Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Two Princesses: An Unhappy Cinderella Variant

"A king has two daughters. The elder is wicked and ugly while the younger is beautiful and good. The elder daughter is beloved and lives with the king in the most gorgeous rooms of the palace. The heroine lives with the servants and shares their work.

A neighboring king arranges a festival to last several days. The elder daughter attends it with the father. The heroine is left in the kitchen. She sits crying in the twilight in her small room. Suddenly, a strange little man appears and offers to fulfill a wish for her. The heroine wishes to see the ball where the father and the sister are. She may go, she is told, on the condition that she returns before midnight.

The man vanishes, and the heroine stands in costly dress, wearing heavy gold chains and a crown of diamonds. At her door is a magnificent coach with four snow-white horses whose golden manes reach the ground. The heroine enters the coach and soon finds herself at the palace, admired by all, and unrecognized by her father and sister. As twelve o'clock strikes, she mounts the coach and is soon back in her shabby clothes in her dark room.

The next day the father and sister talk incessantly of the fair, unknown princess. In the evening they go to the festival, leaving the heroine hard at work. Seeing a red glare in the sky from the illuminated palace, the heroine longs to go. Immediately she is beautifully and magnificently dressed. This time her horses are yellow with jet-black plaited manes. At the ball she is admired and courted beyond measure. As the clock strikes midnight, she leaves in the midst of a dance.

On the third evening, a heavy gale blows. She wears a triple crown of sparkling diamonds. Her coach is drawn by eight flame-coloured horses with manes like shining gold. Everyone wants to dance with her. She stays beyond her given time and leaves in her black working dress, only to find outside, instead of a coach, an old wheelbarrow drawn by four small mice. She weeps bitterly over her forgetfulness and in the future passes her days as a common servant in her father's kitchen."

*Danish fairy tale, found in Surlalune's Cinderella Tales From Around the World
*Illustrations by Errol le Cain

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