Week 15 Story: Eleanor

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved her father very much. The girl’s parents were deeply in love, and they were overjoyed to learn that they would be having a daughter. Unfortunately for the family, the mother died in childbirth, leaving behind a beautiful and healthy baby girl. She was named Eleanor, after her mother, and she was raised by her father alone. Eleanor’s father was a merchant and, as much as he loved his little girl, he had to travel often to earn a living. As she grew older, Eleanor learned to enjoy the time she could spend with her father, as she didn’t get much of it. She knew that he traveled because he loved her, and he wanted to give her everything she needed, but that didn’t stop her from feeling lonely.

One day when Eleanor was a little past her 12th birthday her father came home for one of his rare, extended visits. He explained to her that, even though he still loved his late wife very much, he thought it best to remarry for the sake of his daughter. His wife-to-be was a widow herself, and had two daughters of her own, only a little older than Eleanor. Eleanor wasn’t sure how to feel about all of this. She was excited to meet her new family, but she was so used to it just being her and the servants. What would new people be like, Eleanor wondered? She didn’t have an answer for that, but she decided that not matter what happened, she would make the best of it.

Eleanor’s new family tamed some of her rough-and-tumble habits, but generally they were quite friendly. The girls were willing to play with Eleanor – even if the oldest, Marguerite, did occasionally laugh at Eleanor’s mistakes. The younger daughter, Jacqueline, grew quite fond of Eleanor, and even nicknamed her Ella as friends will sometimes do. Ella’s stepmother did her best to love Ella, who tried so hard to be sweet that it really wasn’t that difficult. She may have been guilty of sometimes favoring her own daughters over Ella, but who could blame her?

Ella and her family lived happily together for three years. Then knew returned from abroad that Ella’s father had died from an unknown illness on his trip to Ambiose. Ella could hardly cope with her father’s death and became deathly ill. On the advice from a doctor, her stepmother quarantined her in the only isolated part of the estate: the attic. While Ella was slowly recovering her stepmother had to figure out how to keep their family alive.

By the time Ella was well enough to help her step-family, everything she knew had changed. All of the servants had been dismissed and the girls and their mother had to do all the work to keep the household going. The biggest change for Ella came, not from their new situation, but from her stepmother.

“Good morning, Ella. How are you feeling today?” Stepmother asked as Ella entered the kitchen, one day soon after her illness.

“I feel much better, thank you.”

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but we won’t be able to move you back to your old bedroom. We need the space so much. Marguerite, Jacqueline and I have discussed it, and the girls are willing to make space for you in their room.”

Ella shuffled her feet and stared at the floor as she replied, “It’s very nice of them, but I think I’d rather stay in the attic. Everyone could have more room, and it’s not really that bad up there, stepmother.”

Ella’s stepmother put down the pan she had been washing and walked over to where her stepdaughter stoop. “Listen Ella. Many things have changed since you were last feeling well. The most important thing now is that we all have to do our share and work together to survive. I don’t want to here ‘stepmother’ any more. You’re one of my girls too.”

Ella surged forward and wrapped her stepmother – her mother – in a hug as tears began spilling down her face. Maybe a world without her father could still be a good one.

———

As the weeks turned into months, the small family developed a rhythm for their lives. Marguerite and Jacqueline didn’t have many skills, so they spent their time with their mother, learning what they could do to help the household function. The girls’ mother worked as a seamstress from their house, and made sure they had food on the table. It then fell to Ella to go back and forth to town to deliver her mother’s work and collect payment. She also did all of the shopping for the household while she was there. At home she tended to the animals and did all of the outdoor chores, sometimes assisted by her sisters. However they were more likely to accidentally hurt themselves than help Ella.

One day, on her way home from town, Ella was caught up in a hunt. Her horse was spooked and started running as fast as it could away from the strange sounds. Ella couldn’t get it back under control until a young man broke way from the group and pulled her horse to a stop.

“Are you alright miss?” the man asked as he checked her horse over for injuries.

“I am, thanks to you. It was very kind of you to help me.”

“Miss – what do they call you?” the man asked, finally looking up from her horse.

” Elea… Ella. They call me Ella.”

“Well miss Ella, you shouldn’t be this deep in the forest alone.” He said it with a laugh, not really meaning it.

“I come this way almost every day. Besides, I’m not alone, I’m with you mister – what do they call you?”

