Kennedy, Patrick, Fireside Stories of Ireland. 1875. pp. 81-87.
"THE PRINCESS IN THE CATSKINS."
[You can read Kennedy's The Princess in the Catskins on SurLaLune.]
Unnatural father--Fairy aid (in shape of filly)--Countertasks-- Magic dresses--Heroine disguise (cat-skin dress) --Heroine flight--Hunting prince finds heroine in forest; takes her to palace--Menial heroine--Prince orders heroine to bring him (1) basin and towel, (2) hot water and towel, (3) needle and thread that he may observe her--Meeting-place (ball)--Recognition of heroine by means of ring placed by prince on her finger at third ball-- Happy marriage.
(1) A queen was left a widow with one daughter. She married again, and her husband ill-treated her, and she died. The widower thereupon proposed to marry the daughter.-- (2) She being troubled at such a shocking offer, went into the paddock where her filly was grazing. The filly told her she was the fairy that watched over her ever since she was born; that her stepfather was an enchanter, but that she could baffle him, and that the princess was to say, in reply to the request, that she must first have a dress of silk and silver thread that would fit into a walnut-shell. The procuring of this dress: kept the enchanter for a full half-year, and when he brought it, the princess went to consult the filly. She thereupon asked him for another dress of silk and gold thread. This was at last procured, and she then (having previously consulted the filly) demanded a dress of silk thread thick with diamonds and pearls, no larger than the head of a minnikin-pin--"three is a lucky number," she exclaimed.-- (3) On the evening this came home, she found on her bed a dress of cat-skins. This she put on, and taking her three walnut-shells, she went to the filly, who was ready harnessed, and away they went. They stopped at the edge of a wood, where the princess alighted, and slept at the foot of a tree.-- (4) She woke up to find half a hundred spotted hounds yelling like vengeance. A fine young hunter leaped over their heads, and kept them at bay, and then came to the princess. Although disguised in her cat-skins, and her face and hands brown as a berry from a wash she had put on herself, he was struck with her beauty, and led her to his palace, for he was the young king of that country.-- (5) He told his housekeeper to employ the young girl. She went into the servants' hall, and resisted all attempts at familiarity by the other servants, keeping to herself so much they gave her the office of helping the scullery-maid. The next day the young king sent for the new servant to bring him a basin to wash in and a towel, and the prince delayed her with questions, striving to ascertain her rank. This caused jealousy in the other servants, and Cat-skin was told to do everything for them.-- (6) Next night the prince was at a ball, and the princess, getting leave to retire early, but not being able to rest, stepped out on the lawn to get air, and saw her filly under a tree. The filly told her to take out her first walnut-shell, and "hold whats inside over your head"; and the silk and silver dress immediately fitted on to her. She then mounted the filly and rode to the ball. The glitter of her robes was like the curling of a stream in the sun. The prince fell in love with her, but she would not let him see her home, but only help her in the saddle.-- (7) Next morning he asked that Cat-skin should bring him hot water and towel to shave, and he recognised the same features as the princess at the ball, but she wouldn't talk beyond "yes" and "no".-- (8) After a week there was another ball, and same thing took place, the princess appearing in the dress of silk and gold thread, with gold crown on her head. The prince was up to his eyes in love with her. She bantered him about his talking so pleasantly, and said she had heard he talked to his servant-maid dressed in cat-skin. He declared that the girl was very much like the princess, except for her brown skin, and the princess pretended to be offended, and declared she must go. He tried to mollify her, but she only said if she forgave him she would come to the next ball without invitation. Arriving home safely, she took the upper hem of her dress, which came off like a glove.-- (9) The next morning he sent for Cat-skin to bring up a needle and thread, to sew a button on his shirt-sleeve. He noticed her small and delicate fingers, but she would only reply to his observations that it wasn't proper for him to talk so, and repeat it to princesses and great ladies.-- (10) The third night came, and she shook the dress of silk and pearls and diamonds over, and the nicest crown of the same on her head. He asked her at the ball to be his queen, and she said yes, if be would not ask Cat-skin the same question next day. As she was going, he slipped a downy limber ring of gold upon one finger. It was so small he thought she wouldn't feel it, and by it he would recognise her again.-- (11) The next morning he sent for her to choose a suit of clothes for him, as he was going to be married. Upon her asking who it was he was going to marry, he replied it was herself. She had promised she would marry him if he knew her the next time they met. This was the next time, and he knew her by his ring on her fourth finger. She asked him to go into the next room for a minute, and then appeared in her dazzling dress of silk and jewels.-- (12) They were married forthwith.
Cox, Marian Roalfe. Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated. London: David Nutt for the Folklore Society, 1893.
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