Once there was a gentleman who married for his second wife the proudest and most haughty woman that was ever seen. She had by a former husband two daughters of her own humor, who were, indeed, exactly like her in all things. He had likewise, by another wife, a young daughter, but of unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper, which she took from her mother, who was the best creature in the world.
No sooner were the ceremonies of the wedding over but the mother-in-law began to show herself in her true colors. She could not bear the good qualities of this pretty girl, and the less because they made her own daughters appear the more odious. She employed her in meanest work of the house: she scoured the dishes, tables, etc., and scrubbed madam's chamber and those of misses, her daughters;
she lay up in a sorry garret, upon a wretched straw bed, while her sisters
lay in fine rooms, with floors all inlaid, upon beds of the very
newest fashion, and where they had looking-glasses so large
that they might see themselves at their full length from head to foot.
The poor girl bore all patiently
and dared not tell her father, who would have rattled her off; for his
wife governed him entirely. When she had done her work she used to go into
the chimney-corner and sit down among cinders and ashes, which made her
commonly be called a cinder maid; but the youngest, who was not so rude
and uncivil as the eldest, called her Cinderella. However, Cinderella,
notwithstanding her mean apparel, was a hundred times handsomer than her
sisters, though they were always dressed very richly.
It happened that the King's son gave
a ball and invited all persons, of fashion to it. Our young misses were
also invited, for they cut a very grand figure among the quality. They
were mightily delighted at this invitation, and wonderfully busy in choosing
out such gowns, petticoats, and head-clothes as might become them. This
was a new trouble to Cinderella, for it was she who ironed her sisters'
linen and plaited their ruffles. They talked all day long of nothing but
how they should be dressed.
"For my part," said the eldest, "I
will wear my red velvet suit with French trimming."
"And I," said the youngest, "shall
have my usual petticoat; but then, to make amends for that, I will put
on my gold-flowered manteau and my diamond stomacher, which is far from
being the most ordinary one in the world."
They sent for the best tire-woman
they could get to make up their headdresses and adjust their double pinners,
and they had their red brushes and patches from Mademoiselle de la Poche.
Cinderella was likewise called up
to them to be consulted in all these matters, for she had excellent notions
and advised them always for the best, nay, and offered her services to
dress their heads, which they were very willing she should do. As she was
doing this they said to her:
"Cinderella, would you not be glad
to go to the ball?"
"Alas!" said she, "you only jeer
me. It is not for such as I am to go thither."
"Thou art in the right of it," replied
they. "It would make the people laugh to see a cinder wench at a ball."
Any one but Cinderella would have
dressed their heads awry, but she was very good and dressed them perfectly
well. They were almost two days without eating, so much they were transported
with joy. They broke above a dozen of laces in trying to be laced up close,
that they might have a fine, slender shape, and they were continually at
their looking-glass. At last the happy day came. They went to Court, and
Cinderella followed them with her eyes as long as she could, and when she
had lost sight of them she fell a-crying.
Her Godmother, who saw her all in
tears, asked her what was the matter.
"I wish I could--I wish I could--"
She was not able to speak the rest
being interrupted by her tears and sobbing. This Godmother of hers,
who was a fairy, said to her: "Thou wishest thou could'st go to the ball.
Is it not so?"
"Y--es," cried Cinderella, with a
"Well," said her Godmother, "be but
a good girl, and I will contrive that thou shalt go." Then she took her
into her chamber and said to her: "Run into the garden and bring me a pumpkin."
Cinderella went immediately to gather
the finest she could get and brought it to her Godmother, not being able
to imagine how this pumpkin could make her go to the ball. Her Godmother
scooped out all the inside of it, having left nothing but the rind; which
done, she struck it with her wand, and the pumpkin was instantly turned
into a fine coach, gilded all over with gold.
