This morning I watched the press conference coverage of ISS Expedition 40 .


So inspiring to see the crew, 1 American, 1 Russian, 1 German, posing for photos and taking questions in Moscow, then touring Red Square. Best moment? The big YES from all three about whether international cooperation in space must continue.

In honor of our NASA guys Mastracchio and Swanson, JAXA Commander Koichi Wakata, and ROSCOSMOS guys Skvortsov, Tyruin and Artemyev I will be posting Cinderella stories from the USA, Russia, Japan, and Germany.


Story #1 Chernushka (Little Cinderella) Moscow, 1861

Once upon a time, in Russia, there lived “a gentleman and his wife”. They had a little girl named Masha, and doted upon her. But then Masha’s mother died. Her father married for the second time, to a lady with two girls of her own. These girls were unkind to their new stepsister, and made her do all the dirty work. Because she had to “clean stoves and attend to fires”, she got so sooty each day that she was black with coal. That’s why they called her “the Black Girl”. It happened one day that the king gave a summons for all of the maidens in the land to come to his castle. He wanted to see them for himself, and think about choosing a bride from among them. But Masha’s stepmother would not let her go with the other girls. Instead, she “left her a bushelful of barley, soot, and flour, mixed together, and told her to separate them all by the time of her return.” Instead, Masha sat down and cried. That’s when “two doves flew in, and separated barley, soot, and flour.” Then one bird “alighted on her right, and the other on her left shoulder” and Masha found to her delight that her dress had become fine and beautiful. “The doves said,’Go to the palace, but do not stay until midnight.” So that is what Masha did. When the King saw her, he was fascinated. He “tried to catch her but could not.” The next night she came to the second ball, dressed once again in finery from the doves. Again, the King tried and failed to catch her. So, when he held a ball on the third night in a row, he “ordered the stairs covered with pitch, and Masha lost one of her shoes.” Then the King ordered that the entire kingdom be searched for the girl who had lost the shoe. “At last, “they came to Masha’s house. The stepmother told her daughter to put the shoe on; it would not fit. ‘Cut off your great toe!’ she cried, ‘and the shoe will fit. You will become princess and need never walk.” So her daughter did this, and put on the shoe. But when the King tried to carry her back to the palace, “two doves flew up and cried, ‘Blood on the foot!”. So the King looked down and saw the bloody, dripping foot, and knew that he had been fooled. Her brought her back and tried the shoe on the other girl, but it did not fit her either. So then Masha had a turn and “it fitted her exactly, and instantly, she was dressed in the finest of dresses.” So the King married her the very next day. On the way home from the church service, the doves rode on Masha’s shoulders. Then they “flew to the stepsisters, and plucked out one eye of each.”

From: Cox, M.R. (1893/2011) p. 150
Notes: So here we have another instance of doves pecking out the bad girls’ eyes, just like in the story of Aschenpüttle, collected later by the Brothers Grimm.