Georgian Folk Tales, by Marjory Wardrop , at sacred-texts.com
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 (the little girl in rags).
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 Conkiajgharuna 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 miserable.
Once she was sitting sadly in the field, and began to weep bitterly. The cow listened, and then opened its mouth, and said: 'Why art thou weeping? what troubles thee?' The girl told her sad tale. The cow said: 'In one of my horns is honey, and in the other is butter, which thou canst take if thou wilt, 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 Conkiajgharuna was tending the cow, it ran away on to a roof. 1 The girl 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, wilt thou give me my spindle?' The old dame replied: 'I am not able, my child, come and take it thyself.' This 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: 'Thou hast a clean head, why should I look at it?' This conduct pleased the old woman very much, and she said: 'When thou goest hence, go along such and such a road, and in a certain place thou wilt see three springs--one white, one black, and one yellow. Pass by the white and black, and put thy head in the yellow and lave it with thy 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 Conkiajgharuna stayed at home while her stepsister drove out the cow. Once more the cow ran on to 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 thyself.' 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 thou hast! Thou art a disgusting old woman!' The old woman said: 'I thank thee, my child; when thou goest on thy way thou wilt see a yellow, a white, and a black spring. Pass by the yellow and the white springs, and lave thy head with thy hands in the black one.'
The girl did this. She passed by the yellow and white springs, and bathed her head in the black one. When she looked at herself she was black as a negro, 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 Conkiajgharuna and said: 'When I am dead, gather my bones together and bury them in the earth. When thou art in trouble come to my grave, and cry aloud: "Bring my steed and my royal robes!"' Conkiajgharuna
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 Conkiajgharuna, spread a codi (80 lbs.) 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.
Conkiajgharuna sat down and began to weep. While she was crying a neighbour came in and said: 'Why art thou in tears? what is the matter?' The little girl told her tale. The woman brought all the brood-hens and chickens, 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, 'these are thy tears! Now go and enjoy thyself.'
Conkiajgharuna 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. Conkiajgharuna 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 Conkiajgharuna!' Her mother smiled scornfully and said: 'Who would give that sun-darkener such robes?'
Conkiajgharuna left the church before any one 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 afraid.
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.
Conkiajgharuna's stepmother 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 Conkiajgharuna 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.
Conkiajgharuna 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: '’Tis only a turkey I have there.' The king sat down on the basket again, and Conkiajgharuna again stuck the needle into him. The king jumped up, and cried out: 'Lift the basket, I will see underneath!' The stepmother entreated 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 entreaties. He lifted the basket up, and Conkiajgharuna 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. Conkiajgharuna became the king's wife, and her shameless stepmother was left with a dry throat.
63:1 The Georgian Cinderella or Tattercoats. Cf. Miss Roalfe Cox's Story-Variants of Cinderella for parallels.
64:1 In some parts of the Caucasus the houses of the peasantry are built in the ground, and it is quite possible to walk on to a roof unwittingly.