One of my favorite stories while growing up was "Little Star", also known
as La Estrellita.
To me, it has always been the Spanish version of the
"Cinderella" fairy tale.
Many years ago,
there lived a kind and humble man. He was a hard worker, and his life had been
blessed with happiness. He had a beautiful wife and a daughter who loved him
dearly. One day, the wife became sick and, within a few weeks, died. The poor
man was left alone to raise his young daughter. She was very kind and showed due
respect for her elders. Years passed by and the young girl realized how lonely
her father was. She proved that someday he would find a kind lady whom he could
There was a
widow, raising two daughters, who lived nearby. She pretended to be kind and
generous to her young neighbor. She combed the little girl's hair and even made
a pretty dress with a matching bow for her. The little girl pleaded with her
father to marry this wonderful lady. It made all the sense in the world to her.
Both adults were alone and in need of companionship. Together, they could all
become a family again.
months, the two were married. Things were fine for a few weeks, but with three
more mouths to feed, the father was forced to leave home to work as a
sheepherder. He had not been gone more than two days when the stepmother began
to show her true nature. She slept all day and refused to do any work. The
stepsisters were worse. The kind young girl did not understand. She blamed
herself and decided that if she did everything for them, they, in turn, would be
happy and wouldn't be so mean to her. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The
harder she worked, the more demands they placed on her.
One day, they
received a letter from the young girl's father with some money for all of them.
Part of the money was intended to purchase a sheep. Immediately, they bought the
sheep and slaughtered it. The stepmother ordered the young girl to go wash the tripitas (intestines) in the river. The tripitas would be used to
prepare chonguitos (Mexican sausage).
yelled, "Don't lose even one of them, I want them as clean as possible! If you
mess up, you'll land up in the chicken coop with nothing but grain to eat".
sisters laughed. The kind young girl packed a piece of bread and a jar of water
and went to the river to begin working. She was almost finished when she dropped
one of the intestines into the river. She panicked and ran along the river with
a stick in hopes of recovering the intestine. She was crying so hard that she
couldn't see where she was going. Suddenly, amidst a great cloud of smoke, la
viejita de la buena suerte (the little old lady of good luck) appeared.
In a soft
voice, she spoke to the young girl. "Please don't cry."
"Oh!", said the
young girl, "you don't know what my stepmother will do to me if I go home with
one less intestine."
At that moment,
the old lady handed her the lost intestine. The young girl hadn't felt such
happiness in a long time.
"How can I ever
repay you?", asked the young girl.
The old lady
smiled and asked her for some food. The young girl gave her the piece of bread
and some of the water she had brought to the river. Before the young girl left,
the old lady touched her forehead and said goodbye.
When the girl
walked into the kitchen, her stepmother began to scream. She demanded to know
how she had gotten the beautiful little star on her forehead. The girl had no
idea what the stepmother was talking about. Suddenly, the stepmother tried to
remove the star. Instead of coming off, the little star shone brighter and made
the young girl more beautiful. From that day on, she was known as Estrellita
eventually discovered what actually happened down by the river. Instead of being
angry, she decided to send her own daughters, in hopes that they might have the
same luck. They grudgingly complied and took some fresh tripitas down to the
river. When they got there, they pretended to lose some of the tripitas. They
also pretended to cry, muttering under their breath, "That old lady better
hurry! We don't have all day! " Just then, the old lady appeared and returned
the tripitas. Instead of thanking the old lady, the ugly daughters replied, It's
about time!" The old lady asked for food but received nothing from them. They
both insisted that she touch their foreheads. The old lady did so, and off went
the girls. They walked back with an air of confidence, sure that all had gone
arrived home, their mother became hysterical. Estrellita sat there in shock. The
two daughters believed that their newfound beauty was causing all the commotion.
They found a mirror with which to admire themselves and soon let out piercing
screams! Instead of beautiful stars imprinted on their foreheads, one had a horn
and the other had a donkey's ear! The stepmother tried in vain to remove the
ugly horn and ear, but it only caused them to grow longer.
very young and handsome man had been elected as Governor of the state. He
invited everyone to attend the Governor's Ball. The stepmother and her daughters
were excited and spent days getting ready. Finally, the evening arrived and the
stepmother and her daughters left in great haste. Estrellita did not have a
dress or shoes to wear, but she decided to follow them to the ball. She stood
outside, looking through the window. Everyone was dancing to the wonderful
music. People were so light on their feet that they seemed to float in the
beautiful rhythm. Oh, what great joy the music brings to the people of this
land, she thought. Suddenly, the music stopped. Everyone was talking, pointing
in her direction. "What is shining so brightly? It is blinding us," the voices
said. Estrellita realized that all the attention was focused on her star, and
she ran all the way home.
and stepsisters were furious. The dance had come to an end soon after. The
Governor heard of the beautiful Estrellita. He and several other men went to her
house. When they arrived, they found her crying in her room. One of the men
encouraged her to come out. As soon as she stood up and took a couple of steps
forward, there was a flash. With every step Estrellita took, her appearance
changed. The tattered clothes turned into a gorgeous gown with matching shoes.
The little star on her forehead shone like a diamond. She had never felt more
beautiful. The young Governor could not believe his eyes. He loved her from the
first moment he saw her! He knew that soon they would marry. The stepmother and
her daughters fell on their knees, begging for forgiveness. Estrellita, filled
with so much love, patience, and understanding, placed her hand on the forehead
of each sister. At that moment, something magical happened! The horn and the
donkey ear disappeared from their foreheads and the sisters were transformed
into gentle and kind ladies. Estrellita sent for her father. He arrived just in
time to walk his beautiful Estrellita down the aisle!
Chama, New Mexico