Snow White had managed to get the men to purchase some books from the town for her. She was pleased about this as they were quite uneducated and it was nice for Snow White to be able to slip away into storybook land and have a break from judging them. One day, when the gents were out shopping and having a break from Snow White and her delightful judging, Snow White was enjoying a thoroughly good read, a cup of tea and a scone. Suddenly there came a rap at the door, RATATAT TAT! ‘Oh,’ gasped Snow White. ‘Who could that be? Even though I’m in hiding, I’d best answer the door.’ Snow White was good at many things, but hiding was not one of them. She opened the door, just a crack.

‘Hello, deary,’ said a wizened old woman. She was dressed all in black, her back hunched so much she was almost bent double, a hood pulled over her head from where tattered grey hair and a long hooked nose sprouted. She smiled a toothless grin.

‘Why, it’s just an old hag,’ thought Snow White delightedly, ‘she’ll be no harm at all!’ She flung open the door.

‘Would you like to come in, lady?’ she asked for Snow White was very kind.

‘No thank you,’ came the croaky reply, ‘I’m just an old hag, hawking my wares,’ she explained.

‘Well, what are your wares?’ asked the princess.

‘I have one ware left,’ said the old woman reaching into the wicker basket draped over her right elbow. She produced a beautiful red apple. ‘Would you like to buy it?’ she asked.

‘Well it looks awfully juicy, but I’m afraid I’ve no money. As you can see by my modest home, I’m frightfully poor.’ Snow White was cunning and wanted to throw her off the scent by pointing out how poor she was, and therefore not a princess, just in case the old hag had recognised her.

‘Not to worry sweetie,’ said the old hag kindly, ‘I’ve sold all my wares for today. If I don’t sell this last apple it will go bad and I’ll have to throw it away. You can have it. There’s no charge for a pretty young thing like you.’

‘How kind,’ said Snow White excitedly. She loved a bargain. She took the apple from the lady’s crooked hands and breathed on it, then cleaned it on her frock.

‘That’s right, deary, you take a bite. Seeing you enjoy its sweet taste is payment enough.’ Snow White slowly sank her teeth into its shiny red flesh, apparently not perturbed by the old lady’s obvious lack of hygiene. The old hag leaned in eagerly, watching as Snow White munched away. Snow White began to cough. She dropped the rest of the apple, and clutched her stomach like someone who had been kicked beneath their ribs. ‘What’s happening?’ She cried. ‘I feel awful!’

‘Oh sweetie, don’t you worry your pretty head about that,’ said the old hag in a comforting voice. Snow White dropped to the floor and there she lay, lifeless. The old woman burst into a cackle. The most hysterical, rapturous laugh that would have made your blood run cold had you heard it. She pulled back her hood, her grey tendrils and hooked nose melted away to reveal the Wicked Queen (for she was a magical Queen). She left the little shack and headed back to the castle, still laughing at her little joke when she plonked herself down on her Royal Throne.