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‘Some bizzum’s been sittin in ma chair.’

Step into a magical world of beautiful princesses and handsome princes, wicked witches and good fairies, told in Scots. With a host of brilliant writers translating these classics into the Scottish dialect, you can dive into the tale o Peerie Snaw White below.

Extract taken from Grimms’ Fairy Tales in Scots
Edited by James Robertson and Matthew Fitt
Published by Itchy Coo


The Princess and the Seeven Wee Gadgies
The tale o Peerie Snaw White
Translatit by Thomas Clark

Yin snawy day, a queen sat sewin at her palace windae. The windae frame wis makkit o the brawest black ebony, but the snaw on the sill skinkled pure and skyrie-white. Oot o naewhaur, the queen jagged her fingir wi the needle and three draps o bluid landed on the snaw. “Whit bonnie neebors thon colours mak!” she thocht tae hersel. “If anely I had a barin as white as snaw, as reid as bluid, and as black as the ebony o thon windae frame.” 

Weel, shair as ye like, nine month later, the queen and her king had themsels a bonnie babbie lassie. Her skin wis white as snaw, her lips as reid as bluid, and her hair wis the colour o ebony. The queen cawed her Snaw White. 

The bairn wis ahridly oot o her babbie-claes afore the queen taen no weel and dee’d. Puir wee Snaw White wis left withoot a mither until finally the king got mairried again. This new queen wis richt bonnie, but she wis awfie prood, and she couldnae stick the notion that somebody  micht be bonnier than she wis. She had a magic mirror that she kept ahint a curtain in her bed-chaumer. Ilka nicht, she’d plank hersel in front o it and ask: 

“Mirror, mirror, on the waw,
Wha is the bonniest o them aw?” 

And ayeweys the mirror wid reply: 

“Och, Queenie! If I’ve tellt ye wance, hen,
If it’s you that’s askin, then aye – I’m dancin!” 

Seeven years went by, and Snaw White grew up intae a sweet and bonnie lassie. Then, yin day, the queen went up tae her mirror and said: 

“Mirror, mirror, on the waw,
Wha is the bonniest o them aw?” 

And the mirror replied: 

“Queenie, hen, I’m no bein funny,
But see Snaw White? She’s wan pure honey!” 

Weel, the queen threw and absolute maddy. She pullt the curtain shut ower the mirror, and shoutit for the high-heid-yin o aw her sodgers. 

“Richt, you! Get Snaw White oot intae the widds and kill her!” she yollert. “And if ye’re thinkin o pullin a fly yin, forget it. I want tae see thon lassie’s hert on a plate!” 

The sodger pit Snaw White intae a cairriage and took her oot intae the widds. But when it came time tae kill the lassie, he jist couldnae dae it. “Beat it, hen!” he tellt her, “and dinnae come back tae the palace, or the queen will gie ye yer heid in yer hauns tae play wi!” 

Jist at that, a wild boar came breengin through the trees. The sodger huckled the boar and cut its hert oot, and later that evenin he cairried thon hert tae the queen on a plate. 

“Ya beauty!” said the queen, thinkin the boar’s hert wis Snaw White’s. “That’s a job weel done, that.” And she took the hert and she sneckit it awa in a wee kist. 

In the meantime, Snaw White wis traipsin aw ower the widds, lookin for a place tae sleep. The puir bairn wis feart hauf tae deith: the widds were hoachin wi wild beasties aw yappin and yowlin awa. But nane of them hairmed her, cause they could tell that she meant them nae ill. Thon evenin, she clocked a wee bothy at the fit o a muckle ben. 

The door wis wide tae the waw, sae she went awa ben tae hae a lie-doon. 

Awthin in the bothy wis awfie, awfie wee. The table wis set wi seeven plates, and aside ilka plate there sat a spoon. Nixt tae the spoons were knives and forks and seeven mugs lippin ower wi wine. Anent the waw stood seeven totie beds, ilka yin done up wi a white coonter-pane. Snaw White wis that hungert and drouthie she took a wee swallae o wine frae ilka mug and a moothfu o bried and stovies frae ilka plate. Then she pit her heid tae the nearest pillae and went straicht tae sleep. 

Thing wis, the bothy belanged tae seeven wee gadgies that wirked doon the mines in the bens nearby, lookin for gowd. That n icht, they daundered hame to find that somebody had makkit a richt guddle o their hoose. 

“Some bizzum’s been sittin in ma chair,” said the first gadgie. 

“Some bizzum’s been ramshin aff ma plate,” said the second. 

“Some bizzum’s been pauchlin ma bried,” said the third. 

“Some bizzum’s been firin intae ma stovies,” said the fourth. 

“Some bizzum’s been horsin intae ma wine,” said the fifth. 

“Some bizzum’s been usin ma knife,” said the sixth. 

“Some bizzum’s been sleepin in ma bed,” cried the seeventh. “And she still is! Get a swatch at this!” 

Aw the gadgies gaithert roond the bed tae look at Snaw White. 

“Ach, whit a bonnie wee bairn,” the auldest yin said. “Gonnae wheesht, eh? Let’s leave her tae sleep till the morra morn.” And sae the seeven gadgies wheeshed each ither aw through denner, and wheeshed each ither as they tippy-taed tae bed. The wee-est yein left his lamp nixt tae Snaw White saw that if she woke up in the nicht, she widnae be feart of the dark. 

Grimms’ Fairy Tales in Scots edited by James Robertson and Matthew Fitt is published by Itchy Coo, priced £12.99

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