the Little Rag Girl (A
THERE was and there was not, there
was a miserable peasant. He had a wife and a little daughter. So poor
was this peasant that his daughter was called Conkiajgharuna.
Some time passed, and his wife died. He was
unhappy before, but now a greater misfortune had befallen him. He grieved
and grieved, and at last he said to himself, "I will go and take another
wife; she will mind the house, and tend my orphan child." So he arose
and took a second wife, but this wife brought with her a daughter of her
own. When this woman came into her husband's house and saw his child,
she was angry in heart.
She treated Little Rag Girl badly. She petted
her own daughter, but scolded her stepdaughter, and tried to get rid of
her. Every day she gave her a piece of badly cooked bread, and sent her
out to watch the cow, saying, "Here is a loaf; eat of it, give to every
wayfarer, and bring the loaf home whole." The girl went, and felt very
Once she was sitting sadly in the field,
and began to weep bitterly. The cow listened, and then opened its mouth,
and said, "Why are you weeping? What troubles you?" The girl told her
sad tale. The cow said, "In one of my horns is honey, and in the other
is butter, which you can take if you want to, so why be unhappy?" The
girl took the butter and the honey, and in a short time she grew plump.
When the stepmother noticed this she did not know what to do for rage.
She rose, and after that every day she gave her a basket of wool with
her; this wool was to be spun and brought home in the evening finished.
The stepmother wished to tire the girl out with toil, so that she should
grow thin and ugly.
Once when Little Rag Girl was tending the
cow, it ran away onto a roof. She pursued it, and wished to drive it back
to the road, but she dropped her spindle on the roof. Looking inside she
saw an old woman seated, and said to her, "Good mother, will you give
me my spindle?"
The old dame replied, "I am not able, my
child, come and take it yourself." The old woman was a devi.
The girl went in and was lifting up her spindle,
when the old dame called out, "Daughter, daughter, come and look at my
head a moment. I am almost eaten up."
The girl came and looked at her head. She
was filled with horror; all the worms in the earth seemed to be crawling
there. The little girl stroked her head and removed some, and then said,
"You have a clean head. Why should I look at it?"
This conduct pleased the old woman very much,
and she said, "When you leave here, go along such and such a road, and
in a certain place you will see three springs -- one white, one black,
and one yellow. Pass by the white and black, and put your head in the
yellow and rinse it with your hands."
The girl did this. She went on her way, and
came to the three springs. She passed by the white and black, and bathed
her head with her hands in the yellow fountain. When she looked up she
saw that her hair was quite golden, and her hands, too, shone like gold.
In the evening, when she went home, her stepmother was filled with fury.
After this she sent her own daughter with the cow. Perhaps the same good
fortune would visit her!
So Little Rag Girl stayed at home while her
stepsister drove out the cow. Once more the cow ran onto the roof. The
girl pursued it, and her spindle fell down. She looked in, and seeing
the devi woman, called out, "Dog of an old woman! Here! Come and give
me my spindle!"
The old woman replied, "I am not able, child,
come and take it yourself." When the girl came near, the old woman said,
"Come, child, and look at my head."
The girl came and looked at her head, and
cried out, "Ugh! What a horrid head you have! You are a disgusting old
The old woman said, "I thank you, my child;
when you go on your way you will see a yellow, a white, and a black spring.
Pass by the yellow and the white springs, and rinse your head with your
hands in the black one."
The girl did this. She passed by the yellow
and white springs, and bathed her head in the black once. When she looked
at herself she was black as an African, and on her head there was a horn.
She cut it off again and again, but it grew larger and larger.
She went home and complained to her mother,
who was almost frenzied, but there was no help for it. Her mother said
to herself, "This is all the cow's fault, so it shall be killed."
This cow knew the future. When it learned
that it was to be killed, it went to Little Rag Girl and said, "When I
am dead, gather my bones together and bury them in the earth. When you
are in trouble come to my grave, and cry aloud, 'Bring my steed and my
royal robes!'" Little Rag Girl did exactly as the cow had told her. When
it was dead she took its bones and buried them in the earth.
After this, some time passed. One holiday
the stepmother took her daughter, and they went to church. She placed
a trough in front of Little Rag Girl, spread a large measure of millet
in the courtyard, and said, "Before we come home from church fill this
trough with tears, and gather up this millet, so that not one grain is
left." Then they went to church.
Little Rag Girl sat down and began to weep.
While she was crying a neighbor came in a said, "Why are you in tears?
What is the matter?" The little girl told her tale. The woman brought
all the brood hens and chicken, and they picked up every grain of millet,
then she put a lump of salt in the trough and poured water over it. "There,
child," said she, "there are your tears! Now go and enjoy yourself."
Little Rag Girl then thought of the cow.
She went to its grave and called out, "Bring me my steed and my royal
robes!" There appeared at once a horse and beautiful clothes. Little Rag
Girl put on the garments, mounted the horse, and went to the church.
There all the folk began to stare at her.
They were amazed at her grandeur. Her stepsister whispered to her mother
when she saw her, "This girl is very much like our Little Rag Girl!"
Her mother smiled scornfully and said, "Who
would give that sun darkener such robes?"
Little Rag Girl left the church before anyone
else; she changed her clothes in time to appear before her stepmother
in rags. On the way home, as she was leaping over a stream, in her haste
she let her slipper fall in.
A long time passed. Once when the king's
horses were drinking water in this stream, they saw the shining slipper
and were so afraid that they would drink no more water. The king was told
that there was something shining in the stream, and that the horses were
The king commanded his divers to find out
what it was. They found the golden slipper, and presented it to the king.
When he saw it, he commanded his viziers, saying, "Go and seek the owner
of this slipper, for I will wed none but her." His viziers sought the
maiden, but they could find no one whom the slipper would fit.
Little Rag Girl's mother heard this, adorned
her daughter, and placed her on a throne. Then she went and told the king
that she had a daughter whose foot he might look at. It was exactly the
model for the shoe. She put Little Rag Girl in a corner, with a big basket
over her. When the king came into the house he sat down on the basket,
in order to try on the slipper.
Little Rag Girl took a needle and pricked
the king from under the basket. He jumped up, stinging with pain, and
asked the stepmother what she had under the basket. The stepmother replied,
"It is only a turkey I have there."
The king sat down on the basket again, and
Little Rag Girl again stuck the needle into him. The king jumped up, and
cried out, "Lift the basket. I will see underneath!"
The stepmother pleaded with him, saying,
"Do not blame me, your majesty, it is only a turkey, and it will run away."
But the king would not listen to her pleas.
He lifted the basket up, and Little Rag Girl came forth, and said, "This
slipper is mine, and fits me well." She sat down, and the king found that
it was indeed a perfect fit. Little Rag Girl became the king's wife, and
her shameless stepmother was left with a dry throat.
Wardrop, Marjory. Georgian Folk Tales. London: David Nutt, 1894.