Robin Redbreast

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cinderella #148 The Black Bull of Norroway (Number One, Phelps, ed.,1978)

Hazelnuts, almonds, brazil nuts and a peanut. 

Once upon a time, in "Norroway, there lived a woman who had three daughters.  Off they went to learn their fortunes from an old woman who lived in the forest." When they got there, the wise woman told them to go out and pick an apple from the tree, and then they must come into the kitchen.  So each girl picked an apple and in they went. Now the first must peel her apple, being careful not to break the skin.  When this was done, she was to throw it over her left shoulder, using her right hand.  And when the old woman discerned the shape in which the peel fell, she declared that the girl would  marry an earl.  When the second girl peeled her apple, the old one foresaw that she would marry a lord.  But when the third daughter had peeled an apple all in one strip, and tossed in over her left shoulder, the wise one said that she would marry a black bull.  "The two oldest sisters were well pleased with their fortunes, but the youngest sister lauged and said,"No matter, I'll be content with the Black Bull of Norroway." When her sisters warned her not to make light of this, lest her fortune really come true, the girl said that she did not want to marry anyway, and would rather live at home. Well, the years passed, and one sister "did marry an earl and the other did marry a lord. Nonetheless, the younger sister was quite surprised one day to see a big black bull at the door. At first the girl was afraid, but the bull seemed gentle and quiet." Now, this maiden was one to keep her word, so she bid her mother goodbye, "climbed onto his back, and away they went."  The bull proved to be a gentle ride, going out of his way to avoid the roughest parts of the path. They rode on and on, and finally, the girl said she must eat.  And "the Black Bull said, in a friendly voice,'Reach into my right ear, and you will find food. Reach into my left ear, and you will find drink.' She did so, and after eating and drinking, she gathered the remains in her kerchief to eat later." Soon they saw a a castle come into view and the bull said that his brother lived there.  They stopped for the night, and the Black Bull was given the best care among all of the royal bulls, and the girl given a luxurious room.  Before they left in the morning, the people of the castle gave her "a golden walnut".  It was to be used only in emergency, they said, at which point it would give whatever help was needed.  They rode on through the day, and as night fell, came within sight of another castle.  It was the home of another brother, said the Bull, and they must stay the night. So they did, and this time, the girl asked especially that the Bull be given the tenderest care.  "In the morning, before they set off again, she was given a large golden hickory nut by the castle folk." They too, warned her not to use the nut unless she was in "the worst trouble in the world". Now the Bull and the girl traveled on, trading stories as they walked on.  Their friendship deepened.  When they saw the finest castle yet, the Bull said,"Yonder lives my youngest brother, and here we must stay the night." They did so, and in the morning, the girl received a golden hazelnut, along with the usual warning. They passed the day walking and talking, but that evening, they came not to a castle but a wood. And the bull told her that he was finally going to try and break the enchantment he was under, and needed her cooperation. She was to remain high upon the rock where he set her, moving neither foot nor hand, or "I shall never find you again." said the Bull. And "If everything round about you turns blue, it means I have beaten the creature, but if everything turns red, he will have conquered me." While  the terrible sounds of the battle raged, the remained stock still. At last, the air and the earth and all about her turned to blue, and thus she rejoiced! Her dear friend the Bull had won! She wiggled her foot with excitement — and so broke the enchantment.  Although she waited for what seemed an eternity, the Black Bull did not return. She thought of the three nuts in her pocket, but worse fortune still seemed to lie ahead, so she kept them there still.  She gathered her strength and walked on, coming at last to a high, smooth hill of glass. She tried to climb it, but slipped and fell until she gave up. Then she saw "a smith's forge", and went to talk to the man there. She said that she wanted to have shoes of iron made, and he told her the price was that she  work for him, "seven months and seven days".  So she worked the forge each day for that time, and he made her the shoes.  He warned her, however, that at the top of the hill she would find the land of the trolls.  Now the girl put on the iron shoes and climbed the glass hill, and came to the land of the trolls. She heard that a contest was under way: it seemed that "a gallant knight" was not able to marry until the blood had been washed from his clothes, yet no troll maid could do it. "Their hairy bodies glistened, and their red eyes gleamed as they scrubbed and washed, but the blood stains would not come out. " Well, the girl took her turn, and when she soused the bloody garments in the river they became "pure and clean".  Just then, a troll girl snatched them from her, ran to the knight, and told him that she had cleaned his clothes. So the knight was betrothed to the troll princess, and NOW the girl cracked open the first of her golden nuts, and "it was full  of precious jewels". Knowing the greediness of trolls, she bargained with the troll-bride.  The handful of jewels for one night's delay of the marriage. So it was arranged, and the girl allowed to spend one night in the room of the gallant knight.  But of course, the troll-bride had given him a posset,which sent him deeply to sleep. All night, the girl sat by his side, singing, "The smith's forge I worked for thee, the glassy hill I climbed for thee, thy bloody clothes I wrung for thee, wilt thou not waken and turn to me?" But the knight slept on. The next day, the girl split open "the golden hickory nut, and the jewels inside were more brilliant than the first."  Again she bargained, and again the greedy troll girl let he have one more night in the chamber. Once more she sang her mournful song, but once more, the knight slept soundly on. Well, the girl's heart felt as though it were to break. She had but one nut left, "so she opened it, and inside were the most brilliant jewels of all. When she showed these to the troll princess, the princess could not resist them."  That greedy troll-girl spent the whole day rolling jewels between her hairy fingers, and rubbing hands together with pleasure. She did not hear her chamber-maids gossiping of the beautiful girl who sang to the knight under the moonlight, nor did the troll-bride notice that the gallant knight had witnessed the maids' discussion. This night he feigned to swallow the potion, and spat it instead out the window. And "as soon as the girl entered his room he recognized her at once, and as soon as they embraced each other, the trolls' spell was broken—finally and completely." Together, they tiptoed past the sleeping trolls, slid silently down the glass hill, and ran far away from that place. And then, "in a fine castle of their own, they lived in peace and contentment ever after."