“You don’t know who I am?” The man seemed very surprised, but then backtracked quickly. “That is, they call me Kit. Or my father does when he’s in a good mood.”

Their conversation was cut short by the hunt, which continued on without Kit. As he rode away he called back to Ella, “I hope to see you again, miss.”

After that day Ella looked for Kit every time she went to town. He wasn’t always there, but when she did see him they would take time to talk with each other. Ella told Kit stories of her childhood: things she could remember about her father or things that he had told her about her mother. She rarely talked about her families current situation, instead saying that her family treated her as well as they were able. Kit, in return, told her about his relationship with his father, and what it was like being an apprentice. He never told Ella exactly what it was he was learning to do, but she didn’t mind. She just enjoyed talking to him.

One day, nearly three years after her father’s death, Ella heard in the town square that the prince of their small country was holding a ball to choose a wife, and that all the eligible maidens of the land were invited. Ella happily carried the news home to her family. They would love the chance to go to a ball, and they had each kept one nice gown for formal occasions from their old lives. Ella didn’t have anything to wear, but she didn’t much mind. She didn’t think the prince would live up to Kit in her estimation.

As Ella was riding home through the forest, she saw Kit waiting for her near where they first met.

“Ella! Have you heard the news? There’s to be a great ball at the palace!” he called to Ella as she approached him.

“Yes, I’m going to tell my family now. They’re sure to be very excited.”

“Will you be coming?” he asked with a strange intensity.

“No… I don’t think so. My family probably will, but I don’t have anything that would be suitable to wear to the palace. Besides, I don’t think anything would come of it, and I don’t know that I care for meeting the prince.”

“You must come Ella! Promise me that you’ll think about it!” Kit asked so earnestly that Ella couldn’t bring herself to refuse. She nodded and headed home.

When Ella returned home and told her family about the ball, they were as excited as she expected. They all rushed about, airing out their old dresses and trying them on. Ella’s mother found some old gowns for Ella to try, but none of them fit; she offered to try and make Ella a gown, but Ella refused. They had enough work to do without adding to it, she said. She knew that Kit would be disappointed, but there was nothing she could do.

The day before the ball Ella woke to find a parcel at the front door with her name written on it. When she opened it, it was a beautifully made ball gown with another note that said “For the ball.” Ella had a suspicion who had left it for her, and rushed to show her mother. They spend the day adjusting it so that it fit perfectly, and, the next night, Ella found herself on her way to the ball with her family.

Walking into the ballroom of the palace, for Ella, was like walking into a dream. She and her sisters joined the queue to meet the prince while their mother greeted some of her old friends. As the line inched forward Ella kept searching for Kit in the crowd. He has to be here somewhere. Finally they reached the front of the line and Ella had to stop her searching. She curtsied deeply and looked into the Crown Prince’s face.

“Kit!” Ella exclaimed before she could stop herself. “But… what…” She looked at him in confusion. Kit just laughed a bit and introduced himself to her sisters before asking her to dance.

“You look lovely,” Kit said with a grin, gesturing to Ella’s dress. It complemented his own attire so well, it couldn’t have been an accident.

“You sent it! Why didn’t you tell me? Any of it?”

“I enjoyed knowing you without any pressure – just Kit and Ella. By the time I though I should tell you, I didn’t know how. Then my parent’s started mentioning that I needed to get married, and I realized that I already knew who I wanted it to be.”

Ella’s stomach felt like it was full of butterflies as she registered what Kit was telling her. She knew she loved him to – had known if for a while if she was honest with herself. She smiled and leaned into him as they danced the night away. So this is love, she thought.


Author’s Note: So this is much longer than most of the story telling post for Mythology and Folklore (twice as long, actually!). But, since this is the last story for the semester, I wanted to write to the end, even if it took me a while. I wrote about Cinderella last week as well, in a very different way, and that’s what I like about this fairy tale so much: it’s extremely versatile. I took inspiration from the 2015 live action Cinderella, the 1998 movie Ever After, the Disney animated Cinderella, and a book by Cameron Dokey called Before Midnight, as well as from the original source material. The main changes I made were to make the step family not evil (no one is evil without a reason, and I just couldn’t think of a good one) and to make sure that Ella and the prince met before the ball. Love at first sight is not something I could ever write about. The names for Cinderella and the prince and some of their dialogue was taken from the 2015 movie, the stepsister’s names, the first line, and the place where Ella’s father died were from the 1998 movie, the kind family and the stepmother telling Cinderella to call her ‘mother’ is from Before Midnight, and the last line is from the animated movie. The prince sending Ella the dress instead of a fairy godmother was my own touch. I thought that he would want to ensure that the girl he was in love with would make it to his ball.

