THERE was once a king and a queen,
as many a one has been; few have we seen, and as few may we see. But the
queen died, leaving only one bonny girl, and she told her on her deathbed:
'My dear, after I am gone, there will come to you a little red calf, and
whenever you want anything, speak to it, and it will give it you.'
Now, after a while, the king married again
an ill-natured wife with three ugly daughters of her own. And they hated
the king's daughter because she was so bonny. So they took all her fine
clothes away from her, and gave her only a coat made of rushes. So they
called her Rushen Coatie, and made her sit in the kitchen nook, amid the
ashes. And when dinner-time came, the nasty stepmother sent her out a
thimbleful of broth, a grain of barley, a thread of meat, and a crumb
of bread. But when she had eaten all this, she was just as hungry as before,
so she said to herself: 'Oh! how I wish I had something to eat.' Just
then, who should come in but a little red calf, and said to her: 'Put
your finger into my left ear.' She did so, and found some nice bread.
Then the calf told her to put her finger into its right ear, and she found
there some cheese, and made a right good meal of the bread and cheese.
And so it went on from day to day.
Now the king's wife thought Rushen Coatie
would soon die from the scanty food she got, and she was surprised to
see her as lively and healthy as ever. So she set one of her ugly daughters
on the watch at meal-times to find out how Rushen Coatie got enough to
live on. The daughter soon found out that the red calf gave food to Rushen
Coatie, and told her mother. So her mother went to the king and told him
she was longing to have a sweetbread from a red calf. Then the king sent
for his butcher, and had the little calf killed. And when Rushen Coatie
heard of it, she sate down and wept by its side, but the dead calf said:
'Take me up, bone by bone,
And put me beneath yon grey stone;
When there is aught you want
Tell it me, and that I'll grant.'
So she did so, but could not find the shank-bone
of the calf.
Now the very next Sunday was Yuletide, and all the folk were going to
church in their best clothes, so Rushen Coatie said: 'Oh! I should like
to go to church, too,' but the three ugly sisters said: 'What would you
do at the church, you nasty thing? You must bide at home and make the
dinner.' And the king's wife said: 'And this is what you must make the
soup of, a thimbleful of water, a grain of barley, and a crumb of bread.'
When they all went to church, Rushen Coatie
sat down and wept, but looking up, who should she see coming in limping,
lamping, with a shank wanting, but the dear red calf? And the red calf
said to her: 'Do not sit there weeping, but go, put on these clothes,
and above all, put on this pair of glass slippers, and go your way to
'But what will become of the dinner?' said
'Oh, do not fash about that,' said the red calf; 'all you have to do is
to say to the fire:
"Every peat make t'other burn,
Every spit make t'other turn,
Every pot make t'other play,
Till I come from church this good Yuleday,"
and be off to church with you. But mind you
come home first.' So Rushen Coatie said this, and went off to church,
and she was the grandest and finest lady there. There happened to be a
young prince there, and he fell at once in love with her. But she came
away before service was over, and was home before the rest, and had off
with her fine clothes and on with her rushen coatie, and she found the
calf had covered the table, and the dinner was ready, and everything was
in good order when the rest came home. The three sisters said to Rushen
Coatie: 'Eh, lassie, if you had seen the bonny fine lady in church today,
that the young prince fell in love with!' Then she said, 'Oh! I wish you
would let me go with you to the church tomorrow,' for they used to go
three days together to church at Yuletide.
But they said: 'What should the like of you
do at church, nasty thing? The kitchen nook is good enough for you.'
So the next day they all went to church,
and Rushen Coatie was left behind, to make dinner out of a thimbleful
of water, a grain of barley, a crumb of bread, and a thread of meat. But
the red calf came to her help again, gave her finer clothes than before,
and she went to church, where all the world was looking at her, and wondering
where such a grand lady came from, and the prince fell more in love with
her than ever, and tried to find out where she went to. But she was too
quick for him, and got home long before the rest, and the red calf had
the dinner all ready.
The next day the calf dressed her in even
grander clothes than before, and she went to the church. And the young
prince was there again, and this time he put a guard at the door to keep
her, but she took a hop and a run and jumped over their heads, and as
she did so, down fell one of her glass slippers. She didn't wait to pick
it up, you may be sure, but off she ran home, as fast as she could go,
on with the rushen coatie, and the calf had all things ready.
The young prince put out a proclamation that
whoever could put on the glass slipper should be his bride. All the ladies
of his. court went and tried to put on the slipper. And they tried and
tried and tried, but it was too small for them all. Then he ordered one
of his ambassadors to mount a fleet horse and ride through the kingdom
and find an owner for the glass shoe. He rode and he rode to town and
castle, and made all the ladies try to put on the shoe. Many a one tried
to get it on that she might be the prince's bride. But no, it wouldn't
do, and many a one wept, I warrant, because she couldn't get on the bonny
glass shoe. The ambassador rode on and on till he came at the very last
to the house where there were the three ugly sisters. The first two tried
it and it wouldn't do, and the queen, mad with spite, hacked off the toes
and heels of the third sister, and she could then put the slipper on,
and the prince was brought to marry her, for he had to keep his promise.
The ugly sister was dressed all in her best and was put up behind the
prince on horseback, and off they rode in great gallantry. But ye all
know, pride must have a fall, for as they rode along a raven sang out
of a bush
'Hacked Heels and Pinched Toes
Behind the young prince rides,
But Pretty Feet and Little Feet
Behind the cauldron bides.'
'What's that the birdie sings?' said the
'Nasty, lying thing,' said the stepsister,
'never mind what it says.'
But the prince looked down and saw the slipper dripping with blood, so
he rode back and put her down. Then he said, 'There must be someone that
the slipper has not been tried on.'
'Oh, no,' said they, 'there's none but a
dirty thing that sits in the kitchen nook and wears a rushen coatie.'
But the prince was determined to try it on
Rushen Coatie, but she ran away to the grey stone, where the red calf
dressed her in her bravest dress, and she went to the prince and the slipper
jumped out of his pocket on to her foot, fitting her without any chipping
or paring. So the prince married her that very day, and they lived happy