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

71. Le Chat Noir [NOTE 49]

Luzel, Contes populaires de Basse-Bretagne. Paris, 1887. Vol. iii, pp. 134-166. (Related by Pierre le Roux, baker in the village of Plouaret. December 1869.)



Ill-treated heroine (by step-mother)--Menial heroine (tends cow)-[Slaying of helpful animal]. Step-mother kills pet cow-- Gold shoes found in cow--Heroine shut up in turret--Prince comes for heroine--Mutilated feet--False bride--Animal witness (pet dog)--False bride returned--Step-mother consults witch; gives black cat to heroine to eat, but she does not die-- Father and heroine resolve to cross sea; step-mother pushes boat off with heroine only--She lands at desert island; bears black cat, which swims to port, and steals provisions for mother from Mr. Rio. On second occasion cat is detected, attacks Mr. Rio; in return for provisions warns him of plot to murder him. Rio counterplots; lover murders his rival instead. Rio accused and led to scaffold. Black cat denounces murderess, who is executed. Heroine to marry Mr. Rio; cat steals dresses for bet; fetches her in boat --Happy marriage--Visit to heroine's kinsfolk--Black cat has combat with witch; vomits fire, and consumes her. Treats step-mother similarly. Bids Mr. Rio cut him open; beautiful prince springs forth, a great magician.


(1) Widower with beautiful and good daughter, Yvonne, marries widow with ugly, disagreeable daughter, Louise. Stepmother slights Yvonne, and clothes her meanly, whilst her own daughter has costly raiment. Yet only heroine gets compliments and attention, so that stepmother resolves to get rid of her.-- (2) Every day she is sent at sunrise to wide moor to tend little black cow, with orders not to return till sundown. She takes little piece of black bread, and little dog Fidèle accompanies her. She pets black cow, calling it "my little golden heart".-- (3) It grows quite fat under her care, and Step-mother , seeing how she loves it, resolves to have it slain. Two little gold shoes are found near its heart. Stepmother seizes them, saying they will do for her daughter on her marriage-day.-- (4) Prince, having heard of the beauty and sweetness of Yvonne, comes to see her. Stepmother dresses her in stepsister's clothes and presents her to prince, who is charmed with her, and would wed her. Wedding day is fixed, and he departs. On appointed day stepmother Substitutes own daughter, and shuts heroine in turret-room.-- (5) Stepsister cannot wear gold shoes found in cow, so they clip her toes and heels. Prince comes in State to fetch bride; is dazzled by the glitter of the diamonds and does not detect the fraud.-- (6) Little dog Fidèle is on the steps when carriage starts, and begins yelping and saying, "Hep-hi! hep-hi! hep-hi! without her, without her, without her!" and, when carriage drives out of the court, he runs after it, saying:

"The ugly, frowning daughter goes,
With clipped heels and clipped toes
Alas! in prison they are keeping
The fair one, weary with her weeping!"

