Reading time: 3 minutes. Word count: 600 words.
The wife of a rich man fell sick, and as she felt that her end was drawing near, she called her only daughter to her bedside and said, "Dear child, be good and pious, and then the good God will always protect you, and I will look down on you from heaven and be near you." Thereupon she closed her eyes and departed. Every day the maiden went out to her mother's grave, and wept, and she remained pious and good.
When winter came the snow spread a white sheet over the grave, and by the time the spring sun had drawn it off again, the man had taken another wife. The woman had brought with her into the house two daughters, who were beautiful and fair of face, but vile and black of heart.
Now began a bad time for the poor step-child. "Is the stupid goose to sit in the parlor with us," they said. He who wants to eat bread must earn it. Out with the kitchen-wench. They took her pretty clothes away from her, put an old grey bedgown on her, and gave her wooden shoes. "Just look at the proud princess, how decked out she is," they cried, and laughed, and led her into the kitchen. There she had to do hard work from morning till night, get up before daybreak, carry water, light fires, cook and wash. Besides this, the sisters did her every imaginable injury - they mocked her and emptied her peas and lentils into the ashes, so that she was forced to sit and pick them out again. In the evening when she had worked till she was weary she had no bed to go to, but had to sleep by the hearth in the cinders. And as on that account she always looked dusty and dirty, they called her Cinderella.
It happened that the father was once going to the fair, and he asked his two step-daughters what he should bring back for them. Beautiful dresses, said one, pearls and jewels, said the second.
"And you, Cinderella," said he, "what will you have."
"Father, break off for me the first branch which knocks against your hat on your way home."
So he bought beautiful dresses, pearls and jewels for his two step-daughters, and on his way home, as he was riding through a green thicket, a hazel twig brushed against him and knocked off his hat. Then he broke off the branch and took it with him.
When he reached home he gave his step-daughters the things which they had wished for, and to Cinderella he gave the branch from the hazel-bush. Cinderella thanked him, went to her mother's grave and planted the branch on it, and wept so much that the tears fell down on it and watered it. And it grew and became a handsome tree. Thrice a day Cinderella went and sat beneath it, and wept and prayed, and a little white bird always came on the tree, and if Cinderella expressed a wish, the bird threw down to her what she had wished for.
Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:
Source: Margaret Hunt, Tales Collected by the Brothers Grimm (1884). Weblink. online at William Barker's website).
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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