She then went to look into her mousetrap,
where she found six mice all alive, and ordered Cinderella to lift up a
little the trapdoor, when, giving each mouse as it went out a little tap
with her wand, the mouse was that moment turned into a fine horse, which
altogether made a very fine set of six horses of a beautiful mouse-colored
dapple-gray. Being at a loss for a coachman, Cinderella said:
"I will go and see if there is never
a rat in the rattrap--we may make a coachman of him."
"Thou art in the right," replied
her Godmother. "Go and look."
Cinderella brought the trap to her,
and in it there were three huge rats. The fairy made choice of one of the
three which had the largest beard, and having touched him with her wand
he was turned into a fat, jolly coachman, who had the smartest whiskers
eyes ever beheld. After that she said to her:
"Go again into the garden, and you
will find six lizards behind the watering-pot. Bring them to me."
She had no sooner done so but her
Godmother turned them into six footmen,who skipped up immediately behind
the coach, with their liveries all bedaubed with gold and silver, and clung
as close behind each other as if they had done nothing else their whole
lives. The fairy then said to Cinderella:
"Well, you see here an equipage fit
to go to the ball with. Are you not pleased with it?"
"Oh! yes," cried she; "but must I
go thither as I am, in these dirty rags?"
Her Godmother only just touched her
with her wand, and at the same instant her clothes were turned into cloth-of-gold
and silver, all beset with jewels. Ah! who can describe a robe made by
the fairies? It was white as snow, and as dazzling; round the hem hung
a fringe of diamonds, sparkling like dewdrops in the sunshine. The lace
about the throat and arms could only have been spun by fairy spiders. Surely
it was a dream! Cinderella put her daintily gloved hand to her throat,
and softly touched the pearls that encircled her neck.
"Come, child," said the Godmother,
"or you will be late."
As Cinderella moved, the firelight
shone upon her dainty shoes.
"They are of diamonds," she said.
"No," answered her Godmother, smiling;
"they are better than that--they are of glass, made by the fairies. And
now, child, go, and enjoy yourself to your heart's content."
But her Godmother, above all things,
commanded her not to stay till after midnight, telling her at the same
time that if she stayed one moment longer the coach would be a pumpkin
again, her horses mice, her coachman a rat, her footmen lizards, and her
clothes become just as they were before.
She promised her Godmother she would
not fail of leaving the ball before midnight, and then away she drives,
scarce able to contain herself for joy. The King's son, who was told that
a great Princess, whom nobody knew, was come, ran out to receive her. He
gave her his hand as she alighted out of the coach; and led her into the
hall among all the company. There was immediately a profound silence, they
left off dancing, and the violins ceased to play, so attentive was every
one to contemplate the singular beauties of the unknown newcomer. Nothing
was then heard but a confused noise of "Ha! how handsome she is! Ha! how
handsome she is!"
The King himself, old as he was,
could not help watching her and telling the Queen softly that it was a
long time since he had seen so beautiful and lovely a creature.
All the ladies were busied in considering
her clothes and headdress, that they might have some made next day after
the same pattern, provided they could meet with such fine materials and
as able hands to make them.
The King's son conducted her to the
most honorable seat and afterward took her out to dance with him. She danced
so very gracefully that they all more and more admired her. A fine collation
was served up, whereof the young Prince ate not a morsel, so intently was
he busied in gazing on her.
She went and sat down by her sisters,
showing them a thousand civilities, giving them part of the oranges and
citrons which the Prince had presented her with, which very much surprised
them, for they did not know her. While Cinderella was thus amusing her
sisters, she heard the clock strike eleven and three-quarters, whereupon
she immediately made a courtesy to the company and hastened away as fast
as she could.
Being got home, she ran to seek out
her Godmother, and after having thanked her she said she could not but
heartily wish she might go next day to the ball, because the King's son
had desired her.
As she was eagerly telling her Godmother
what had passed at the ball her two sisters knocked at the door, which
Cinderella ran and opened.
"How long you have stayed!" cried
she, gaping, rubbing her eyes, and stretching herself as if she had been
just waked out of her sleep. She had not, however, had any manner of inclination
to sleep since they went from home.
