Cinderella #315 Eschenfidel
|Why a cow? Why not?
Once upon a time, there lived an old woman. She had two daughters, and, such was her ugly heart that she loved one and hated the other. She modeled the one in fine clothes, showing her off all over the village in hopes that a suitor would espie her. But the other daughter was forced to stay at home in her old dirty clothes. She had to do "menial work in the cowshed, the kitchen, and the garden." The greatest sorrow of all for her was that she was forbidden to go to church. One Sunday, when she was alone, and weeping in the garden, a "little white man" appeared. He told her to take heart, that he would teach her a song that would cheer her, and aid her in getting her heart's desire. This is what he bade her sing,"Little tree, shake yourself, little tree. Shake gold and silver over me." So she sang this song under the biggest tree in the garden, and sure enough! A dress of silver and gold floated down to her! Then the little man told her that she must be the first one to leave the church after the service, and that she is to bring the clothing back to the tree and sing," Little tree, shake yourself, little tree. Draw all the silver and gold to thee!" And that is just what she does. The second Sunday, she repeats her song under the tree and goes to church again. This time, "a young merchant espies her and falls in love with her." By the third week, when Eschenfidel goes to church clad in gold and silver again, she is the talk of the town. Everyone wants to know who the beautiful girl in the metallic dress is. Yet she always runs away before anyone can speak to her. Every Sunday, when her mother and sister come back from church, they tell Eschenfidel about the beautiful stranger who has been coming. This continues until the sixth Sunday. That is when the young merchant puts a plan into action. Lingering outside the church doors until all save himself and the mysterious stranger have entered, he "smears [the] church door with pitch, and waits hard by." Sure enough, the girl comes, and gets caught in the tar. Now the merchant has hoped "to be able to help free her from the pitch and then talk with her" but this is not to be. Eschenfidel, instead of standing immobilized in the tar, simply steps out of her shoe and runs away! Of course, the young merchant snatched up the shoe as the girl disappeared into the distance. The next day, he went from one house to another in the village, seeking the girl whose foot could fit the golden shoe. One young lady tried so hard to fit the she that she "cut off her big toe". It still didn't fit. When the merchant reached the home of Eschenfidel, her mother pushed forward the favored girl. Yet no matter how prettily this one tried to smile, she could not hide the fact that her foot could not fit the shoe. Now the merchant insists that the other daughter be brought out, even though her mother has claimed that she is "too hideous to be shown."Nonetheless, she is brought out. The first that she says when they bring her out is, "Why that is my long-lost shoe!" Then she puts it on. It fits. Of course. Then "the merchant rejoices. They are betrothed and married soon afterwords."
From: Cox, M. R. (1893/2011) p.317
Notes: How odd that it is "a little white man". Now would that mean that he is perhaps dressed in white? With a white beard? Is he himself white, as in not black or brown? Here we have no father, but a helpful male spirit, and no stepmother, just a regular old mom with an attitude problem.