Thursday’s Tale: Death of the Seven Dwarfs

Disney's Dwarfs

Disney’s Seven Dwarfs – who are not the same dwarfs as in the story, thankfully.

I’m hoping to see The Huntsman: Winter’s War this weekend, which has me thinking about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I found the tale of the “Death of the Seven Dwarfs” at  D. L. Ashliman’s website. He credits the story to Ernst Ludwig Rochholz, who included it in Schweizersagen aus dem Aargau, vol. 1.

The story comes from Switzerland and as you can tell from the title, does not have a happy ending for the dwarfs.

On one of the high plains near the Black Forest, seven dwarfs lived together in a small house. Late one evening an attractive young peasant girl, who was lost and hungry, approached them and requested shelter for the night. The dwarfs only had seven beds, and they argued with each other about who would give up his bed for the girl. Finally the oldest one took the girl into his bed. I’m not sure what “took into his bed” means here. At first it sounds like the dwarfs were going to just let the girl have one of their beds and they could sleep elsewhere, but that phrase is odd.

Before they could fall asleep a peasant woman came to their house, knocked on the door, and asked to be let inside. The story doesn’t tell us why the woman showed up, but it is quite a coincidence. The girl got up immediately and told the woman that the dwarfs had only seven beds, and that there was no room there for anyone else. With this the woman became very angry and accused the girl of being a slut, thinking that she was living with all seven men. Threatening to make a quick end to such evil business, she went away in a rage.

That same night she returned with two men, whom she had brought up from the bank of the Rhine. They immediately broke into the house and killed the seven dwarfs. They buried the bodies outside in the garden and burned the house to the ground. No one knows what became of the girl. I’m hoping she escaped, but I have a bad feeling that the two men probably were not that kind.

I don’t know what to make of the story. On the one hand, the dwarfs could have been innocently helping the girl and were unfairly punished. In the Snow White I’m used to, the dwarfs are harmless good guys. But, they could have been taking advantage of a vulnerable girl in which case maybe they deserved what they got. And why did the woman want inside? Did she know the girl was there and wanted to protect her virtue or did she have evil intentions from the start? Killing all seven dwarfs and burning the house seems a bit extreme. And the two men, the killers, who are they and what is their purpose? They might be heroes, saving the girl, but they might also be just flat-out bad guys, willing to do whatever for a payment.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

Death in a White Tie by Ngaio Marsh

Death in a White Tie by Ngaio Marsh Death in a White Tie by Ngaio Marsh
Series: Roderick Alleyn #7
Published by Felony & Mayhem Press on December 15, 2012 (first published 1938)
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Pages: 329
Format: eBook
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Ah, the London Debutante Season: Giggles and tea-dances, white dresses and inappropriate romances. And much too much champagne. And, apparently, a blackmailer, which is where Inspector Roderick Alleyn comes in. The social whirl is decidedly not Alleyn’s environment, so he brings in an assistant in the form of Lord “Bunchy” Gospell, everybody’s favorite uncle. Bunchy is more than loveable; he’s also got some serious sleuthing skills. But before he can unmask the blackmailer, a murder is announced. And everyone suddenly stops giggling.

I love Marsh’s books. They tend to be decent puzzles and I adore the characters. In Death in a White Tie we have a glimpse of upper society London, with it’s gossip and cruelty and caring too. Some of the characters are quite self-important, but other realize how amusing it all can be. Bunchy, the victim, is someone we as the readers actually like, someone who enjoyed the season, but who understood it’s underside too. We’ve gotten to know him before he’s killed and are genuinely sad, although not surprised, when he’s dead one.

Alleyn is determined to find the killer and sure that it’s connected to the blackmailing. Alleyn is a little tough on some of the spoiled brats young people he interviews – which is good. The clues all tie together well in the end and the whodunnit was actually a bit surprising.

One of the highlights of this particular book is the developing relationship between Alleyn and Agatha Troy. I’ve been reading these out of order, picking up some at used bookstores and some on audio or my Kindle, but it’s still interesting to see the attraction between them in the early part of their acquaintance. I do wish Alleyn hadn’t been quite so over the moon though.

The dialogue is wonderful, witty and amusing. The descriptions are well done and even though there are a lot of characters, we get to know them pretty well. The plot was well done with enough red herrings to keep things interesting. I don’t feel like we were kept in the dark much this time. Sometimes Alleyn keeps things he notices from the rest of us, but I think for the most part in this one, we knew what Alleyn knew, although I for one didn’t put it together. Death in a White Tie is probably over all one of the best in the series.

About Ngaio Marsh

Dame Ngaio Marsh (23 April 1895 – 18 February 1982), born Edith Ngaio Marsh, was a New Zealand crime writer and theatre director. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1966.

Internationally Marsh is known primarily for her creation Inspector Roderick Alleyn, a gentleman detective who works for the Metropolitan Police (London). Thus she is one of the “Queens of Crime” alongside Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Gladys Mitchell, and Margery Allingham.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Readers’ Workouts – 5/24


Readers workouts

Here are my steps for the week. I didn’t hit my goal every day, but at least I made the week. I’m thinking once school is out, I should try upping my steps to 10,000 a day. Maybe. If you’re on fitbit, you can find me here.

My current plan is to do cardio on Tuesday (60 mins), upper body on Wednesday, cardio on Thursday (60 mins), a total body workout on Friday, cardio on Saturday (60+ mins), and a core workout on Monday. I’m also doing a 10 minute-ish Pilates workout each day.

Tuesday – Walk with the dog.

Wednesday – Walk with the dog. 20 mins arms & shoulders.

Thursday – Walk with the dog. 26 mins elliptical.

Saturday – Raccoon Creek 5K  – 38:41 (11/51 women – but that included walkers). I shared a couple of photos from the race on my Saturday Snapshot post. My husband as always was nice enough to go with me and hung out in the rain and clapped as people crossed the finish line.

Sunday – Walk with the dog.

Monday – Walk with the dog. 10 mins abs.

I usually listen to a book while I’m walking, jogging, whatever. This week I finished The Serpent and The Thief  and started The Master, all by Claire North.

2016 miles: 203.5

How was your week? Readers’ Workouts is hosted by Joy at Joy’s Book Blog.

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