"If thou hadst been at the ball,"
said one of her sisters, "thou would'st not have been tired with it. There
came thither the finest Princess, the most beautiful ever was seen with
mortal eyes. She showed us a thousand civilities and gave us oranges and
Cinderella seemed very indifferent
in the matter. Indeed, she asked them the name of that Princess, but they
told her they did not know it, and that the King's son was very uneasy
on her account, and would give all the world to know who she was. At this
Cinderella, smiling, replied:
"She must, then, be very beautiful
indeed. How happy you have been! Could not I see her? Ah! dear Miss
Charlotte, do lend me your yellow suit of clothes which you wear every
"Ay, to be sure," cried Miss Charlotte;
"lend my clothes to such it dirty cinder maid as thou art! I should be
Cinderella expected well such answer
and was very glad of the refusal, for she would have been sadly put to
it if her sister had lent her what she asked for jestingly.
The next day the two sisters were
at the ball, and so was Cinderella, but dressed more magnificently than
before. The King's son was always by her, and never ceased his compliments
and kind speeches to her, to whom all this was so far from being tiresome
that she quite forgot what her Godmother had recommended to her, so that
she at last counted the clock striking twelve when she took it to be no
more than eleven. She then rose up and fled as nimble as a deer. The Prince
followed, but could not overtake her. She left behind one of her glass
slippers, which the Prince took up most carefully. She got home, but quite
out of breath, and in her old clothes, having nothing left her of all her
finery but one of the little slippers, fellow to that she dropped. The
guards at the palace gate were asked if they had not seen a Prinecess go
They said they had seen nobody go
out but a young girl, very meanly dressed, and who had more of the air
of a poor country girl than a gentlewoman.
When the two sisters returned from
the ball Cinderella asked them if they had been well diverted and if the
beautiful Princess had been there.
They told her yes, but that she hurried
away immediately when the clock struck twelve, and with so much haste that
she dropped one of her little glass slippers, the prettiest in the world,
which the King's son had taken up; that he had done nothing but look at
her all the time at the ball, and that most certainly he was very much
in love with the beautiful person who owned the glass slipper.
What they said was very true, for
a few days after the King's son caused it to be proclaimed, by sound of
trumpet, that he would marry her whose foot this slipper would just fit.
They whom he employed began to try it upon the Princesses, then the Duchesses
and all the Court, but in vain. It was brought to the two sisters, who
did all they possibly could to thrust their feet into the slipper, but
they could not effect it.
On the following morning there was
a great noise of trumpets and drums, and a procession passed through the
town, at the head of which rode the King's son. Behind him came a herald,
bearing a velvet cushion, upon which rested a little glass slipper. The
herald blew a blast upon the trumpet, and then read a proclamation saying
that the King's son would wed any lady in the land who could fit the slipper
upon her foot, if she could produce another to match it.
Of course, the sisters tried to squeeze
their feet into the slipper, but it was of no use--they were much too large.
Then Cinderella shyly begged that she might try. How the sisters laughed
with scorn when the Prince knelt to fit the slipper on the cinder maid's
foot; but what was their surprise when it slipped on with the greatest
ease, and the next moment Cinderella produced the other from her pocket!
Once more she stood in the slippers, and once more the sisters saw before
them the lovely Princess who was to be the Prince's bride. For at the touch
of the magic shoes the little gray frock disappeared forever, and in place
of it she wore the beautiful robe the fairy Godmother had given to her.
The sisters hung their heads with
sorrow and vexation; but kind little Cinderella put her arms round their
necks, kissed them, and forgave them for all their unkindness, so that
they could not help but love her.
The Prince could not bear to part
from his little love again, so he carried her back to the palace in his
grand coach, and they were married that very day. Cinderella's stepsisters
were present at the feast, but in the place of honor sat the fairy Godmother.
So the poor little cinder maid married
the Prince, and in time they came to be King and Queen, and lived happily
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- The Indiaparenting Team