Bibliography: “The Cinder-Maid.” Europa’s Fairy Book, collected by Joseph Jacobs. Web source.

Image: Cinderella by Ma_Co2013. Source: Flickr

Famous Last Words: I’m Almost There

It’s almost the end of the semester and I am so close to finishing everything up. The only problem? I’m running out of steam real fast. So I’m doing everything I can to channel my inner Tiana and make sure that

♫ There ain’t nothing gonna stop me now cause I’m almost there ♫

Yes I know, I am a bit of a nerd. But if Disney can get me through dead week and finals week then I’ll embrace my nerdiness to the max!

I know that everyone hits this point in the semester: you can see the finish line ahead of you, and you start trying to figure out what’s the minimum amount of work I can do and still finish? I don’t blame anyone, myself included, for it. We’ve all been working hard for the past 15 weeks and we want a break! I wish I had Tiana’s work ethic though, because I have goofed off almost all weekend.

Seriously, if procrastination was an art form then college students wouldn’t be nearly as broke as they are. I’m definitely not the worst offender, but there’s always room to improve (a lot of room, in my case). But all I can do is get better from here, and I’d say that writing this post is a step in the right direction! It’s school related and for class!

Honestly though, I think it’s really important for people in general, but college students especially, to learn to let go a little bit. So you failed that test, slept through your class, or forgot to turn in your assignment. The only thing you can do is acknowledge your mistake, learn from it, and don’t repeat it. Holding on to it will just do you more harm than good. As my friend Timone says, “You’ve gotta put the past behind you.” (Yes that was a Lion King reference, but is it wrong?)

Hakuna Matata my friends.


Image Source

 

Wikipedia Trail: Little Match Girl to Heaven

So today I started my Wikipedia Trail with The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson. I read it this week for class and I thought it was a bit strange for a fairy tale. It’s both really sad because the young girl dies, and really inspiring because she gets to be with her grandmother and gets away from her horrible, hard life. There was a link on the page to the Wiki article about New Year’s Eve, which is when the story is set.

The New Year’s Eve article is actually really comprehensive. It talks about how the holiday is celebrated in just about any country I could think of, and a lot that I couldn’t. There was even a section for how different religions treat the holiday, including the Roman Catholic Church, which counts New Year as a Holy Day of Obligation, but allows for vigil masses to be celebrated on New Year’s Eve.

The Catholic Church Wiki page was also surprisingly comprehensive – I’m Catholic and I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff on there that I don’t know about. There was, of course, a link to the Wikipedia page about Heaven on the Catholic Church page, which I thought was a nice place to end this trail. I think that it circled around nicely to the Little Match Girl story. As sad as it was, I think I like the story because it shows that no situation is truly hopeless – it can always get better. Though maybe not it the way you would prefer.


Image: Public domain illustration by A.J. Bayes (1889) for The Little Match Girl. Source: Wikimedia

Week 14 Story: The Trial of Cinderella

“Eleanor Rigby, you are hereby charged with four counts of murder, by way of poisoning, of your father and step-family and one fact of attempted murder in front of three dozen witnesses. That being the attempted murder of the crown prince. How do you plead?”

Eleanor stood from the bench where she had been quietly singing to herself. “Guilty of course,” she said with a laugh.

The judge’s gavel sounded like a clap of thunder as it struck his bench. “So be it. Your sentencing will be in one week. You have until that time to ready your case.”

Eleanor kept singing to herself as she was led from the courtroom. Her song seemed to echo in the silent room long after she was gone.

If you should die, dilly dilly, as it may hap,

You shall be buried, dilly dilly, under the tap

———

One week passed, and Eleanor was sent to live out the remainder of her life in Bethlem Psychiatric Hospital. No one disagreed with the verdict of insanity. She had a tendency to answer questions that nobody had asked or laugh at something that no one said – it was all in her head. The constant singing didn’t help either. It was always the same children’s song, over and over.

