THERE was once a king and a queen who had an only daughter, who was dear to them above all things, and no wonder, for she was fair and good, so that there never could be a more amiable child. But after some years had elapsed, the queen fell sick and died, and the king took to himself a new consort, who also had a daughter. But if the first queen was gentle and good, the second was an arrant Troll, both ugly and vicious in all manner of ways, in which respects the daughter was in no wise inferior to her mother. Thus the king had no great joy in his marriage, and for the little princess it was still worse; early and late she heard nothing but dissensions, and no doubt often experienced the truth of the old saying: that those who have a stepmother have also a stepfather.
Things went on thus for a season, when at last the king also died, and now the young princess had neither kith nor kin in all the wide world, and it may easily be believed that the queen and her daughter did not treat her the better on that account. At the same time she grew from day to day fairer and fairer, and when she had attained her fifteenth year, a fairer maiden was nowhere to be found. On this account the queen and her daughter bore her a still greater grudge, and took good care that no one should know of the princess's beauty. With this object they treated her rather as a peasant girl than as a king's daughter, all works of drudgery being allotted to her; she was never allowed to come forward in the apartments or sit with other people, but her place was always among the ashes on the hearth, close by the mouth of the stove. There she sat covered with rags, raking in the ashes and thinking of former days, while her mother was still living. This was her favourite pastime, and whence she was called in derision the Cinder-girl.
After a lapse of time, it one day happened that a rumour was spread over all the country that a foreign prince was coming for the purpose of wooing, and it was also said that he would attend church on the following Sunday. This news caused a great stir; one female thought of herself, another of her daughters, and in the whole kingdom there was not a wench, however poor, who did not entertain the hope of becoming a princess. But in no place was there so much bustle as in the royal palace; there everything was turned upside down and inside out during the whole week; for the queen had not even a thought that her daughter would not be the lucky one. When Sunday at length came, she had her daughter washed and scrubbed till her skin was almost rubbed off, and caused her hair to be combed and curled, and herself tricked out in all sorts of ways both before and behind, so that never was the like seen. She then ordered forth her gilded chariot, and made ready to accompany her daughter to church. In like manner did every one else; for if all could not get the foreign prince, all were at least desirous to see him. But there was one who did not follow with the others, and that was the Cinder-lass: she was ordered to stay at home and sweep, and dress the dinner, and chop pine twigs, and strew the floor, and many other things, which were always her Sun day-work. Poor girl!
When all was in order, and the horses were put to the chariot, and the queen was ready to set out, the daughter thought she would show herself to her stepsister in all her finery and splendour. So with a haughty step and many proud gestures she proceeded to the chimney-corner, where she stopped, writhed and twisted herself about to the best advantage, and said: "Now, Cinder-wench, what is thy opinion? Am I not elegantly clad? Dost thou see how fine I am? This is somewhat different from thy rags." The other answered that it was so, and in a humble tone asked, whether she also might not sometimes go to the house of God with other folks. At this the queen's daughter, betraying her true disposition, burst forth in a fit of rage: "Heard any one ever the like? The Cinder-wench is also for going to church! I believe thou thinkest to get the young prince! No, stay where thou art, that is more becoming such a beggar-brat as thou." She then went her way, and the sister wept bitterly at her cruel words. But the wicked stepmother did not even allow her to weep in peace; for, like all wicked people, she was always worst on God's holy Sunday; but took a bushel of peas, scattered them about the yard and said: "I shall teach thee to weep forsooth! Now pick up every single pea, and wash and boil them for dinner; and the Lord have mercy on thee, if it is not ready when I return home!" Having given these orders, the queen and her daughter, in full dress, proceeded to church to meet the prince; but the Cinder-girl remained at home picking up peas. That was her pastime.
As the day was now advancing, and the church folks had all set out, the damsel thought it time to begin her Sunday occupations. Taking therefore a pail, she first went to the spring for water. As she was hastening through the field she could not refrain from thinking of former days, how different all was then; and on her wicked stepmother, and on the church, to which she never went, and of the young prince; and as her thoughts thus wandered, she became so sad that she sat down on the earth, resting her cheek on her hand, and wept. As she stooped to draw up water, it happened that a tear rolled down her cheek and fell into the spring. At the same moment there rose to the surface an exceedingly large pike, which asked her why she wept so. "I may well weep and be sorrowful," answered the Cinder-lass; "my stepmother and stepsister are driven out to church, to see the foreign prince, while I am forced to sit at home and pick up peas; and at the same time I get nothing but maledictions when they come home." "Alas, poor girl!" said the pike, "thou hast a wicked stepmother. But if thou 'wilt do as I tell thee, thou shalt go to church as well as the others, and I will do thy work for to-day." The Cinder-lass promised to follow his directions, and the pike continued,: "When thou goest now along the path between the birches, thou wilt come to a hollow oak, which stands the highest on the mountain. In that oak thou wilt find a suit of clothes, which thou shalt put on. Thou shalt then saddle the palfrey that stands close by, and ride to church, and sit down on the seat between thy stepmother and step sister. But thou must not speak to them, for then they would recognise thee; nor must thou wait till the mass is ended, but must hasten out and ride back to the oak, and clothe thyself in thy old garments, so that thy stepmother may not remark anything when she returns home."
