Midwinter — invincible, immaculate. The Count and his wife go riding, he on a
grey mare and she on a black one, she wrapped in the glittering pelts of black foxes;
and she wore high, black, shining boots with scarlet heels, and spurs. Fresh snow fell
on snow already fallen; when it ceased, the whole world was white.
“I wish I had a girl as white as snow,” says the Count. They ride on. They come to a
hole in the snow; this hole is filled with blood.
He says: “I wish I had a girl as red as blood.” So they ride on again; here is a raven,
perched on a bare bough. “I wish I had a girl as black as that bird’s feathers.”
As soon as he completed her description, there she stood, beside the road, white
skin, red mouth, black hair and stark naked; she was the child of his desire and the
Countess hated her. The Count lifted her up and sat her in front of him on his saddle
but the Countess had only one thought: how shall I be rid of her?
The Countess dropped her glove in the snow and told the girl to get down to look
for it; she meant to gallop off and leave her there but the Count said:
“I’ll buy you new gloves.”
At that, the furs sprang off the Countess’s shoulders and twined round the naked
girl. Then the Countess threw her diamond brooch through the ice of a frozen pond:
“Dive in and fetch it for me,” she said; she thought the girl would drown.
But the Count said:
“Is she a fish to swim in such cold weather?”
Then her boots leapt off the Countess’s feet and on to the girl’s legs. Now the Countess
was bare as a bone and the girl furred and booted; the Count felt sorry for his
wife. They came to a bush of roses, all in flower.
“Pick me one,” said the Countess to the girl.
“I can’t deny you that,” said the Count.
So the girl picks a rose; pricks her finger on the thorn; bleeds; screams; falls. [...]
Then the girl began to melt. Soon there was nothing left of her but a feather a bird
might have dropped; a blood stain, like the trace of a fox’s kill on the snow; and the
rose she had pulled off the bush. Now the Countess had all her clothes on again. With
her long hand, she stroked her furs. The Count picked up the rose, bowed and handed
it to his wife; when she touched it, she dropped it.
“It bites!” she said.
'The Snow Child' from The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. Published by Vintage Classics, 1995. Copyright © The Estate of Angela Carter. Reproduced by permission of the Estate c/o Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN.
Originally published in 1979.