Robin Redbreast

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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cinderella #108 Retold and Illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian (1981)

"When you are Queen, you won't need to walk anymore.
Cut off a bit of your heel."

Once upon a time, somewhere along the Rhine River, "there lived a nobleman and his wife and their beautiful daughter.  The wife had been ill for a long time, and when she knew she was dying, she called her daughter to her bedside."  Gently, she asked the little girl to be good.  Then she told her that, although the child would not be able to see her, the mother's spirit would always be watching over her.  "The maiden went to her mother's grave every day and wept.  When winter came, the snow spread a blanket over the grave, but when the sun of springtime uncovered it again, the nobleman found a new wife." The lady was not kind, and neither were her daughters.  They could not bear the fact that their new stepsister was kind and goodhearted, as well as beautiful.  As soon as they moved in they said,"We will not allow this goose in the parlor with us.  She's nothing better than a kitchen maid. If she wants bread, she must earn it."And from that moment on, she ceased to be considered a member of the family.  Instead, she was sent to the kitchens.  Her fine clothes were shared out among her new sisters, and in exchange for her fine house shoes, "a pair of old wooden clogs".  When her labors were done each day, the only place she had to lay her head was "among the cinders and the ashes.  And so they began to call her Cinderella."  She had to light the fires each day at dawn, carry the water, and wash the clothes.  Her stepsisters thought it was hilarious to make her pick her supper out of the dirt.  They "even shook bags of peas into the ashes to make her pick them out again." And so the sad months passed.  One day, Cinderella's father announced that he was off on a journey.  What would the girls like as souvenirs of his travels, he asked them.  His step daughters requested fine gowns and precious gems, but his own child asked for nothing more than a twig. "A fresh, green hazel twig, the first one you brush against on your way home." Soon he was back again, bearing dresses, jewelry — and a hazel twig.  Cinderella took it and went out to sit in the garden, near the place where her mother was buried.  As sad thoughts overwhelmed her, she planted the twig in the soft ground.  Her tears watered it, and it began to grow. Soon it was a young tree.  "Each day, a small white dove flew into the tree, and if Cinderella had a wish, there would be a rustling in the tree, and suddenly her wish would be granted." It happened one day that a festival was proclaimed by the King.  It would last for three days, and most especially invited were all of the young ladies of the kingdom: the Prince wanted to choose one for his bride. But when Cinderella, along with her stepsisters, jumped for joy, they scoffed in her face.  "You, Cinderella? You are covered with ashes and you haven't a thing to wear.  How can you possisbly go to the ball?" Yet the girl would not stop pestering to go. So her stepmother "decided to teach her a lesson. 'Very well,' she said, and she tossed a tubful of peas into the cinders. 'If you can pick out all the good ones in one hour, then you may go to the ball with us."  Now Cinderella went out to her little hazel tree. She had only to tell the dove what had happened, and before she knew it, "a flock of birds had flown into the house and peck, peck, peck, they gathered all the good peas into the tub and flew out again." Yet when the girl showed the tub of peas to her stepmother, the woman proved herself false.  Sneering that the girl couldn't go because she would be the laughing stock of the party, she swept away with her own two daughters.  Quickly, Cinderella washed her face and brushed her hair.  Then she ran to the hazel tree, wished for fine clothes, and held her breath.  "There was a rustling in the branches, and in a moment, Cinderella's rags turned into a gown that seemed to be made of the stars in the sky, and in place of wooden shoes, she was wearing silver slippers." She heard a whisper warn her to be back before twelve o'clock, and then she was off! When the Prince saw the girl in the dress like all the stars in the sky, he knew that he was in love. He danced with none other that night.  But when the clock began to toll the midnight hour, the girl dashed away.  When her family got home, she was sound asleep, and dirty as ever. The next night the festival continued. This time, Cinderella's wish brought her a gown "made completely of pearls, and on her feet were delicately embroidered slippers to match."   Once again the prince danced with her only, and once again, she slipped away from him.  Her stepsisters thought she looked funny, asleep as she seemed to be, amongst the ashes.  For the third night of the ball, "she looked like sunlight itself, her golden hair cascading over a gown of pure gold, and on her feet were two golden slippers." The night air was soft, and the music heavenly.  Before Cinderella knew it, the first chime of twelve was struck.  Now she ran,  but the clock rang faster.  As she reached home she was in her rags, and one shoe had fallen off.  The other she carefully wrapped in her apron pocket.  Another proclamation was sent out the following morning: that the Prince would marry the maiden who could wear a particular shoe which he had found. Now women came from all quarters.  "There were duchesses and princesses and all the ladies of the court, but the slipper was either too wide or too narrow, too long, or too short, and not one of them had a foot that was just right for the golden slipper." At last, the Prince went forth himself, bearing the slipper on a pillow, going from house to house.  At Cinderella's house the older stepsister demanded the first turn.  She and her mother took the shoe into the kitchen, "but the girl could not get her foot into the slipper.  Her big toe was too large.  Her mother brought her a knife, saying 'Cut off a piece of your toe; if you become Queen, you will no longer need to go by foot.' So the girl cut off a piece of her toe" and bandaged it, and put the slipper on.  So the Prince believed that she must be the girl he had danced with.  He helped her onto his horse, but just then "the small white dove flew along beside him," and drew his eyes down to the feet of his soon-to-be-bride.  That's when he "noticed blood trickling out of her slipper." So he brought her home, and gave her sister a chance. She too went out of the room, and tried the shoe on.  Her toes slid right in! But "her heel was too wide." So her mother said, "Cut a piece off of your heel.  When you are Queen, you will not need to do any walking."  And the girl did chop some off, and her mother wrapped it tightly, and she went out to the prince.  He saw the shoe on her foot, and believed that she must surely be the one he danced with.  Again he set off on his horse, a girl behind him in the saddle.  And there was the bird again! Now the Prince saw "blood dripping on the ground, and he knew this maiden had tricked him." He took this young lady home, and demanded to know if there were not one more? Now the father spoke up. "Cinderella is my daughter, but she could not possibly be the bride you seek." The Prince insisted on seeing her, and the stepmother cried," No! She is much too ragged and dirty to present to a Prince." The Prince silenced her, and Cinderella was called for. "She scrubbed her face and brushed the ashes from her hair." In rags, she entered the room.  She bowed to the Prince and extended her foot.  It slipped "easily onto her delicate foot. As she stood up and raised her head, the Prince recognized the beautiful maiden of the ball." And then she pulled out the other slipper, and put it on, too. He "carried Cinderella to his horse and rode away.  As they passed the hazel tree, the little white dove flew down and nestled on Cinderella's shoulder. Their marriage was celebrated with great festivities, and the two stepsisters were stricken blind as a punishment for their wickedness."
Notes: This is a nice retelling of the original Grimm, retaining the knife and chopping of the feet, and the blinded sisters, but it is not too gory! 
Montessori Connection: Geography/Europe/France and Germany as Neighbors
1. Read this story and notice the name of the river at the beginning.
2. Find the Rhine River i an atlas.
3. Find the countries that it runs through on a world map.