The Cinder-girl was overjoyed at all this; for many a day had passed since she had heard such friendly words. She therefore dried her tears, thanked the pike in the most heartfelt terms, and ran along the path among the birches till she reached the summit of the mountain. On looking into the oak, as the pike had directed her, she saw hanging a dress of the brightest silver, and by the side of the dress there hung a silver saddle and a silver bridle; and without there stood a snow-white palfrey, that snorted and neighed and beat with his hoofs, so that the whole mountain trembled. Now it may well be imagined what the damsel's feelings were. She hardly durst look upon the silver garment, it was so exceedingly magnificent, but thought at first that it was all nothing but a dream. Nevertheless, she did as the pike had enjoined her, entered into the oak, divested herself of her old tatters, put on the splendid silver dress, combed her golden locks, and in a short time was transformed from a ragged cinder-girl to the fairest, stateliest damsel that ever rode to court. Having completed her toilet, she saddled her palfrey and proceeded to church, and it seemed when she arrived exactly as if a white silvery cloud had issued from the sky. As she walked up the aisle and seated herself between her stepmother and stepsister, such a brightness shone over the whole church, that all the folks turned about and looked after the stranger, silver-clad lady; but the young prince was so smitten that he could not turn his eyes away from her. There was, in fact, no one that attended to the priest, besides the wicked stepmother and her daughter; for it may be imagined that they thereby strove to conceal their vexation. But in one instant, before any one was aware, the Cinder-lass suddenly rose from her seat, and hurried out of the church, long before the mass was concluded. Now, it may easily be imagined there was a commotion! The foreign prince instantly followed her, for he was desirous beyond all belief of knowing who she wasp as were also the other people; all streamed to the church door, and no one listened more either to text or sermon. But the damsel let nothing detain her and instantly mounted her horse, saying:-
"Light before me!
Darkness after me!"
and so in a twinkling vanished from their sight. While now all were standing gaping and wondering what direction she had taken, she hastened to the oak, divested herself of the elegant silver dress, put on her old tatters, and ran to the royal palace, so that when the queen and her daughter returned, they found neither palfrey nor silver-clad damsel; but the peas were boiled, the floor was strewed, and the little Cinder-girl sat down among the ashes, as we have been accustomed to find her.
The queen and her daughter were very far from pleased with what had passed at church, and every one could easily perceive, both by their words and answers, that things had not proved to their hearts' content. In fact nothing pleased them, they found fault with and complained of everything; but above all they spoke of a stranger princess who was at church, and who came and departed no one knew whence or whither, ending every conversation with the assurance, that on the next Sunday the queen's daughter should be much finer than the princess. But all this while there was no one that thought of the little Cinder-lass, except to chide and snub her, so that for her the week passed much worse than any preceding one.
As the time drew on it may easily be imagined what bustle and preparations there were in the royal palace, only that the queen's daughter might have everything most fine and costly; nothing being so sumptuous that the queen would not have it yet more so. At length Sunday came, and the queen had her daughter washed and scrubbed till her face 'was as bright as a May morning (1), combed her hair most curiously, and decorated her both before and behind, so that the like of such finery had never been seen. She then ordered forth her gilded chariot, and made ready to drive to church. In like manner did every one in the royal palace, all being desirous of seeing the foreign prince. The only one that did not go was the Cinder-lass, who, poor young girl! was obliged to stay at home and sweep, and prepare dinner, and chop pine twigs, and strew the floor, and numerous other things, as always formed her employment on Sundays.
When all was in order, and the horses were put to the chariot, the holyday attire examined in every fold, and the queen ready to set out, it occurred to the daughter that she would grant her stepsister the great pleasure of seeing her in all her pomp and finery. She went, therefore, with stately step and many proud gestures to the chimney-corner, where she stopped, twisted and turned herself on every side, that the Cinder-lass might have a complete view of her, and at length said: "Well, what dost thou think? Am I not splendidly lad? Dost thou see how fine I am? This is a little different from thy rags." The stepsister answered, that it was very true, and asked with great humility whether she might not also one day go to church and see the young prince. At this the queen's daughter broke out into a paroxysm of anger: "Well, was the like ever heard? The Cinder-wench will go to church to see the foreign prince! No, stay where thou art, thou beggar-brat, and grope in the ashes; that befits thee far better." She then went her way, and the sister wept bitterly at her cruel words. But the stepmother would not let her even weep in peace, but taking a bushel of groats, she scattered them all over the floor, saying: "I will give thee something else to do than to sit there crying. Pick up now every single grain, and wash them, and boil them for dinner; and the Lord help thee, if they are not ready when I return!" Having given these orders, the queen with her daughter proceeded in full state to church to meet the prince; but the Cinder-lass must sit at home and pick up groats, as her wicked stepmother had ordered. That was her employment.
