Robin Redbreast

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cinderella #127 Maria la Cenicienta (1873)

The girl found that she had a turkey-cock's crest on her forehead. 

Once upon a time, in Spain, there lived a man and his wife.  They had a small daughter named Maria who was the joy of their lives.  One day, the woman fell ill, and the next, she died.  Her daughter was left to manage as best she could in life without a mother.  Soon, Maria's father took a second wife.  At first the woman was cordial enough to the little girl but when her own child arrived, things took a different turn.  By the time Maria was seven years old, she spent every day in the pasture tending the cows. And by the time her stepsister was old enough to talk, she was insulting Maria.  Since she spent her days in the mud and her evenings huddled in the ashes, she began to call the girl Maria la Cenicienta, or Cinder Mary.  Poor Maria.  All day she labored in pasture, with nothing more than the grass which the cows ate for her meal.  One day, when she was so hungry she could not stand it, she sat down to cry.  That's when she heard a strange voice.  One of the heifers mooed softly and said, "Why does your stepmother treat you so cruelly? Every day you take us to pasture and each evening you bring us home, yet the woman will not provide you with milk to fill you belly. Pull on my horn and see what happens." So Maria pulled on the cow's horn, and suddenly her hands were filled with the weight of a basket. She opened this and found that it contained fresh rolls, sausages, a round cheese, grapes, and a jar of fresh milk.  The girl finished every morsel of this repast, and from then on, took her meals daily from the cow.  One day her stepsister spied on her as she tugged the cow's horn, and relayed the tale of her sister's secret feasting to her mother.  Enraged, the stepmother ordered Maria to bring the helfer into the yard.  Then she asked her husband to slaughter the cow, claiming that she was with child and craved fresh meat.  When the cow had been butchered, Maria was ordered to clean the entrails.  So she carried the tub of guts to the streams edge,and began the process of rinsing.  As she did so, she heard a low mooing sound, and the voice of her friend,  the cow.  "Maria, I am still with you.  Take the wand which you will find in my entrails.  It will help you in time of need." And when Maria looked into the tub, she found a small carved stick.  The entrails had been washed away in the stream and as she looked up, she saw her stepmother running towards her.  She had time only to thrust the stick into her sleeve before her stepmother slapped her face.  "Lazy pig of a girl! Careless idiot! You have let the tripe float downstream!" And with that she dragged the girl into the trees.  There was a small hut there which Maria's father used to store things, and now her stepmother pushed her in, and bolted the door behind her.   But instead of finding herself in the storage hut, Maria realized that she was in a tiny cottage. An ancient old woman sat in a rocking chair by the fire.  "Pretty child, pray tidy this hut and cook my supper,"  spoke the ancient old woman.  So Maria swept the floor with a broom that she saw, and then cleared the cinders from the grate.  She rekindled a fire, and builti it into a bright blaze.  Then she looked in the cupboards and found cheese and sausage, and a round loaf of fresh bread.  She sliced these and laid them on the table, and the old one beamed and nodded.  When Maria had eaten he fill, the old one beckoned her close. Patting the girl on the forehead, she gestured to a fat featherbed in the corner.  Maria sank into this and slept until dawn.  That's when she heard pounding on the door.  It was her stepmother, and just as she opened the door, the old woman pointed to a basin on the table.  It was filled with the freshly rinsed calf's entrails!  When Maria's stepmother saw the basin, she grabbed it, and then gasped. "What is the meaning of this?" she demanded, and grabbed Maria by the hair.  "Why do you have a star on your brow? Dirty pig! You must cover it up!" She grabbed a rag from a corner of the storage hut, and tied it firmly over Maria's head.  Then she slapped her and said, " Tell me at once.  Where did you get this trip and who put that star on your head?" So Maria told her about the ancient old woman, and her stepsister listened while she spoke. "I want a star on my head too! I will spend the night in the hut and make the old woman give me a star!" So that night her mother thrust her into the hut and bolted the door.  