Nerucci, Gherardo, Sessanta Novelle popolari Montalesi (circondario di Pistoia). Firenze, 1880. Pp. 280-285. Novella XXXII. (Narrated by Luisa, widow of Ginanni.)
"LA RAGAZZA SERPE."
Ill-treated heroine (by step-mother and step-sister)--Tasks: spinning--Task-performing animal (cow)--Step-sister, learning that one of the cows spins hemp, takes them to pasture, but beats them, and hemp gets tangled--Heroine sent to steal gallonzoli for step-sister; pulls up turnip, releasing five toads, four of whom begift her with beauty; but one, whom she has let fall, curses her. If sunlight falls on her, she shall become serpent, and only regain human form if thrown in fire--Prince would wed heroine; sends closed carriage to fetch her. Step-mother bribes coachman to admit sunlight--Transformation of heroine--Feast at palace. Brushwood to heat oven conceals ser of heroine--Re-transformation of heroine--Recognition--Happy marriage.
(1) Poor man loses young wife, who leaves lovely baby called Rosina. He marries again, and second wife bears ugly child, called Assunta. Children grow up, and go to school together. Assunta, who is ill-tempered, tells mother that people they meet say how black and ugly Assunta is, how charmingly rosy and beautiful is Rosina. "I won't go with her any more!" Mother tells her the people are quite right; her daughter is black, because her own skin is dark. She should not heed such remarks. Assunta says, "You are against me, too!" and begins to weep. Mother asks what will comfort her. "Send Rosina to mind cows, and give her a pound of hemp to spin. If she comes home at night with cows unfed and hemp unspun, hit her with a stick, and make her ugly."-- (2) Mother, yielding reluctantly to daughter's caprice, calls heroine, sends her to cut fodder for the cows, and gives her hemp to spin. Rosina goes sad at heart, saying on the way, "My cows! I-low am I to cut grass for you, when I have got all this hemp to spin?" One of the cows suddenly turns, and says, "Don't be uneasy, Rosina! you mow the grass for this evening, and we will spin the hemp and wind it into skeins. You have only to say:
When heroine returns at dusk with bundle of grass and
hemp, spun and wound, Assunta is enraged.-- (3) She persuades mother to
give Rosina twice the quantity of hemp next day, and to beat her to death
if it is not spun. Rosina tells cows of impossible task, and same cow
replies as before. Assunta is terribly angry when Rosina returns at night
with task done, and asks how on earth she has managed it. Rosina says
the cows helped her.--
(P. 333.) In the story of "The Golden Duck" (Gerle, Volksmärchen der Bohmen, No. v) a fairy presents a good girl with the gift that her tears shall be pearls, and the hair she combs out gold. When she grows up she is betrothed because of these gifts and of her beauty, to a count, who has heard of her from her brother. But she must never allow a single ray of sunlight to fall on her, or these magic attributes will discontinue. On the way to her bridegroom she is accompanied by her aunt and cousin, with whom she has been brought up; and once, when the aunt is opening the door of the carriage, one ray of sunlight falls on the bride, and she is instantly changed into a golden duck, which swims away. The aunt presents her own daughter to the count as the bride. (The story is a variant of Grimm's No. 135.)
The ray of light which pierces the little crack in the
door, in Grimm's story of "The
Singing, Soaring Lark," transforms the lion-prince into a dove.
In Gonzenbach's No. 32 (which has many of the incidents common to Cinderella
tales), Caterina must not go near the sea, or she will turn into a sea
serpent. In Schneller's No. 22 the heroine must beware of a ray of sunlight.
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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