When the day was so far advanced that all the folk had gone to church, the Cinder-lass began her Sunday occupations. She first of all took a pail, and ran to the well to retch water. As she was hastening across the meadow, she could not refrain from thinking of this and that; of her mother that was dead, how kind and good she had always been, and of her wicked stepmother, and of the church, and of the young prince, whom she should never see again; and. while she thus thought she became so sorrowful, that sitting down on a stone and resting her cheek on her hand, she wept bitterly. When leaning forward for the purpose of drawing up water, a tear again rolled down her cheek and fell into the spring. At the same moment the large pike rose to the surface of the water, and asked as before why she sat there weeping so bitterly. "I may well weep and be sad," answered she; "my stepmother and stepsister have driven to church to see the young prince; while I must sit lonely at home and pick up groats, and when the queen returns I get nothing but chiding and hard words." "Ali!" said the pike, "thou hast a wicked stepmother; but if thou wilt do as I say, thou shalt go to church as well as the others, and I will do thy work, as I did last Sunday." The Cinder-lass thanked the pike for his good will, and promised to obey him in everything; and the pike continued: "When thou goest along the path under the birches, thou wilt come to the hollow oak that stands on the mountain. In the oak thou wilt find a garment which thou wilt put on; thou wilt then saddle the palfrey, which stands close by, and ride to church, and sit on the seat between thy step mother and stepsister. But thou must not speak to them, for then they will recognise thee; nor must thou stay till the service is ended, but hasten out and ride back to the oak, and put on thy old garments, so that thy stepmother may not observe anything when she returns home."
The Cinder-lass, on hearing this, was delighted beyond measure; for it ran in her mind that she should see the young prince once again. She therefore dried her tears, returned her best thanks to the pike, and ran along the path under the birches till she reached the summit of the mountain. On looking into the oak she saw hanging a habit of the purest gold, and together with the habit there also hung a gold saddle with a gold. bridle and a gold bit; and all so exceedingly magnificent, that they glittered like fire, when any one looked on them. Close by without there stood again the snow-white palfrey snorting and neighing, and full of joy, and beating the earth with his hoofs, so that the whole mountain shook. It may now be easily imagined in what state of mind the Cinder-lass found herself; for a long time she knew not whether she were awake or the whole were only a dream. Nevertheless, she did not forget what the pike had said to her, but went into the oak, cast off her old rags, put on the sumptuous golden garment, combed her golden locks, and was in a short time metamorphosed from a poor ragged cinder-girl to the fairest, stateliest damsel that ever wore a crown of gold. She then saddled her palfrey and rode to church, and it seemed as if a cloud had appeared in the sky with a little star on it. As she proceeded along the aisle and seated herself between the queen and her daughter, such a brightness was spread over the pavement and over the whole church, that all the people turned about on their seats, and gazed only on the stranger damsel. But the prince's heart was so smitten with love that he could not for a moment turn his eyes from her. No one, in fact, attended to the priest, unless it were the wicked stepmother and. her daughter. It may be supposed that they thereby strove to conceal their vexation, although they would have rejoiced if the young princess had been a hundred miles off. But while they were thinking over the matter, the Cinder-lass starting suddenly up, hurried out of the church long before the conclusion of the mass. Now, we can well imagine, there was a commotion! The young prince instantly hastened after her; for he was desirous above all things to discover who she was. At the same time all the other people streamed to the church door, and no one cared more either for priest or mass. But they got nothing for their pains; for when the princess came out, she instantly mounted her horse, and said:-
"Light before me!
Darkness after me!"
and vanished like lightning from the sight of all. While the prince and all the people were standing gaping, and wondering in what direction she could have taken her course, she hastened back to the oak, put on her old garments, and ran to the royal palace, so that when the queen and her daughter returned, they found the groats boiled and the floor strewed, but neither palfrey nor gold-clad damsel, only the Cinder-girl in her chimney-corner, precisely as they were accustomed to see her.
The queen and her daughter were now even more dissatisfied with their church visit than on the preceding Sunday, and both in their conversation and answers it might be observed that things had not fallen out according to their expectations. Nothing in fact pleased them, neither at home nor abroad, but they found fault with and complained of everything. Above all things they spoke of a strange princess, who was so magnificently clad, always adding how the queen's daughter should be even finer than she. But all the while no one thought of the little Cinder-lass, unless it were to snub and chide her, so that she was always made the object of her stepmother's and stepsister's malignity.
As the time advanced it is easy to conceive that there were sewing and cutting in the royal palace both early and late, solely that the queen's daughter might appear as fine as possible; and however magnificent a thing might be, yet it never was so exquisite that the queen did riot require it still more so. At length Sunday came, and the queen caused her daughter to be washed and scrubbed, until she was as bright as a sun, curled her hair after the most tasteful fashion, and decorated her in all manner of ways both before and behind, so that the like of her outfit had never before been seen. She then ordered out her gilded chariot, and prepared to ride in it to church. All her people likewise went; for if all could not obtain the foreign prince, yet all were desirous of seeing him. But there was one who was not allowed to accompany them, and that was the Cinder-girl. She must stay at home and sweep, and chop pine twigs, and strew the floor, and many other things, as were now her constant Sunday occupations.
