Robin Redbreast

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cinderella #177 Perrault, trans. A.E. Johnson

"The haughtiest, proudest
woman that had ever been seen."
Illustrations by Robinson, W.H.
Once upon a time, in France, there lived "a worthy man who married for his second wife the haughtiest, proudest woman that had ever been seen. She had two daughters, who possessed their mother's temper and resembled her in everything." The gentleman also had a daughter, she as sweet and even tempered as her own mother had been, who was "the nicest person in the world".  For a brief time, the new family lived together in harmony, but all too soon, the new wife showed her true temperament.  Jealous of her stepdaughter's good nature and pretty face, she "thrust upon her all the meanest tasks in the house.  It was she  who had to clean the plates and the stairs," do the sweeping, the mopping, the mending, and the washing. "The poor girl endured everything patiently", even when her stepsisters forced her to sleep in a drafty garret. All day the girl toiled, and when at length her work was finished, had no place for rest and warmth but the hearth.  She "used to sit amongst the cinders in the corner of the chimney, and it was from this habit that she came to be known as Cinder-clod." The eldest sister delighted in taunting her with this name, but the younger, "who was not quite so spiteful as the elder, called her Cinderella." For all that, the girl was "a hundred times more beautiful than her sisters". One day, the King's son announced that he would give a ball, to which "all persons of high degree" were invited. This pleased the stepsisters greatly for "they cut a considerable figure in the country." For weeks, they spoke of nothing but the elegant garments they planned to wear.  Poor Cinderella was kept busy for days with the linens and the laces and the ribbons and the ruffles. The elder at last decided that she would wear her "dress of red velvet with the Honiton lace", while the younger decided on her "cloak with the golden flowers, and" her diamond necklace. "They sent for a good hairdresser to arrange their double-frilled caps, and bought patches at the best shops." Then they consulted their little sister  "for she had good taste", and helped them with their final preparations. As she pinned her sister's hair, the girl asked,"Cinderella, would you not like to go to the ball?" But Cinderella only said that they mustn't tease her, and kept right on dressing her sister's hair. Some would have tied it in knots, for spite, but not she.  At long last, the great day arrived, every last ribbon was in place, and the ladies of the house set out for the ball. Cinderella watched them until she could not follow them anymore, and then went inside. There, she sat down and cried. That's when her godmother asked what troubled her. "I should like — I should like—" But her tears flowed so that she could not speak. "Said her godmother, who was a fairy,' You would like to go to the ball, would you not?" And Cinderella said that she would. So the fairy sent her out to the garden and told her to bring in a pumpkin.  This the girl did, though she did not see how it would help. But the old one "scooped it out, and when only the rind was left, struck it with her wand. Instantly, the pumpkin was changed into a beautiful coach, gilded all over." Next she stooped and peered into the mouse trap. There were six little creatures there, "all alive". As Cinderella held the door open, out they came, "and as each mouse came out, she gave it a tap with her wand, whereupon it was transformed into a fine horse." Thus did she provide a team of dappled gray horses. But what would they do for a coachman? "I will go and see,' said Cinderella, 'if there is not a rat in the trap." There were three, and her godmother "chose one specially, on account of his elegant whiskers." A tap of her wand rendered him into "a fat coachman with the finest mustachios that ever were seen." Still the fairy was not done, and ordered Cinderella to "Go into the garden and bring me the six lizards which you will find behind the water-butt." These were promptly turned into "six lackeys, who at once climbed up behind the coach in their braided liveries." But Cinderella, for all the magic, was not yet pleased. "Am I to go like this, in my ugly clothes?" she asked, and her godmother "merely touched her with her wand". At once, her dress became a gown of "gold and silver cloth" and her shoes "a pair of glass slippers, the prettiest in the world." With a warning that all would revert at midnight, Cinderella was off. When she got to the palace, all eyes were riveted to her, and the prince himself took her hand. The company could talk of nothing but the fine foreign princess, and even the king, "old man as he was, could not take his eyes off her." The night flew past, and it seemed that one minute Cinderella was sharing lemons and oranges with her stepsisters, who did not recognize her, and the next, that the clock was striking three-quarters past eleven o'clock.  