Robin Redbreast

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cinderella #45 Den Röde Ko/The Red Cow (1891) Denmark


The red cow said, "When you need my help, call out 'Copper!' and I will come."

Once upon a time, in Copenhagen, there lived a little girl with her mother and her father, who was  dairy man.  He kept a fine herd of cows, and the girl grew strong and healthy.  She drank their milk every day, and ate the cheese which she helped her mother to make.  Alas, this happy childhood was brief.  Tragedy struck, and her mother took ill.  Knowing she would not live much longer, she called her daughter to her.  “Promise me that you will always try to be good, ” she asked her daughter, “and that you will remember me. “  And she told her daughter to open the trunk at the foot of the bed.  This the girl did, and withdrew a dress of  heavy blue wool, trimmed in white and red.  “I will be with you always.” her mother told her, and then she died. Before many years had passed, the dress, which had seemed so large, now fit the girl.  When her father saw her wearing it, so struck was he by the resemblance to her mother that he declared now he would marry her!  She implored her father to see reason but he was blind with madness.  Sobbing, she ran to the fields, planning to drown herself in the cow pond rather than submit to an unnatural marriage.  And that’s when she heard a voice!  Looking up from her tears, she saw an old woman seated on a tree stump.  “Please, will you dip me a drink of water?” she asked.  The girl did so.  After she had drunk, the kind dame said, “Now, tell me your woes.”  When the girl had done so, the old woman stood up and called to a group of cows who had wandered close by, “ Who will guide this brave girl to safety?”  A red cow with horns as thick as the girl’s arms declared, “ I  will. “  So the girl climbed onto the cow’s back, and turned to thank the old woman.  “Take this gown of crow’s bills,” said the dame, “ and when the time comes, put it on. “ Then she folded it into a bundle and handed it to the girl.  The red cow began to walk faster and faster.  Soon they left the cow pasture, and were walking through a forest of copper. “ How beautiful the trees are!” the girl exclaimed.  “You mustn’t pick a leaf.” cautioned the cow.  But the girl picked one anyway and tucked it into her pocket.  And suddenly a bull appeared, with copper horns as thick as the girl’s legs.  The red cow tossed her to the ground and charged the bull, who pawed and stamped the ground.  A terrible clash rang out among the trees of copper.  Finally, just as the bull thundered towards her,  the cow stepped deftly aside.  The bull’s horns stuck fast in the ground, and the girl climbed back onto the red cow’s back.  After awhile they passed through a forest of silver trees.  “How they shimmer!”cried out the girl, and the cow said, “ Be sure not to pick a leaf.” But she picked one anyway, and put it into her pocket.  And suddenly, a bull appeared, with curved horns of silver.  The red cow shrugged the girl off, and snorted as the bull charged. Around and around they chased each other, and  just when it seemed that bull would surely gore her to death, the red cow stepped daintily aside.  The bull’s silver horns plunged deep into the ground, and the girl jumped back onto the cow. Now they passed through a forest of golden trees, whose trunks soared towards the sky.  Blazing with reflected sunlight the leaves clinked softly together in the breeze.  The sound was mesmerizing, and, although the cow called out a warning, it was too late!  The girl plucked a gold leaf and a bull with gold horns charged out from behind a tree.  Again and again it tried to kill the red cow, and finally, she leaped right over his head.  The bull’s golden horns drove deep into a tree, and there it was held fast.  The girl  tried to climb back onto the red cow’s back, but the cow said, “ I have carried you as far as I can.  I will wait on that green hill up ahead, and you must go to the palace and seek service.  The first time you need my help, just call out, ‘Copper!’ and I will come.” So the girl walked on until she came to the palace. When she knocked on the back door it was opened by a young woman with a beautiful face but an ugly look in her eyes.  “Ha!” said the servant girl, “now you shall do my dirties!” And with that, she marched the girl straight to the Cook, who sent her promplty to the scullery.  Every day she toiled, peeling vegetables and scrubbing dishes.  One day it was announced that there was to be a ball.  She begged permission from Cook to go and watch the gaiety.  But Cook said, “ Well, you may go as soon as  your work is done.  You must peel the vegetables in the larder, pluck the chickens on the stove, and skim the milk to make the cheese.  Then you may go!” When the girl peered into the larder she saw hill of vegetable that reached the ceiling.  When she turned to see the stove she saw one hundred chickens waiting to be plucked.  And when she went into the dairyhouse to get the milk to skim, she saw one hundred barrels of milk.  She was just about to throw herself down to cry when she remembered the cow’s directions.  