Cinderella by Charles Robinson

Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated by Marian Roalfe Cox

Cinderella by Jennie Harbour

345 Variants
by Marian
Roalfe Cox

Table of Contents



Cinderella Tales

Catskin Tales

Cap o' Rushes Tales

Indeterminate Tales

Hero Tales



Master List of all Variants

Notes on this E-Text

Cinderella Area

Annotated Tale




Similar Tales Across Cultures

Modern Interpretations


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Spitta-Bey, Guillaume. Contes arabes modernes. Leide, Paris, 1883. P. 12-61. No. XII.



Simultaneous birth of hero and foal, and death of mother and mare; the foal to belong to hero. Sultan, hero's father, marries again; boy pets foal. Ill-treated hero. Stepmother conspires with Jew-lover to poison him-- Helpful animal-- Counselled by foal, hero throws food to cat, which dies-- Stepmother feigns illness; Jew, as doctor, orders heart of foal as cure-- Hero flight on helpful animal-- Hero disguise (beggar's rags)--Menial hero (drives ox which turns water-wheel in king's garden)-- Hero summons horse by setting light to one of horse's hairs; dons own clothes, and gallops round garden. King's youngest daughter sees, and falls in love with him. Hero returns to water-wheel. Gardener would thrash him, because of havoc done; princess forbids punishment-- Princesses to choose husbands; all men to pass beneath their castle. Youngest princess will not make choice till man from water-wheel is called. She throws her kerchief to him. Wedding of six sisters celebrated. King angry with youngest; shuts her up with husband; falls ill; only milk of virgin bear in skin of virgin bear will cure him. Six sons-in-law sent in quest of it; hero procures it with aid of magic horse, brands the six sons-in-law, and gives them milk of old bear. Doctors say this is useless. Hero's bride takes milk which cures king-- War breaks out; hero on magic horse slays the enemy. King puts ring on finger of unknown champion, and binds his wound with royal kerchief-- Hero's bride shows ring and kerchief to king-- Recognition-- Happy marriage-- Villain Nemesis-- Jew and stepmother burned.


