. And that brought her sad tale to the bedroom she new rested in. She had stumbled through the woods and found our home by chance. She entered hoping to find a family that would take her in, finding no one she waited but fell asleep in the bedroom.
“My brothers and I, of course, would be happy to take you in, but with our work we couldn’t provide for you like would be accustomed to as a princess.” Doc explained. He took his chin in his hand went into a deep thought, no doubt weighing all the options.
“She’d better cook, clean, and dust this whole place every day. And there is no way she is staying in this room with us – the floor by the fire should do her well enough.” Grumpy yelled from his place at the door. Doc shook his head in agreement.
“Of course we will make a place for you to sleep, but you will have to pull your own weight as we dwarfs do.” Doc said, once again falling a contemplative mood. We all shook our heads wildly in agreement and Snow White’s smile beamed.
“We’ll if she is to have her own room then it is your study she shall have.” Grumpy said with a humph and then left the room.

While Grumpy was not immediately won over by Miss White, the rest of us were, and come the next day the house was clean and a warm meal was laid out in the great room for us to eat after a long day of work. Should you think that she was a soft touch you would be mistaken, our own mother was no less strict then she. Upon entering the house we were soon turned out to go wash ourselves, then we had to finish everything on our plates (no easy task as she was just learning to cook and use seasonings properly for dwarfs), and finally we too had to pick up after ourselves. It wasn’t long before our spirits were lifted and we again sang our songs joyfully.
What a change she had made in us in just a short time, but such was the magic that she brought with her. At night we busied ourselves making her a proper bed and dressing Doc’s study into a room fit for her. Dopey made sure she never was without a bouquet of flowers, Sneezy saw that she never was without a pillow or blanket when she sat, and the rest of us attended to any other needs she might have. In short order all was made right in our world and we all wondered how we had been happy before she arrived. In secret after the other had gone to bed, I spent my nights composing a song dedicated to her in the Dwarfish way, but I never had the strength to sing or play it for her when we all sat around the fire at night.
We left her everyday with the warning to speak with no one, we had vowed to keep her safe and we meant to be true to our word. On the brightest morning of the new summer, with the slightest breeze, and the sparkling dew on the ground we bid her farewell for another day. We labored and toiled in our mine to meet the quota of the queen, but Doc and Happy keep our spirits up with ancient dwarven songs. We stopped when the familiar note of father’s end of day song rang out through the cave. We packed up our things and made our way home, lost in song and mirth. Even Grumpy was particularly joyful that evening as Snow White was had promised him his favorite meal (liver and turnip) for supper.
He was the first to see her laying on the ground, still as a stone and deathly pale, an apple lay at her side. Tears streamed from our faces as we all swept to her side. Happy wailed, tearing his shirt and heaping dust on his head, Dopey brushed the stray hairs off her face and shook back and forth, and the other stood over her and cried. In my own despair I pulled at the corner of her dress and wept, but I could never forget Grumpy’s reaction. He stood at her feet and seethed. Though a grump and a prickly personality there had never been malice in my brother, but now there was murder in his eyes.
“Brothers,” Grumpy did not raise his voice as he addressed us, it was a steady and bitter tone, “a terrible wrong has been done us. One I mean to see revenged. For in my own way I loved her as I know you all did. So, you will all stay here and give her body proper care, while I will go out and find the one responsible for this heinous act.” Grumpy turned towards the woods to seek vengeance alone, but our own hearts yearned to punish those who would kill our beloved Snow White. We all leapt up, found weapons (this time more dangerous than walking sticks, pots, or rolled up newspaper), and as one we run into the woods to seek out the killer.
The humans have the false belief that dwarfs are only able in the dark of the mine shaft and are easily lost above ground (they have never taken the time to study us or learn our history, dear cousin Frumpy, so we mustn’t be overly surprised by their ignorance). No, we dwarfs have ever been able woodsmen, and Sneezy with his acute senses was an exceptional tracker. He led us straight to an old woman, ambling along a lonely forest track with a basket of apples. Grumpy was first to round in front of her and confront the hag with his shovel. Encircled she paused, but then began a deep cackle that child me blood (and the others I would say with certainty).
“So you are the strumpet’s keepers, eh?” Her hooded face hid a long smile. “Go back to your mine, dwarfs, before I have you buried in it.” Doc took a step forward, brandishing his garden shears, trying to get a better look at the woman who stood before us. With a grand flourish she stood straight and threw off her cloak. She had changed size and shape before our eyes; once a haggard and bent old woman, now a royal and powerful queen.
“It’s you!” Doc exclaimed, jumping back from her. “This is the queen.”
“Yes, and you would be wise to remember that.” She sneered, her lovely face contorted and sickly looking.
“What do we do Doc?” Sleepy asked. The rest of us looked to him for guidance, but He held his ground next to Grumpy, in front of the queen, keeping her from leaving. Doc and Grumpy looked at one another, a moment of unspoken understanding passing between them, before they both lunged at the queen. My own weapon, a spade, went to pierce her backside, but she moved quickly for her size and age. Producing a knife of her own she swung and cut across my eyes, dodging Doc and Grumpy’s blows and then grabbing onto Dopey’s staff and then stabbing him in the arm she was able to make an opening to escape through.
Off she flew through the woods and we at her heels, yelling and calling down all the curses we knew. Whenever we would catch her we would land trade blows with one another. Giving Happy a horrendous cut from his mouth to his ear, cutting off Sleepy’s ear at the next battle, and finally, burying her dagger in Grumpy’s back. Chasing her all throughout the woods we arrived by mere chance we arrived at the mine in the forest quarry. Looking back to see how close we were to her, she lost her balanced and tripped. Down she tumbled amongst the rocks and into the little stream.
She moaned with pain, her leg and arm broken by the fall. We surrounded her again, looking down on her with cold, merciless eyes.
“No better than she deserves,” said Grumpy. Doc went down into the mine and returned with a pick-ax. He stood over her head and made ready to swing.
“MERCY!” She cried. “MERCY! I am too beautiful to die like this.” She screamed with all the power in her lungs, but it could not dissuade us. Doc’s blow fell heavy and she was dead. He let go of the handle with a shock and then fell on his back, his hands held tight against his chest. We ran to him and watch in horror as his arms shriveled and bent. It was some curse she had placed on herself, a final act of hatred from a despicable woman. We left her body exposed for the carrion birds to rip apart.
Now in complete darkness we carried Doc back through the woods, licking our wounds and falling again under the weight of despair. The tears began to fall anew as we came to her body again. Those bloody and wounded we looked to her first, taking her inside and laying her in her bed. She looked peaceful and calm in death.