Now she called out, “Copper!” and the red cow was in the dairy.  “How will I ever peel the vegetables, pluck the chickens and skim the milk in time to go to the ball?” she wailed.  And the red cow said, “ I will do the work.  Go and look into the larder and tell me what you see.”  There lay the vegetables, peeled and diced.  When she looked at the stove, the girl saw one hundred chickens, plucked and dressed.  And when she went back into the dairy house, she found the cow skimming the milk.  “Now go!” said the cow.  The girl quickly changed into her dress of crow’s bills, and slipped upstairs.  When the prince saw her, he would dance with none other.  Who could the mysterious girl in the dress of crow’s bills be?  As soon as the music stopped, the girl ran, stopping only to toss a copper leaf over her shoulder. She ran downstairs, changed out the crow’s bill dress, and went to sleep.  The next day, the ball continued.  Again she asked for permission to go, but the servant girl reminded Cook, “ The scullery maid has no time for balls.  She must prepare the cheese for market tomorrow !” And when the girl went into the cheese house, she saw one hundred cheese wheels, each bigger than she herself.  She was just about to throw herself down to cry when she remembered the red cow.  “Silver!”she called and red cow was in the cheese house. “ I will do your work.” she said.  So the girl changed into her crow’s bill dress and went to the ball. For the second time she danced with the prince, and for the second time she fled when the music stopped.  Now she flung a leaf of silver over her shoulder and ran to the kitchen, where she quickly changed clothes and went to sleep.  For the third day in a row, the girl begged permission to go and see the ball. Now Cook and the servant girl told her, “ You may go if you can make the butter.” And when she looked in the butter house, she saw one hundred butter churns filled with to the brim.  Now she called out, “Gold!” and the red cow was in the butter house.  “I will churn the butter.” said the cow, so the girl changed clothes and ran to the ball.  For the third time she danced, and for the third time she fled, tossing a golden leaf over her shoulder as she did so.  But in her haste she slipped and fell and one of her shoes was lost.  The next morning, the prince declared his love for the girl who threw copper, silver, and gold leaves and had lost a shoe on the palace stairs.  He called for all the young women of the palace to try the shoe on, and when it did not fit, he descended the stairs to the servant’s quarters. Declaring that he cared not if the girl in the crow’s bill dress was merely a servant girl, he would marry her nonetheless, he entered the kitchen.  Now Cook and the servant girl bowed and curtsied, and the servant girl said she would try the shoe.  At first it appeared to fit, but when the servant girl saw that one of her toes stuck out of the side, she grabbed a knife and chopped it off! That’s when the girl in the crow’s bill dress stepped forward.  The prince slipped the shoe onto her foot.  It was a perfect fit! They were married, and lived happily ever after. 
Notes: This is Cinderella Number 175, Cox (1892/2010). The three forests, three bulls, and three fights are another variant on the theme of 3. Here she attends 3 balls but wears only the one dress.  I guess a gown of crow's bills is all a girl really needs?   In this case Cook is not so cruel as the servant girl, who is left alone with a bloody foot at the end of the story! The bird as helper shows up here in the  crow's bills.  The cow as helper appears in the  Korean Cinderella as a black ox who does her tasks, and as a water buffalo in the Vietnamese version.  
Montessori Connection 6-12: Botany/Leaves/Shapes/Trees
1. Think about the forests in the story. Could they really have been trees of copper, silver, and gold?
2. Read about trees and pay special attention to the colors. 
3. Try to find a picture of a real tree that LOOKS like it is made of copper. (Pacific Madrone, Arbutus menziesii) Try: Trees of North America or A COLOR GUIDE TO FAMILIAR TREES, LEAVES, BARK AND FRUIT.
4. Try to find a picture of one that LOOKS  like it is made of silver. Try:Autumn Leaves: A Guide to the Fall Colors of the Northwoods (Northword Nature Guide Collection)
(Silver birch are very silvery!)
5. Try to find a picture of one that LOOKS as though it is made of gold. Try: The Vermont Life Guide to Fall Foliage or The Colors of Fall Road Trip Guide(California Live Oak, and Coast Live Oak trees appear golden in the summertime.
6. Remember that trees look different depending upon what season it is and the part of the world you are in. For trees of Europe, try: Trees: A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe (Photographic Guide)
7. Collect three different shaped leaves, and try to identify them. 
8. Trace around each one on paper and color: one copper, one silver, one gold. (This project is as good an excuse as any to buy a 64-Pack of Crayola Crayons and put those metallics to work!)

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