Cinderella #288 Aschenputtel (Grimm's Grimmest)
Once upon a time, there was "a rich man, whose wife lay sick" Really sick. So sick that she knew she would soon die. When the time came, she called her child to her and said," Dear child, be pious and good, and God will always take care of you, and I will always look down upon you from heaven, and will be with you." And then she closed her eyes for the last time. She was buried out back, in the family's garden, and when winter came, "The snow covered the grave with a white handkerchief". Too soon her father married again, "and the new wife brought two daughters with her.' They were neither kind nor caring, and they soon made the widower's daughter miserable. In fact, "they took away her pretty dresses and put on her an old gray smock and laughed at her and sent her to the kitchen." She was made to do hard, heavy, work while her stepsisters lolled about. "And as she always looked so dusty and dirty, they named her Aschenputtel." One day, her father announced that he was going to the fair and asked what trinkets he could bring for each girl. "Fine clothes!" one cried. "Pearls and jewels!" shouted the other stepsister. But Aschenputtel asked only for "The first twig that strikes against your hat on the way home." So he went to the fair, and brought back the gifts each girl had asked for. Then Aschenputtle took her twig, which was from a hazel tree, and thrust it into the ground by her mother's grave, and sat down to weep. Daily, she watered the twig with her tears. Soon it became a sprig, and before long, "it became a fine tree". A little bird nested in it, and granted Aschenputtels wishes. In this way, she was able to obtain what she needed for her daily life. It happened one day that a royal invitation arrived at her house. When she saw it, her sisters only frowned at her, then chanted, "Comb our hair, brush our shoes, and make our buckles fast. we are going to the feast at the King's castle." Then her stepmother taunted her, saying, "I have strewn a dish full of lentils in the ashes, and if you can pick them all up again in two hours, you shall go with us." So Aschenputtel went into the kitchen and opened the window. Then she sang out," Oh gentle doves, oh turtle doves, And all the birds that be, The lentils that in ashes lie, come pick for me! The good must be put in the dish, the bad you may eat, if you wish!" So the birds fluttered down and with a peck! peck! peck! soon retrieved the lentils. But Ashenputtel's stepmother played her false, and now told her that she couldn't go to the ball for she did not know how to dance. Then she threw two more dishes of lentils into the ashes, and told her stepdaughter to start picking. But the girl called her bird friends a second time, and they came as before, and quickly re-filled the dishes. Again the stepmother played her false, refusing to take her along since she had no fine clothes. After she and her horrid daughters had gone, Aschenputtel ran to her tree. There she called, "Little tree, little tree, shake over me, That silver and gold may come down and cover me." And the bird tossed down a dress and slippers, and Aschenputtel went to the ball. The prince danced only with her, and when others tried to cut in, he told them, "She is my partner." Yet when the music stopped, the girl ran away. The prince had her followed, and saw that she "jumped into the pigeon house." So he asked her father to chop it down, and the father wondered, "Could it be Aschenputtel?". Then he did chop down the pigeon house, but there was no one inside. Ashenputtel was already home by the fire, dressed again in her rags. The following day there was to be another ball, and all transpired as before. This time, after dancing with the prince and running away, Aschenputtel was tracked to "a fine large tree, bearing splendid pears". But when the prince had it cut down, there was no one inside. The third evening brought another ball. Again the bird gave a fabulous dress and shoes, and the girl went to the palace. Yet this time, the prince had caused a trap to be laid for her. This was to smear pitch across all of the steps, and so when the maiden fled, she forfeited one shoe in the goo. "The prince picked it up and saw that it was of pure gold, and very small and slender." He determined to find its owner, and took it to all the houses. When he got to Aschenputtel's, the oldest sister asked to try it first. She took it up to her room where her mother waited. When she could not put it on her foot, her mother "handed her a knife and said,'Cut the toe off, for when you are Queen, you will never need to go by foot." So the girl did, and the blood poured out, but she bound it up and went downstairs. The prince was fooled and took her upon his steed and headed for the palace. When they passed the tree, the white dove sang out," Go back! Go back! There is blood in the shoe. The shoe is too small. That bride will not do." So the prince took her home, and gave the shoe to the next sister to try. She too carried it upstairs, and the mother looked on again. Of course the shoe would not fit, and now the mother told her second child, "Cut a piece off your heel. When you are Queen, you will never need to go by foot." So the girl did, and again the prince was fooled. Until they past the dove that is, and it chirped its bloody rhyme. When the prince took her back and demanded to know if there were not one more daughter, Ashenputtel's father said, "Only my dead wife left behind her a nasty little Cinderella. It is impossible that she can be the bride." So the prince made him send her out. Of course, when Aschenputtel "drew her left foot out of the heavy shoe she was wearing, and slipped it into the golden one," it was a perfect fit. The stepmother and her daughters "were terrified, and grew pale with anger" but the prince paid them no mind. As the happy couple rode past the dove, it sang a different song. "Coo, coo, no blood in the shoe. She is the right bride, with the prince by her side." The wedding took place the following day, and "as the bride and groom went to the church, the eldest walked walked on the right side, and the younger on her left, and the doves picked out an eye of each of them." On the way back, the girls changed places, but the doves didn't mind. They picked out the girl's remaining eyes. "And so they were condemned to go blind for the rest of their days because of their wickedness and falsehood."
From Tater, M. & Dockray, T. (1997). Grimm's Grimmest. San Francisco: Chronicle Books