Cinderella #331 La Donnina di Legno (The Little Wooden Lady)
| A wooden case for a girl? Oh my!|
It reminds me of stories
about little wooden dolls!
Once upon a time, in Florence, there lived a wealthy young girl whose father gave her everything that she wanted. When she asked him for "a wooden case, three dresses, and the bird, Verderrio", he gave them to her at once. Then "she sings: I am a lady made of wood, a cunning piece of womanhood. If you would show your charity, then give to me." It happens that "she is taken to the king's palace and put in [the] hen-house." That is where she hears hens singing, "Ko-ko-ko, ke-ke-ke,What a lovely little keeper have we!" Which is how the King himself becomes interested in the palace poultry production. By keeping watch all night, he discovers the pretty keeper which the hens are singing about. As he watches her feed the chickens and gather the eggs, he finds himself falling in love with this mysterious girl. He decides to give a ball, and invite all of the eligible maidens in the kingdom. When the big night comes, there are many lovely girls in attendance, but the King has seen them all before, growing up around the kingdom. He craves spectacular beauty and a fresh face. Suddenly, the loveliest young woman he has ever seen before enters the ballroom. She is wearing a dress that shines as silver as the moon. The king dances with her, and moments before the music ends, slips a golden key into her hand. As the music dies down, the girl flees. The King cannot get her out of his mind, and so decides to throw another ball. Again the mysterious woman comes, this time dressed in a gown that shimmers as bright and golden as the sun. The King dances with her, and, moments before the music is about to end, slips a golden spindle into her hands. She flees as the music dies down. Now the King is desperate to know who this mystery lady is, so he announces that a third ball will be held. Of course, the lovely lady does attend the third ball, this time dressed in a gown that glitters like all of the stars in the sky. This night the King has made preparations, and thrusts a golden ring into her hand as the music ends. He has also posted a guard outside the door, with orders to follow the woman in the glittering gown. But the girl is prepared as well, and "throws sand and quattrini and half blinds" the poor soldier. So the girl gets away undiscovered. It is not until the following week when there is a proclamation that the King has fallen ill and only food prepared by the girl in the three mystical dresses will cure him. That is when the poultry girl shows up at the palace door, with her wooden case and a bowl of soup she has made for the King. At first she is refused admittance but then shows the golden key, golden spindle, and golden ring given her by the King. She is admitted, he eats the soup, and they are married.
From: Cox, M. R. (1893/2011) p. 132
Notes: This story seems to have some elements contained in The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Di Camillo. (namely, the bowl of soup!).