When everything was in order, the horses put to the chariot, the holyday attire examined in every fold, and the queen ready to set out, her daughter thought she would grant her stepsister the happiness of beholding her in all her pomp and finery. With stately step, therefore, and haughty mien she walked to the chimney-corner: there she stopped, twisted and turned herself in every direction, and said at last: "Well, Cinder-wench, what thinkest thou? Am I not sumptuously dressed? Dost thou see bow splendid I am? This is something different from thy tatters." Yes, the' other answered, it was so, and, with tears in her eyes, asked if she also might not one day go to church and see the young prince. At this the stepsister burst forth ii a fit of anger: "Well, was the like ever heard? The Cinder-wench wishes to go with us! I believe thou thinkest to get the young prince! No, stay where thou art, thou beggar-brat! that is more befitting thee." She then took her departure, and her stepsister slowly retired to her chimney-corner, to conceal her tears. But she was not allowed to weep in peace; for the wicked stepmother, who was instantly at hand, took a bushel of meal, cast it out in the middle of the yard, and said: "I will give thee something else to do than to sit there crying; gather up now the meal, every particle of it, and cleanse it, and prepare it for dinner; and the Lord help thee if all is not ready when I return home!" Having thus given her orders, she and her daughter rode in full state to church to meet the prince. But the stepdaughter must sit in the yard and gather up meal, as her wicked stepmother had ordered her.
When the time had arrived that the church-folks were all gone, and the Cinder-lass should begin her occupations, she first took a pail and ran to get water from the spring. While thus again tripping over the green meadow, her thoughts began to wander, and she thought of her mother who was dead, and who had always been so kind to her, and of her wicked stepmother, and of the church, which she was never allowed to enter, and her tears began to flow in abundance, like the purest pearls. But most of all it went to her heart when she thought of the young prince, whom she should never again see, and she then became so afflicted, that sitting down on a stone, and resting her cheek on her hand, she gave herself up to despair. As she bent for ward to draw the water, a bright tear rolled down her cheek into the spring. At the same instant the great pike again appeared, raised his green head above the surface of the water, and asked her why she wept so bitterly. "I may well weep and be sorrowful," answered the Cinder-lass. "My stepmother and stepsister have ridden to church to meet the young prince; but I must sit in the yard and gather up meal, and when the queen comes home I shall get nothing but maledictions and hard words." "Ah, poor girl!" said the pike, "thou hast a bad stepmother; but if thou wilt do as I tell thee, thou shalt go to church like the others, and I will do thy work as I did on the last two Sundays." The Cinder-lass hereupon returned her best thanks to the pike, and promised to obey him in all things. The pike continued: "When thou goest along the path under the birches, and comest to the hollow oak, thou wilt there find a habit, which thou shalt put on. Then thou wilt saddle the palfrey that stands close by and ride to church, and sit down in the seat between thy stepmother and stepsister. But thou must not speak to them, for then they would recognise thee; nor must thou remain till the mass is over, but must hasten out and ride back to the oak, and put on thy old garments, that thy stepmother may observe nothing when she returns."
The Cinder-lass was heartily delighted at this, for her thoughts were on the young prince, although she had never expected to see him again. She therefore dried her tears, returned her warmest thanks to the pike, and hastened along the path under the birches till she reached the summit of the mountain. On looking into the oak she saw hanging a garment wholly set round with precious stones, close by which there hung a saddle-furniture, which was, in like manner, set with pearls and diamonds from the East; and the whole was so indescribably magnificent that it changed colours and glittered like the brightest rainbow. Close by there stood again the snow-white palfrey, which snorted, and neighed, and was overjoyed, and beat the ground with his hoofs, so that the whole mountain echoed. Now every one can easily imagine the feelings of the Cinder-lass; for a long time she knew not whether it were a reality, or whether the whole were riot a delightful dream. She did not, however, forget what the pike had enjoined her, but entered the oak, divested herself of her old tatters, put on the splendid habit set with precious stones; placed a crown of gold on her golden hair, and, within a short time, was metamorphosed from a miserable cinder-girl to the fairest princess that was ever seen in the world. She then saddled her palfrey, mounted it, and rode to church: and it seemed when, she entered just as 'when the sun rises in the heavens through a silvery cloud. As she walked up the aisle and placed herself between the queen and her daughter, such a brilliancy was shed over the whole church that it was illuminated in its remotest corners, and all the people turned about on their seats and looked only on the stranger princess; but the young prince received such a wound in his heart that it seemed to him impossible to live without her. There was, consequently, no one that listened to the priest, unless it were the wicked stepmother and her daughter. It may be imagined that they thereby strove in some degree to conceal their vexation; although they heartily wished the princess a thousand miles off. But while they were thinking over the matter, the Cinder-lass suddenly starting from her seat, hastened out long before the mass was ended. Now, it is easy to imagine there was a com motion! The young prince ran out instantly; for he had resolved within himself that he would discover who she was, let it cost what it might. At the same time all the other church-folks rose from their seats, even the priest himself, who in his hurry forgot both bible and breviary. Just as the princess was passing out at the church-door the prince had caused some tar to be spilt, so that she lost one of her gold shoes, which remained sticking in it; and the prince was so close behind her that she durst not turn round to take it up. She had, therefore, no alternative but to hasten to her palfrey, and say as before:-
"Light before me!