From Tatterhood and Other Tales. (Ed.,Phelps,1978) The Feminist Press
Notes: This story is identified by Phelps as "very old" and "based on versions by Joseph Jacobs and F.A.Steele".  It is fascinating to see here a pair of shoes worn by the girl which are not dainty slippers of glass, but custom made iron boots. It is the hill she climbs that is made of glass, apparently solid all the way through. According to Marie Louise von Franz, the "mountain motif [also] denotes the Self;  the mountain also marks the place - the point in life- where the hero...gains steadfastness and self-knowledge." It is at the base of the mountain that this girl really decides to take charge of the situation, earn the boots, and go find that enchanted bull. 
Montessori Connection: Iron and Glass

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cinderella #147 All Fur (1812/2003)

From The Bells of London

"Once upon a time, there was a king whose wife had golden hair and was so beautiful that her equal could not be found anywhere on earth." Alas, one day this lady fell sick.  The next day she was worse, and the following, worse still.  Soon she knew herself to be at death's door, so she called the king to her.  "Promise me that you will do this." said the queen, and implored him to swear an oath that when he remarried, the woman would be as lovely as she, with hair as golden.  The king agreed, and the queen closed her eyes for the last time. The king was so overcome with grief that he would neither eat nor drink for many days.  At last his councillors coaxed him out of bed, and back to health.  The years passed, and the urgency rose for the king to find a new wife. But when he sent messengers to the four corners of the kingdom, and then four more beyond, and still no lady with face so fair and and locks as golden as the first queen could be found.  But the king's daughter did, and "the king looked at her one day and realized that her features were exactly the same as those of his dead wife. Suddenly, he fell passionately in love with her, and announced," I'm going to marry my daughter, for she is the living image of my dead wife." But his councillor's said,"God has forbidden a father to marry his daughter.  Nothing good can come from such a sin, and the kingdom will be brought to ruin." More horrified still was his daughter, when she heard her father's plan.  Thinking "to dissuade him" she replied,"Before I fulfill your wish, I must have three dresses, one as golden as the sun, one as silvery as the moon, and one as bright as the stars. Furthermore, I want a cloak made up of a thousand kinds of pelts and furs, and each animal from your kingdom must contribute a piece of skin to it." The girl felt sure that she had set her father such a task that he could never meet her conditions. and felt greatly relieved.  But "her father, however, persisted" and gathered the very best seamstresses and all too soon, the dresses had been woven.  Then he set the royal huntsmen to work and before  a fortnight had passed, he had a piece of each one's skin.  When it was ready, he called his dautgher, and showed her the dresses.  Then he spread  the cloak over her shoulders and said,"The wedding will be tomorrow." That night, "she got up and took three of her precious possesions: a golden ring, a tiny golden spinning wheel  and a little golden reel.  She packed the dresses of the sun, moon and the stars into a nutshell, put on the cloak of all kinds of fur, and blackened her hands and face with soot." Then ran away deep into the woods, and "commended herself to God". She walked all night, and at dawn, she crept into a hole in a tree and went to sleep. She slept on while the sun rose high, and it happened that "the king who was the lord of this forest was out hunting in it, and when his dogs came to the tree, they started to sniff and run around it and bark." When the king sent a man to see what kind of animal was there, the fellow came back puzzled. He said," We've never seen anything like it.  It's skin is made up of a thousand different kinds of fur, and it's lying there, asleep." And the king told them to try and take it alive, and to tie it in the wagon.  But when they seized the beast, it woke up and cried out,"I'm just a poor girl, forsaken by my father and mother! Please have pity on me and take me with you!" Now they laughed, and said,"You'll be perfect for the kitchen, All Furs! Come with us  and you can sweep up the ashes there." And so she did, and when they got to the castle, they "showed her a little closet beneath the stairs that was never exposed to the daylight.  'Well, you furry creature.  You can live and sleep here." they said, and so began her new life. Every day, "she carried wood and water, kept the fires going, plucked the fowls, sorted the vegetables, swept up the ashes, and did all the dirty work.  For a long time, "she lived in dire poverty. Ah, my beautiful princess, what shall become of you?" One time a ball was to be held, and All Furs asked permission to go and watch it. "Go ahead, but be back in half an hour.  You've got to sweep the ashes." Now All Furs got "her little oil lamp" and went to her hutch and washed herself.  Then she "opened the nut and took out the dress that shone like the sun."  When she got to the ball, everyone was stunned by her beauty.  The king himself took her hand and danced with her, and when the music was over, she curtsied, and ran quickly away.  So swiftly did she run that she seemed to vanish.  She had gone back downstairs, rubbed herself with soot, and hidden away her gown.  But when Cook came in and saw her, he said,"Leave that be until tomorrow.  I want you to make a soup for the king. " Cook desired a chance, he said, to watch the festivities too. So Allfurs "brewed a bread soup as best she could.  When she was finished, she fetched her golden ring and put it into the bowl in which she had prepared the soup." And Cook came back and got the bowl and served it to the king, who was "convinced that he had never eaten a soup that had tasted as good".  So good was it that he ate every drop, and there, in the bottom of the bowl, lay a golden ring. He sent for the cook at once and demanded to know the meaning of the ring.  The cook swore that he himself had made the soup, but the king said,"That's not true for it was much different from your usual soup, and much better cooked." So Cook confessed, and said, "The furry creature did." So that girl was sent for and questioned.  She told the king that she was "just a poor girl that no longer has a mother or father." She said that all she was good for was to "have  boots thrown at my head." And she would say no more, so the king let her go. The months passed, and another ball was to be held. Again All Fur begged permission to go, and again, it was granted. This time she wore her dress of moon beam silver, and, as she had hoped, "the king was delighted to see her".  But when the music ended, she whisked herself out of sight, and became "the furry creature" once more. She was covered in ashes when Cook found her.  