This week brings the return of my Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales book that I’m dipping in and out of every now and then. The story this week is the Scottish version of Cinderella.
It centres around a king who wasn’t very rich. He was cunning though. He decided to marry his one daughter to the richest man in the Kingdom. She didn’t want to marry him as he was known for not being kind. Her father insisted that she would marry the richest man. He said he was the King and she must do as he said.
The girl knew that she would have to think of a reason to stop her father making her marry. She went to the hen-wife who lived on the hill and asked what she could do. The hen-wife said that a bride-to-be could ask for three gifts from the man she is to marry. She suggested that the girl should ask for a gift that he couldn’t get her. The girl decided that she would ask for a golden gown. She said that no-one could make a dress from gold.
The King found out her demand and went to the rich man. The rich man really wanted to marry the princess because he wanted to become a prince. He called his wisest men and dressmakers. Together they found a way to make cloth from gold and made a golden dress for the king’s daughter.
Once again, the girl went to the hen-wife. The hen-wife told her to ask for something else that she couldn’t possibly get from the rich man. She asked for a pair of shoes from the feathers of a wild bird. Again, the King passed on her wish and the rich man (who was desperate to have servants to be mean to) managed to gather his wisest men and shoemakers together. They plucked feathers from wild birds that he caught in nets. When the King’s daughter heard the noise of the trapped birds, she let them go free. However, the man had enough feathers to make the shoes.
Again, the girl went to the hen-wife who suggested that she asked for a third gift. She told her that if the man produced this gift, she would have to marry him. The girl asked for a coat that was made from the rashies (rushes) that grew by the river. She said that she would wear it on her wedding day. She said that the rich man was so proud that he wouldn’t want his bride to wear such a cheap coat on her wedding day. The King went to the rich man again. The rich man was getting a bit fed up of the head strong girl, but he wanted to marry her still, so he could get rid of the King, ruling over everyone including his wife. So he called his wisest men and his weavers together. Soon enough, they had made a rashie coat.
The King’s daughter knew that it was time to marry the rich man. He told his daughter that she had to wear her gown of gold under her rashie coat and as soon as they were married, he would burn it. Everyone would see her beautiful golden gown. She had to obey him as he was her husband. The daughter was distraught. She didn’t want to marry this horrible man. She ran to the next kingdom (with her three gifts with her) and asked for work in the kitchens in exchange for boarding. The cook took pity on her and said she could scrub the pots and pans every night and that is where she had to sleep.
This became the King’s daughter’s job. At night, she would lay down on the golden gown and use her shoes as a pillow. Her rashie coat would be her blanket. One day the cook went to church. He told her to stay and watch the porridge so it didn’t burn. The King’s daughter was desperate to go to church too but wondered how she could go when the porridge would burn and that would lead her to being sent away.
At that moment, a lady dressed in green appeared. She was one of Wee Folk. The lady told her to go to the church and she would stir the porridge for her. The King’s daughter’s clothes were so stained that she slipped into her golden gown and ran off happily. The King of his second kingdom was at the church with his young, handsome son, the prince. He spied the King’s daughter coming in and was dazzled by her gown and pretty appearance. He asked who the girl was and no-one knew… When the service had ended, he looked around for the girl but she had gone. She had went back to the kitchen, so the cook never knew she had gone.
The next Sunday came, the girl wanted to go to the church again and the lady of the Wee Folk returned, offering to stir the porridge once more. It was a little cold again so the girl wore the bird-feather shoes. The prince spotted her shoes. He thought they were unusual just like her. Again, the girl disappeared by the end of the service. The prince vowed that he would wait by the door on the next Sunday to stop the girl before she disappeared.
The next Sunday was even colder, so when the lady of the Wee Folk returned, the girl put on her rashie coat as well. As the girl entered the church, the prince could still see her beauty even though she was wearing a plain coat made of river rushes. He realised he had fallen in love with her. As soon as the girl left the church, he ran after her. The girl assumed it was a man from her old kingdom. She kept running. After a trip, the girl had left one of her shoes behind. The prince picked it up and promised himself he would find his girl.
He went through all the Kingdom asking the girls to try on the shoe. The prince was unsuccessful. The hen-wife who lived on the hill heard of the search and realised what was happening. She said that she had her own daughter who she wanted to try on the shoe. However, the hen-wife’s daughter’s foot was too big to fit into the shoe. The hen-wife pushed her daughter’s toes into the shoe but they wouldn’t fit. The pageboy tried to insist they were too long for the shoes so…THE HEN-WIFE CHOPPED HER DAUGHTER’S TOES OFF! She then cut into her daughter’s heels too. Finally, the daughter’s foot fit into the shoe. Then hen-wife then coloured her daughter’s hair and made up her face to look like the King’s daughter. The prince believed that this was the girl of his dreams and they set off on his horse through the woods.
Wild birds flew over head that had heard about what had happened to her feet. They insisted that the prince had the wrong girl. The prince listened and asked the girl what had happened. The girl admitted it and the prince took off her shoe to check. He turned back and set off for the kitchen, looking for a girl behind a cauldron like the wild birds have said. The prince found Rashie Coat. She fell in love with him and they married for love. She wore her golden gown, bird-feather shoes and her rashie coat.
Next Fairy Tale/Folk Tale- The Empty Barn