Robin Redbreast

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

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cinderella # 138 Katie Woodencloak (Norway)


Here is another
Norwegian troll, waiting for 3 billy goats!
Pekarsky, M. (1963)

Once upon a time, in Norway, there lived "a king who had become a widower.  By his queen, he had one daughter, who was so clever and lovely there wasn't a cleverer or a lovelier person in all the world.  He mourned deeply for his wife, but at last he knew that he must marry again.  He found a noblewoman with a daughter of her own, just the same age as his.  He hoped that the two young girls would get along, but alas, this was not to be.  For his stepdaughter was the opposite of his own child: where one was kind, the other cruel, and where one was gentle, the other harsh.  His new wife, too, was cut from an abrasive pattern, and soon the man had no peace.  When a skirmish broke out along his borders, he was only too glad to lead his army in defense.  And now, the true ugly nature of the women he had brought into his house could be seen.  No more was his girl allowed at table: if she would eat, she must make do with scraps.  Each morning, the girl was sent out "to herd the cattle in the woods and on the fells."  So it was that one bull in particular took note of the girl's suffering.  He was the king of the herd, a fine, sleek "dun-colored" beast.  One day, he stood close to her and "asked outright why she was always in such grief.  When she could not answer, for surprise and tears, he said, "Ah! I know all about it, quite well. You weep because the queen is bad to you, and because she is ready to starve you to death. But you've no need to fret about food, for in my left ear lies a cloth.  Take it and spread it out, and you will have as many fine dishes as you please."  So the girl did this, and got a hearty meal, with "wine, too, and sweet cake."  She was soon a chubby, laughing girl again.  This, as you may imagine, caused the stepmother to become suspicious.  She sent one of her servant girls out to spy upon the cattle-herd, and in this way, learned the secret. Before much time had passed, the king returned from battle. A great feast was held in his honor, and his daughter was dearly glad to see him again.  But her happiness was not to last long: her stepmother used the chance to feign illness, and took to her bed.  Now the woman called for the doctor, whom she bribed to do her bidding.  She swore that the only food she could contemplate was beef, and that it must come from the dun-colored bull.  She insisted that her husband butcher the animal, and would accept no compromise.  When the girl heard these plans, she fled to the animal's stall at once, and told it of the forecoming doom.  And the bull said, " If they get me killed first, they'll soon take your life too.  Now, if you're of my mind, we'll just start off, and go away tonight."  Now, the girl loathed to leave her father, yet she dreaded starvation if her friend, the bull was killed.  So she agreed, and the two made flight.  In the morning, there was no trace to be found either of bull or girl. They were far away, the girl on the bull's back.  One day, "they came to a great copper wood, where both the trees, and branches, and leaves, and flowers, and everything,were nothing but copper." And the bull looked at this copper woods, and said to the girl, "Now, when we get into this wood, mind you take care not to touch even a leaf of it, else it's all over both with me and you, for here dwells a troll with three heads who owns this wood.'  No, bless her, she'd be sure to take care not to touch anything," she swore.  But the branches grew so thick, and the path was so overgrown, that no matter how gently she tried not to brush against the branches, it did not matter. "Somehow or other, she tore off a leaf, which she held in her hand." And then the bull cried aloud, for he knew that the three-headed troll had now been awakened, and that he would have to fight the thing to go free.  He told the girl to keep the leaf safe. Sure enough, as they came to the edge of the woods, there the fellow was, bellowing," Who is is that touches my wood?" And when the bull tried to pacify the angry creature, it shouted," Ah! We'll try a fall about that." And so the bull and the troll fought, and the fight lasted a whole day.  The bull won. But he was sore cut and bruised, and bade the girl retrieve the kit from the troll, that she could rub him with the salve it contained.  She did this, and in the morning, they continued.  Now they traveled for many days.  At length, they saw "a silver wood, where both the trees, and the branches, and leaves, and flowers, and everything, were silvern."  And before they rode in, the bull gave the same warning.  But just as before, the leaves and twigs and branches of the trees were so close upon the bull, and the girl on his back. that "in spite of all her pains, she tore off a leaf."  Then the bull roared in alarm, telling the girl that this wood was the domain of a troll with six heads.  He would now have to fight this creature as well.  But he told the girl to guard the leaf well.  And they came to the edge of the forest, and there was the six-headed troll.  And the bull fought his fiercest, yet it took three whole days before the battle was won.  At last, the bull stood aside: he had killed the troll and "gored out his eyes and driven his horns right through his body so that the entrails rushed out." He bade the girl fetch the kit from the troll's body, and daub him with the ointment it contained.  The bull rested for one week, and then they continued their journey.  After a long, long time, they came to "a gold wood. It was so grand — the gold dropped from every twig, and all the trees and boughs and flowers and leaves were of pure gold." Again the bull warned the girl, and again she swore that she would be as careful as can be.  Yet again, as they made their way through the tangled, golden overgrowth, "before she knew how it came about, she had a golden apple in her hand.  Then she was so bitterly sorry she burst into tears and wanted to throw it away.  But the bull said she must keep it safe and watch it well."  And here came the owner of the woods: a troll with nine heads! " We'll try a fall about." said he, when he found the bull trespassing. And they fought, and the battle lasted for one week, and when the troll was dead, the bull asked the girl to rub ointment on him.  Then he rested for three weeks. And then, they continued their journey.  