When the haughty girl turned around, sure enough, there was an ancient old woman in a chair by the fire.  "Pretty child, pray tidy this hut and cook my supper," the ancient one said to her.  But this girl just laughed and said,"Cook your own supper, lazy old thing! Give me a star on my head like my sisters! I am hungry now, what shall I eat for supper?' The old woman just nodded and smiled and the stepsister thought her a fool.  She opened the cupboard and found nothing but crumbs and the leavings of mice.  She stamped her foot and said, "Where shall I sleep?" and as she spoke, found that the light of the fire had gone out.  She was in the storage hut, alone with the rakes and shovels.  In the morning when her mother let her out, she was furious and shivering with cold.  But when her mother saw her she screamed. "Ahhh! Idiot of a girl! Why do you have the crest of a turkey-cock on your brow?" And the girl felt her head and now she screamed aloud.  Her mother quickly covered it with a silk kerchief.  It happened that one day not long after that the prince announced that he was hosting a ball.  All of the young ladies in the land were required to attend.  But when Maria begged to go, her stepmother locked her in the hut. "Stay there, Maria la Cenicienta!" she jeered, and bolted the door. But Maria drew out her magic wand.  With a wish and a wave she transformed her clothing into a dress far prettier than her stepsister's.  Her black hair flowed freely down her back, and the golden star shone brightly on her forehead.  Another wave of her wand unbolted the door of the hut and produced a team of horses and a fine wagon. Maria leaped into the driver's seat.  Sooner than seemed possible, they were in front of the palace, and she entered the ball as though in a dream.  When the prince saw her, his eyes seemed fastened to her.  They danced together all evening long.  But when the music ended, this lovely girl with a star on her brow wrenched herself from his hands and  fled.  Though he ran after her, he could find no trace of the lovely stranger, but only a small leather slipper of brilliant red. The next day, Maria's stepmother and sister could talk of nothing but the prince and his mysterious dancing partner.  She had disappeared, they said, leaving only a red shoe on the palace stairs. No sooner had they spoken than the king's herald passed by.  "Oye, oye! His majesty commands that all maidens attempt to wear the red slipper! The prince will take as his bride the one whose foot will fit the shoe." He was followed by the prince, who carried a small red slipper on a pillow. Now Maria's stepsister burst into the street, and her stepmother grabbed Maria by the hair. She dragged her into the kitchen and knocked her to the ground.  Then she turned a gigantic kneading trough over onto the girl, and went out to see the prince.  Her daughter was trying to squeeze her foot into the shoe, but it would not fit, and her face was nearly as red as the slipper, with effort.  "Is there no other maiden here?" asked the prince, and the stepmother said," Only dirty Cinder Mary and she is too ugly for you to see!"  That's when a dog ran past barking.  "Arf! Arf-arf!" It yapped.  Suddenly, it stopped before the prince and said, "She hides your bride in a tub inside!" and then ran away.  The prince went into the house and found Maria under the kneading trough, and when she saw the red shoe in his hand, she waved her wand.  Once more she stood before him in splendor, her shining brown clean and uncovered, with one red slipper upon her foot.  Gently, he slipped the other onto her, and they were married the same day. From Cox, Number 21 p. 10; taken from Biblioteca de las Tradiciones Españolas. 
Notes: This story has clear parallels with Little Gold Star, a Spanish-American Cinderella, as well as with the Baba Yaga-type tales involving old women in huts in the forest.  A kneading trough, presumably used for setting a whole week's worth of bread to rise, is the means of hiding the cinder girl. 
Montessori Connection: Fundamental Needs of People/Foods of Spain/Beef and Beef Products
1. Read this story and pay attention to the part of the cow's body that Maria is cleaning. (The entrails.)
2. Have you ever eaten anything made from the entrails of an animal? Think about it.
3. Learn about tripe, menudo, and sausage, three delicious foods made from cow's entrails: Handstand Kids Mexican Cookbook KitThe International Cookbook for Kids