Cinderella #294: Le Pays Des Brides (or, Walnut, Almond, Hazel-Nut)
|A bowl of nuts, with
magical dresses hidden inside!
Once upon a time, there lived "a prince, who has a beautiful daughter whose godmother is a sorceress." The family falls on hard times, and both father and daughter must seek work. Now the girl goes to town in search of a position; while she is there, "her godmother appears to her, gives her a walnut, an almond, and a hazel nut." These are to be cracked only in time of great need, the sorceress tells her, then vanishes. The girl hides the nuts and takes a job in the scullery of a fine house. She "dresses shabbily and goes unwashed, and is quite unrecognizable". One day as she scrubs dishes, she overhears the young master in the courtyard, preparing for a special evening. She runs out and before the servant can put the horse's saddle on, she has put on the bridle instead and pushed the horse out the door. When the master sees his horse, he calls his servant "and gives her a good blow with the bridle". By then, the false scullery maid has returned to her chambers where she now "cracks the walnut and takes out a lovely dress with a pattern on it like the sea and fishes." Next "she combs her hair and instantly it is golden and falls into ringlets on her shoulders." Then she goes to the ball, where she meets the young lord. He is so smitten with her that he asks who she is. All she will say is, "From the Land of Reins", before she runs away. The young man is so crestfallen that he asks his mother for advice. She counsels him to give a second ball the following night, in hopes that the young lady will come. So he does. The next night, the girl makes a huge fuss, crying and weeping because she is denied permission to go to the ball. Banished to her chamber again, the maiden takes out "her almond, and finds a dress with the sun embroidered on it."She goes to the ball again, and, when it is time for her to ride away, grabs "a whip from her pocket, she gives [the master's son] a cut across the eye and disappears". Now she is irresistible! He simply must find out who she is. He calls out the question,.but all she yells back is that she's from "Saddle Land." So he announces that he will hold one more ball the next night. Again the maiden is denied permission to go, and again, she sneaks out her nuts. Now she cracks the hazel-nut and "a lovely dress falls out with the moon embroidered on it." Then she goes to the ball, dances with the young lord, and runs away. Teasingly, she yells, "Stirrup Land!" as she runs away. Now the young man takes to his bed, sick with longing for his love. Before long, it is announced that he will die soon. Now the maiden, dressed as the scullery maid, goes to the lady of the house and begs to be allowed to prepare a meal for her son, as it may cure him. The mother dislikes this idea, yet can think of no other remedy, and so consents. And the maiden has already vanished. At "the hour of the ball, she dons the moon dress, and presents herself before the invalid." He recognizes her at once! He swallows a bit of broth, and then a bit of bread, and leaps from his sick bed. Calling for his mother, he introduces the young lady, dressed now in her lunar gown. The lady approves, and so the maiden "tends him until he is well and then marries him."
From: Cox, M.R. (1893/2011) p. 125