Robin Redbreast

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

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cinderella #120 The House in the Forest (1812)

A spotted cow; Little Farm at Tilden Park
Berkeley, CA

Once upon a time, somewhere in the Black Forest,"a woodcutter lived with his wife and their three daughters, on the edge" of that wild and  lonely woods.  One day the man had such a load of wood to cut that he did not want to take time to come home for lunch.  He told his wife," Have our oldest daughter bring me my noonday meal into the forest.  Otherwise, I won't be able to finish my work.  Just to make sure that she doesn't lose her way,' he added,' I'll take a bag of millet with me, and I"ll spread the seeds on the path." So that is what he did.  But the birds of the forest ate the millet, and his oldest daughter wandered until she was lost.  Then it was dark, and she was afraid to be alone in the woods.  She kept on walking until she saw a little light shining, and then she went closer because she could see that there was a little house.  "She knocked, and a rough voice cried out from inside,'Come in!'.  The maiden entered the hallway, and when she opened the kitchen door, she saw an old, gray-haired man sitting at the table with his head propped up by his hands, and his white beard flowed down over the table almost to the ground."  He was not alone in the room: there were three animals present as well, "a chicken, a rooster, and a spotted cow".  When the girl asked if she could stay the night, the old man turned to the animals and said: Pretty hen, pretty rooster, and you, my spotted cow, what do you say to this right now? 'Duks!' answered the animals, and that must have meant, 'That's fine with us!" because the old man said that she could stay.  However, she needed to cook the dinner.  So she did, and served the old man a plateful and ate a large plate herself.  Then she said, "But now I'm tired.  Where's the bed? I want to lie down and go to sleep." And the animals responded," With him you've eaten, with him you've drunk, but you haven't dealt with us quite right.  Find out for yourself where you're to spend the night." The old man told her to go upstairs and put fresh sheets on the two beds that she would find there, and that he would come right up. But the girl had no sooner made up the beds than she climbed into one of them and went right to sleep,without even waiting for the old man.  When he came up she was snoring, and he stood over her with a candle for a moment.  Then "he opened a trap door and let her drop into the cellar". Well, the woodcutter worked all day and no daughter and no dinner came to him.  In the evening, he went home and asked his wife what had happened. Between the two, they figured out what had gone wrong.  The next morning, the woodcutter again asked his wife to send him a meal, this time with their second daughter. He would scatter lentils this time, he decided.  They were bigger than the millet and so perhaps would not be eaten so quickly.  So the second daughter waited until the sun shone from the center of the sky, and set out to bring her father his food.  But no trail of lentils could she find in the deep, dark woods. She went this way and that, and by and by, darkness fell.  She was lost, just as her sister had been.  She kept on walking and soon she came to the same lighted cottage that her older sister had been to the night before.  Here she knocked on the door and the old man let her in. He told her that might spend the night, but that she would have to cook the supper. So she set to work, and "cooked a good meal and drank with the old man and did not take care of the animals. And, when she inquired about her sleeping quarters, they said "With him you've eaten and with him you've drunk, but you haven't dealt with us quite right.  Find out for yourself where you're to spend the night.'  When she was asleep, the old man came up, looked at her, shook his head, and let her down into the cellar." Well, the next morning, when she had not come home again, the woodcutter and his wife wondered what had become of their two daughters.  But the man had to go and cut more wood, and now he asked his wife to sent their youngest girl to him midday.  And she said, "Am I to lose my dearest child too?" Her husband said,"Don't worry. She won't lose her way, she's smart and sensible.  Besides, I'll take some peas with me and spread them on the ground.  They are even larger than lentils and will show her the way."  So he walked into the forest, and at noon, his youngest child tried to find him. There were no peas on the ground anywhere that she could see.  She walked all day, and soon the light was gone and she walked in the dark.   Then she came to the same little cottage which her sisters had seen, knocked on the door, and begged for shelter.  The old man let her in, turned to his animals and said," Pretty hen, pretty rooster, and you,my pretty spotted cow, wheat do you say to this right now?' And the animals said, "Duks!" which seemed to mean, "Well, let's give her the same chance her sisters had. "At the old man's request, she preapared some good soup, and when the bowl was on the table, she said,' I'm certainly not going to sit down and eat when these good animals have nothing. There's everything I need outside, and I'm going to take care of them first."  And out she went.  She gave barley to the hen and the rooster, and hay to the cow. Then she drew a pail of water from the well, and brought it to the thirsty beasts, who ate and drank gratefully.  Then she went in and ate supper with the old man.  Later, when she had begun to yawn, she asked politely where she might sleep. And the animals sang," Duks, with us you've eaten, with us you've drunk, you've thought about us just right, so now we wish you a very good night." The old man sent her upstairs to make the beds,and she did so, then waited for her host to come up before she climbed under the covers.  He lay down in one bed with "his white beard spread down to his toes", and she climbed into the other bed. She slept deeply in the quiet night, until suddenly "there was a crackling and a rattling in every corner.  The doors popped open and slammed against the walls.  The beams ground as if they were being ripped out of their sockets and the stairs also seemed to be collapsing."  But the girl stayed in bed, and when the noise was over, she went back to sleep.  "In the morning, she could not believe her eyes.  She was lying in a huge hall, and everything glistened around her in royal splendor.  Golden flowers grew on a background of green silk high on the walls.  The bed was made of ivory and and the covers of red velvet, and there were a pair of slippers on a nearby stool that were embroidered with pearls." She pinched herself, thinking it all to be a dream, but it was not.Three servants came in, and asked for their orders for the day.  She told them to leave her alone as she was on her way to take care of the animals, and make sure that the transformation had not frightened them.  "She thought that the old man had already risen and looked over at his bed, but he was not lying it it.  Instead, there was a stranger.  And as she regarded him more closely, she saw that he was young and handsome.  Then he awoke, sat up, and said, 'I'm the son of a king and a wicked witch cast a spell over me and changed me into a gray-haired old man and made me live in the forest.  Nobody was allowed to be with me except my three servants in the form of a hen, a rooster, and a spotted cow. Only a maiden could break the spell, but she had to show that her heart was good, and that she was not only kind toward humans but also toward animals.  You've done that, and at midnight, you set us free. Consequently, the old house in the forest changed back into my royal palace."  Then the prince ordered his servants to go to the woodcuter's house and invite the man and his wife to come to their daughter's wedding. "But where are my two sisters?' the maiden asked. 'I have locked them in the cellar, and tomorrow they shall be led out into the forest and shall work as servants for a charcoal burner until they show that they have changed for the better and no 
longer let poor animals go hungry." Grimm Complete Tales, Volume ll, p. 191 
Notes: This story shows that Gretel and her brother Hansel were not the only people scattering crumbs in the Black Forest.  It is interesting to realized that the birds, which so often are helpers, here are not.  The presence of the three servants in the form of both a hen and a rooster, making them pseudo parents, since they are a couple, and of the cow, a traditional provider of bounty, shows that this is a story about a young girl growing up.  She takes responsibility for the animals, showing that she herself will be a good mother. 
Montessori Connection: Raising Chickens
1. Read this story and notice all the birds in it. (Both birds in the forest who eat the millet, lentils, and peas, and birds in the house, as a hen and a rooster.)
2. Learn why so many people kept chickens in fairy tales. An Edible History of Humanity or Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People
 3. List all of the foods that you can think of that have eggs or chicken meat in them. Make some recipes from Paula Deen's My First Cookbook
4. Find out more about chickens as a source of fresh eggs or meat:4-H Guide to Raising Chickens or A Guide to Raising Chickens: Care, Feeding, Facilities (Storey Animal Handbook)