Pitré, Fiabe, Novelle e Racconti popolari Siciliani. Palermo, 1875. vol. i. Story No. XLII, p. 368. (Told at Palermo by Agatuzza Messia, Dr. Pitré's nurse.)
Merchant, called away on business, walls up his three daughters in house with plentiful provisions against his return. Servant to take orders from window--Gifts chosen by daughters. The branch of dates in silver vase promised to heroine, forgotten by father, whose boat is tempest-tossed and cannot proceed till he gets it. Meanwhile eldest sister drops thimble into well; heroine is let down to recover it. Finds her way to magic garden; gathers flowers and fruits; bids sisters draw her up again. Garden belongs to prince of Portugal, who blames gardener for havoc done. Heroine importunes sisters to let her down next day; returns with more spoil. But prince has caught sight of her. He lies in ambush next day; she hears him move, is alarmed and has only just time to leap through hole into well-- Lovesick prince--Proclamation that .parents of all ranks must bring their daughters to three days' festival on pain of death-- Heroine will not go with sisters; bids merchant say he has only two daughters. Left alone, heroine prays to "Fair date"--Fairies appear, dress her in Magic dresses and send her to palace-- Meeting-place (ball)--Prince recognises her but can get no information from her -- Twofold flight--Pursuers detained with (1) pearls and jewels which heroine shakes from her hair, (2) bags of money which bruise their faces--At third ball king detains heroine and insists she shall marry his son. Merchant is pardoned for disobeying mandate--Happy marriage.
(1) Merchant has three daughters, Rosa, Joanna, and Ninetta. The youngest is fairest. Father is troubled at having to leave daughters whilst he goes away on business. Eldest suggests that he should wall up door during his absence, leaving them with provisions. A servant is to take orders from window.-- (2) Father asks what presents he shall bring them. Eldest chooses three dresses of different colours; second says, "Whatever you like"; and third, "I want beautiful branch of dates in silver vase; if you do not bring it, may your ship not move either forward or backward."1 Sisters reprove her for thus calling down curse on father. He excuses her because she is young. Father departs; concludes his business, purchases three dresses for each elder daughter, forgets branch of dates for youngest. Tempest strikes him mid ocean; ship will not move. Merchant remembers curse, and bids captain put back. Storm ceases, wind favours them. Merchant buys date-branch and plants it in silver vase. After three days he reaches home, has doors unwalled and windows opened; gives presents.-- (3) During his absence eldest sister drops thimble into well made for their use; youngest persuades Sisters to let her down to recover it. Whilst withdrawing hand from water, she notices a hole whence a light shines; raises corner-stone, and sees beautiful garden full of flowers and fruits; goes in, and gathers several in apron; returns to well, and replaces corner-stone. Sisters draw her up, and ask where she got the beautiful things. She wants to be let down again to-morrow. Garden belongs to Prince of Portugal, who, seeing havoc done, censures gardener.-- (4) Next day heroine worries sisters to let her down again, and again fills her apron. Prince, on the look-out, sees her flitting amongst the trees, but loses sight of her again. He questions gardener, who knows nothing.-- (5) Next day he watches from his room. Heroine is filling apron, when she hears noise, looks round, and sees prince coming after her. She bounds through the hole, puts back stone, and is off. Prince has no more peace, and falls ill, because the maiden had seemed to him a very fairy. No doctors can cure him. King consults the wise men and philosophers. One long-beard says king should ask son if he has liking for any maiden. Prince confesses all.-- (6) Long-beard says king must give three days' feast at palace, and proclaim that parents of all ranks shall bring their daughters, on penalty of death. Merchant hears proclamation, and tells daughters. Elder girls are delighted; youngest does not want to go, and persuades father to say he has but two daughters. She shuts herself up as usual with vase of dates, which is her delight. When sisters have gone to ball she says:
Numbers of fairies with splendid dresses and jewels come out of vase. They wash her, dress her, clothe her from head to foot with necklaces, brilliants, and precious stones. They put her in carriage, and she goes to ball. Prince recognises her, and tells king; then takes her under his arm, and asks her, "Lady, how are you?" "As in winter." "How are you called?" "By my name." "Where do you live?" "In the house with the door." "In what street?" "In the alley of the dirt." "How strange you are! you kill me!" "You may burst [if you like]." They dance all the evening. Prince tires; she does not, being enchanted. She sits near sisters. King orders servants to follow and see where she lives. She enters carriage, shakes her golden tresses, and pearls and precious stones fall out. Servants stop to pick them up, and she whips up the horses and is home in a trice. She says:
Sisters return, and say there was lady at ball just like Ninetta; but they knew she was at home. "You must come to-morrow," they say.-- (7) King censures servants, and bids them be more careful next night. Sisters tease Ninetta to go to ball with them, and father says she is going mad over her vase. When they have started, she says same verse; all happens as before; prince asks same questions, gets same answers; dances with her all the evening. She sits by sisters; one remarks she is Ninetta's image. When she leaves, king accompanies her, and signs to servants. She enters carriage, throws bags of money into servants' faces, injuring one's eye, the other's nose. King says they must succeed better next night. Heroine says same verse to date. Same conversation with sisters.-- (8) Third ball takes place, and all happens as before. She dances with prince; sits by father and sisters. Presently king makes excuse to take her under his arm to another room for refreshment, and when alone with her says she has befooled him twice, and shall not again. She has been making his son waste away; she must marry him. Heroine says she has father and sisters there, and is not free. King sends for her father, who turns cold; he is pardoned for not having brought Ninetta to balls.-- (9) Next morning prince and heroine are married in chapel royal.2
1: In a variant, Cinderella
demands a magical golden ball (un bubbolo d'oro che cormandi).
(P. 349) Dr. Pitré says that this story seems a
mixture of two or three tales, and compares it (amongst others which I
have tabulated) with "Zezolla", Pentamerone, i, 6, and
"Cenerentola" in Cinque Storie della Nonna (Turin, B.
Paravia). The principle, he says, is common to many other tales, of which
it would be enough to cite "The Empress Rosina" and "The
Parrot who told three Tales" (Pitré); "Tea Tecla e Teopista"
(Gradi, No. 2); "Zelinda and the Monster" (Imbriani, Nov.
fior., No. 21); "Fola del Mercant" (Coronedi-Berti). The
meetings of the young king with the maiden in the garden, her disappearance,
and his sickening, recur in the second half of "Orza", Pent.,
ii, 6 (see No. 149). The apparitions of the fair
unknown at the king's court are like that of Giuseppe in "The three
Mountains crowned with Gold" (Pitré). Ninetta's going into
the prince's garden may be compared with that of the seven gossips in
the mother-monster's garden to gather jujubes (Gonzenbach, No. 53). See
also "The Old Woman of the Garden" (Pitré).
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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