Ashputtel





The wife of a rich man fell sick; and when she felt that her end drew

nigh, she called her only daughter to her bed-side, and said, 'Always be

a good girl, and I will look down from heaven and watch over you.' Soon

afterwards she shut her eyes and died, and was buried in the garden;

and the little girl went every day to her grave and wept, and was always

good and kind to all about her. And the snow fell and spread a beautiful

white covering over the grave; but by the time the spring came, and the

sun had melted it away again, her father had married another wife. This

new wife had two daughters of her own, that she brought home with her;

they were fair in face but foul at heart, and it was now a sorry time

for the poor little girl. 'What does the good-for-nothing want in the

parlour?' said they; 'they who would eat bread should first earn it;

away with the kitchen-maid!' Then they took away her fine clothes, and

gave her an old grey frock to put on, and laughed at her, and turned her

into the kitchen.



There she was forced to do hard work; to rise early before daylight, to

bring the water, to make the fire, to cook and to wash. Besides that,

the sisters plagued her in all sorts of ways, and laughed at her. In the

evening when she was tired, she had no bed to lie down on, but was made

to lie by the hearth among the ashes; and as this, of course, made her

always dusty and dirty, they called her Ashputtel.



It happened once that the father was going to the fair, and asked his

wife's daughters what he should bring them. 'Fine clothes,' said the

first; 'Pearls and diamonds,' cried the second. 'Now, child,' said he

to his own daughter, 'what will you have?' 'The first twig, dear

father, that brushes against your hat when you turn your face to come

homewards,' said she. Then he bought for the first two the fine clothes

and pearls and diamonds they had asked for: and on his way home, as he

rode through a green copse, a hazel twig brushed against him, and almost

pushed off his hat: so he broke it off and brought it away; and when he

got home he gave it to his daughter. Then she took it, and went to

her mother's grave and planted it there; and cried so much that it was

watered with her tears; and there it grew and became a fine tree. Three

times every day she went to it and cried; and soon a little bird came

and built its nest upon the tree, and talked with her, and watched over

her, and brought her whatever she wished for.



Now it happened that the king of that land held a feast, which was to

last three days; and out of those who came to it his son was to choose

a bride for himself. Ashputtel's two sisters were asked to come; so they

called her up, and said, 'Now, comb our hair, brush our shoes, and tie

our sashes for us, for we are going to dance at the king's feast.'

Then she did as she was told; but when all was done she could not help

crying, for she thought to herself, she should so have liked to have

gone with them to the ball; and at last she begged her mother very hard

to let her go. 'You, Ashputtel!' said she; 'you who have nothing to

wear, no clothes at all, and who cannot even dance--you want to go to

the ball? And when she kept on begging, she said at last, to get rid of

her, 'I will throw this dishful of peas into the ash-heap, and if in

two hours' time you have picked them all out, you shall go to the feast

too.'



Then she threw the peas down among the ashes, but the little maiden ran

out at the back door into the garden, and cried out:



'Hither, hither, through the sky,

Turtle-doves and linnets, fly!

Blackbird, thrush, and chaffinch gay,

Hither, hither, haste away!

One and all come help me, quick!

Haste ye, haste ye!--pick, pick, pick!'



Then first came two white doves, flying in at the kitchen window; next

came two turtle-doves; and after them came all the little birds under

heaven, chirping and fluttering in: and they flew down into the ashes.

And the little doves stooped their heads down and set to work, pick,

pick, pick; and then the others began to pick, pick, pick: and among

them all they soon picked out all the good grain, and put it into a dish

but left the ashes. Long before the end of the hour the work was quite

done, and all flew out again at the windows.



Then Ashputtel brought the dish to her mother, overjoyed at the thought

that now she should go to the ball. But the mother said, 'No, no! you

slut, you have no clothes, and cannot dance; you shall not go.' And when

Ashputtel begged very hard to go, she said, 'If you can in one hour's

time pick two of those dishes of peas out of the ashes, you shall go

too.' And thus she thought she should at least get rid of her. So she

shook two dishes of peas into the ashes.



But the little maiden went out into the garden at the back of the house,

and cried out as before:



'Hither, hither, through the sky,

Turtle-doves and linnets, fly!

Blackbird, thrush, and chaffinch gay,

Hither, hither, haste away!

One and all come help me, quick!

Haste ye, haste ye!--pick, pick, pick!'



Then first came two white doves in at the kitchen window; next came two

turtle-doves; and after them came all the little birds under heaven,

chirping and hopping about. And they flew down into the ashes; and the

little doves put their heads down and set to work, pick, pick, pick; and

then the others began pick, pick, pick; and they put all the good grain

into the dishes, and left all the ashes. Before half an hour's time all

was done, and out they flew again. And then Ashputtel took the dishes to

her mother, rejoicing to think that she should now go to the ball.

But her mother said, 'It is all of no use, you cannot go; you have no

clothes, and cannot dance, and you would only put us to shame': and off

she went with her two daughters to the ball.



Now when all were gone, and nobody left at home, Ashputtel went

sorrowfully and sat down under the hazel-tree, and cried out:



'Shake, shake, hazel-tree,

Gold and silver over me!'



Then her friend the bird flew out of the tree, and brought a gold and

silver dress for her, and slippers of spangled silk; and she put them

on, and followed her sisters to the feast. But they did not know her,

and thought it must be some strange princess, she looked so fine and

beautiful in her rich clothes; and they never once thought of Ashputtel,

taking it for granted that she was safe at home in the dirt.



The king's son soon came up to her, and took her by the hand and danced

with her, and no one else: and he never left her hand; but when anyone



else came to ask her to dance, he said, 'This lady is dancing with me.'