He told her to make another pot of soup while he went upstairs and this time "she fetched the tiny golden spinning wheel, put it into the bowl, and covered it with the soup."  When the king tasted the savory broth, and swallowed the delicious soup, he knew at once that Cook had not made this batch.  He summoned All Furs and questioned her, but she swore she knew nothing of a tiny spinning wheel in the bowl, and claimed "that she was good for nothing but to have boots thrown at her head". When the third ball was held and All Fur begged to go, "the cook now asserted,'Furry creature, I know you're a witch. You always put something in the soup to make it taste good and to make the king like it better than anything I can cook."  Yet he allowed her to go and watch, in exchange for making the soup and giving him his own turn to see the royalty dancing.  When the king saw All Fur in her dress that shone like the stars, he knew that he must marry her. He gave orders that the music be kept going as long as possible. "While he danced with her, he put a golden ring on her finger without her noticing it." When she realized how long she had stayed, she fled, but she was too late. There was not time to change out of her star-shining dress, and when she dusted soot over herself, one finger stayed pure white.  She had just time to drop the golden reel into the king's portion of soup before Cook came in.  And the king slurped the soup up quickly, and found the reel, and called for the furry creature from the kitchen.  Then "he seized her hand and held it tight and when she tried to free herself and run away, the fur cloak opened a bit and the dress of bright stars was unveiled. The king grabbed the cloak and tore if off her.  Suddenly, her golden hair toppled down, and she stood there in all her splendor unable to conceal herself any longer. After she had wiped the soot and ashes from her face, she was more beautiful than anyone who had ever been glimpsed on earth. 'You shall be my dear bride, ' the king said,' and we shall never part from each other!' Thereupon the wedding was celebrated, and they lived happily together until their death."
From All New 3rd Edition The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. (trans.,Zipes, 2003)
Notes: It is a puzzlement to imagine a tiny spinning wheel, as this would have moving parts and awkward to make from gold. It is more logical to imagine a golden spindle, the conical tool used to spin thread by women on all continents throughout human history.  It has been documented that highborn ladies of the late Neolithic and on were buried with spinning tools, as this was such a crucial labor for them.  Evidence has also been found that women of ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, and parts of Europe were weaving cloth from thread twisted and beaded with precious metals.  Because the process of spinning thread and weaving cloth was so time consuming, even noblewomen spent a great deal of time spinning. They left the simple linens, however, to their servants, and spun themselves richly dyed wool, or linen strung with gold. ( Barber, E.W. (1994) Women's Work: The First Twenty Thousand Years. New York: W.W. Norton & Company) Could it be that Mr. Zipes, or others before him, mixed the two similar English words, spindle and spinning wheel? Maybe, as they translated from the German, they were less familiar with a Spindel or spindle, than with a Spinnrad,or spinning wheel. Likewise the golden reel.  The word reel has more connotations of fishing gear than sewing tool. Bobbin, or spool, being the cylinder around which one wraps the thread which they have spun, makes much more sense.  Else why spend all that time spinning thread only to have it tangle? Food for thought, and an inspiration to study German. 
Montessori Connection: Language/ The Indo European Family of Languages
1. Read this story, and the notes, and think about translating words from one language to the next.
2. Learn about why English is related to German: Learn that Modern English is traced back to Middle English which in turn comes from the Germanic branch of the tree. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cinderella #146 Of Nettles and Roses, a Yiddish Cinderella

Palazzo, T. (1954)

Note: contains violence."Once upon  a time, there was a rich man and his wife who had an only child, a very pretty daughter." But the mother "was taken ill and died," and so the man decided he must marry again. The woman was kind to the beautiful little girl — that is, until she bore a child of her own. Then she began to plot her stepdaughter's demise.  The next time her husband left home on a business trip, she ordered the little girl to take the family's dirty clothes to scrub. The child must do the washing at the river on the edge of town, commanded her stepmother, and at this, the girl began to cry. That river "was said to be under a curse. Nevertheless, she gathered up the clothes and obeyed her stepmother." At the river, she dragged all of the clothes into the water, then began to beat them on the rocks at the water's edge.  As she sloshed the cold water, her own hot tears ran down her cheeks. "Suddenly, three water spirits rose out of the water. ' Why are you crying?' they asked. And when she had told her tale, the first spirit told her not to cry anymore.  From now on, the spirit said, the girl would leave a trail of the rarest roses in the world" as she walked. The second spirit told her,"And when you wash yourself, the water in the basin will turn to gold." And the third spirit declared," When you speak, your breath will perfume the air and please everyone who hears you." As they spoke, they washed her clothes, and soon, her basket was full of carefully folded, dry clothes. Now the girl went home with the laundry, and the whole way back, she left a wake of roses of the rarest and most delicate colors.  There were lavenders, and blues, and purples so dark that they were nearly black. There were blooms of pale orange, and petals striped with raspberry pink. Then she put the basket away and  washed her face. When her stepmother saw that the water in the basin where she had washed was now pure gold, she demanded to know how this came about. She was flabbergasted to see roses bloom in the house as the girl walked across the floor.  "When the pretty stepdaughter described the water spirits, her breath perfumed the room." Then the scheming woman decided that her own daughter must go, believing that the fairies would look with favor on her too. Yet "when the ugly daughter came to the river, and the spirits asked her what she wanted, she replied rudely,' You gave my sister gifts.  Now give me some, too." And the three spirits exchanged a look, and then, one at a time, bestowed their gifts. The first said,"When you walk, nettles will spring up in your footsteps." And the next said,"When you wash, the basin will fill up with frogs.'  'And when you talk,' said the third spirit, 'your breath will have such a stink that no one will want to listen to you.'  