Friday, 1 February 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Like Good Salt (Italy, 1875)

 Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.

For the last two weeks we have looked at tales that possess qualities of both Aarne-Thompson-Uther 510a—persecuted heroine—and ATU 510b where a heroine runs away and disguises herself and works in a lowly place until spotted by the prince as well as an overlap into ATU 923—love like salt.

As I said last week, not all ATU 923 tales are Cinderella tales. If the story is just about a banished daughter, and a reunion where the father learns the lesson without any disguises, meeting a prince, lost objects and a wedding then it is not an ATU 510 Cinderella story.

SUR LA LUNE has this to say about it:

When a magic helper as well as an identifying object appear in the tale, it is classified as ATU 510B. A lack of those elements usually makes it a straightforward ATU 923 tale.

I found a wealth of ATU 923 tales and considered for a moment diverting into a study of them, but keeping the above guidelines in mind, many were just love like salt variations with no overlap into persecuted heroine. I found only one more that fit both categories and we will look at it below. But if you are interested in love like salt versions, please go {HERE}  and have a look.

Our story today entitled Come ‘L Bon Sale (Like Good Salt) was collected by Domenico Giuseppe Bernoni  and was printed in Fiabe Popolari Veneziane (Venetian Popular Tales) and was featured in The Cornhill Magazine in July of 1875. According to

This collection has been made con amore by a native Venetian gentleman named Bernoni, who took them down verbatim, as they were told by the comari (old wives, gossips) of Castello or Canaregio.

This is unusual version as it features elements of Snow White. In other ATU 923 versions her father banishes her for likening her love to salt, but in this one he orders her to be taken out and killed and her eyes and heart brought back. The faithful servant is hesitant to perform such a loathsome task but sees a small dog in the meadow and kills it instead, sparing the girl’s life.

As in other ATU 510 persecuted heroine stories, there is a magical helper. In this case a fairy gives the girl a magic wand that when she puts in her bosom turns her into an old lady. As in last week’s tale, an ugly woman is more likely to find work than a young pretty one. She is given the job of hen wife looking after the poultry and is forced to sleep in an outhouse. I am not sure if this is just an outbuilding or an actual toilet, but either way the prince overhears her crying and drills a hole in the outhouse to see why she’s upset (that’s not creepy…) and realised that she is not an ugly, old lady but a beautiful young girl. He begs to marry her since he has seen through her loathsome disguise. 

It then circles back round to ATU 923 with the father attending the wedding, eating the unsalted food and wishing he had in his daughter back. In other versions where she was merely banished this is a glorious reunion, but he is regretting having MURDERED her. If it were me, I would be far less forgiving, but our heroine is kinder and more gracious than I as she says, "You must do nothing of the sort. Let bygones be bygones; you will always be my own daddy, and now let us think of nothing but making merry.” I was a child who felt injustices deeply. I can guarantee that if I had read this when I was younger, I would have been spitting nails. “He tried to KILL you! How can you forgive him so easily?”
Nonetheless, it is an interesting addition to our Cinderella stories.

Image result for salt
Like Good Salt

Once upon a time there was a king, and this king had three daughters. One fine day he took it into his head to call these three daughters, and to ask them, one after another, if they loved him.

He calls the eldest, and he says, "Hark ye, do you love me?"

Says she, "Yes, daddy, I do."
And how much?"

"As much as good bread."

The king thinks and thinks, and then he says, "Yes; when you're hungry bread is a good thing."

Then he calls the middle daughter, and he says to her, "Hark ye, do you love me?"

"Yes, daddy, I do."

"And how much?"

"As much as good wine."

Well, the king thinks and thinks, and then he says, "Yes, yes; wine puts life into a man, therefore it is a good thing."

Then he calls the youngest daughter, and he says, "Hark ye, and do you love me too?"

"Yes, daddy, I do."

"And how much?"

"As much as good salt."

And the king said, "As much as good salt!" And he began to think and think, and, because salt by itself tastes bad, this answer of the youngest daughter did not please him."

The king, having satisfied himself by reflection that to be loved as much as good salt is equivalent to not being loved at all, calls his most faithful servant, and orders him to conduct the youngest princess into some desert place, there to kill her, and to bring back her eyes and her heart in proof of the accomplishment of the deed. The faithful servant receives this remarkable order with the utmost calmness, merely replying, "It shall all be done."

The princess is conducted into a great meadow, and there informed that her father's commands are that she shall be killed, and her eyes and heart carried back to the palace. Whilst she is begging for her life, she perceives a little dog, and exclaims that heaven has sent it to assist her escape. She persuades the faithful servant to kill the dog and carry back its eyes and heart instead of her own.

