Robin Redbreast

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

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cinderella #199 Stifdatteren (The Stepdaughter)

Crows on a telephone pole,
Berkeley, CA 

Once upon a time, in Jutland, there lived a man whose wife had died. She had left him with a daughter to raise, so, as soon as he could, he married again. This lady was not kind, and her daughters were downright cruel. They quickly took over their stepsister's bed chamber and clothing, and forced her to do all of the heavy work. She was "made to live in the kitchen, amongst the dirt and ashes." The girl began to go, each Sunday evening, out to her mother's grave. There she wept such a volume of tears that her mother "is moved in her grave, [and] arises, and comforts her." Now her mother told her that she must go to church the following Sunday. If her stepmother should forbid her to, then she must "go to a little service-tree (Sorbus aucuparia)...knock at it thrice, and say,'Open my store, I am going to church." So the girl asks permission to go to church the next Sunday, and the stepmother, of course, refuses to give it. Now the girl follows her mother's directions and "the tree opens and out drives a chariot and four, with men-servants; and there is a silk dress for her, and gold shoes." When the girl has put on the dress and shoes, and gotten into the carriage, the footmen "throw a bagful of mist before them, and a bagful of mist behind them, that none may see whence they come or whither they go, and they hie to church. Arriving to find all seats full, the girl goes to her stepmother's pew, from habit. This woman, not recognizing her own stepdaughter, in all her finery, is flattered that the mysterious lady has chose her family's pew, and  makes her own girls press closely together so that there is room for them. The minute the service is over, the strange woman flees. Her manservants throw another bagful of mist behind, and before the carriage, and no one can see which direction they ride. The following Sunday, everyone is wondering whether the beautiful lady will come again. News of her loveliness has reached the king's son, and he too has come to watch for her. She comes, and once again sits in her stepmother's pew. But when the service is over, her servants throw mist again. But when the prince tries to follow her, all he can see is "something like the long beam of a shooting star. Yet he runs after this, and manages, at least to "put his foot on one of her shoes, which she is obliged to leave behind as she vanishes, like a shooting star into mist." Now the prince takes this shoe back to the palace and summons all of the maidens of the kingdom to come and see whether it will fit upon their foot. Girls and ladies of all kinds form a line at the palace gates. Some have small feet and some large, some wide and some narrow. Some are so determined that they will fit the shoe that they carry knives, and when it is their turn, attempt to cut off a toe or bit of heel so that the shoe will fit. But it fits no one. Just as the prince is about to give up, a crow, who has been sitting on the fence observing the human activity, caws, "Cut heel and cut toe! In the ashes sits the girl who has worn the golden shoe!" Just then, the girl "arrives through the mist like a shooting star and puts her foot into the shoe which fits her exactly." That's when the prince asks her to marry him. She agrees and they go back to the palace. The celebration of their marriage "lasted for fifteen days. The stepsisters turn yellow and grey with vexation, and, since they cry their eyes red, nobody cares to court them." 
From Cox, M. R. (1893/2011) Cinderella: 345 Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap'O'Rushes. 
Notes: I wish that I could throw mist out before me and behind me, so that nobody could see whence I came or whither I went...It is interesting to see the cut heel and toe motif here, as well as in the classic Brothers Grimm version. I believe that Jutland is in Northern Europe, though am unsure if it still exists as a separate country or is a part of Finland or Denmark. 
Montessori Elementary Connection: Astronomy/Shooting Stars
1. Read this story and notice how the girl, dressed in finery, is described. (like a shooting star)
2. Discuss shooting stars with a friend. Has either of you ever seen one?
3. Learn more about shooting stars.