But none heeds. When false bride alights at the church she cannot walk, and cries with pain.-- (7) Prince looks at her, and, full of indignation at imposture, sends her back.-- (8) Mother returns with her, vowing vengeance, and on the way they visit old witch, who promises help. Stepmother is to go home and kill black cat which is in castle, prepare it like jugged hare, and give it to heroine to eat. Next day she will be found dead. Stepmother does as bidden, and, with hypocritical mien, takes dish to heroine, who eats it, and is soon afterwards very ill. In the night she vomits, and next day, when stepmother comes expecting to find her dead, she is looking pale, and says how ill she has been. "The accursed snake" goes, in her disappointment, to tell witch of the plan's failure.-- (9) Witch counsels her to get rid of heroine by simply making life at home unendurable to her and to father. She does so, and father and daughter resolve to cross the sea. They set out secretly by night; stepmother runs after them, telling father he has forgotten his little red book. He returns for it, leaving heroine in the boat; step-mother unties the rope, and boat drifts away with heroine. She lands, after several days, on a little desert island. Wandering, sad and lonely, along the shore, she perceives a little door, which opens when she strikes it, and admits her to little grotto, containing a few necessary utensils, a bed, etc., but no human being. Thinking it a hermitage, she sits down on a stool to await hermit. He comes not, and, being hungry, she wanders along the beach, and finds shell-fish, which she eats raw. She sleeps in grotto, and next day explores the island, finding shell-fish and fruit.-- (10) After three w she begins to feel very ill; thinks it is the shell-fish. She gives birth to a black kitten; is much puzzled; rears it as though it was child. It grows a handsome cat, and speaks to her, bidding her be comforted; she will not always be ashamed of him; he will one day recompense her love. She is to make him a wall for his shoulders; he will fetch her food from nearest town.-- (11) She fears to let hint cross sea alone; he swims like a fish, and lands at a port such as Lannion or Tréguier. Schoolboys chase and throw Stones at cat. He takes refuge in house belonging to Mr. Rio, and begins crying, "Miaou!" Cook goes to drive him away with broom, when he inquires if Mr. Rio is at home. He is not just now; will be, to dinner. Cat has not time to wait, but asks cook to put into his wallet the fowl on the spit, and a good slice of bacon. Cook hesitates; cat helps himself to fowl, bacon, and a bottle of good wine, and putting all into wallet, says good-bye to astonished girl, and departs to his mother on island. Mr. Rio returns, scolds servant, and hears about black cat.-- (12) Provisions being exhausted, cat goes again to Mr. Rio's. Cook calls master down. He is startled to hear cat asking for food, but having loaded gun in his hand, tells cats to be off; or he will shoot. Cat flies at his face till he cries for mercy. Cat releases him, and gives him some advice. Mr. Rio has a rival who is laying a trap for him. His lady-love will give hunting-party, followed by feast. There will not be enough beds; they must sleep two together; he will be with his rival, who will take side next wall. When he sleeps Mr. Rio must change places with him, put out light, and feign sleep. Lady will murder the man on outside. Rio is alarmed, thanks cat, fills his wallet, and bids him return when in want of further provisions.-- (13) He follows cat's advice, and all happens as foretold. When his rival is murdered he tries to escape from windows, but finds them barred, and door is locked. Next morning hostess pretends not to know why Rio and companion do not appear. He is apparently guilty of murder, is bound and cast into dungeon, dragged next day to scaffold, when on a roof he sees black cat, which springs to his side, and bids executioners not strike an innocent man, but look at the guilty; and cat points to Châtelaine in her balcony. She screams and faints; is executed in Rio's stead.-- (14) Cat returns to island; tells mother she must marry Mr. Rio; then goes to Rio, who is greatly distressed to be told he must marry cat's mother. Cat steals fine dress and jewels from a marchioness, and takes boat to island to fetch mother. Mr. Rio is enchanted with her beauty. They are married.-- (15) After festivities cat wants to visit mother's kinsfolk. Father is delighted, and stepmother and stepsister feign joy and hold great feast. 'Witch is invited, but, on recognising black cat under table, she leaves in a trice, feigning illness. Cat jumps on table; stepmother would drive it away. Cat challenges her to turn him out, and says witch must be fetched back.-- (16) Cat and witch engage in single combat in courtyard; guests look on. First they vomit water one against the other; cat wins. Then they have contest with wind, blowing on each other; cat blows witch about like a straw till she cries for mercy. Lastly they vomit fire; cat vomits thrice as much as witch, who is reduced to ashes. Cat says its must recompense stepmother for her treatment of his mother Yvonne, and recalls the ragout of hare. He vomits fire over her till she is reduced to ashes. He pardons stepsister.-- (17) Then cat bids Mr. Rio put him on his back on the table and cut him open. Rio objects, but is persuaded to obey, and when cat is cut open a beautiful prince steps out and says he is the greatest magician that ever lived.



[1]: See Note 49.

Note 49

(P. 307.) The following is a variant of the Breton tale: Gipsy-lore Journal, iii, 204-7 (April, 1892), "Tales in a Tent," by John Sampson:--


King and queen have lovely daughter. Queen dies. An old witch, who lives at palace lodge-house, talks to the king when she comes to do work, and perceives that his daughter gets jealous. She teaches heroine sewing, and makes her come for her lesson before having breakfast. On the way heroine picks and eats a grain of wheat; and, since it is God's grain, witch has no power over her. This she does two mornings. On the third morning she only picks up a bit of orange-peel, and the old "wise woman" (guzberi gorji) bewitches her, and never sends for her again. Witch tells king his daughter is enceinte. She must be burned, according to custom; the iron chair is got ready, and a cart-load of faggots spread round it. Heroine is placed in the chair, and the fire is about to be kindled, when an old gentleman appears ("My ole dubel, to be shuah!") and begs king not to destroy her, but have her placed in an old boat on the moat surrounding park. This is done. In course of time heroine bears little fox, which immediately speaks and proposes going to grandfather's to get food for its mother. She fears dogs will worry it; but fox passes the dogs unnoticed, meets old witch coming out of hall, and asks to see the king. Hearing what little fox wants, king bids cook fill basket with wine and victuals, which fox carries safely to its mother. Three times he fetches her food. The second time old witch begins to suspect. The third time heroine dresses fox in beautiful robe of fine needlework. King asks fox who his mother is, and who made him the robe; and king weeps bitterly, thinking his own dear child is dead. Fox begs him to arrange a party that afternoon at palace, and then he shall hear who made the robe. But fox's mother must be present. King at last agrees. Fox says there must be story-telling and those that can't sing must tell a tale. King must invite as many people as possible, and be sure to bring the old lady who lives at the lodge. So it happens. After the dinner, when it comes to heroine's turn to sing or tell a tale, she says she cannot, but her little fox can. "Turn out that fox," says the witch, "he stinks!" and interrupts again with the same words as the little fox proceeds with his story of all that has befallen the king's daughter, and of the egg and bacon that the witch fried for her, and its effect upon her. And he points out the witch. Afterwards, when walking in the garden, fox takes leave of his mother, strips off his skin, and flies away in the form of a beautiful white angel. The witch is burned in the iron chair that was meant for the king's daughter.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: 71. Le Chat Noir [NOTE 49]
Tale Author/Editor: Luzel, François-Marie
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: France
Classification: ATU 510A: Cinderella

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