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green,

When I am king, dilly dilly, you shall be queen

There was also evidence of abuse around Eleanor’s house and person. It suggested that her step-mother and step-sisters would regularly lock her in her room, over work her, and not feed her enough. There were also bruises on her back and shoulders, as if she had been beaten with a broom. The official theory, based on this evidence and that found at Eleanor’s house, was that she was abused by her step family and, when she asked to go to the ball that the queen and king threw for their son, the step-mother and step-sisters began taunting Eleanor and ripping up the dress she made for the ball.

Eleanor fled to the kitchen, but the other women followed her. She pulled a knife from where she had hidden it in the cinders and killed her family. She then stole the younger step-sister’s gown and went to the ball. How she got into the palace was a mystery (the inquest was still underway) but she made it all the way to the ballroom where she proceeded to attempt to stab the prince with the knife she still had while singing the same children’s song.

Lavender’s green, dilly, dilly, Lavender’s blue
You must love me, dilly, dilly, cause I love you,

Occasionally doctors would go to Eleanor with their evidence and theories, to see if they could get a reaction or pull her from her psychosis. Every attempt ended with Eleanor curled up on her bed, gently shaking, and softly singing to herself.

Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so?

‘Twas mine own heart, dilly dilly, that told me so.


Author’s Note: This story is loosely based on the story of Cinderella. Here Cinderella goes crazy from the treatment that she gets from her step family and kills them. She also tries to kill the prince because he was all her family talked about for weeks because of the ball. I changed her name to Eleanor because I always thought that Cinderella couldn’t be her real name, and it ended up as Eleanor Rigby because that’s what I was listening to as I wrote this. The song that is repeated here is an English nursery rhyme that dates from the 17th century and was also featured in the 2015 Disney live action Cinderella.

Bibliography: “The Cinder-Maid.” Europa’s Fairy Book, collected by Joseph Jacobs. Web source.

Image source: Eeorme

Reading Notes: Grimm Librivox (B)

  • The Brothers Grimm stories don’t make any sense! I understand why the dwarf would get to marry the youngest princess, but why would his brothers? They tried, but they were also jerks…
  • I sure as heck wouldn’t go back to a man who was willing to marry another woman because his father asked him too. I wonder what would have happened if she had agreed with me
  • I think I’d like Jorindel and Jorinda better if Jorinda found a way to free herself, or if Jorindel hadn’t needed magic help.
  • I wonder why so many of these characters are ungrateful. It’s a good theme, but there’s so much of it that it’s getting annoying
  • I’m not sure how I feel about the 12 dancing princesses. I want to know why the princesses were going, and who the princes were. How did they set it up? How long has it been going on?
  • I love the irony in the turnip. The first brother is jealous of the other’s new found wealth and ends up with the turnip. The student is too silly to realize the sack can’t make him smarter so he has to stay in it until someone wiser lets him out
  • I like that someone outsmarted the fox! It’s also pretty cool that the birds were able to beat all the other animals, even if it was through trickery

Bibliography: Fairy Tales by the Bothers Grimm. Web source.

Image: Ballet by sobima. Source: Pixabay

Reading Notes: Grimm Librivox (A)

  •  The princess from the princess and the frog is a spoiled brat. I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind wanting to marry her, even if she did break his curse
  • Pretty standard Rapunzel story. Even though it’s traditional, I think I prefer the Disney version.
  • Some of these stories seem to be very heavy on the “be happy with what you have and don’t ask for more” moral. I wonder if that’s because of the time period in which they were written
  • I didn’t know that the Brothers Grimm wrote lighthearted stories like the Traveling Musicians
  • What the heck is this Clever Elsie nonsense? I sure wouldn’t have married her
  • I love that it wasn’t the prince’s kiss that woke Briar Rose. The 100 years were up and the curse was already broken. I think it’s hilarious!

Bibliography: Fairy Tales by the Bothers Grimm. Web source.

