Robin Redbreast

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cinderella #128 Maria (1903)

"That is nothing!" said the crocodile,
when she told him of her trouble.

Note: contains violence. Once upon a time, in the Phillipines, there lived " a man and his wife who had a very beautiful daughter named Maria." Yet the man fell in love with another woman, a widow with three children of her own.  He made a wicked plan, and one day, "when he and his wife were in a river on a boat, he pushed her out and she was drowned.  Then he married the other woman, who was as wicked as he." Things got worse for Maria when her new stepmother moved in: she soon found herself doing the dirty work for the whole family.  The only friend in the world that Maria had was her pet pig.  That is why her horrible new stepmother ordered the girl to kill it one day, then clean the carcass and bring her the entrails.  Though Maria pleaded for her pet's life, no mercy was shown and she was forced to kill the pig. Now her stepmother took out the guts and gave them to Maria, ordering her to go to the river and wash them, warning her that if she lost any she would be beaten.  Well, Maria did her best, but the water was deep and the current strong, and a large piece of intestines was washed right out of her hands.  How the girl cried! She shivered to think of what would become of her when she went home, and "lamented so that an old crocodile came up out of the river and asked her what was the matter. 'That is nothing' said the crocodile when she told him of her trouble.  He swam after the missing piece and brought it back, and as he turned to swim away and splashed his tail, a drop of water landed on Maria's forehead, where it became a bright jewel that flashed like the sun." When the girl went home, everyone she met covered their eyes so that they were not blinded by its brilliance.  Her stepmother slapped her and covered the jewel with a handkerchief.  Then she made her tell how she came to have a jewel on her head, and when the woman found out, determined to send her own daughter to get a jewel as well.  So the girl went down to the river and threw a piece of meat into the water and pretended to cry.  When the old crocodile surfaced, the stepsister begged, "Oh please, won't you get my meat out of the water? My mother will beat me if I come home without it."  The crocodile knew that she was lying, but dived down for the meat. It tossed the meat onto the river bank, and then, with a great splash of its tail, the creature was gone. But when the girl put her hand up to feel for her jewel she set a bell to ringing! The bell was stuck fast to her forehead, and, no matter how hard she tugged, it could not be removed.  When she got home, her mother was horrified, and all of the neighbors pointed and laughed.  As punishment for her stepsister's affliction, Maria was made to clean the henhouse, the pigsty, the horses stalls, and the privies.  Then her stepmother told her to go to the river and wash off the filth.  If there was so much a spot of muck on her back, the stepmother warned, she would beat Maria to death.  Poor Maria! She went to the river and rubbed and scrubbed her legs and arms but she could not see her back.  How could she risk going home? Again she sat down to cry, and again an animal appeared.  This time it was a " great she-crab who asked the girl her trouble".  And when the crab heard the story she said, "Very well, that is easily remedied." And then she gently washed the girl all over.  "Now,' said the crab,' you must eat me and take my shell home ad bury it in the back yard. Something will grow up that will be valuable to you." So Maria ate the crab, for she hungry.  Then she cleaned the shell carefully, took it home and planted it.  Quite soon, a tall grapefruit tree grew, and was loaded with big yellow globes. Now, one day the stepmother told Maria that she was taking her own daughters to  church.  She commanded the girl to have dinner on the table for them when they got home, and said that it must be "neither cold nor hot."  Well, Maria knew that this was an impossible task, and that she would suffer greatly when her stepmother came home, no matter what she did.  "She was about to despair when an old woman came in."  She listened while the girl told her her sorrows, then said, "You go along to church, my dear.  I will remain here and prepare the food." Maria thanked her, and said, "But what shall I wear?'  That's when the old woman told her to go out into the yard and pick the biggest grapefruit she could see. This the girl did, and when she had brought it inside, she cut it open.  Imagine her surprise when "she found the garments of a princess and a little chariot with eight horses as well"  So Maria washed, and changed clothes and hopped into the chariot.  She decided to take the long way to church, and drove right past the king's palace on her way.  As she did so, a beam of sunshine glinted off of her jewel, and all who saw her pass quickly covered his eyes.  She drove on to church, parked her chariot, and sat down in the front row.  Just then, the king's son came in and sat down beside her.  He saw the jewel on her forehead, but before he could speak to her, she ran away.  "The king sent his soldiers to find out who she was, but they could learn nothing and returned with only one of her little slippers which fell off as she left the church."  But Maria drove home as fast as she could.  The old woman helped her change back into her rags.  Then she held up the grapefruit rind and the horses and chariot leaped back in.  When Maria's stepmother came in a few moments later, she could find nothing to complain about.  The old woman was nowhere in sight, and the food was "neither cold nor hot".  The king announced that all of the young maids of the land must try on the shoe.  His soldiers "went here, there, and everywhere in search of little feet".  Finally, they came to the house of Maria.  When she saw them coming, the stepmother knocked Maria over and rolled her up in a rug.  Then, with a heave and a grunt, she shoved the bundle up into the rafters in the kitchen.  She threatened the girl not to move.  But when the king and his men entered the house, and saw only the stepsisters and their big ugly feet, they grew suspicious.  "Where is the girl who owns those sandals?" asked the king, pointing to Maria's tiny, ragged old shoes.  But the stepmother would not answer, so the soldiers searched the house.  One of them saw the bundle in the rafters, and jabbed it with the butt of his sword.  As the stepmother yelled, "That is only a bundle of rags!" Maria cried out in pain, and the soldier pulled her down.  They washed the girl's face and were "astonished at her beauty.  They took her to the king, and the shoe fitted exactly.  The king married her with great feasting and pomp, and they lived together happily for many years."
From The Oryx Multicultural Folktale Series: Cinderella. Judy Sierra (1994)Cinderella (The Oryx Multicultural Folktale Series) Notes: This story is a bit different from the other Philippine Cinderella, Abadeha.  We have a truly evil father, and a very cruel stepmother.  The crocodile and crab are both water creatures, and probably represent helpful water spirits.  These are traditional in many tropical cultures.  Note the large, round, yellow fruit as the source of the dress and chariot, and the similarity of grapefruits to pumpkins. 
Montessori Connection: Sister Christina Trudeau's Curriculum for the Cosmic Plan of Education and Environmental Studies OR:A syllabus : introduction to Montessori curriculum for the transitional age child OR 1. Read the story and then find the Philippines on the globe.  2. Learn that the language spoken there is Tagalog. 3. Learn more about the Philippines:My First Book of Tagalog Words: Filipino Rhymes and Verses or Filipino Children's Favorite Stories orPhilippines (Ticket to) or Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults