Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated UNDER CONSTRUCTION | Annotated Tale

18. Gatta Cenerentola, La [NOTES 10 & 11]

Basile, Der Pentamerone, oder Das Märchen aller Märchen, von Giambattista Basile. Aus dem Neapolitanischen ubertragen von Felix Liebrecht. Breslau, 1846. 1st Day, 6th Tale, vol. i, pp. 78-89.



Governess counsels heroine to murder unkind step-mother and to persuade father to marry her--Ill-treated heroine (by governess step-mother)--Fairy Dove aid--Hearth abode--Gifts chosen from father. Heroine bids him ask fairy dove on island of Sardinia to send her something. Ship will not move because he forgets this. Captain dreams reason why. Fairy dove sends heroine gold palm branch (which she plants), gold flower pot, gold spade, silk kerchief -- Magic dresses -- Meeting-place (festival) -- Three-fold flight--Gold and jewels thrown to pursuers--Lost shoe--Shoe test, after banquet to which all are invited: unsuccessful. Second shoe test: Heroine is present--Happy marriage.


(1) Prince loses his wife, and engages governess for dearly-loved daughter, who is kindly treated by her. Father marries again, and his shrew of a wife frightens daughter, who often complains of this to governess, saying, "Would that you were my mother." At length governess says, "Follow my advice, and you shall have me for your mother; and I will love you as tire apple of my eye." Heroine, who is called Lucrezia, replies, "Only show me how this is to be brought about." Governess says, when her father is out, she is to go to mother, and say she wants to get an old gown out of chest in back room, so as to save the one she is wearing. Mother will delight to see her in rags and tatters, and will willingly open the chest, and say "Hold the lid." Then, whilst she is searching about inside, heroine must bang the lid down, and break her neck. [1] When this is done, she must coax her father, who would do anything in the world for her, into marrying governess.-- (2) All is carried out as planned, and, after some persuading, father consents to marry governess (whose name is Carmosina), and arranges grand wedding. Whilst all the young people are at the dance, and heroine is standing on the balcony, a little dove flies on to the wall, and says, "If ever you want anything, only let the fairy dove on the island of Sardinia know, and your wish will be granted." For five or six days the new stepmother loads heroine with caresses, and gives her the best of everything. Then she forgets the gratitude she owes her, and introduces her own daughters, whom hitherto she has kept in hiding; and works upon father till he lets them usurp the place of heroine, who is made to exchange the state-rooms for the kitchen, the throne-seat for the hearth, silk and gold robes for scrubbing-apron, and the sceptre for the spit. Moreover, instead of Lucrezia, she is now called Hearth-Cat. -- (3) it ha that father has to voyage to Sardinia on state affairs, and he asks his stepdaughters (who are called Imperia, Calamita, Sciorella, Diamante, Colommina, and Cascarella) what present he shall bring for each. 'They choose costly garments, jewels, games, and this and that. Mockingly he asks heroine what she would like. "Only for you to greet the fairy dove from me, and ask her to send me something. And, if you forget this, you will not be able to move from the spot." Prince departs, settles his affairs in Sardinia, and buys all the gifts, but quite forgets heroine's request. He embarks for return voyage, but the ship cannot be made to move from the harbour; it is as though a sucking-fish held it. [2]-- (4) At last, the captain, at his wits' end, takes some sleep. A fairy appears to him in his dream, and says the ship will not move because a prince on board has broken his promise to his own flesh and blood, though remembering others. Captain wakes, and tells prince, who at once repairs to fairy grotto, and gives his daughter's message to the lovely lady who meets him. She gives him for heroine a palm-branch, a hoe, and a bucket, all of gold, also a silk kerchief.-- (5) Prince now returns, and gives gifts. Heroine is delighted with hers, and plants the palm-branch in a beautiful flower-pot, hoes it round and waters it, and then dries it night and morning with the silk kerchief. In four days it has grown to the height of a woman, and a fairy steps out of it, and asks heroine what she would like. Heroine replies she would like to be able to go out without her sisters knowing. Fairy says whenever she wishes this, she must go to flower-pot, and say,

"O palm-tree, thou best gift of gold,
With golden spade I dig thy mould,
And wash thee with my bucket of gold,
And dry thee with kerchief's silken fold.
Despoil thyself, I beg of thee,
And deck me out in finery."

And when she wishes to be undressed again, she must change last verse, and say,

"Despoil me now, I beg of thee,
And deck thyself in finery."

-- (6) Soon after this, when alt the stepsisters had gone, all bedecked and bedizened, to a festival, heroine runs to flower-pot, says the magic words, and finds herself suddenly adorned like a queen, and sitting on a palfrey, attended by twelve pages. She goes where stepsisters are, and they are most envious of her beauty. The king of the country falls in love with her, and bids his trusty servant find out all he can about her. Servant follows her on foot, and heroine throws behind her a handful of gold coin received for this purpose from palm-tree. Servant lights his lamp to search for the money, and, meanwhile, heroine gets home and returns dress to tree, as fairy bade her. Stepsisters try to make her envious by telling all the lovely things they have seen. King scolds servant for losing sight of heroine, and bids him do his utmost next night to find out who she is, and where she lives. -- (7) Next night stepsisters go to festival, and heroine speaks magic words to palm-tree. Out come a number of waiting-maids, bearing mirror, washes, curling- irons, cosmetics, comb, pins, clothes, and jewels ; and, having dressed heroine, and made her shine like the sun, they put her in a coach-and-six, with lackeys and pages. She goes to the festival, and stepsisters are still more astonished, and the king still more enamoured. When she leaves, and king's servant follows, she throws out handfuls of pearls and jewels, and again he stops to pick them up. King is very angry with him, and gives him a sound thrashing and kicking.-- (8) At third festival heroine appears in still greater splendour. King sends servant to follow, and heroine, perceiving this, tells coachman to drive faster. Away goes the car at such speed that her shoe flies out. Servant cannot follow, but picks up shoe and takes it to king, who thinks this at least better than nothing.-- (9) He calls his secretary to bid trumpeter proclaim that all the ladies in the land are invited to a grand banquet on a certain day. Numbers arrive, rich and poor, young and old, pretty and plain, and king tries the shoe on everyone, but it will fit nobody. He commands silence, then invites them all to supper on the morrow, enjoining on each to leave no woman whatever at home, no matter who she is. Father of heroine tells prince that he has another daughter at home, but she spends her days on the hearth, and is not fit to sit at a king's table. King says, she, above all others, is to come.-- (10) Next day heroine comes with stepsisters, and the moment king sees her he recognises her, though he says nothing at first. After supper, the shoe is again tested, and it bounds towards heroine's foot like iron to the magnet. King rushes up and embraces her, leads her to the throne, and sets crown on her head. All present make obeisance to her. Stepsisters are so envious that they cannot bear to look on, and slip quietly home.


1: See Note 10.

Note 10

Gregory of Tours (sixth century) gives a story of Fredegonde, the wife of Chilperic, who tries to kill their daughter Rigonthe by shutting a coffer on her head, having pretended to give her treasures out of it. Servants come to her cries, and she is saved. In the Edda, Weyland kills the two sons of Nidad in the same way. In the Icelandic story of "Surtla in Blueland Isles", the stepmother induces the two children to lean over the edge of the chest to see what glitters inside, and then tumbles them into it, and shuts down the lid (Arnason, p. 320).

Compare Gonzenbach, No. 32; Grimm's "Juniper-Tree", No. 47; Hahn's "Schneewittchen", No. 103; Zingerle, No. 12.

2: See Note 11.

Note 11

(P. 160.) The master cannot cross the stream till he remembers to fulfil the kitchen-maid's wish, in "La Schiavottella" (Pent., 2nd Day, 8th Tale).

 See also Nos. 6 (horse will not stir), 23, 295, of this collection.


The choice of gifts occurs in the following stories: 3, 6, 19, 23, 37, 46 (not from father), 51, 55, 62, 74, 88, 125, 224, 244, 268, 295, 310. See also Asbjornsen, Fjeld, p. 353; Busk, F.-L. R. pp. 46, 57, 63, 115; Comparetti, No. 64; Cosquin, ii, 215; Coelho, No. 29; Gonzenbach, No. 9; Gradi, Saggio, p. 189; Grimm, No. 88, and ii, 378; Gubernatis, Z. M., ii, 381; Pitré, No. 39; Schmidt, No. 10; Schneller, No. 25; Stokes, No.25, pp. 195, 292; Toppen, p. 142; Visentini, No. 24; Webster, p. 167; Zingerle, ii, 391 and in other stories of "Beauty and the Beast" type.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: 18. Gatta Cenerentola, La [NOTES 10 & 11]
Tale Author/Editor: Basile, Giambattista
Book Title: Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Book Author/Editor: Cox, Marian Roalfe
Publisher: David Nutt for the Folklore Society
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1893
Country of Origin: Italy
Classification: ATU 510A: Cinderella

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