Darkness after me!"
and thus she vanished from the sight of all. She then rode hastily to the great oak on the mountain; but on turning round she perceived a considerable number of people running in all directions in search of her, and at the same time observed that her stepmother and stepsister were already returning from church. At this she was so terrified that she gave herself no time to change her clothes, but cast her old coarse garments over the sumptuous habit set with precious stones, and hurried to the royal palace as speedily as she could. There she placed herself in the chimney-corner, and feigned to be playing with the ashes, according to her custom. The queen and her daughter could therefore observe nothing remarkable; but on their return they found the floor strewed, the porridge boiled, and the Cinder-girl sitting in her usual place, just as they were in the habit of seeing her.
The story now returns to the young prince. When he saw that the princess had escaped from him, he was sorely grieved, for he had resolved either to possess her or no one else in the world. He therefore began to consider how he might again find her. For this purpose he took the little gold shoe which she had lost at the church door, and caused it to be announced over the whole kingdom, that her whom the shoe fitted, and no other, he would take to wife. Now, it may easily be believed that there was a commotion of no trivial kind; for every individual maiden must go and try her luck with the little shoe. But there was no one whom the shoe fitted, and no wonder, for it was so very, very little and delicate, that there probably was never in the world a damsel that trod a more elegant little shoe. It now began to be very doubtful whether the prince would ever find the object of his search again or not; nevertheless, hope did not forsake him, but he sent his followers in every direction to seek and make inquiry, while he himself went about the neighbourhood, both to the east and west, in the hope of fitting the shoe.
While thus wandering he came at length to the royal palace. The queen thereupon immediately caused her young stepdaughter to be shut up in the oven, for she was fearful lest any one should see her extraordinary beauty, but brought forward her own daughter, that she might put on the gold shoe, but all in vain; her foot was, and continued to be, too large, however she might press and pinch it. But the queen was not at a loss; she chopped off her daughter's long heels and clipped her great toes, and thus again brought her forward to try her luck. When the queen's daughter was now again about to try on the gold shoe, there sat a little bird in a tree, which sang:-
"Chop heel and clip toe!
In the oven is she whom fits the gold shoe." (2)
"What was that?" inquired the prince, wondering. "Oh!" answered the queen, "it was nothing; it was only the song of a bird." The prince took no further notice of it, the queen's daughter being about to try on the shoe; but the bird did not cease, but sang again:-
"Chop heel and clip toe
In the oven is she whom fits the gold shoe."
"What was that the bird sang?" inquired the prince a second time, and listened. "Oh!" answered the queen, "It is not worth listening to; it was only the twittering of a bird. Away with thee, thou ugly bird!" But it was to no purpose, for hardly had the queen's daughter tried to put on the gold shoe, when the bird in the tree sang for the third time:-
"Chop heel and clip toe!
In the oven is she whom fits the gold shoe."
The prince could now easily perceive that there was some trickery at work, and therefore sent his young pages to search the oven, who almost instantly returned with the young stepdaughter, who had been lying concealed there. Now, we may be sure that neither the queen nor her daughter were in the best of humours. They grew pale and red from anger, and asked how any one could trouble himself about such a little beggar-brat. But the prince gave no heed to their talk, and ordered the gold shoe to be brought, when lo! it was as if it had grown to the Cinder-lass's little snow-white foot. While they were thus engaged the prince observed that a golden corner peeped out from a hole in her garment. Seeing it, the prince snatched off her old, coarse, gray cloak, and at the same instant- it was as if a flash of lightning had darted among them; and behold! instead of the ragged Cinder-girl, there stood before them a beautiful princess, the self-same that the prince had seen at church, and the precious stones on her garments glittered like the bright sun, and all who beheld her could not sufficiently admire her wonderful beauty.
At all this the king's son was so unspeakably rejoiced that he both laughed and wept; but the queen and her daughter did not laugh. He pressed the young damsel to his breast and placed her on his knee, and betrothed her with rings of red gold; after which he conducted her with great honour home to his own kingdom, and made her his queen. I was present at the marriage. There the prince tripped in the dance with his fair young bride, and I danced, and all the guests danced with them, all except the queen's daughter. She could not dance, for her mother had cut off her toes. So is my story told.
(1) In the original, "blank som en tiggar-krycke," bright as a beggar's crutch.
Return to place in story.
(2) The English nursery tale of Cinderella has:
"Chiveri, chiveri, chits,
The maid's in the oven that that shoe fits,"
which seems to prove that both the English and Swedish have reference to a common origin.
Return to place in story.
1. A version from Ostergotland [Printed in I. Arwidsson's Lase-och Laro-bok for Ungdom. Stockh., 1830, i. pp. 19-25] relates, that when the queen was going to church, she gave her stepdaughter no food besides a morsel of black bread and a little milk the cat's saucer, At the same Lime she strewed a bushel of peas on the floor, and ordered the Cinder-girl to pick up every pea before the people returned from church.
While the young girl sat weeping, and gathered, and gathered, and wept, she heard a scratching at the door. On opening it there entered a beautiful little white ermine, to which she gave some milk. When the ermine was satisfied, it asked her why she wept and the Cinder-girl related her whole story. "Now," said the ermine, "follow me, and I will help thee." It then blew on the peas, when they immediately flew back of themselves into the measure. The ermine then conducted her to a large oak in the forest, where she found splendid garments, arid a palfrey, and little pages, so that she could ride to church in great state, and meet the young prince.