Over the next few days Doc supervised (as his hands were now useless) the construction of a crystal coffin and a temple of sorts in the dell just beside our home. So well built was the coffin that after we laid her in it her body would not age. (Humans are always amazed at this, but they have never seen the perfectly entombed bodies of our own great kings and leaders, centuries old.) And so she rested though the remainder of summer, fall, winter, and into the spring. We each paid our respects in our own ways. Doc spent first light at the foot of her final resting place, looking longingly at her face. Grumpy would rake the leaves and keep the site free of brush (“She wouldn’t have let us get away with anything less,” he once said), he moved stiffly from the wound in his back that had punctured a lung. Happy would talk to her as if she were still there listening, the scar on his face giving him a grisly look, but he remained as happy as ever. Sleepy would lie beside her as he had done when she was still with us. Sneezy would bring her things he had found and leave them for her (Grumpy of course would throw them away, lamenting all the junk he had to deal with). Dopey was ever vigilant in keeping a fresh bouquet of flowers on her coffin. Finally, for myself, now with the use of only one eye… I sang the song I had written for her, everyday at sunset.
None of us worked the mine anymore, our injuries to severe and hearts too broken. We all kept to ourselves, spoke little, ate little, and slept little. The only bonds we had with one another was brotherhood and even that now seemed frayed. Grumpy considered returning to our homeland and seemed that he might convince Doc to join him, but he remained noncommittal, so we stayed.
In that bleakness we remained until one day we were startled to see two men on horseback at the edge of the trees. We all fell to our weapons and set ourselves up between them and the body of our dear Snow White. They rode out, one an older man rough cut and leathered; the other young and regal.
“Kind dwarfs we mean you no harm.” The elder said, stopping his horse a good distance from us. He looked us up and down and then looked to his companion, exchanging words quietly between themselves before speaking again. “I ride with Prince Charles Ferdinand of the Lower Kingdom. I am his woodsman, Humbert, formerly of the Enchanted Kingdom. I had shared a tale with my lord that has brought us into theses woods, the tale of a beautiful princess without equal. Have you seen her?”
Upon hearing this we all dropped out weapons and broke down to tears, for this was the woodsman that had saved Snow White from the queen’s first treachery. We moved to him and thanked him deeply, all speaking at once. The two men did not know what to do or what to make of us, but now that we had moved from her grave they could better see her resting in the crystal coffin. The prince dismounted and went beside her.
Through the clear crystal he was able to perceive her beauty and I thought perhaps I saw him gasp when he saw her. In the years that followed the scribes would try to explain why the Prince had ridden out with the woodsman into the woods in search of a princess he had never seen. Lust, divined some; Others, a thirst for power and prestige in claiming a beautiful wife; and still other would say he went on a fool’s errand on a youthful whim. We who where there that day have a clearer vision of the Princes’ intentions and had not spoken a word.
Humbert, the woodsman, had given the prince only a pale account of Snow White’s person, but even that small taste had stirred in the prince something deep in his being. Why he had ridden out, faced danger, ridicule, and trials, and now stood next to our Snow White was because of love. Only a small sliver of that pure and universal emotion, but in that boy it burned like a furnace. To thus see his love, who he could only dream of now, lying dead and entombed broke his heart. He fell against the coffin and wept. We joined him in mourning.
As the sun bent low against the horizon and our tears were spent, the prince and Humbert made to leave and return to their kingdom. The prince stopped though and seemed to battle within his self.
“Could I…” He hesitated, but then gathered his full courage. “Could I ask to take a lock of her hair?”
Doc took a moment to think, but could not deny the prince’s request. Here was a man like us that simply wanted to have a way of remembering. Doc went to the coffin, and with Dopey acting as his hands, opened the case. The prince stepped close, knife drawn to take a cut of hair. As he leaned in he stole an innocent kiss of her check, cut the tussle of hair and made to leave. We all turned to watch him go.
Doc sealed the coffin again and as the sun set we stood around her and prayed over her; hoping she might hear us. We all slept soundly that night, as our weeping had tired us, and for once we all awoke refreshed. There was a magic to this new day. Birds sang more loudly, the sun more bright, Grumpy was less grumpy, and other signs that we missed. Doc went to tend to the coffin as he always did in the mornings, but he yelled with such a start that we all rushed out to see.
There in the arbor next to our home, with the crystal case opened, sat Snow White – revived!