With a graceful curtsy to the King, Cinderella fled, arriving home moments before her stepsisters. Yet she had made a thankyou to the fairy, and secured permission to attend the following night's ball. Thus, she did not rankle when her sisters gossiped heavily of the marvelous creature they had met, she who shared fruits with them at the palace. "The next day, the two sisters went to the palace, and so did Cinderella, even more splendidly attired than the first time." But this night, so immersed in pleasure was she that the time passed and the clock struck the fateful hour before it seemed possible. Now Cinderella fled, "nimbly as a fawn" so frightened was she of being seen in her rags. As she stepped across the wide, marble steps, she stumbled and lost a shoe. She did not stop to pick it up, but raced home instead. It was the prince who found the dainty thing, and wrapped it carefully, and brought it inside, where he sighed as he gazed upon it. "A few days later, the king's son caused a proclamation to be made by trumpeters, that he would take for wife the owner of the foot which the slipper would fit." Now the ladies of the court were made to try it on, but no one had a foot of that small a size. "Presently they brought it to the home of the two sisters, who did all they could to squeeze a foot into the slipper. This, however, they could not manage."That's when Cinderella stepped forward and asked permission to try the shoe. "Her sisters burst out laughing and began to gibe at her, but the equerry who was trying on the slipper looked closely at Cinderella." Noting her beauty, and his majesty's orders that all maidens try the shoe, he bade her sit down. "On putting the slipper to her little foot he perceived that the latter slid in without trouble, and was moulded to its shape like wax." And now the stepsisters were truly astonished, for now the Cinder-clod drew out that sparkling slipper's mate, and put it on the other foot. "At that very moment, her godmother appeared on the scene." She tapped Cinderella and her clothes were once more transformed. That's when her stepsisters "threw themselves at her feet, begging her pardon for all the ill-treatment she had suffered at their hands." Their gracious sister "pardoned them with all her heart", and invited them to live at court with her. Now she was "taken to the palace of the young prince in all her new array." They were married next day and "Cinderella, who was as good as she was beautiful", found palace apartments for her stepsisters, and high ranking gentlemen for them to marry, as well. "MORAL: Beauty in a maid is an extraordinary treasure; one never tires of admiring it. But what we mean by graciousness is beyond price and still more precious. It was this which her godmother gave Cinderella, teaching her to become a Queen. (So the moral of this story goes.) Lasses, this is a better gift than looks so fair for winning over a heart successfully. Graciousness is the true gift of the Fairies, without it, one can do nothing; with it, one can do all."
From Perrault's Complete Fairy Tales, (1697/1961) Trans. by "A.E. Johnson and others." Illustrations by W.Heath Robninson PERRAULT'S COMPLETE FAIRY TALES Translated from the French by A. E. Johnson and Others 
Montessori Connection: Language/Vocabulary
1. Read this story and choose five words that you do not know, or five words that seem to have more than one meaning. Example: meanest; lackey; butt; patches; latter
2. Using a dictionary, find the meanings. Learn that meanest is the same as worst; that a lackey is someone like a servant; that butt has at least 12 meanings. One of them is a big barrel that people used to store water, or wine, or beer in. Another meaning is the end of something, as in the butt of a fishing pole, which is the end that does not have the hook on it. Still another is the target, as in, "She was the butt of the joke." Learn that patches can mean a small piece of cloth or paper, or a bit of plaster to fill in a hole, but that is not what Cinderella's sisters bought.  Here, it describes tiny cut-out shapes that fancy ladies stuck to their faces in France during the 17th century. Learn that the word latter means the latest thing that is listed, as when you say that you have 2 kinds of ice cream, chocolate and vanilla, and the latter (vanilla) is your favorite. The former, (chocolate) is your brother's favorite. If you are saying the word ladder, then you are talking about a large climbing frame used to help people reach high things safely. 
3. Notice that the way a word SOUNDS, (or its phonetics) can change what it means. Example: latter is not the same thing as ladder.