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

24. Vaccarella

Busk, R. H., Folk-lore of Rome. London, 1874. Pp. 31-37. No. V.



Widow seeks marriage with father of heroine, whom she instructs with own daughter--Ill-treated heroine--Menial heroine (called "Maria") tends cow (called " Vaccarella")--Tasks, (1) spinning, (2) weaving, (3) shirt -- Task-performing a (cow) assumes form of woman to make shirt--Spy on heroine--Slaying of helpful animal--Golden ball under heart of helpful animal gives magic help--Magic dresses--Meeting-place (church)--Three-fold flight--Lost shoe--Heroine made to clean barrel: step-sister takes her place inside barrel--Shoe marriage test--Happy marriage--Step-sister scalded to death by mistake. Step-mother sets up corpse on stairs as though living: father throws wood at it. Villain Nemesis--Father takes infant daughter and deserts wife.


(1) Widower and widow have each one little girl. Man sends his child to be taught with widow's child. Widow sends message every evening, saying, "Why doesn't your father marry me?" Father does not want, to, but yields at last, widow solemnly promising to treat his daughter Maria as tenderly as her own. [1]-- (2) Before many months Maria treated with every kind of harshness; stepmother sends her to campagna to tend cow, has to litter its stall freshly every day and take it to graze; though work is hard she gets so fond of cow that she finds pleasure in tending it.-- (3) Stepmother sees this, and to vex her gives her a lot of hemp to spin; Maria urges that she has never been taught; stepmother threatens punishment if she does not bring it home that night properly spun. Maria goes to campagna, complains to cow. Cow is enchanted cow, and says, "Throw it on to the horns of me and go along get grass for me." Maria obeys; when she comes back finds heap of hemp beautifully spun.-- (4) Next day stepmother gives quantity of spun hemp to be woven into a piece of cloth. Maria complains to cow as before, cow answers as before, when Maria comes with grass she finds all her work clone.-- (5) Stepmother conceals herself next day, having given Maria shirt to make up. When Maria has given piece of stuff to cow and gone for grass, stepmother sees cow turn into woman and sit down and stitch away, till very shortly shirt is made, when woman immediately becomes cow again.-- (6) Stepmother tells Maria she is going to kill cow. Maria runs to warn cow, who says there is no need for her to escape, as killing will not hurt her; but Maria is to put her hand under cow's heart, when killed, where she will find golden ball; she is to take it, and whenever she is tired of present state of life she is to say to it on some fitting occasion, "Golden ball, golden ball, dress me in gold and give me a lover." Stepmother comes with a man, who slaughters cow at her order. Maria finds ball and hides it away carefully.-- (7) Shortly there is a novena (a short service held for nine days before a great festival in preparation for it). Stepmother dares not keep Maria at home, for fear neighbour should cry "shame". Maria goes to church, slips away in the crowd, speaks to ball, which opens and envelopes her in beautiful clothing like a princess. Prince sees her, sends servants for her after prayers; she has restored raiment to ball and passes on undiscovered in her sordid attire.-- (8) Every day this happens till last day of novena; prince's attendants use extra diligence; in the hurry Maria drops slipper, prince's servants seize it, Maria disputes possession of it, but they retain it.-- (9) Stepmother hates Maria more than ever, deter mines to rid herself of her, sends her to cellar to clean out large barrel, tells her o get in and scrape it out before they scald it. Maria does so, stepmother goes to boil water.-- (10) Prince's men had taken slipper to him, he sends officer round to every house to proclaim that the maiden whom the slipper shall fit shall be his bride, but it fits nobody, for it is under a spell. Step mother's own daughter goes clown to help Maria, is inside barrel and Maria outside when officer comes; he tries slipper on Maria without asking leave, it fits perfectly, he carries her off in carriage to prince.-- (11) Stepmother conies back with servants, each carrying can of boiling water, they stand round barrel and empty their charge into it; so stepmother's daughter is scalded to death. After a time she discovers what she has done, is greatly dismayed.-- (12) To conceal murder, dresses body in dry clothes and sets it at top of stairs; husband comes home with ass-load of wood, calls stepdaughter to come and help him; she never stirs; at last he throws piece of wood at her, body falls downstairs he sees deception.-- (13) Asks, "Where's Maria?" "Nobody knows, she has disappeared," replies stepmother. He finds she is not in the house, goes away next day with his little daughter, born since his marriage with Maria's stepmother. As he starts sees Maria go by in a gilded coach with prince.


[1]: See Note 15.

Note 15

(P. 178.) Miss Busk refers to another stepmother story. Widower has boy and girl: their teacher insists on marrying him. She turns children out; boy is made slave of a witch, and comes at last out of many adventures. Girl gets taken into brigand's cave, and goes through adventures, one of which being that the witch gives her the appearance of death, and shuts her up in a box. Hunting prince finds her and the means of restoring her, and marries her.

The wonder-working cow may find its prototype in Sabala, the heavenly cow of the Ramayana (see Sagas of the Far East, pp. 402-3; Busk, F.-L. R., p. 38).

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: 24. Vaccarella
Tale Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
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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