(1) Sultan has son born to him; at the same time a mare of pure strain bears a foal, which sultan says shall belong to the new-born child.-- (2) Child's mother dies when he is still a youth; and the mare dies also. Sultan marries again, and boy is sent to school. Every day, on his return, he visits the foal, and caresses and feeds it. -- (3) The slave whom the sultan has married has a lover, a Jew, who conspires with her to poison the child because he is an obstacle to their meeting. On visiting the foal, hero finds it weeping, and when he asks why, learns that his own death is planned. Horse tells him to beware of poison, so he gives his food to the cat, and it dies. Jew knows that only the horse can have warned him.-- (4) He tells stepmother to rub her body all over with some ointment and feign illness, and he will pretend to be a doctor. Sultan sends for him to attend wife, and he says that the only cure for queen is the heart2 of the foal of a mare of pure strain.-- (5) Hero asks to be allowed to have one ride on his horse before it is killed for his stepmother. A cavalcade is in readiness to attend him, and he mounts his horse and gallops out of sight of all. When he has entered another kingdom he dismounts, buys a poor man's rags for ten mahboubs, dons them, and puts his own clothes on horse's back. Horse gives him one of his hairs and a flint for striking spark, and says if he ever wants him he has but to set light to the hair and horse will be at his side.-- (6) He parts from horse and goes to king's garden, and gets engaged by head-gardener to drive the ox which turns the water-wheel. For several days he works thus; then summons his horse, dons his own clothes, and gallops about the garden.-- (7) King's youngest daughter sees him from her window and falls in love with him. He resumes his rags and Continues at the water-wheel. Gardener comes and asks who has made garden so untidy. He says he does not know. Gardener ties him to tree, meaning to thrash him; king's daughter cries out to let him alone. Hero returns to the water-wheel. Every day, king's daughter orders from him a biscuit and a fowl.-- (8) She remarks to her sisters it is high time they were all married. Queen tells king, who makes proclamation that every man is to pass beneath the ladies' castle, for they wish to choose husbands. If any one should please either of the princesses she is to throw her kerchief to him. The young men pass by, and six of the sisters make their choice. But youngest has not thrown her kerchief to any. The king is told, and says there is no one left except the poor fellow at the water-wheel, he is fetched; she throws her kerchief to him; the king is angry.-- (9) The marriage contracts are signed, and the wedding of the six sisters celebrated. But the youngest is shut up in a room with her husband. King falls ill with grief.-- (10) Doctor orders him milk of a virgin bear in the skin of a virgin bear. King sends his six sons-in-law to procure it. When they have set out on their fine steeds, hero goes to the miller, borrows his lame mare, and rides off. The inhabitants make fun of him. He strikes his flint to fetch magic horse, then bids it form a camp, the beginning of which is not known, the limit of which is not seen, and let it be full of bears. It is even so. Hero finds a tent of gold embroidered with pearls prepared for himself. The six sons-in-law draw near, rejoice to see the camp and the bears, and tell the camp-servants that they want some bear's milk. They are told to enter king's tent. Hero inquires what they want.-- (11) He will give them the milk, on condition that each of them consents to having a circle and a rod burnt on his back. He brands them all; then brings an old bear, cuts its throat, and fills its skin with the milk of another old bear. They take it and go. Then hero skins a virgin bear, and takes the milk of another virgin bear, thanking his magic horse, he departs on the lame mare, and is again ridiculed by the townsfolk when returning it to the miller. He gives the milk to his wife to take to her mother. Doctors have examined the milk brought by the sons-in-law, and say it is of no use, it is an old bear's.-- (12) But that which youngest daughter brings is all right, and queen takes it to her husband, who is cured forthwith.-- (13) A war breaks out. The tents are pitched opposite the tents of the enemy. Hero rides forth on miller's lame mare, summons magic horse, and begs that all his hairs may flash forth fire. He advances to the king, offers his services in battle, and slays one-third of the enemy, his horse casting flames about. He vanishes. King wishes it had been his sons-in-law.-- (14) Next day hero does just as before. King takes off his own ring and puts it on the stranger's finger ere he vanishes.-- (15) Next day hero descends into the fight and kills the remainder of the enemy. His arm is wounded, and the king binds it with his royal kerchief. The stranger vanishes.-- (16) Youngest daughter being told what has happened, goes to mother, saying, "Get my father to come and see his ring and his kerchief," King is told, and finding them upon Mohammed the Wise (the hero), falls at his feet and bids him tell his story. Hero says he is a prince, and the six sons-in-law are his father's mamboubs, whom once he struck and they took to flight. Fearing his father's displeasure, he set out in pursuit of them to bring them back; but finding they were the king's sons-in-law he held his peace. King's youngest daughter saw him in the garden, and recognised his royal estate. "Here is your daughter, she is still unwed."-- (17) The wedding is celebrated, and hero takes leave of king, and carries his bride to his father's kingdom. His father is dead, and hero succeeds him.-- (18) He sends for the Jew and for his father's widow, and has them thrown into the fire and consumed.


1: See Note 74.

Note 74

(P. 457.) There is a variant of this story, under the same title, in Cosquin's Contes populaires de Lorraine (vol. i, pp. 133-37). King's son plunges his head and his clothes into gold-fountain in forbidden chamber, and then flies from his father on magic steed, which suggests the obstacles to pursuit. He exchanges clothes with a beggar, covers his golden head with a bladder, and becomes a scullion at the palace of another king, where he is called "le Petit Teigneux". The incidents which follow are much the same as those of the Arabian story. In Kolberg's Lud. Krakowskie, iv, 52-4 is a story of a young man with hair of gold, who, upon entering service, covers his head with a handkerchief, wherefore he is called Parszywka (le Teigneux). The story belongs to the Cinderella type.

In a modern Greek story from Epirus (Halin, No. 6) a Jew persuades the queen to poison the prince, who is put on his guard by the foal. The continuation of the story is similar to that given by Spitta-Bey. (The cow counsels the younger brother to flee, in the Egyptian story of the "Two Brothers".)

In the Russian tale of "Neznaiko" (Athanas'ev, vii, No. 10) the hero is persecuted by his stepmother, whose attempts to kill him are frustrated by the magic colt. When the colt is to be killed the hero escapes on it; following its counsel, he flays an ox and dons its hide, and covers his golden locks with a bladder. King makes him useful as a scarecrow. Summoning his magic steed by burning one of its hairs, he twice defeats the king's enemy. He is wounded on the second occasion, and his arm is bound up with the scarf belonging to the princess, whom eventually he marries.