The continuation coincides with what is given above, only with the addition, that when the Cinder-girl came to the oak on the third Sunday, the ermine said: "My work is now ended, and I can no longer help thee; but if thou thinkest thou owest me any gratitude, take this knife and thrust it into my heart." The Cinder-girl was loth to reward it so ill for its services; but the ermine besought her earnestly, saying: "Do as I have said; it is my salvation." The damsel then, turning away her eyes, stabbed it to the heart, and at the same instant three drops of blood fell on the field, from which there sprang a comely young prince, who instantly vanished, and was never heard of more.
2. A variation from Gottland makes the stepdaughter go clad in a cloak of crow's feathers, that she might feel shame wherever she might be, and that no one might see how much more beautiful she was than the crone's own daughter. Hence she was called Krak-pels, i.e. Crow-cloak. At length she received aid from a little old man with whom she had shared her breakfast, and who promised to requite her. He then took her with him to the forest, blew a pipe, and procured her first a habit that shone like the stars in heaven; then one that shone like the moon; and lastly, one that shone like the sun. So Krak-pels went all the three Sundays to church, without being recognised either by her stepmother or stepsister.
When the prince's messenger came to the crone's dwelling, for the purpose of fitting on the little gold shoe, Kr was so frightened that she hid herself in the oven. But there sat a little bird in a tree that sang and betrayed her. She was thus recognised, and married to the king's son. The story concludes with the pleasing addition, that "she always showed kindness to her wicked stepmother."
3. A version from South Smâland tells of a stepdaughter that was called Aske-pjeske, and who had to sit at home and prepare peas, while her stepmother and stepsister went to church to meet a foreign prince. While she sat and wept there came a little bird, and peeked at the easement, and sang:-
"Little maiden go to church,
I will clean thy peas;
I will sweep, and clear and do all things,
At the same moment an eagle came flying, which let fall from his talons a splendid habit. This Aske-pjeske put on and went to church, where every one was wonder-struck at her great beauty. But the prince was smitten beyond all the others, and threw a white silk glove into her lap.
On the following Sunday she went in the same manner, and the prince threw the other glove to her. On the third Sunday he cast a golden apple; but at every time Aske-pjeske hastened out of the church before the service was over, as has been related above.
When the prince and his attendants came at length to the mansion, to try on the little gold shoe, the crone shut her stepdaughter up in the stable, and chopped off her own daughter's heels and toes; but the prince, nevertheless, would not believe that she was the right one. The crone then produced the silk gloves and the golden apple, when the prince could no longer entertain a doubt. At the same moment there came a little bird and pecked on the easement, and sang:-
"They cut off her heel, they cut off her toe,
In the stable is she whom fits the gold shoe."
The stepmother's falsehood was now detected, and the king's son was married to Aske-pjeske.
4. According to another variation from South Smâland, the prince allows himself to be misled by the queen's cunning, so that he takes the false damsel with him in his carriage, for the purpose of returning to his own kingdom; but when they had travelled a short distance, they came to a bridge, where a bird was sitting in a tree, which sang:-
"Chop heel, chop toe;
At home sits the damsel in the bath-room and weeps,
She whom fits the gold shoe."
The prince now found that he had been deceived, and rode back to the queen's palace, where he found his real beloved in the bath-house, in which she had been shut by her wicked stepmother.
FROKEN SKINN-PELS ROR I ASKAN
5. A third version from South Smâland, called Fröken Skinn-pels Rör i askan, has a long introduction borrowed from the story of De tre Under-skogarne, i.e. The Three Wonderful Forests. It tells of a wicked stepmother, who sent her stepdaughter to tend cattle, hut gave her no food except a morsel of oatmeal bread. When she had eaten the bread, she sat down under an oak and wept. There then came forth a huge white bear, that asked her why she was so afflicted. The girl told him, as was the truth, that she ad been sent out to the field by her wicked stepmother, and that she had no one to look t6 for help in all the wide world. The bear replied: "If thou wilt be true to me, I will help thee." To this the maiden consented, and the bear gave her a pipe of gold, in which she was to blow whenever she was desirous of speaking with him.
When some time had passed the young damsel began to long for home. On reaching her stepmother's dwelling she found the crone even worse than before. "So thou art come back, thou ugly urchin," said she; "I thought thou hadst perished with hunger long ago; but there is no such good luck." The damsel answered that she had received support from her best friend; so that she had suffered no want. What friend hast thou had l" inquired the crone. "It is," answered the maiden, "a huge white animal that is called a bear." "Well," replied the crone, "it is fortunate that I have got to know that." She then consulted with her own daughter how they might lay snares and entrap the bear. But when the stepdaughter perceived their design, she went out into the forest sat down under the oak, and blew in her pipe. Instantly the bear came forth, and the damsel warned him of the crone's design. The bear said: "Have no fear on that account, I shall take care of myself."