And that's how it was." She left a trail of stinging nettles all the way home, and a basin of frogs in the bathroom after she washed. "And when she told her mother what happened, the house filled with such a dreadful odor that her mother ordered her to stop talking."  Well, in this same neighborhood, there lived a king.  His son was a young man, just of age to marry, and was having a hard time finding a wife. He had already seen all of the girls he knew, and none would do. Then, one day, he heard about a girl he hadn't seen before, one so lovely she left roses in her wake and the scent of perfume with each word she spoke. He just had to meet her! So a meeting was arranged, and "the moment he saw her, he was enchanted". She was the loveliest creature he had ever laid eyes on, and she smelled so very good! "What with one thing and another, they soon arrived at an understanding that in a month's time, " They counted the days and perfected their plan, and sure enough, thirty days later he snuck her away and they were married.  But her stepmother "through consultations with fortune tellers" discovered where she was.  She also found out about the beautiful baby girl that was born to her stepdaughter, and "many years had gone by, and it all took longer than it takes to tell." This wicked woman went, now, to the place where the young prince and princess and their baby lived, and hired a sorceress, telling her,"Name your price, just find a way to kill that stepdaughter of mine." And the evil woman worked spells and discerned the secret place where mother and babe slept, and went there and "took out a long sharp knife, cut the baby in four parts, and put the bloody instrument into the princess's hand." In the morning, the sun's rays shone over the mother, sticky with her infant's blood.  "The king commanded that the princeses's eyes be put out.  The mutilated body of her was placed in a sack and given to her, and she was driven away from the palace." The princess wandered for many hours, and when she felt the air chill, and sensed that darkness was falling, she found her way to a tree and sat down underneath it.  Now "she sang softly to herself, like one of the birds in the boughs above. Singing thus, she fell asleep. As she slept, her own mother appeared to her in a dream and said,'My child, you have suffered much, and you are destined to suffer more. But soon you will find some relief. In the morning, you will find yourself sitting beside a well. Touch some of the well water to your eyes, then take more water and wash the body of your baby." When she awoke, all was as her mother had foretold.  She washed her eyes and could see again, and washed her child, and the life flowed back into it. Now, "happy to be carrying her living baby, she made her way through cities and town and villages, earning her keep by singing wherever she went." After several years of this vagabond life, she settled down, for the sake of her child, and "found work with a family of rich people."  Her employer, as luck would have it, was friends with the king.  One night during a banquet, at which His Majesty and his son the prince were present, there were singers for entertainment.  As voice after voice sang many stories, the prince maintained a frown upon his face. Finally, the king asked what was wrong, and his son said,"Ah, what I would give if I could hear a song that resembled in some way the story of my life.' At this, the hostess said,'There is a young woman working for me who often sings a song that resembles the story of your life." So the woman was sent for, and when she came in, was "finely dressed and very beautiful".  The verses of her song matched the chapters of the prince's sorrow. "Then the singer came to the part that told how she had married the king's son, how he had cast her away, and what had happened to her afterward. Hearing it all, the prince wept and wept.  Then, taking the singer by the hand, he said,'This is she. This is my true and blameless wife, whom I love dearly.' And so they were united once more.  And they lived happily ever after."
From Weinreich, B.S., (1988) Yiddish Folktales. New York: Shocken Books
Notes: This story is marked as a Cinderella because of a. The stepmother b. The assistance of the water spirits.  This is a common variation of the fairy godmother, especially when we realize that the "old woman by the well who asks for a drink of water" character, a fish, a frog, or a mermaid, are all in the same family. c. assistance from the mother's spirit d. the role of the tree. The motif of the blinded mother, wandering with her dead child, then restoration of sight and life, is an ancient one. See The Maiden Without Hands (Zipes/Grimm, 2003 p.109) for a prototype. 
Montessori Connection: Fundamental Needs of People/Spiritual Needs/Religion/Judaism
1. Read this story and learn that it is a Jewish folktale.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cinderella # 145 Caporushes (Retold by F.A. Steel, 1918)

She braided the rushes into a cap. 

Once upon a time, "a long, long while ago, when all the world was young, and all sorts of strange things happened, there lived a very rich gentleman whose wife had died, leaving him three lovely daughters.  They were the apple of his eye, and he loved them exceedingly."  So strong was this love that it drove him to try and learn if it was returned, in equal strength.  He called his daughters to him one at a time, and asked each one," How much do you love me, my dear?" Well, the first girl said, "As I love my life." The second one said,"Better than all the world beside." And the third girl told her father,"I love you as fresh meat loves salt." Her father was furious when he heard this. How dare she give such an answer, to make such a trifle of his worth.  So "he turned her out of the home where she had been born and bred, and shut the door in her face." The girl had no choice but to wander on, and she "came to a big fen where the reeds grew so tall and the rushes swayed in the wind like a field of corn." And down she sat, and cut an armful, and "plaited herself an overall of those rushes and a cap to match."  She was a maiden as clever as she was beautiful, and she feared the attention which her fine clothes and silken tresses would bring in the world.  While she braided the grass, she sang,"Hide my hair, O cap o' rushes, Hide my hair, O cap o' rushes, Sure! my answer had no fault, I love him more than he loves salt." The little birds who lived amongst the rushes heard this song, and chirped in response. " Cap O' Rushes, shed no tear, Robe O' Rushes, have no fear, With these words if fault he'd find, Sure your father must be blind." When she had completed her outfit, she put on the cape, tucking it over her dress in every place.  Then she stuffed her hair, which was "set with milk-white pearls" under the rush cap, and not a wisp could be seen. She looked like a country lass, not a King's daughter, to be sure.  Now she was ready to meet her fortune, so she walked on down the road. At length, she came to a "great house on the edge of the fen".  