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Mexico
 

 



 

CINDER-MARY (Cuento de Maria Ceniza)

Source: American Folk-Lore
Vol. XXV - July - September, 1912 - No. XCVII
one of Four Mexican-Spanish Fairy-Tales from Azqueltan, Jalisco
by J. Alden Mason

     Once there was a poor orphan-girl who lived in an ash-hole belonging to the Black Moors.  One day when one of them went there to throw out the ashes, he saw her, and asked her to come to their house.  There they asked her name; but the poor girl did not know her own name, nor were they able to discover it.  Finally they gave her the name of Maria Ceniza (Cinder Mary).  Now, the Black Moors were witches; but they did not wish Cinder-Mary to learn the fact, so they gave her a black sheep's skin and a half-real1 of soap, and sent her to the river, telling her not to waste the soap, but to wash the sheep-skin until it was a white as a pod of cotton.
     Cinder-Mary knelt by the river and wept, because she could not wash the sheep-skin as the Moors and had commanded her.  Suddenly there appeared a lady, who asked her why she was weeping; and Cinder-Mary replied, that, if she could not wash the black sheep-skin as white as a pod of cotton, the Black Moors would kill her.  Then the lady told her that she would bring her two white stones with which she would be able to wash the black sheep-skin.  Presently she returned, and soon Cinder-Mary had washed the sheep-skin as white as a pod of cotton.  Then the lady gave her a magic wand, and told her that when she needed anything, she need only speak to the wand.  Then placing a tiny star on Cinder-Mary's forehead, she disappeared.
     Now, one of the Black Moors had a daughter; and when she saw the star on the forehead of Cinder-Mary, she was very jealous, and asked her mother to have a black lamb killed, that she also might go to the river and was the skin.  So, going to the river, she commenced to weep; and when the lady appeared to her and asked her why she was weeping, she replied that it was because she could not wash the black sheep-skin.  Then she asked her if she would not put a star on her forehead likewise, but the lady replied that she would put nothing but "mango de burro" there.  Then the girl returned to the house of the Black Moors.
     Another day the Moors said to Cinder-Mary that they were going to mass, and they left her behind to prepare the breakfast.  "If you have not a good breakfast ready when we return, we shall kill you," they said.  Then Cinder-Mary asked her magic wan to give her a dress such as had never before been seen in the world, and some shoes, in order that she might go to mass.     Then she followed a little behind the Moors, and entered the church; and neither the Moors nor the rest of the people recognized her.  When the priest saw her, he was much impressed with her beauty, and thought that she would make an excellent wife for the prince; so he gave orders that double guards be stationed at the doors of the parish, and that she be not allowed to leave.  This, however, did not deter Cinder-Mary, who fastened some wings to her back, so that they might not catch her.  The guards tried to restrain her, but only succeeded in catching one of her shoes.  Then she flew back to the house of the Moors and ordered her magic wand to prepare a breakfast with good food.  Soon the Moors came home, and began to talk about the beautiful maiden whom they had seen with a star which illumined everything up to the grand altar; but it was Cinder-Mary.
     Then the king ordered his men to search all the villages and ranchos for the maiden who had left the shoe behind.  Soon they came to the house of the Black Moors, and found Cinder-Mary's other shoe.  They were about to carry the daughter of the Moor to the king, when a little dog commenced to howl, saying, "Mango de Burro goes, and Star of Gold remains."  Then the king's retainers demanded to see the other maiden who was hidden in the house.  Accordingly they left the girl who had the "mango de burro" on her forehead, and carried Cinder-Mary to the king, that she might marry the prince.  There was a grand wedding, and Cinder-Mary was given a castle in which to live with the prince.
     Soon afterwards the Black Moors came to the castle and asked that they be allowed to louse Cinder-Mary.  They came to her while she was bathing, with her hair loose, and commenced to louse her.  Suddenly they stuck a pin into her head, so that she became enchanted and flew away, for they were afraid that she would denounce them because they were witches.  Then they left without as much as saying good-by.
     When her attendants came for Cinder-Mary, she was gone, and the only living being they could find was a dove in a cypress-tree.  Then they went to the head servant and asked him how much he would give them for the dove which they had found singing in the cypress-tree, and which said in its song that it wanted to see the king in his palace.  The dove, they said, was crying piteously.  The servant went at once to the king and told him about the dove.  Then the king asked him how much he wanted for bringing the dove to him; and the servant replied, that if he would give him five hundred pesos, he would bring it.  The king agreed, and the servant went and brought him the bird.  While stroking its back, the king found a pin stuck in its head, and pulled it out.  Immediately the bird became Cinder-Mary.  The he asked her why the Black Moors had thus bewitched her; and she replied, that it was because they were witches, and were afraid that she would denounce them.
     Then the king ordered that the Moors be brought before him, and he condemned them all to be burned to death with green wood.  But Cinder-Mary entered the palace where she was to live, and locked the door, so that no one might open it for five days.  When at last the door was opened, it was a virgin who was shut in there.

NOTES: 
Note 1. 1 real = 12.5 centavos, Mexican code.

 

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