One day the bear said: "Thou shalt now go away with me, and then thou wilt escape being longer with thy wicked stepmother. But one thing thou must promise me, that thou wilt obey me in every thing that I shall enjoin thee." To this the damsel agreed, and the bear took her on his back, and thus they departed, travelling over hill and dale. At length they came to a very large forest; but this forest was not like other forests, for every, even the smallest, leaf on every tree, was of bright silver, so that it shed light all around. "Now," said the bear, "thou must not touch anything here; for if thou dost, both thou and I will be most unfortunate." And the damsel promised not to touch anything. But when they had reached the middle of the forest, the foliage glittered so beautifully around her, that, forgetting her promise, she broke off a little silver leaf. There upon the bear said: "My love, what hast thou done!" The damsel answered: "I have only broken off a little silver leaf." The bear continued: "That thou shouldst not have done. It is now a chance whether we escape from hence with life." At the same moment the whole forest was filled with a terrific roaring, and from all sides there streamed forth an innumerable multitude of wild beasts, lions, tigers, and every other kind; and they all went in pursuit of the bear, and strove to tear him in pieces. Now the damsel was indeed terrified, and durst not look up, so affrighted was she. But the bear ran with all his might, and the wild beasts after him, so that when at length he came out of the forest be was almost dead with fear and faintness.
Some time after they came to another forest, where every little leaf was of bright gold, so that it glittered all around. Here the same took place as before. At last they entered a third forest, much more extensive than either of the before-mentioned, in which every, even the smallest, leaf was of the brightest diamond, so that it played and sparkled far and wide. There also the damsel could not refrain, but broke a diamond leaf from a tree. Instantly there rushed forth an innumerable multitude of wild beasts, and the bear ran, the wild beasts after him, and were so quick upon him that they almost tore him in pieces before he could get out of the forest.
The bear and the damsel now journeyed on gently; for he was both weary and wounded, nor did he utter a single word on the way. At length they came to a clear spring, which flowed out of a mountain, and there they sat to rest. After having rested awhile, the bear said: "Here we must part, for now either thou or I must descend into the fountain." The damsel answered: "In that case it is I that should go down, seeing I have been so disobedient to thee." "No," replied the bear, "that thou, nevertheless, shalt not do; but here is a knife; take it and kill me, and cast my carcass into the fountain. Afterwards thou shalt clothe thyself in my skin, and go up to the king's palace, and beg to be employed in the court. Every time thou needest help blow in the golden pipe which I gave thee." The damsel durst not do otherwise than obey, and killed the bear, cast his body into the fountain, wrapped herself in his skin, and wandered with a heart full of sorrow up to the king's palace. There she got employment in the kitchen, and sat in the chimney-corner raking the cinders. But every one was struck with wonder at her garb and manners, and called her Fröken Skinnpels rör i askan (Miss Skin-cloak rakes in the ashes).
After this introduction, it is related how the king and the queen and the young prince, together with their court, go to church, and the master-cook is also desirous of going. As he had no one to prepare the king's dinner, he applied to Fröken Skinnpels for assistance. The damsel long excused herself but finally yielded to his entreaties. Bo when all the folks were gone their several ways, she took her golden pipe, blew in it, and said: "Up, my little Pysslings and prepare a dinner so dainty, that the like was never seen on royal table." Instantly there appeared a numerous swarm of little Pysslings [See "Northern Mythology and Traditions," vol. ii. p. 94.], who began to boil, and roast, and prepare the repast, so as no one ever saw the like. When all was ready the damsel said: "Bring now my silver habit, for I also will go to church." Instantly the Pysslings brought forth the most magnificent of silver habits, and clad Fröken Skinnpels in it, and kept a careful watch over her. She then proceeded to church, and seated herself on the bench between the queen and princess. But all the congregation were amazed at her beauty, and the young prince was so smitten that it seemed to him he could not live unless he could possess her.
The continuation and end of the story agree with what is above communicated.
6. A variation from Upland, called "Krâknabba-pelsen" (Crow's- nib-cloak), has also a long introduction, composed of originally unconnected fragments. Of these some appear in the introduction to the story of "Rosalill och Lânga Leda" (see p. 41), and in the remarks on the same story (Nos. 1 and 2); while, others are borrowed from a well- known Troll story of a totally unlike kind [See p. 35].
The story treats of a stepdaughter that was sent by her wicked step mother to tend cattle in the forest without any food. While she was sitting and weeping, a large black ox came to her and said: "If thou wilt do as I say, I will help thee:" The girl consented. Then continued the ox: "Shake my ear, and hold thy apron under." The girl did so, and got as much delicate food as she could eat.
When she returned from the forest, the hag, her stepmother was still more cruel towards her than before. It happened one day that the crone forgot her axe in the rain, and sent her stepdaughter to fetch it. The girl went, and found three little doves sitting on the haft of the axe. She spoke to them kindly, caressed them, and gave them food from her hand. The doves then flew up in a tree, and consulted together how they should reward her. One of them said: "I wish that every time she speaks, a gold ring may spring out of her mouth." The second said: "I wish she may grow fairer and fairer." The third said: "I wish she may have a king for her husband."
