CINDER-MARY (Cuento de Maria
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
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
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
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.
Note 1. 1 real = 12.5 centavos, Mexican code.