She thought things over, then walked around to the kitchen garden, to see what she could see. And there was the sculllion, grunting and swearing over a pile of greasy dishes.  And Cap O'Rushes said, "If I may have a night's lodging, I will scrub the pots and pans for you."  And the scullion readily agreed, but warned her to scour them well.  And the girl in the rush cape scoured them so well, that when Cook saw them, she dragged the scullion by the ear and made her tell who had done her work.  Then Cook turned the old scullion out and told Cap O'Rushes to take her place. But so keen was this one's sense of justice that she would "stay without wage and do the dirty work".  And that is what she did.  Soon, the master of the house gave a feast with a dance besides, to celebrate his oldest son's coming of age. Well, the party was quite grand, and "after the supper was served, the servants were allowed to go and watch the quality from the gallery of the ballroom."  Such a fine dancer was the master's son, that no partner was his match.  And Cap O'Rushes dared not go to watch for she, too, was a fine dancer and "she was afraid that when she heard the fiddles starting a merry jig, she might start dancing." She feigned tiredness from dish scrubbing, and went to bed. "But alas! And alack-a-day! The door had been left open,and as she lay in bed, she could hear the fiddlers fiddling, and the tramp of dancing feet."  The girl could not help herself, and the next thing she knew, there she was. slipping of the cape of rushes and joining in the dance. And the prince danced with her, and her gown was finer than anyone else's, too.  Clever as she was, she left quickly, and was in bed with her rush cap on when the other servants got back. And when they all bragged of the strange dancer's beuaty, Cap O'Rushes said,"I should like to see her, but I don't think I ever shall."  The cook and the scullion said, oh yes, she would see the lady for certain, for there was to be another dance the following night.  Again, the strange servant girl said she did not care to watch, and again, took to her bed. But when the music started, she "upped and offed with her cap and robe of rushes, there he was at the door waiting for her to come; for he had determined to dance with no one else." But again the nimble girl left early, and again, the servants bragged of how the girl had danced with the prince. Though they wondered at Cap O'Rushes,  because though she seemed asleep, "her cheeks were all flushed and her breath came fast. So they said,'She is dreaming. We hope her dreams are happy."  And in the morning they could not stop exclaiming. "Never was such a beautiful young lady! Never was such beautiful dancing." Then they told her that there was to be a third, and final ball that very night, and teased Cap O'Rushes about coming to watch.  Now, Capo O'Rushes tried as hard as she might to resist temptation, but "the moment she heard the fiddlers fiddling, she just upped and offed with her rushes, and there she was, as fine and tidy as ever!" But though she danced with the prince all evening long, came the time the music ended.  Then she said to him"that she never, never, never, would come to dance anymore, and that he must say goodbye." There was a struggle then, for the prince did not want the maiden to leave, and yet herself wanted this very badly.  In the end, she got away but not before "lo! and behold! his ring came off his finger, and as she ran up to her bed there it was in her hand!"  She had scarce time to duck under her rushes before the cook came in, crying her eyes out for the poor prince, who was sworn to die of love if he did not find the girl who danced like a dream.  "Then Cap O'Rushes laughed, 'Young men don't die of love.  He will find someone else.'  But he didn't." Soon he had wasted to a shadow, and was taken to bed. Now "the housekeeper came to the cook and said, 'Cook the nicest dinner you can cook, for young master eats nothing." So the cook made many roasted meats, and vegetable pies, and sugared fruits and jelly creams.  The prince ate no bite. It was Cap O'Rushes that scrubbed the dishes after, but she said nothing about the prince. Now the housekeeper said,"Prepare some gruel for young master. Mayhap he'd take that. If not, he will die for love of the beautiful dancer." And Cap O' Rushes came over and listened, leaving her dirty suds. And when cook turned her head —quickly! just like that!—Cap O'Rushes dropped the ring into the pot of gruel. It was taken to the prince, and at first he would accept no taste, but "the butler with tears begged him to taste it.  To satisfy the man, the prince thrust his spoon into the dish of gruel, and gave it a good stir. Immediately, he felt something was there. "And when he fished it up — lo! it was his own ring!" And he sent for the cook, and made her tell who had cooked the gruel, and when she said that it was she, he called her a liar.  Then she confessed that she had turned her back for a moment, and perhaps it happened that Cap O'Rushes had added something to the gruel.  So the prince called for her to come, with his faint voice, "for he really was very near dying." And when the strange girl came, and he saw her dirty face and poor attire, "he turned his face to the wall; but he asked in a weak little voice,'From whom did you get that ring?" And now Cap O'Rushes heart melted, and she said gently,"From him that gave it to me." And then he looked again, and "saw her from the tail of his eye" and knew that it was the same dancer, and "drew her to him and gave her a great big kiss." And there was feasting and dancing, and much, much merrymaking, by all who came, except for one particular guest.  This man sat alone, and kept trying bite after bite of food on the table with him. Yet each bite, he must choke down, and from no dish did he take a second spoonful. The hours passed and this man groaned with hunger, yet manners kept him from complaining. It seemed that the cook had forgotten to salt every dish upon the laden table, for though each shone with color, and delicious aromas wafted from them, the taste was dull as dirt.  To compound this gentleman's distress, he was blind, and so could neither call on his host for assistance, nor be sure of his absence to criticize his plight. At great length the bride, whose tresses were strewn with milk-white pearls, bent over the old man and asked what was the matter. And then "the old man sobbed. 'I had a daughter whom I loved dearly, dearly. And I asked her how much she loved me and she replied, 'As fresh meat loves salt.' And I was angry with her and turned her out of house and home, for I thought she didn't love me at all. But now I see she loved me, best of all." Like a miracle, his sight returned to him as he spoke these words, and gazed on the face of his own dearest child. "And she gave him one hand, and her husband, the young master, the other, and laughed, saying ,'I love you both as fresh meat loves salt.' And after that, they were happy for evermore."
From English Fairy Tales, Retold by A.F. Steele , Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. (1918)  London: McMillan & Co.
