|A cat appeared, with fine, thick fur.
Once upon a time, in East Jutland, "there lived a man with three daughters." He treated the elder two well, but despised his youngest child. He made her "stay at home and milk the cows whilst the others went to church." As the girl does the milking, a cat which she has never seen before comes and rubs against her legs, begging for milk. Its fur is so soft, and the girl has such a kind heart that she cannot resist giving the cat a bowlful of it. Her mother, however, notices that there is not as much milk as usual. She accuses the girl of drinking it herself, and though the girl denies this, beats her for it. The week passes, and once again Sunday morning finds the girl milking the cows, alone in the barn. Again the strange cat comes and the girl feels compelled to give it some more milk. For this kindness she receives another beating. When Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday have gone by, the cat comes once more. But now the girl truly fears the punishment from her mother if milk is missing again. She tearfully tells the cat that she just cannot give it any more, but the cat says, "You will be happier if you do." So she does, and the moment the cat has drunk the milk it begins to grow. Larger, and larger it grows, until it is the size of a woman. This woman now steps out of the skin and tells the girl to put it on. She advises her to go to "go to the king's palace and ask for a situation, calling herself 'Ludse". The girl follows this advice, and is given a position at the palace kitchen. Soon it is Sunday again, and all of the palace servants go to church, leaving Ludse alone. She cannot go, for she has nothing to wear but the catskin. Now the cat appears again and gives her "a magnificent dress, a golden carriage, and two horses, and bids her go too." So she does, beautifully arrayed, and all the guests marvel. But when the service ends, the mysterious girl calls out,"Light before, dark behind!' and vanishes." The next Sunday, the cat brings the girl another dress, golden shoes, and a coach of pure gold. This time, when the girl arrives she finds that King himself has come. When the service is over, she calls out again,"Light before, dark behind!" and vanishes. But not before the King manages to grab ahold of one of her golden shoes. Now he has the Royal Pages cry the news that the King will marry whichever maiden can fit into the golden shoe he found outside the church. So all the maidens of the kingdom line up, and though "some cut their heel and some their toe... none can get the shoe on." Just as the King is about to give up, he hears a little bird singing. It says,"Cut a heel and cut a toe! The shoe fits the girl in the kitchen, I know!" Now all the servants of the palace are called to try the shoe, and so Ludse is brought in as well. The shoe fits, perfectly! She and the King are married at once, and when the cat appears,"its head is chopped off and buried beneath the pear tree. Thereupon the cat becomes a prince, the brother of the king."
From: Cox, M.R. Cinderella: 345 Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap'O'Rushes. (1893/2011)p.232
Notes: This story is identified by Marian Roalfe Cox as having been "Written down by Miss Anna Brasse"
Montessori Connection: Literature/Cats
1. Read this story and notice that it is a cat which is not only the helper animal but the magical being as well.
2. Learn more about cats in young children's literature:The Cat in the Hat or in real life:National Geographic Kids Everything Big Cats: Pictures to Purr About and Info to Make You Roar!