The damsel returned home, and was much more beautiful than before; whereupon the crone became envious, and sent her own daughter to the forest to fetch the axe. But the crone's daughter cursed the little doves, and drove them away. They again flew into the tree, and consulted together how they should reward her ill-usage. One of them said: "I wish that every time she speaks a frog may spring out of her mouth." The second said: "I wish she may grow fouler and fouler every day." The third said: "And I wish that her nose may grow longer and longer." And so it came to pass. She became uglier and uglier, and her nose grew out like a crow's nib, and became so long that she could not open a door. So she had made a large cloak, which she hung over her nose, to conceal its ugliness.
There was now no good for the stepdaughter in staying at home; so she went to the black ox, and asked his advice. The ox said: "Make haste, and take thy sister's crow's nib cloak, then we will depart from hence. The damsel did so, and when they were on their journey the ox said: "Here thou hast a piece of a tree, a bottle, and a stone; east them behind thee, one at a time, when there is need."
After travelling awhile, they perceived the Troll-wife coming after them, and the damsel east the piece of wood behind her, and there grew up a large forest; but the crone returned home for her axe, and hewed down the forest. The girl then east the bottle, and a spacious lake arose; but the crone went home for her horn, and drank up the whole lake. At last she east the stone, when a lofty mountain rose up. The crone now went home for her pickaxe, for the purpose of breaking through the mountain; hut with her picking and hacking the mountain fell in behind her, and she never came out.
The continuation accords in its chief points with what is related above. The stepdaughter comes to a royal palace, where she gets employment as a stair-sweeper, and rides three Sundays on the back of the ox, and magnificently clad, to church. The third Sunday the prince watches at the door, and gets her little shoe. He thereupon issues an order that all the maidens in the whole country should come to the king's palace and try on the shoe; but it does not fit the foot of a single one. A little bird then sings:-
"In the chimney sits the damsel whom the shoe fits.
In the chimney sits the damsel whom the shoe fits."
The prince thereupon goes into the kitchen, finds little Krâknabba-pelsen, and takes her to wife.
On the wedding-day the stepdaughter goes to the meadow to see after the black ox. The ox said: "If thou wilt requite me, take a sword and divide me into three pieces." The damsel did as he desired, although it pierced her to the heart. A comely young prince now started up, who had been enchanted, and could never have recovered the human form without the damsel's aid. Krâknabba-pelsen's marriage was then celebrated, and with such pomp that it is famed even at the present day.
7. A variation from Upland, called "Krâkskinns-Maja, tells of a wicked queen, who had two daughters of her own and a stepdaughter. When the maidens were grown up, there came a message from a neighbouring king that they should come to his palace; because he was desirous that his son should take one of them to wife. Thereupon the queen's daughters gave their stepsister a soporific potion, because they were envious of her great beauty, and then took their departure. When the damsel awoke she instantly set out after them, running as fast as she was able.
As the daughters were riding in their magnificent chariot, they observed a little apple come rolling out of a field, and crying incessantly: "Oh! oh! I am freezing." But they had no compassion on the little apple, and ordered the driver to give it a lash with his whip, to help it on its way. They then continued their journey, and the apple rolled on and met the stepdaughter. But she did not do as the others had done, but immediately stopped, took up the apple, and warmed it in her bosom. Then said the apple: "Wait until thou art in need, and I will render thee a service in return."
Shortly after there came a little pear rolling into the road, and met the three damsels, when all took place as with the apple; a plum also rolled forth in like manner, crying that it was freezing, and received from the queen's daughters a lash from the whip, but which the step daughter warmed in her bosom. Thus did the queen's daughters arrive at the royal palace, and were received with feastings and many tokens of honour; but the stepdaughter sought shelter in a little hut by the wayside. She there clad herself in an old cloak, made solely of crow-skins, with a veil before her face, and thus wandered up to the royal palace, and got employment in the kitchen. But the court folks made game of her wonderful appearance, and called her in derision, "Krâkskinns-Maja."
When Sunday came, and all the folks were gone to church, the stepdaughter took forth her apple, and wished for a garment of pure silver. She then said:-
"Light before me,
Darkness after me,
And may no one know whither I go."
And thus she went to church, where she seated herself between the stepsisters; but they did not recognise her, and the young prince was so smitten with her beauty, that he could not turn his eyes on any other object.
The next Sunday passed in like manner. The stepdaughter took forth her pear, wished for herself a habit of pure gold, and went to church. On the third Sunday she took her plum, and clothed herself in a dress wholly of precious stones. As she was hurrying out of church, the young prince ran after her, when she lost one of her gold shoes. But the prince took it up, and issued a proclamation, that no one should be his wife, save her whose foot fitted the little gold shoe.
All the young maidens in the kingdom, of whatever degree, must now go to the royal palace and try on the shoe; in doing which they sat behind a curtain, and held forth a foot, each in her turn; but the gold shoe was always too small, till Krâkskinns-Maja came. Now the prince was in no little hurry to put aside the curtain, when lo! there was no longer Krâksinns-Maja, but a beautiful princess entirely clad in precious stones. Thus did the queen's daughters return home with shame, and the prince celebrated his nuptials with the stepdaughter. Such was her reward, because she was discreet and good.
Thorpe, Benjamin. Yule-Tide Stories. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853.