Grimm's "The Iron Man", No. 136, and Dasent's "The Widow's Son", are similar variants; compare also Wolf, p. 276; Stier, No. 8; Naaki, p. 117; Webster, 111; Romero, Nos. 8 and 38; Gonzenbach, No. 61; Romancero general, No. 1264 (ed. Rivadeneyra, Madrid, 1856); Bastian, Die Volker des Oestlichen Asiens, iv (1868), p. 350; Radloff, ii, p. 607.
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2: See Note 75.

Note 75

(P. 457.) In this story, as in No. 30, the stepmother demands the blood or heart of the hated child's pet-animal, as cure for her feigned illness; in No. 187 she craves broth made from the pigeon which she knows is her stepchild transformed. Similar instances in folk-tales are very numerous; see, e.g., Asiatic Researches, xx (1836), p. 345; Cavallius, p. 142; Celtic Mag., xiii, pp. 213 ff., "Gold Tree and Silver Tree"; Comparetti, No. 68; Cosquin, No. xxi, "La Biche Blanche"; F.-L. Journal, vi, 42 (Aino tale), "The Wicked Stepmother"; Frere, O. D. D., No. 1; Hahn, No. 49; Sagas from the Far East, p. 73; and the variants of the story (No. 337) cited in the preceding note [Note 74]. Grimm (ii, 539 ff.) cites a story from Bornu about two faithful friends, a rich man and a poor man. The rich man feigns illness, and, at his instigation, the aged man who is called in to see him says the poor man's son must be killed, for only the sight of his blood can save the rich man's life. The poor man fetches his child, and ungrudgingly gives him to his friend. But a sheep's blood is sprinkled on the floor, and the rich man pretends to be cured by the sight. The boy is kept in concealment. After a time he is restored to his father, and the rich man reveals that his illness was feigned for the sake of proving his friend.

In proof that a belief in the efficacy of human blood, etc., as a cure, is prevalent at the present day, I quote from an article, appearing in The Times of Sept. 10, 1892, entitled "Anti-foreign Literature in China; the Case of Chou Han"…. "Missionaries especially were charged--and the charges have been made frequently during the past thirty years--with bewitching women and children by means of drugs, enticing them to some secret place, and there killing them for the purpose of taking out their hearts and eyes. Dr. MacGowan, a gentleman who has lived for many years in China, has published a statement, showing that, from the point of view of Chinese medicine, these accusations are far from preposterous. It is one of the medical superstitions of China that various portions of the human frame, and all its secretions, possess therapeutic properties. He refers to a popular voluminous Materia Medica--the only authoritative work of the kind in the Chinese language--which gives thirty-seven anthropophagous remedies of native medicine. Human blood taken into the system from another is believed to strengthen it…. Human muscles are supposed to be a good medicament in consumption, and cases are constantly recorded of children who mutilate themselves to administer their flesh to sick parents. Never, says Dr. MacGowan, has filial piety exhibited its zeal in this manner more than at the present time….It is very common among the comparatively lowly, but more frequent among the literati. A literary graduate….cut off a joint of one of his fingers, which he made into broth mixed with medicine, and gave to his mother…."

It is hardly necessary to refer to the very widespread belief amongst savages, that the courage, strength, fleetness, ferocity, and so forth of a particular animal may be acquired by devouring a portion of its carcase; or that the virtues of the dead may be absorbed in a similar way. So we read, also, in the "Fragment of a short Brunhild Lay" (C. P. B., i, 306): "Some gave Gothorm boiled wolf's flesh, some sliced serpents …. before they could persuade him to lay hands on the gentle hero." (See also Story of the Volsungs (Camelot Ser., p. 110.) The angel advised Tobias to preserve the liver, heart, and gall of a fish, and explained the uses of them (Tobit, vi, 6, 7, 8; xi, 11). Compare the magic properties of the liver and head of l'Oiseau Merveilleux (La Tradition, 1889, No. ii, pp. 33-40), the variants of which theme are too numerous to cite. In Persia, when any member of a household is very ill, it is the custom to kill a sheep, in order to avert danger from the sick person. Here the slaying of the animal is of propitiatory value, for it is hoped that Fate may be satisfied by the substitution of the sheep for the patient. (See S. J. A. Churchill's notes on "Sacrifices in Persia", in Ind. Ant., 1891, vol. xx, 148.)
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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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