Once upon a time, in "Praesto, Zealand" there lived a king whose queen had died. Left alone with his daughter to raise, some say the king went mad. For when she crossed the stream from child to maiden, he took the notion to marry her. Upon hearing her father's desires, his daughter "weeps thereat" and goes to seek the advice of "an old woman". This dame tells the girl that she must beg of her father "a dress of silver, a dress of gold, and a pair of matchless shoes." When the girl asks her father for a dress of silver, he tells her that he will have the dress made within a week. When a week has passed, the king presents his daughter with a dress as silvery as the moon, woven from linen and fine silver beads. Now she demands a dress of gold. He tells her that he will have this ready within a day. Sure enough, the next day, he brings a dress threaded with golden beads, shimmering like the sun. But still, his daughter will not marry him. She demands that he bring her a pair of shoes which have no match. He tells her that he will do so within one hour. It scarce seems an hour has passed when the king returns with a pair of shoes which are as beautiful as those of a princess, as soft as those of a baby, and strong as those of a soldier. Before her father can stop her, "she runs away, clad as a poor girl" in her magnificent shoes. These now appear to be wooden clogs but, magically, are as soft as walking on air. In a neighboring kingdom, "she takes a situation at the castle to help the cook". When Cook has taught her how to bake the bread and boil the soup, she leaves more and more of the cooking to the girl. One Sunday, Cook announces that she is going to church, and that the girl must remain in the kitchen and cook supper for the king. But the girl sets the bread to rise and the soup to simmer, then puts on her silver dress and goes to church. There she meets the king. Wondering where this lovely silver clad lass came from, he asks the name of her town. She replies, "Light before me, darkness behind me. None shall see whither I go!". And then vanished without a trace. The next Sunday, the cook again declares that the girl must cook for the king, and leaves her alone whilst she goes on to church. Again the girl quickly prepares the dinner, then changes clothes, this time into her dress of gold. And once again, she goes to church, once again, she sits by the king. The king demands to know where she has come from, and again she chants,"Light before me, darkness behind me, None shall see whither I go!" and disappears. For the third Sunday in a row, the girl is left alone to prepare the king's meal, while Cook goes on to church. This time, after setting her dough to rise and broth to brew, she puts on her "matchless shoes". And this time, before she can say her magical rhyme, the king tries to grab her. So she runs away, and thereby, loses a shoe. This the king takes up, and carries to each maid in his land, seeking the mate of the unusual slipper. No one knows where the shoe came from. But when the king arrives at the castle of the girl's own father, and shoes the shoe, this mans' face grows dark. He declares that the shoe belongs to his daughter, who fled dressed in rags to take work in the kingdom close by. So the king knows that the girl he seeks is in his very own castle. When he gets home, he goes straight to the kitchen where he demands to see the cook's helper. He shows her the shoe, and she raises her dress so that he can see that she has its mate. "He marries her. Her father is invited to the wedding."
From Cinderella: 345 Variants of Cinderella, Catskin and Cap O'Rushes by Cox, M.R. As told by "the Baroness Jeanina Stampe" (1893/2011) Cornell University Library Digital Collection
Notes: This story is interesting for its lack of guile. The girl, having received the dresses and shoes she requested, makes a run for it. No faking that she's still in the tub by leaving ducks splashing, no wearing outrageous gowns made of crow's beaks or donkey skins or paper, no drama over hiding trinkets in the dough. Just an honest girl's reaction to her freak-show father (Warren Jeffs, anyone?) and a healthy pair of legs to take her to another land. The fact that her father ends up invited to the wedding is a little creepy, but just goes to show the power of having power. Much like the 450 lb. gorilla in the joke about where it sits, the answer is,"Anywhere it wants." Kings go where kings go.
Montessori Elementary Connection: Government and Politics/An Introduction
1. Read this book and think about what made the king want to marry his daughter. Understand that many kings could do whatever they wanted.
2. Learn more about kings in different countries: Oxford Junior History: The Middle Ages v. 2 or Oxford Junior History: Tudors and Stuarts v. 3 or Junior History of Nigeria or Just Before Dawn (Saros Junior Series) or The African Heritage: History for Junior Secondary School, Book 1 (Bk.1) or Cambridge Junior History: Ancient and Medieval Japan or
3. Learn more about the difference between a king and a president: TIME For Kids President Obama: A Day in the Life of America's LeaderThe Story of the World, Activity Book 1: Ancient Times - From the Earliest Nomad to the Last Roman Emperor or