Robin Redbreast

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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cinderella #279: Den Hvide Hund, El Puti Gryde (The White Dog, or Put Into Pot)

That bad dog! 

Cinderella #279: Den Hvide Hund, El Puti Gryde (The White Dog, or Put Into Pot)

Once upon a time, in Jutland, there lived "a widower with one daughter." He "marries a widow with one daughter" with predictable results. That is, the girls do not get along, and the stepmother soon takes her own daughter's side. Before long, the daughter of the gentleman is doing "all the dirty, menial work". Worse, she is not allowed to attend church . One Sunday, home alone and feeling desperate, she gives in to despair, and begins to cry. That is when "a little dog appears, gives her fine clothes and offers to do her work if she will promise to give him the first two boys she shall bear." It is a hard bargain but she agrees. Then she changes clothes and hies herself to church. After the ceremony, she leaves but "a young man follows her and snatches away her kerchief."  The dog gives her a new one, however, so all is well. The second Sunday, the girl again receives fine clothes from the dog, as well as "a gold apple". Once more the young man follows her, this time snatching the apple from her hands. On the third Sunday, trying to flee from the greedy young man, "she loses her golden shoe".  This is why it happens that a young gentleman soon comes calling to every household, enquiring after a girl who'd been to church in golden shoes and left one behind. When he gets to the widower's house, the Stepsister "cuts her heel and toe to put on the shoe, but fails to produce its fellow." Now the other girl puts out her foot, and the golden shoe fits! She shows the other shoe, and the young man gives her back her kerchief and her apple. They are married amidst rejoicing. Within a year a boy is born, and the second year brings another healthy male child. Now the woman "weeps at [the] thought of losing them." And then a beggar woman comes by, and tells the gentlewoman of a strange sight she has seen. That is "three small boys coming out of a barrow".  As they emerged from the mound, one said to his brothers, "Tomorrow we shall be five, for Father will get the two newborn babes that were promised him." Unless, however, the mother of those boys should chance to say to the bad man, "Shame on you, you red Put Into Pot!". So of course, when the bad dog, who is really the bad man, comes for the boys, the gentlewoman says those very words. That is when she sees the effect on the little white dog, who "instantly flies into flints and potsherds". Then the mother of the little ones, and her good husband take in the old woman who has warned them, and "the beggar lives with them in happiness."
From: Cox, M. R. (1893/2011) p. 233 
Notes: Interesting that in this very different Cinderella story we still have, at the heart of it, something of a fairy godmother. The old beggar who brings the secret fills the very same role as that of the old woman at the well, or a an actual fairy. Dogs in Cinderella stories are unsusual; ironically, it is Disney that seems to have introduced this particular animal helper. Why? Perhaps dogs seemed more appropriate as modern helpers? Yet here we have a bad dog! Woof woof! 

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