Notes: This story has elements of a Catskin tale, (the unlawful casting the girl out, the dressing in a cape or gown made of an unusual material, the 3 balls, the token of recognition being the ring). Yet it parallels the Meat Loves Salt/Dear As Salt/ How Much Do You Love Me? tales of Russia, Poland, Italy, and other countries. 
Montessori Connection: Fine Arts/Handcrafts/Crocheting and Knitting
1. Read this story, and notice what Cap O' Rushes made her cap out of. 
2. Pretend that you must make your self a hat to cover your hair, for some very important reason. What could you make it out of?
3. If you have the chance, pick long grasses, or thin twigs, and try to braid them together. See if you and some friends can make enough for a hat. Find out how long this takes. 
4. Try something that is a bit more practical: Learn to crochet a hat. Try:Kids Crochet: Projects for Kids of All Ages or Way to Crochet!: 20 Cool, Easy Projects for Kids of All Ages or Finger Knitting 1 (v. 1)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cinderella #144 Tatterhood (1859/1978)

Tatterhood whacked the trolls
with her wooden spoon.

Once upon a time, in Norway, “there was a was a king and queen who had no children, and this grieved the queen very much.  She so wished for children that the king finally suggested that perhaps they could “invite the children of their kinswoman to stay with them.” So this they did, and the little nieces soon arrived.  They romped and played in all of the palace’s rooms, and out in the courtyard as well.  One day, the queen saw “her two lassies playing ball with a stranger, a little girl in tattered clothes.” This she did not like at all, and she rushed down to shoo the dirty girl away.  The tattered child said, “You would not chase me away if you knew the powers my mother has.” And this made the queen very curious, so she invited the ragged girl’s mother in for tea.  The mother was an egg seller. The queen begged to know the lady’s secret powers, and finally, the egg woman told her that she possessed the power to help the queen have children of her own.  This was what the queen must do: Have two pails of water brought up to her chamber at night.  She must wash herself with water from both pails, and when she had finished, she was to pour the water out under her bed.  The next morning, said the egg seller, “ When you look under the bed, two flowers will have sprung up; one fair and one rare.  The fair one you must eat, but the rare one you must let stand.  Mind you, don’t forget that.” The queen did follow her advice and the next morning she saw two flowers growing under her bed. “ One was green and oddly shaped; the other was pink and fragrant.  The pink flower she ate at once.  It tasted so sweet that she promptly ate the other one as well, saying to herself, “ I don’t think it can help or hurt either way!”  Yet she did conceive a child soon after.  When the babe was born, everyone saw that it was " a girl who had a wooden spoon in her hand and rode upon a goat. A queer looking creature she was, and the moment she came into the world she bawled out, “Mama! Well, the queen took one look and said, “If I’m your mama, God give me grace to mend my ways!’ ‘Oh don’t be sorry,’ said the girl, riding about on the goat. ‘the next one will be much fairer looking.’ And so it was.  The second twin was fair and sweet which pleased the queen very much.”  Both sisters were healthy and grew.  Although they were of different temperaments they were the best of friends.  The older sister “soon had the nickname Tatterhood for she was strong, raucous, and careless, and was always racing about on her goat.  Her clothes were always torn and mud-spattered, her hood in  tatters.  No one could keep her in clean, pretty, dresses.  She insisted on wearing old clothes and the queen finally gave up and let her dress as she pleased.” 
It happened one Christmas that "a pack of trolls invaded the palace", as they did, according to the queen, every seven years. Tatterhood and her twin were now fourteen years old, and horrified to hear the crashing and carousing of the "evil creatures".  So Tatterhood declared, "I will go and drive them out!" She gave orders that every door and window be sealed shut tight while she battled them, and off she went. When she saw the trolls, she "laid about with her wooden spoon, whacking trolls on the head or shoulders, rounding them up to drive them out." Her twin just could not resist peeking while her brave sister slashed and slew.  For just a moment, the girl stuck her head out the window, and "POP! Up came a troll, whipped off her head and stuck a calf's head on her shoulders instead." Mooing like a baby, the girl dropped to all fours. Tattercoats gave a scathing lecture to the girl's tutor for not keeping better track of her, and went to see her father, the King.  She announced,"I'll see if I can get her free from the troll's spell, but I'll need a good ship in full trim, and well fitted with stores." The King protested at first, but soon realized that his daughter was a brave warrior. He gave her the ship, and she trotted away on her goat,  her calf-headed sister by her side.  The wind was swift and they soon made shore at the land of the trolls.  Tattercoats jumped out and saw a house, and she looked through the window...and there was her sister's true head, high on a shelf. "In a trice, she leapt the goat through the window, snatched the head, and leapt back outside again." Although the trolls were furious, and soon pursued her, she swung her "magic wooden spoon until they gave and let her escape." Back on board the ship, Tatterhood restored her sister's proper head. The two girls then decided that, while they had come thus far, they would sail on and go adventuring. "So they sailed along the coast, stopping at this place and that, until at last they reached a distant kingdom." So they landed, and soon, a party from the nearby castle came down to investigate. When they saw the strange young woman trotting about on board riding a goat and waving a spoon, they were not sure what to think. But when they saw the other girl, they invited both sailors up to meet the royal family, and the two princes. But Tatterhood said they must come to her, for she would not go to them. The next day, the elder of the two brothers came to shore and met the twins. He fell instantly in love with the lovely maiden, and proposed marriage.  But she said,"No indeed. I will not leave my sister Tatterhood. I will not marry until she marries." So the prince went back and prepared for a feast, warning his brother that he had to invite the ugly girl who rode a goat, as well as the pretty one. But the younger brother was intrigued by the notion of  a goat-riding girl, and agreed to meet her. The sisters made ready to come.  "The younger twin brushed her hair and put on her finest kirtle for the event, but Tatterhood refused to change." Though her sister wanted only for her to have a fine time, and be respected for her valor, still Tattherhood would neither wash her face, comb her hair, nor change from her dirty clothing. All of the townspeople turned out to watch as the princes, and the two sailor girls rode by. "At the head, rode the prince and Tatterhood's sister on fine white horses draped with cloth of gold. Next came the prince's brother on a splendid horse with silver trappings.  Beside him rode Tatterhood on her goat." The prince beside her spoke not a word, and finally, Tatterhood could stand it no more. She asked him why he did not speak? He burst out," Why do you ride on that goat instead of a horse?' 'Since you happen to ask,' said Tatterhood, 'I can ride on a horse if I choose." As she spoke, the goat became a fine steed.  Well, she certainly had his attention now! So he asked, "Why do you hide your head beneath that ragged hood?' 'Is it a ragged hood? I can change it if I choose." And she did, and revealed lustrous brown locks. and a "circlet of gold and tiny pearls".  Now the prince cried out,"What an usual girl you are! But that wooden spoon — why do you choose to carry that?" She responded by waving her hand, and the spoon became " a gold tipped wand of rowan wood".  They rode on in silence for some time, and then Tatterhood asked the prince, "Well — aren't you going to ask me why I wear these ragged clothes?' 'No,' said the prince. 'It's clear you wear them because you choose to, and when you want to change them, you will." As he spoke, the dirty rags transformed into rich, green velvet.  The prince just smiled, and said,"The color becomes you very well." But she still had not washed her face.  Only as they rode under the entrance to the castle did she ask whether he wanted her to do so. When he replied that it was entirely her choice, she rejoiced.  Then she "touched the rowan wand to her face and the soot streaks disappeared."  And the "games and the singing and the dancing" and the feasting went on for many a day. 
From Tatterhood and Other Tales (1978, ed: Phelps, E.J.) The Feminist Press 
Notes: This is very Northern European: a. Because of the trolls. b. Because of the image of the girl with spoon raised in her hand, and the editor's note that this, along with the flowers and goat, "may be related to ancient superstition and symbols." According to Elizabeth Wayland Barber, this seems to be a reference to Berehinia, the "Slavic goddess who was the protectress of women and fertility...the motif of the protecting goddess with her arms raised, hands full of birds or plants, is still in active use in Ukraine and other Slavic areas." Tatterhood, with her goat and spoon, is an almost Pan-ic figure.  Here we have twins, or perhaps the two sides of one girl's personality. 
Montessori Connection: The Fourth Great Lesson/Communication in Signs/ Extension: Runes
1. Read this story and find Norway on the globe.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cinderella #143 Pippina the Serpent (Calvino,1956)

Can you find Palermo on this
map of Italy?

Note: Contains violence. Once upon a time, in Palermo, "there was a merchant with five children — four little girls and a boy.  The boy was the oldest, a handsome youth by the name of Baldellone. The luck of the merchant shifted, and he went from rich to poor."  Such a bad time to find out that his wife was expecting another little bundle of joy.  Baldellone took this announcement as his cue to "kiss them goodbye, and go to France. He was an educated youth, and when he got to Paris, he entered the service of the royal palace, and was finally promoted to captain." Back in Palermo, the merchant's wife gave birth to a baby girl "of matchless beauty, and father and mother were so moved, that the burst into tears. 'Dear daughter, it breaks our heart to see you born into such poverty." They had already sold the dining room table to buy linens for the little one, and those things all babies need. The child grew, and soon she toddled around on her own little legs.  One day, "while playing in the straw, she called out, 'Mama! Mama! Look! Look!' and held out hands full of gold pieces." When her mama and papa came running, she showed them the hole she had put her hand into: they looked, and there was a jar full of money! Now they could buy all the groceries they needed, and "have a real meal, for a change." A few years passed, and now Pippina's father said to her mother, "Wife, I think it's time to have a charm put on Pippina. We certainly have the money, so why not have her charmed?" The way it was done, in those days, was to "go halfway to Montreale, where four fairy sisters lived. They took Pippina there in a coach, and presented her to the four sisters." Now, these four sisters gave very specific directions, that must be followed if the charm was to work. They told the parents how to prepare, and agreed to come to their home on Sunday. The fairy sisters arrived as promised, and promptly "washed their hands, mixed up a bit of Majorcan flour, made four fine pies, and sent them off to be baked." But the baker's wife smelled those pies in the oven, and the scent drove her to gluttony.  When they were cooled, she ate one! She did not tell anybody, and no one saw her, so she thought that it would not matter. (She was wrong!) Quickly, she made another pie, of "regular flour and water drawn from the trough in which she washed the oven broom." It looked exactly the other three. During the ceremony, the first fairy cut one of the pies open, saying,"I charm you, lovely maiden, so that every time you brush your hair, pearls and other precious stones will come pouring forth. " The second fairy cut another pie and said,"I charm you to become more lovely yet than you already are."  The third fairy sliced a pie and declared," I charm you so that every fruit out of season you might desire will instantly be there."  Now the fourth fairy cut into the last pie.  It was "filled with sweepings" and a "cinder flew out of it and landed in her eye.  Howling with pain, the fairy said,"Now I'm going to put you under a monstrous spell.  When you see the sun, you shall become a black serpent!" And then those four fairy sisters vanished! How the mother and father wept.  Their darling child could not risk playing in the sunshine ever again. "But now, let's leave them, and turn to Baldellone."  This young man from an impoverished family had told all his new friends in France that his family was actually quite rich, though he was actually penniless. "But with all his big talk he impressed everyone; as the proverb says: He who goes abroad, Presents himself as count, duke, or lord. " Baldellone's bragging reached the ears of the King of France, and he sent a squire to Palermo to find out the truth. Since Baldellone's family had become rich while he was away, the squire brought news to the King that not only was Baldellone's father a wealthy man, but his young sister, Pippina, was the loveliest maiden he had ever seen. Of course, the King wanted to marry the girl, so he commanded Baldellone to go home and get his sister.  