Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cinderella # 36 Catskin Number Two, (Part 1) (Ed.Reeves, 1954/1990)

Gold can represent valuable self -insight.

Once upon a time, in England, "there was a great gentleman, and he had a great house, standing in the middle of a park. The park had fine trees and there were deer roaming around them.  He owned several farms and much land. But he had no children.  Now, being such a proud gentleman, he wished for a son who would bear his name when he was dead and inherit all his land.  Time passed, and at length, his wife bore him a child.  But you can imagine the gentleman’s disappointment when he learnt that the child was a girl.”  Such was his rage that he banished the child from his sight and refused even to look at her.  She was healthy and strong, but as she grew his heart remained frozen.  “ He could not forgive his wife for not having a son.  It was not her fault, poor lady, but proud men are sometimes like that and there was nothing she could do.  When the girl was fifteen years old, she was considered in those days to be old enough to be married. “  So the gentleman decided to be rid of her quickly, and sent out an announcement that the first man to ask for her.  Soon “ an old man with squint eyes and a cough...and besides a thin, scraggly beard and bony knees that knocked together” came to claim her.  Now, the girl was horrified, and went to ask the hen-wife what to do.  “This is what you must do,’ said the hen-wife.  ‘ Tell them that you will marry the old man but that you must first have a dress of silver cloth.”  So the girl did this, but the cunning old man had the dress made quickly and brought it to her.  Back she went to the hen-wife, who this time told her that she must beg for “ a dress of beaten gold.”  This she did, but again the old man surprised her, and had one made.  Now the hen-wife advised that she request, “ a dress made of feathers —one feather from each of the birds of the air.  She went home and told them this; and a man went out with peas and scattered them on the ground.  ‘A feather for a pea! ‘ he shouted to the birds of the air; and all the birds, from the tiny wren to the great eagle, from the drab sparrow to the gorgeous peacock, came and laid one of their feathers on the ground in exchange for a pea. “  Well, there lay the pile of feathers; it was only a matter of calling for the dressmaker.  Soon the gown was made, and the girl drew gasps from the household, so amazing was it.  But she still did not want to marry the old man!  Back she ran to the hen-wife. “ What shall I do? I can’t refuse much longer and I am afraid they will make me marry him this time. “   And the old woman said, “ Everything will be all right.  This time you must for a dress made of catskin.’  So a dress was made from the skins of six black cats and six tabby cats; and everybody was getting so impatient, especially the old man with the bony knees and the squint, that orders were given for the wedding to be held the very next day.   That’s when the girl decided to run away! She waited for nightfall, packed up her silver dress, her gold dress, and the dress of feathers, and set off dressed in her catskins, to “ walk away from her father’s house as fast as the darkness would let her.   So she could see well enough to make her way.  “  She walked deeper and deeper into the woods, and she came upon a woodcutter’s hut.   There was no one there, so she came in, ate her supper, and went to sleep.  In the morning she hid her dresses under a pile of old straw,  and set out for the castle.  When she knocked upon the door, the lady of the house took her in, and sent her down to the kitchen to work in the scullery and take orders from Cook.  So the girl did this, and the time passed.  “ Everyone liked her except Cook, who was jealous because she was beauttiful and everyone loved her. “ 
To be continued....
 Catskin, from English Fables and Fairy Stories Retold by Reeves, J. (1954/1990)
Notes: According to Marian Roalfe Cox, a member of the Folklore Society and author of Cinderella: Three Hundred Forty-Five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O'Rushes (1892/2010), this variant  belongs to a group characterized by "unlawful marriages", including the father wanting to marry his own daughter, or giving her to the first person who asks for her.  Catskin is essentially a prequel to the Cinderella story, as the section pertaining to the girl's early life, betrothal to the old man, avoidance of marriage by means of having the three dresses made, all occur before the sequence of balls. 
Montessori Connection 6-12: Boy Stuff/ Girl Stuff 
1. By yourself, write the word BOY at the top of a page, and make a list of ten things that pop into your mind that seem to belong with the word. 2. Write the word GIRL on another page and do the same thing.  3. Now make a list of things that you would not, or could not, do because you are a BOY or because you are a GIRL.  4. Ask your parents, or other adults who are at least 30 years old, if there were things they did not, or could not do  because they were a boy, or a girl. 5. Ask your grandparents, or someone older than 60 the same question. Compare the lists.  6.  Why do you think the gentleman in the story was so upset when his wife had a daughter, not a son?