Thus they danced till a late hour of the night; and then she wanted to

go home: and the king's son said, 'I shall go and take care of you to

your home'; for he wanted to see where the beautiful maiden lived. But

she slipped away from him, unawares, and ran off towards home; and as

the prince followed her, she jumped up into the pigeon-house and shut

the door. Then he waited till her father came home, and told him that

the unknown maiden, who had been at the feast, had hid herself in the

pigeon-house. But when they had broken open the door they found no one

within; and as they came back into the house, Ashputtel was lying, as

she always did, in her dirty frock by the ashes, and her dim little

lamp was burning in the chimney. For she had run as quickly as she could

through the pigeon-house and on to the hazel-tree, and had there taken

off her beautiful clothes, and put them beneath the tree, that the bird

might carry them away, and had lain down again amid the ashes in her

little grey frock.



The next day when the feast was again held, and her father, mother, and

sisters were gone, Ashputtel went to the hazel-tree, and said:



'Shake, shake, hazel-tree,

Gold and silver over me!'



And the bird came and brought a still finer dress than the one she

had worn the day before. And when she came in it to the ball, everyone

wondered at her beauty: but the king's son, who was waiting for her,

took her by the hand, and danced with her; and when anyone asked her to

dance, he said as before, 'This lady is dancing with me.'



When night came she wanted to go home; and the king's son followed here

as before, that he might see into what house she went: but she sprang

away from him all at once into the garden behind her father's house.

In this garden stood a fine large pear-tree full of ripe fruit; and

Ashputtel, not knowing where to hide herself, jumped up into it without

being seen. Then the king's son lost sight of her, and could not find

out where she was gone, but waited till her father came home, and said

to him, 'The unknown lady who danced with me has slipped away, and I

think she must have sprung into the pear-tree.' The father thought to

himself, 'Can it be Ashputtel?' So he had an axe brought; and they cut

down the tree, but found no one upon it. And when they came back into

the kitchen, there lay Ashputtel among the ashes; for she had slipped

down on the other side of the tree, and carried her beautiful clothes

back to the bird at the hazel-tree, and then put on her little grey

frock.



The third day, when her father and mother and sisters were gone, she

went again into the garden, and said:



'Shake, shake, hazel-tree,

Gold and silver over me!'



Then her kind friend the bird brought a dress still finer than the

former one, and slippers which were all of gold: so that when she came

to the feast no one knew what to say, for wonder at her beauty: and the

king's son danced with nobody but her; and when anyone else asked her to

dance, he said, 'This lady is my partner, sir.'



When night came she wanted to go home; and the king's son would go with

her, and said to himself, 'I will not lose her this time'; but, however,

she again slipped away from him, though in such a hurry that she dropped

her left golden slipper upon the stairs.



The prince took the shoe, and went the next day to the king his father,

and said, 'I will take for my wife the lady that this golden slipper

fits.' Then both the sisters were overjoyed to hear it; for they

had beautiful feet, and had no doubt that they could wear the golden

slipper. The eldest went first into the room where the slipper was, and

wanted to try it on, and the mother stood by. But her great toe could

not go into it, and the shoe was altogether much too small for her. Then

the mother gave her a knife, and said, 'Never mind, cut it off; when you

are queen you will not care about toes; you will not want to walk.' So

the silly girl cut off her great toe, and thus squeezed on the shoe,

and went to the king's son. Then he took her for his bride, and set her

beside him on his horse, and rode away with her homewards.



But on their way home they had to pass by the hazel-tree that Ashputtel

had planted; and on the branch sat a little dove singing:



'Back again! back again! look to the shoe!

The shoe is too small, and not made for you!

Prince! prince! look again for thy bride,

For she's not the true one that sits by thy side.'



Then the prince got down and looked at her foot; and he saw, by the

blood that streamed from it, what a trick she had played him. So he

turned his horse round, and brought the false bride back to her home,

and said, 'This is not the right bride; let the other sister try and put

on the slipper.' Then she went into the room and got her foot into the

shoe, all but the heel, which was too large. But her mother squeezed it

in till the blood came, and took her to the king's son: and he set her

as his bride by his side on his horse, and rode away with her.



But when they came to the hazel-tree the little dove sat there still,

and sang:



'Back again! back again! look to the shoe!

The shoe is too small, and not made for you!

Prince! prince! look again for thy bride,

For she's not the true one that sits by thy side.'



Then he looked down, and saw that the blood streamed so much from the

shoe, that her white stockings were quite red. So he turned his horse

and brought her also back again. 'This is not the true bride,' said he

to the father; 'have you no other daughters?' 'No,' said he; 'there is

only a little dirty Ashputtel here, the child of my first wife; I am

sure she cannot be the bride.' The prince told him to send her. But the

mother said, 'No, no, she is much too dirty; she will not dare to show

herself.' However, the prince would have her come; and she first washed

her face and hands, and then went in and curtsied to him, and he reached

her the golden slipper. Then she took her clumsy shoe off her left foot,

and put on the golden slipper; and it fitted her as if it had been made

for her. And when he drew near and looked at her face he knew her, and

said, 'This is the right bride.' But the mother and both the sisters

were frightened, and turned pale with anger as he took Ashputtel on his

horse, and rode away with her. And when they came to the hazel-tree, the

white dove sang:



'Home! home! look at the shoe!

Princess! the shoe was made for you!

Prince! prince! take home thy bride,

For she is the true one that sits by thy side!'



And when the dove had done its song, it came flying, and perched upon

her right shoulder, and so went home with her.





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