|A white cow.|
Once upon a time, in Italy, there lived a sad orphan girl. Her father had died, leaving her to live with his second wife. The wife did not love her stepchild, though she lavished love on her own daughter. The stepchild was made to do the ugliest, dirtiest work. She emptied the chamber pots in the morning, then swept and mopped and scrubbed the floors. Then she cleaned the fireplace and built up the flames and cooked the meals, and then, when her work was done, she slept among the cinders. One day the stepmother ordered the girl to fetch water from the well. When the child there, she found an old woman waiting for her. When she had given Granny a drink, the old one pulled her close, so close that the girl could see her eyes sparkling. Granny whispered that she was a fairy, and would give the girl three gifts, to suit her kind heart. The first was that the girl would be beautiful. The second, that she would one day receive "a prince's love", and the third gift was a little calf. It was a very special calf, for it had golden horns. The fairy told her that she must care for the calf, and to obey its counsel. But when the girl had thanked the fairy, and gone home with her lovely face and her golden horned calf, her stepmother was jealous. She demanded to know where the animal came from, and how the girl had changed her face. When she heard the story of the fairy at the well, she insisted that her own daughter go, thereby to get some gifts. Yet this child, though she had never wanted for anything in her life and had no grounds for complaint, sulked and scuffed her feet. When she got to the well and saw the ragged old woman, she dashed a pitcher of water right in her face, and started to run away. But the fairy called her back, saying that she had a gift for her. One that matched her temperament. And when that hateful girl came back to the well, the fairy cursed her. At once, the young girl became bent like an old woman, her skin wrinkled, and her hair turned thin and gray. In horror she ran home. When her mother saw her she screamed,and declared that her stepdaughter would pay a price for this occurrence. She orders her to bring her calf, telling her that it will be slaughtered. Tearfully her stepdaughter goes to the barn to fetch the animal. And that is when the calf speaks to her, telling her that she must collect its bones when the flesh has been eaten, and bury them "under the grotto". So this the girl does, collecting them after her stepmother has gone to bed. She buries them, and thanks the calf for being her friend, if only for a short while. Then the voice of the calf calls to her, saying that whenever she has a wish, she need only whisper it to the bones and it will be granted. It happened that soon after that, an invitation arrives at the stepmother's home. It is from the King, announcing that a feast will be held, in honor of his son. Now the stepmother and her daughter command the stepdaughter to help them make ready for the feast. She sews their dresses, and puts combs into their hair. When they have gone, at last, she rushes to the grotto, and tells all to the bones. At once a gown appears, sewn all over with beads and pearls. There are a pair of slippers to match, of a blue like the sky. So the girl puts on these lovely things, and goes to see whether she can earn the prince's love at the feast. Gaining admittance to the feast, she is seated next to the prince. He cannot take his eyes off of this lovely girl. Suddenly, Step Mama and sister appear! They have recognized the girl, who runs away, losing a blue slipper. Now the prince is bereft, and refuses to eat or speak for the duration of his feast of honor. The next day, he sends his herald out with an announcement: all maidens must try on the small blue slipper found by the prince. The girl who can wear it will be his bride. When they come to the house of the cruel stepmother, she quickly sends the girl to the well for more water. Then she brings out her own daughter, declaring that she will surely fit the shoe. In fact, the shoe cannot be squeezed onto her foot, no matter how hard she tries. The prince demands to know if there are any other maidens in the house. Just as the stepmother insists there are not, her stepdaughter walks in with a full jug of water. The prince at once orders her to try on the shoe. She does, and it is a perfect fit. So the prince marries her the next day. As for the stepmother and her ugly daughter, if the two of them haven't killed each other from spite, they are living together still, in the little cottage near the well.
From: Cox, M.R. p. 151