Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thursday's Tale: The Wonderful Birch

Ok this tale was a wee bit...well messed up. This story is a Cinderella variant and you find a lot of similarities to the tale that we know. And then there are some really wacky things. This one was in Andrew Lang's The Red Fairy Book.

I don't even know how to summarize this tale as it is rather long. But basically a woman is turned into a sheep by a witch. The witch takes on the form of the woman. The witch has a daughter with the peasant woman's husband. The peasant woman had already had a daughter. The witch treats her daughter better than she treats her stepdaughter. The witch has the husband kill his wife who is in sheep form. Before the sheep is killed she warns her daughter not to eat any of her meat and to bury her bones. A birch tree grows where her bones were buried.

One day the prince holds a festival. The witch tries to keep her stepdaughter from going by throwing barley corns in the ashes. But the stepdaughter uses a branch from the birch tree and goes to the festival where the prince falls in love with her. At one point the witches daughter is gnawing on bones under the table and the prince kicks her thinking she is a dog. Her arm breaks. When the stepdaughter goes to leave her ring is left on the latch of the door because the prince has smeared it with tar.

Basically after that the stepmother twice more tries to keep her away from the prince. She throws milk and she throws hemp seed among the cinders but the stepdaughter used birch branch both times. She also gets her circlet and her golden slipper stuck in tar left by the prince. The witches daughter is again kicked twice more. Once breaking her leg the other time knocking her eye out.

Like in the regular Cinderella story the prince uses the object left behind to find the maiden. However the witch pares away at her daughter to make the items fit. The prince was ashamed of his strange bride and when he was about to take her away the stepdaughter ran up to him and asked him not to rob her of her silver and gold.  The prince then uses the witches daughter as a bridge so they can cross a river. The witches daughter wishes that a golden hemlock would grow out of her body so that her mother would recognize her.

From there the stepdaughter has a baby the witch hearing about it thinks it is her own daughter but then finds out it is not. She turns the stepdaughter into a reindeer and sends her own daughter in her stepdaughter's place. The baby is restless and finally the prince finds out that the witch turned his wife into a reindeer. He is told to burn her skin she takes it off. Eventually they live happily ever after.

Thursday's Tales is hosted by CarolsNotebook. Feel free to join in and read a tale of your own!

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