We knew not by what magic that it was that had healed her, as we were too excited to question it and far too busy covering her in kisses and tears. We informed her of all that had happened since our finding her dead on the ground. She was most intrigued by our story of Humbert and the Prince. She seemed to glow when we spoke of him. Doc saw as much in her eyes.
“We will take you to him. Immediately. Instantly. This very second!” Doc was beside himself with happiness.
Grumpy shook his head, “You’d have a queen arrive like a country bumpkin! We need to build for her a carriage and new clothes.” So we went to work. I and Dopey took her into the house, fed her, and let her rest. Once she felt rested we measured her and went to work altering several of the other dresses we had made her into a fine gown; incorporating many of the most stunning jewels we had kept from the mine. The others quickly set about the building of a grand carriage. In two days time it and the dress were completed.
With Snow White now looking more like a queen than ever, we set out for the Lower Kingdom at first pulling the carriage ourselves and later purchasing a pair of draft horses from a stable with a sapphire as big as a fist.
We arrived in the Lower Kingdom only a few short days after we had left, just in time for a ball in the prince’s honor. Heralded to all as the Queen of the Enchanted Kingdom (as was her rightful position now that her step mother was dead) she and the prince immediately fell into one another’s arms.

They married and the two kingdoms became one. The seven of us were honored guests of their majesties and never lifted a pick to work the stone again. We all served in what ways we could of course. Doc tutoring the royal children, Grumpy serving as chief surveyor, Happy a host of renown, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, and myself served the queen exclusively as her guard, servants, and advisors. The kingdom flourished under their reign and still grows today under the wise leadership of their eldest son, Doc Humbert the First.
Passing of old age the king and queen we so loved have gone and so to have my brothers. I, Bashful, do write this account of my life and of our love for Queen White – who is ever the fairest of them all.

Below is a translation of the End of Day Song for your enjoyment. As Dwarf and English do not translate perfectly some liberty had to be taken to create a coherent song, only “Hi Hoe” has not be translated. Its closest translation is “Leaving on a happy note” with its antithesis being “Hec Hone” meaning “Leaving without joy”. The author is unkown.

Hi Hoe
Down the pick and down the sledge
Down the spade and down the tackle
Up the ramp and up the sky
Up the air and up the path

Hi Hoe Hi Hoe
Down the trail and down the earth
Down the stones and down the lane
Up my spirits and up my head
Up my lover and up my bed

Hi Hoe Hi Hoe Hi Hoe
Down the sun and down the birds
Down the worries and down the toils
Up the meal and up the spoils
Up the moon and up the stairs

Hi Hoe Hi Hoe Hi Hoe Hi Hoe
Down my eyes and down my head
Down my weight and down my struggle
Up the night and up the owl
Up the stars and up the hour

Hi Hoe Hi Hoe (x2)
-The End