Baldellone went — but "he had a girl friend, who insisted that he take her to Palermo." When these two arrived, and found the riches and splendor in which Baldellone's family lived, the girlfriend began to scheme.  But when she met Pippina, destined to be Queen of France, her scheming took an uglier turn.  She coveted the girl's position, and so cunningly, she became Pippina's closest companion. She travelled in the same sedan chair back to the ship, and, when they arrived in Paris, the two girls rode together to the castle. Of course, Pippina's parents had warned Baldellone never to let the sun's rays shine upon his sister, so the girls were cloaked inside a dark sedan.  The girlfriend, having guessed that some harm might befall Pippina by the light of the sun, began to wheedle and beg to have the curtains opened.  Pippina at first simply refused, and then, thinking her friend meant her no harm, told her the reason. At that, the girl friend "snatched a penknife and rent the leather ceiling of the sedan chair. A ray of sunlight shone straight down upon Pippina, and she changed into a black serpent that went wriggling down the dusty road and disappeared under a nearby hedge in the King's garden." Now Baldellone had a terrible dilemma: how could he go to the king without bringing him a bride? The girlfriend offered an easy solution: she would go in place of Pippina, thus pleasing the King. Well, Baldellone had no choice to agree, but the plan made no one but the girlfriend happy. The King took one look, and thought to himself, 'Well, she's not too bad looking, but I wouldn't exactly call her beautiful...' Baldellone thought to himself, 'That scheming girl! She's caused my sister's demise, and left me without even a girl friend.' And the girlfriend thought,'Yikes! Baldellone is really mad at me! I'd better figure out a way to get rid of him." So she feigned sickness, and, though it was not their season, begged the King to send Baldellone out to find her some fig.s This the King did, and Baldellone went on this fruitless search.  But his sister, the serpent, greeted him in the garden, and when she found that he wanted figs, told him of the gift from the third fairy.  In an instant, she gave him a basket of figs. He took these to the King, who fed them to the Queen. This greedy girl now demanded apricots, which were procured; then cherries, which were produced, and, finally, pears. "But we forgot to say that the charm worked for figs, apricots and cherries, but not for pears." And when Baldellone could not give pears, his execution was ordered. His dying wish, that he be buried in the garden, was honored. That night, the wife of the gardener heard a voice, singing sadly, "Baldellone, O dear brother, Buried here amid dark verdure, While the author of your fate Now plays Queen to my intended mate." And when the gardener went out to cut flowers in the morning, he found jewels and pearls amongst the blooms.  The next night, the song was repeated, and the gardener carefully gathered up all of the gems and gave them to the king. Then he lay in wait, so that he could see what he might, after dark. When he heard the singing begin, he drew his pistol and was about to fire, when the loveliest maiden he had ever seen stepped out of the shadows. She told him the story of the four fairies and their gifts, and begged him to bring the King to the garden the next night. So the King came, and when he saw the maiden and heard that she would be his wife, if only the curse were lifted, asked how this might be done. And Pippina said, "Leave tomorrow on a horse that runs like the wind, and go all the way to the Jordan River. Dismount on its bank and you will see four fairies —one with a green ribbon around her tress, another with a red one, a third with a blue one, and the last with a white one." She told him to take their clothes from the shore,and to hold them until the fairies gave him the ribbons. The one he must have, she said, was the white ribbon. By receiving it, the spell would be broken. So the King followed these directions.  He rode for thirty days and thirty nights, got the ribbon, repeated the journey, and ran out to the garden. The moment he tied the white ribbon around the black serpent, she changed back into a beautiful young girl.  Now yet another plan was hatched. The King asked the gardener to take the girl away by ship, but to bring her back, "under a foreign flag", a few days later. Then he would pretend that the ship carried a long lost relative. Of course, his false Queen could not resist showing off for the visitors. She demanded to accompany the King onboard. When she saw Pippina, who was introduced as the king's cousin, she grew afraid. Now the King asked his false bride whether the girl were not the daintiest maiden she had ever seen? The girl replied that she was.  The King pushed her further: what if someone wanted to hurt the lovely girl? Then how should that person be punished? Well, the false queen especially enjoyed advising the King on punishing wrong-doers, so she said, "He would deserve to be thrown through the window and then burned alive!' 'And that's just what we are going to do!' snapped the King, and then he told the girl that he knew all. "No sooner said than done. The liar was dashed throught the window and the burned right there on the ground next to the palace." Now the King begged Pippina's forgiveness for the hanging of Baldellone, and Pippina said,"Let's let bygones be bygones and see what can be done in the garden." There they dug up Baldellone, and, "with a small brush, Pippina applied a certain salve to his neck, and Baldellone began breathing again, then moving," When he finally jumped up, as though a man getting out of bed in morning, his sister wept and embraced him. "The scene was indescribable. The King, giving orders for grand festivities, sent for the merchant and his wife and married Pippina in great 
Notes: It is interesting to find a cinder as the object which sets in motion Pippina's tranformation to a serpent. Interesting too that the snake, rather than being a helping animal, is the actual girl herself
From Calvino, I.(1980) Italian Folktales Retold. New York: A Harvest Book (p. 534)
Montessori Connection: Geography/Italy
1. Read this story and notice that it is from the city of Palermo, Italy.
2. Find Italy on the globe.
3. Using a map of Italy, find Palermo.
4. Using a map of Italy, find Chiaravalle, the birthplace of Maria Montessori.
5. Think about what it might have been like for Maria growing up: Maria Montessori: A biography for childrenMaria Montessori: A Biography (Radcliffe Biography Series) or 
6. Think about whether stories like Pippina the Serpent might frighten young children, or whether they would like to read about the girl who turns into a snake, then back again.