Image: Rose Bush by Lynn Greyling. Source: PublicDomainPictures

Reading Notes: Europa’s Fairy Book (B)

  •  I am so not okay with the Swan Maidens. The hunter basically kidnapped the poor girl and then married her and she had two kids, all without him telling her that he had the means for her to go home. When she does find out (and leaves his ass) he steals from strangers to find her, and manages to get her back and they live happily ever after. There’s no way that would ever happen.
  • Honestly, the Visitor from Paradise makes no sense, but I love the ending: “It was and it was not.”
  • Inside again comes full circle in a sad way. I wish the fox had been a tab bit smarter
  • I’ve never read a Hansel and Gretel type story that ended like Johnnie and Grizzle, but I still question the idea of wanting to go back the the parents that abandoned you
  • Thumbkin is smart and savvy, but I can’t say that I condone his methods

Bibliography: Europa’s Fairy Book by Joseph Jacobs. Web source.

Image: 2008 Swan Lake Production. Source: Wikimedia

Reading Notes: Europa’s Fairy Book (A)

  •  At least this version of the Cinder-Maid includes a prince that remembers what the girl looks like. Instead he is trapped by the wording of his promise. But honestly the idea of falling in love with a girl’s face kind of freaks me out. I’d rather her fall in love with someone that she’d already known.
  • This version of Beauty and the Beast is kind of boring. I think it needs something to spice it up
  • I guess it makes sense for a holy man to forgive people, but I still think it’s a stretch that Jack would forgive his parents for trying to kill him and let them live with him
  • The princess in a Dozen at a Blow is such an airhead! She doesn’t like him because he’s a tailor, and then she changes her mind? There has to be more to it than that!
  • I love the cat from the Earl of Cattenborough, but Jack is kind of ungrateful. I wonder why the cat was so willing to help him.

Bibliography: Europa’s Fairy Book by Joseph Jacobs. Web source.

Image: Cat by cocoparisienne. Source: Pixabay

Reading Notes: Hans Christian Anderson (B)

This section of the Hans Christian Anderson reading is the Little Mermaid. I’ve never read this version before, but I’ve heard tell its pretty sad. Here goes!

  • It’s interesting that I can tell where Disney got inspiration for a lot of things, but some facts are so backwards. The main character is quite and thoughtful, and it’s all the sisters who are fascinated by ship wreckage
  • It’d be cool to write a traditional siren story from the mermaid’s point of view. What if they aren’t really wanting to kill people. They just want them to wreck their ships so the mer-people can get some cool stuff. Treasure hunting basically!
  • I think it would be pretty cool to have a story where the mermaid falls in love with humans in general, instead of the prince specifically, and she befriends the humans without trying to become one
  • I can’t tell what the grandmother is thinking. She has to know why the little mermaid is asking all these questions. Why doesn’t she stop her?
  • I did not know that she cut out the little mermaid’s tongue. How did this ever get adapted to Disney?
  • I’m pretty sure the little mermaid just got friend-zoned by the prince
  • Honestly the prince is a jerk. I wouldn’t want the little mermaid to end up with him, regardless of anything. I wonder what would have happened if she used her sister’s knife and killed him
  • I’m glad that the little mermaid became a child of the wind, but it seems like she still got the short end of the stick.

Bibliography: Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Anderson. Web source.

Image: Mermaid by Mysticartdesign. Source: Pixabay

Reading Notes: Hans Christian Andersen (A)

  • I’ve always thought that the Princess and the Pea was a silly story. Why would you want a princess as sensitive as all that? If I rewrote this the princess would be tested on her kindheartedness or bravery or wisdom, not how sensitive her skin is.
  • I have no plans to rewrite the Emperor’s New Suit because it is perfect just the way it is!
  • Honestly the Brave Tin Soldier is depressing. He wished for a wife and because of it, they both died. The dancer isn’t even a part of the story really. What if she didn’t like him? Why should she be punished for a wish she didn’t know anything about. It just isn’t fair.
  • I’d say the wicked prince got exactly what he deserved. The only thing that would make it better is if it was one of the people he wronged that ended him instead of a little gnat. Maybe a little kid who’s nickname was gnat, or a conquered citizen who was told he had less worth than a gnat?
  • So, I’ve read the story of the Little Match Girl before, but not like this. The one I read was very sad and hopeless but this one is kind of nice, in a weird way. The girl doesn’t realize that she’s dying. It might be nice to write it from the grandmother’s point of view, as if she knows that her granddaughter is going to die and sends her lovely images in the glow of the match. That way the girl isn’t scared and sees the wonderful things she can have in heaven.

Image: Match Smoke by Andrew Magill. Source: Flickr