Each day, the bull asked the girl what she could see up ahead, and one day, she said that she could see a little castle.  Not little, but big, said, the bull.  Sure enough, the next day the castle seemed bigger, and the following day, the girl looked ahaed and saw that it was quite large.  Now the bull told her that she must kill him, and cut off his skin. She was horrified, and begged to be spared from harming her dear friend so. But the bull insisted, and so the girl did as she must. Then she followed the bull's other instructions: she took the copper leaf, the silver leaf, and the golden apple, wrapped them in the bull's hide, and hid the package under a rock by the castle's pigsty.  She knew that she would only have to pick up the stick that was leaning against the stone wall, and strike the wall.  What she needed would thus be provided.  Now she struck the wall, and a cloak of woven laths appeared.  She put this odd, wooden cloak on, and knocked on the door of the castle kitchen.  Cook said she might sleep by the fire and eat bread each day in exchange for doing the washing up, and so she found a position.  One day, the prince upstairs called for water for his royal bath. Katie Woodencloak, for so they called her, begged to be allowed to bring it.  The servants laughed, and thought it a good joke, and so they sent her up with a basin.  She made such a racket, going up the stairs in her wicker cloak that the prince came out and shouted, "Do you think that I would have anything to do with the water YOU bring?" Then he snatched the basin and dumped the water over her head.  Back downstairs she went, and didn't the servants have a jolly laugh?  Katie Woodencloak did not mind this, but begged leave to go to church.  It was given, and straight she went to the pigsty. There, she struck the wall with the stick and out came a dress "as bright as the copper wood, and a fine horse and saddle, besides." Away she went, and when she got to church, there was the prince.  He helped her dismount and begged to know where she was from "Oh, I'm from Bathland." said saucy Katie Woodencloak.  After the sermon, she chanted a spell: "Bright before and dark behind, Clouds come rolling in on the wind, That this prince may never see, Where my good steed goes with me." And so he did not see where she went.  The next day, he called for a towel, and Katie begged to take it to him.  Amid laughter and taunts, she was given leave.  When she got upstairs, the prince heard her banging and crashing as she climbed the stairs in her old wooden cloak, and yelled, " Pack yourself off, you ugly, troll! Do you think I'd have a towel which you have touched with your smutty fingers?" So downstairs she went, her face bright red.  The next day, she begged to go to church again.  She got leave, and so ran to the pigsty.  She tapped the wall, and out came a gown "all covered with silver, and it shone like the silver wood, and she got besides a noble steed, with a saddle cloth embroidered in silver, and a silver bit." When she got to church, the prince helped her dismount, and now he knew that he had fallen in love with this mysterious girl. When he asked where she was from, this time she said, "Oh, I'm from Towel Land!" And when the service was over, she chanted her spell, and disappeared. The next Sunday, the prince called for a comb, and Katie begged leave to give it to him. So she banged and clattered up the stair in her cloak of wooden weave, and the prince called her "an ugly fright" and would not take it from her.  But she went to church again, wearing another dress from under the bull's hide in the pigsty. This one was "almost all pure gold, and studded with diamonds.  And she got besides a noble steed, with a gold embroidered saddle, and a golden bit." And off she went to church.  And there was the prince, who loved her so much that he decided to trap her in the church.  He painted pitch over the threshhold, so that she could not cross it.  But when the service was over, bold Katie Woodencloak stepped right into the pitch and ran away! She lost one shoe, though, which the prince gathered up.  Then he ran after her and asked where she was from. "From Comb Land!' she said, and then chanted her spell, and rode off unseen.  Now he was desperate.  How would he ever find this unusual girl again? He decided that he would command all the maidens in the kingdom to come to his castle and try it on.  So they did: tall and short, skinny and fat, girls came from far and  near. But none could wear the shoe. Except, suddenly, one could. It was Katie's stepsister, and, unbeknownst to anyone, she had brought a knife, and used it to trim her foot to make it fit.  But the prince was fooled, and was walking with this bloody liar to church when "a little bird sat upon a tree branch and sang,' A bit off her heel and a bit off her toe, Katie Woodencloak's tiny shoe is full of blood! That's all I know!" So the prince called for the servant girl in the wicker cloak, and she was brought before him.  Then she took the golden shoe and slipped it right on, and took its mate from under her wooden cloak. When she had the two shoes on, she cast off her wooden garment, and there she was, dressed in her golden gown. "The prince ran up to her, and threw his arms around her, and gave her a kiss. And when he heard she was a king's daughter, he got gladder still, and then came the wedding  feast, and so, Snip, snip snover — this story's over. 
From: Sierra, J. The Oryx Multicultural Folktale Series: Cinderella Cinderella (The Oryx Multicultural Folktale Series)
Notes: This story strikes me as having some interesting similarities to the only other Norwegian folk tale I know, The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  The troll is a classic creature from Scandinavia, generally mean and brutish. It is interesting to hear that the troll here called out a challenge, "Who is that crossing my woods?" to the bull each time, a very similar challenge to the infamous troll under the bride.  That guy demanded, "Who is crossing over my bridge?' Both stories also follows the rule of three (3 goats/3 forests/3 trolls, each of which has heads in multiples of 3).  This Cinderella is no shy maiden, and her bull is a proactive fellow too. Good for them! 
Montessori Connection: Geography and Language of Norway
1. Read this story, and then find Norway on the globe.
2. Name the country or countries that border Norway. 
4. Learn about the literature and language:Norwegian Folktales (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)

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