Robin Redbreast

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

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cinderella #182 Tattercoats (Number Three; Jacobs/Tomes)

The prince thought
the barefoot girl was
the sweetest he had ever met.
Illustration by Tomes,  M.

Once upon a time, "in a great palace by the sea" live a very rich, very lonely old man. He was lonely because his wife had died, and his daughter had died, and the grandchild that was born at his daughter's death had been banished from his sight. She was raised among the servants, fed on scraps and clothed in tatters. Meanwhile her grandfather's beard "grew down over his shoulders and twined around his chair and  crept into the chinks of the floor." All the while, he cried and stared out to sea. She had but one friend: the gooseherd. So as soon as she could walk, she toddled after him.  So passed her childhood. Though she was often hungry, frequently cold, and always lonely, the tunes which her friend played were merry enough to make her forget her woes. One day "people told each other that the King was traveling through the land, and in the town nearby." He was going to give a ball, they said, so that "the Prince, his only son, could choose a wife." One of the invitations was taken upstairs to the great lord. He read it with his rheumy, weepy eyes, and called for the Royal Barber. When he had been cut loose from his beard, he called for the Royal Tailor. He commanded that a suit of jeweled clothing be made for himself, and that silk tassels be added to his horse's saddle. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Tattercoats had overheard the talk of the Royal Ball. Cook, who was kind, and cared for the girl, listened to her sobs with sympathy. But the other servants said, "Tattercoats is happy in her rags, playing with the gooseherd, let her be — it is all she is fit for."That's when the Cook begged the rich gentleman to take the girl along. But he refused, once, twice, three times. So Tattercoats went and found her friend, the gooseherd. Today, even his merry tunes could not cheer her. Now he said that they would go into town together to see the fine people pass.  In that way, Tattercoats would not miss out on all the spectacle. So he began to play again "upon his pipe, so gay and merry...that before she well knew, the herdboy had taken her by the hand and she, and he, and the geese before them, were dancing down the road into town."They had not gone far when a well dressed young gentleman passed by. He asked the way to the King' celebration, and when they told him that they were going that way, to see the fine people pass, he climbed down off his horse and walked with them. Then  "the herdboy pulled out his pipe again and played a low, sweet tune, and the stranger looked again and again at Tattercoats' lovely face till he fell deeply in love with her, and begged her to marry him." Yet she would not, saying that she was only a ragamuffin. Even as she refused, the herdboy kept playing, and the stranger kept imploring. Finally he asked her, " as proof of his sincerity, to come that night at twelve to the King's ball, just as she was, with the herdboy and his geese, and in her own petticoats and bare feet". He would present her to his father, he said, and publicly declare his love for her. So it was that at the stroke of twelve, a ragged gooseboy, and a tattered, barefoot girl, and a large, noisy, gaggle of cackling geese "entered at the great doors, and walked straight up the ballroom, while on either side the ladies whispered and the lords laughed and the King seated at the far end stared in amazement." And that is when the Prince stood and announced, "Father! I have made my choice and here is my bride, the loveliest girl in all the land, and the sweetest as well." As he spoke, the herdboy pulled out his pipes and played once more, and the music sounded "like a bird singing far off in the woods" and caused Tattercoats' clothing to "become shining robes covered with glittering jewels" and a crown of gold to appear on head. As for the geese, they were transformed into "a crowd of dainty pages, behind her long train." So the trumpets were blown, and the townspeople knew that the prince had chosen a bride. The gooseherd, when he was sought, was nowhere to be found. As for Tattercoats' grandfather, "he still sits by his window, if you could only see him, as you someday may, as he looks out over the sea."
From Tattercoats, Collected and Edited by Joseph Jacobs and illustrated by Tomes, M. (1989)New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons 
Notes: This version is very sweetly illustrated, with a simple, almost melancholy feeling. It is, apparently, not available on Amazon. Try your local library or try another version:Tattercoats or Tattercoats: An old English tale or Tattercoats (A North-South Picture Book)
Montessori Connection: Zoology/Geese
1. Read this story and pay attention to the geese.
2. Learn that the scientific classification of  geese is aves.
3. Learn that Canada geese are called Branta canadensis.
4. Learn that Snow geese are called Chen caerulescens
5. Visit a farm if possible, and see some real geese.
6. Learn about how to care for geese:
7. Remember that the plural for goose is geese:  1 goose, 2 geese.