Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.
This week we look at a tale from Lithuania. It is most unusual in that it doesn’t end with a marriage but a reunion.
This tale was collected by German linguist August Schleicher who was a scholar of the Oriental languages especially Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit and Persian. According to Wikipedia, he invented a system of language classification that resembled a botanical taxonomy, tracing groups of related languages and arranging them in a genealogical tree.
This story appeared in Litauische Märchen, Sprichworte, Rätsel und Lieder (Lithuanian Fairy Tales , Proverbs , Riddles and Songs) in 1857.
It begins as we expect, her mother was exceptionally beautiful with stars on her forehead, the sun on top of her head, and the moon on the back of her head and dies early on in the story. Her daughter shares her strange celestial markings and so her father desires to marry her. There is no threat of sexual violence from the father, but when she escapes, she is nearly raped by the ferryman who throws her overboard when she will not give up her virtue. There is magic in her life, but no discernible magical helper unless you count God. The cliffs open at her request and provide her shelter and place to store her fancy dresses.
Interestingly enough, the story says she obtains a job on an estate as a “Cinderella.” Even more interesting is the fact that her long lost brother is also working on this estate as the secretary. He does not recognise her in this disguise and treats her as a lowly servant and abuses her when she attempts to show him kindness or get him to notice her. Only when he sees her in her fine dress at church does he recognise her and I was afraid it would say that he fell in love with her, because in all the other tales whoever sees her in her fine dress out and about ends up marrying her. I had a fleeting fear that it was not the father who wishes to defile her, but the brother. The tale simply ends that he recognised her, and they went off together and no one knew where they went.
The Beautiful Princess source
Once upon a time there was a king who had a beautiful wife. She had stars on her forehead, the sun on top of her head, and the moon on the back of her head, but she soon died.
The king had a daughter who was just as beautiful as his wife. He travelled far and wide to seek another wife but found no one as beautiful as his first wife had been. Therefore he decided to marry his own daughter, but she did not want to marry him.
She was not able to change his mind, so she told him to buy for her a louse-coat (a coat lined with louse pelts), a silver dress, a diamond ring, and golden shoes.
The king had an old kinswoman. The evening before the wedding the princess asked her what she should do. The old woman advised her to pack her things and run away, so that night she left. The next morning the king looked for his girl but could not find her.
He asked everyone, "Haven't you seen her? Haven't you seen my bride?" But no one could give him any information.
When the princess ran away, she came to a river. She boarded a boat, but the ferryman did not want to transport her. He said, "If you will not promise to give yourself to me, I will drown you here and now."
She refused him, and he threw her overboard, but she jumped to the water's edge. She continued onward, without knowing where she was going.
Then she came to some cliffs, and said, "Oh, dear God, if only there were a room here!"
Then the cliffs did indeed open into a room, and she went inside. Everything there was just what she had wished for.
She soon went out, leaving her beautiful clothes in the room, and it turned back into a cliff, just as before. She went to an estate where she found a position as a Cinderella.
Her brother was there as well. He too had left their father and was employed in the estate as a secretary. He had a servant, and whenever he told his servant to bring him water or his boots, Cinderella ran and brought them to him. And every time she did this, he would throw them at her.
She asked her mistress for permission to return home now and then. But instead of going home she went back to the cliffs, and whenever she approached them, they again opened up into a room, and then she would put on her beautiful clothes. Then every time a coach would drive up and take her to church.
The secretary was also at church, and he saw the beautiful girl. Therefore he went to church the next Sunday, and the girl was there as well.
Her mistress had told her that she had to return before the secretary did. However, one day she was late, and she did not have time to take off her beautiful clothes. Instead she put on her everyday clothes over the beautiful ones.
The secretary told his servant to have her come and delouse him.
She did not want to do this, and said, "You have never needed me to do that before, and you don't need me to do it now."
But after the servant had called her a second and a third time, she had to go. While she was looking through his hair, he was examining her clothing, coming finally to the coat. Then he raised his head from her knees, ripped the scarf from her head, and immediately recognised her as his sister.
Then they left the estate, and no one knows where they went.
That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for the tale of a She-Bear.