He consents; and she is left alone in the great meadow, very much at a loss what to do, and crying bitterly. In the midst of her grief and perplexity she meets with an old woman -- a fairy of course -- who gives her a little wand. When she puts the wand into her bosom her form will change to that of an old woman. She is then to proceed in a certain direction until she finds a palace. In this palace, as the fairy happens to know, they are in want of a woman to look after the poultry. The princess is told to ring the bell of the palace and offer herself for the place in her assumed form of an old woman.

All which falls out according to the fairy's directions, and the princess is received as hen-woman into the king's service. There not being room for her to sleep in the palace, she is put to lodge in an outhouse hard by.

One evening, the queen's son, happening to pass that way, hears the old hen-woman in her chamber sobbing and lamenting in a very piteous manner. He waits until she comes out and asks her the cause of her grief. Is she discontented with her master and mistress?

No; on the contrary, the hen-woman is most thankful to them, but she is crying over some private misfortunes of her own. But the next evening the young king goes near the outhouse again and hears the same lamentations. His curiosity is excited. He makes a hole in the wall with a gimlet, and, peeping through it, he beholds no old hen-woman, but a beautiful young lady; for the princess resumes her proper form in her own chamber every night by the simple process of putting down the fairy's little wand which she carries in her bosom all day.

The young king went directly to his mother, and said to her, "Mother, mother, it's no old woman that minds our hens, but the most beautiful girl that eyes ever saw. Come quickly and look, for I have made a hole in the wall, and you can peep through."

With that the queen up and went, and looked through the hole, and saw a beautiful girl, crying bitterly.

Said the queen, "Well, you're right; she is a most beautiful young woman."

The son said, "Mother, I'll have her for my wife."

"Very well, we'll go and ask her."

They waited until the hen-woman came out, and then the queen said to her, "Why are you always crying so, goody? But, indeed, you're not goody, but a beautiful young girl, and I won't have you stay there any longer."

"And if you're content," said the king, "I'll have you for my wife."

"Oh, your majesty," said she; "that's not for the like of me!"

"No matter for that," said the queen. "Come along with us now, and in a fortnight's time you shall be my son's wife."

This arrangement is acceded to by the disguised princess. But she requests as a favour that on the day of her wedding the bridegroom shall invite all the other kings to a banquet; and that, moreover, all the dishes set before one special king, whom she will indicate, shall be dressed entirely without salt, and that the said king shall be seated next to her.

The wedding day came. All the kings who had been invited were there, and among them the king whose dinner was to be served without salt, and he sat next the bride. When the dinner was served, this king began to sup his broth, and found that there was no salt in it, and he gave a great sigh. He looked at the bride who sat beside him, and he kept looking and looking, because she was so exactly like his daughter.

Said she to him, "What's the matter, your royal majesty, that you sigh, and don't eat?"

He gave another sigh, and looked at her, but said nothing. They brought one dish after another, but he only just tasted them, and then left them, because they were all without salt.

The bride began again saying to him, "But whatever is the matter that you keep on sighing so, and eat nothing?"

"I sigh because of something that comes into my head."

"Oh, but eat now, and don't think of anything else!"

Then the king could not hold his peace any longer. The remorse he felt -- the dinner without salt -- the bride who was so like his daughter -- all made his heart so full, that it was ready to burst, and he was obliged to speak.

"If you only knew," said he, "what I have done! One fine morning I took it into my head to call all my daughters and ask them if they loved me. The youngest one said, yes, she did as much as good salt. At the moment it seemed to me that salt was not a good thing; but now I know how good it is, and that we cannot do without it. But at the moment, in a fit of rage, I called my servant, and ordered him to take away my daughter into some desert place, and to kill her, and to bring back her eyes and her heart. And he did it. He took her away, and killed her, and brought me back her eyes and her heart. And when I look at you, I seem to see my daughter, you are so like her."

"Have you that servant still?" said she.

"Yes; I have him still. But it was none of his fault, you know. He only did what I bade him."

"And if I were to say to you that I am your daughter, would you believe me? And that the servant, instead of killing me, killed a little dog, and that, instead of taking out my eyes and my heart, he took out the little dog's, and that he left me to my fate?"

Then the king, when he heard all this, was ready to faint. He was just going to fall down on his knees, and ask his daughter's pardon; but she said, "You must do nothing of the sort. Let bygones be bygones; you will always be my own daddy, and now let us think of nothing but making merry. Only I should like that everything belonging to me at home should be given to that servant, because it was he who saved my life."

The king was so delighted at finding his daughter again, whom he thought was dead, and at being present at her wedding, that he ordered eight days' more feasting at his own expense, and invited all the kings of his acquaintance, and the faithful servant too, and they had a great merry-making, and lived happy ever after.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a tale from Norway and a wooden cloak.

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