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The Story Of Cinderella

from Favorite Fairy Tales.





There was once a rich man, whose wife died, leaving him with one little
girl. After some years, hoping to give his child a mother's love and
care, he married again, this time a widow, with two grown-up daughters.
But his second wife was haughty and proud, and her two daughters were
even worse than their mother; and the poor little girl had a very
unhappy time with her new relations. Her stepsisters were jealous of
her, for she was very beautiful, and they themselves were plain and
ugly. They did all they could to make her miserable; and, at length,
through their wicked spite and envy, her life became a burden to her.
The poor child was sent to live in the kitchen, where she had to do all
the rough and dirty work; and because she was always dressed in rags,
and sat beside the cinders in the grate, they called her Cinderella.

It happened that the King of the country had an only son. He was very
anxious that the Prince should be married; so he gave a great ball, and
invited all the grand ladies in the country to come to it. It was to be
a very splendid affair, lasting for three nights, and people were very
eager to be invited to it, for it was known that the Prince would choose
his bride from among the ladies present.

Cinderella's sisters received invitations; and from the day they arrived
they talked of nothing but of what they should wear, for each of them
secretly hoped that she would be chosen as the Prince's bride.

When the great day came at last, they began to dress for the ball
directly after breakfast. Cinderella had to help them; and they kept
her busy all day doing their hair, and running messages, and helping
them to lace up their fine dresses.

When Cinderella saw their beautiful clothes she wished that she could
go to the ball as well; but when she timidly asked if she might, they
laughed in mocking scorn.

"You go to the ball!" they cried. "What would you do at the ball, with
your rags and tatters and your dirty face? No, no, Cinderella, go back
to your seat amongst the ashes--that is the place for a little kitchen
girl like you!"

So the two sisters and their mother drove away in a carriage and pair to
the King's palace, and Cinderella was left behind. She sat down on the
hearth before the kitchen fire and began to cry softly to herself,
because she felt so very lonely and miserable.

As she sat there in the dusk, with the firelight dancing over her, and
her face buried in her hands, she heard a voice calling:

"Cinderella, Cinderella!" and with a start she looked up to see who it
could be.

There on the hearth in front of her stood an old woman, leaning upon a
stick. She was dressed in a long red cloak, and she wore high-heeled
shoes and a tall black hat.



Where she had come from Cinderella could not imagine. She certainly had
not come in through the door, nor yet through the window for both were
shut.

Cinderella was so surprised to see her that she stopped crying, and
stared at her in astonishment.

"What are you crying for?" asked the old woman.

"Because my mother and sisters have gone to the ball, and I am left here
all alone," said Cinderella.

"Do you want to go to the ball, too!" said the old lady.

"Yes, but it is no good; I have nothing but rags to wear," sobbed poor
Cinderella.

"Well, well, be a good child and don't cry any more," said the old
woman, briskly. "I am your Fairy Godmother, and if you do what I tell
you, perhaps you shall go after all. Run out into the garden and bring
me in a pumpkin!"

Cinderella ran out into the garden and brought in the biggest pumpkin
that she could find.

"Now go and fetch the mouse-trap out of the cellar," said her Godmother,
and Cinderella hurried to get it. There were six mice in the trap, and
the old woman harnessed them to the pumpkin, put a rat on the top to
drive them, and two lizards behind, and then waved her wand over them.
Immediately the pumpkin turned into a gorgeous coach, the mice into six
beautiful horses, the rat into a stately coachman, and the lizards into
tall footmen, with powdered hair and silk stockings. "There," said the
old woman; "there's a carriage to take you to the ball."



"Alas," said Cinderella, "how can I go to the ball? I have nothing to
wear but this!" and she touched her ragged frock.

"Is that all?" said the Fairy Godmother. Once more she waved her wand,
and Cinderella's rags turned into the most beautiful dress in the world,
all shining with gold and silver threads and covered with costly gems.
In her hair was a circlet of pearls, and her feet were shod with the
prettiest and daintiest pair of glass slippers that ever were seen.

"Now," said the Fairy Godmother, "now you can go to the ball. But mind
you come away before the clock strikes twelve, for should you linger
beyond that hour, all your splendor will vanish, and your dress will
turn into rags again."

Cinderella promised to obey her Godmother's instructions. Then she got
into the beautiful coach. The footman shut the door, the coachman
whipped up the horses, and away she went to the ball.

When she arrived there was a great stir in the Palace. So lovely a face
and so costly and rich a dress had never before been seen, and everybody
thought it must be some great Princess arrived from foreign lands.



All the courtiers and other guests stood back to let her pass, and when
the Prince caught sight of her he fell in love with her on the spot. He
danced with her the whole of the evening, and people thought there was
no doubt as to whom he would choose for his bride.

At a quarter to twelve, Cinderella, remembering her Godmother's
instructions, said good-bye to the Prince and came away.

She arrived home just as the clock struck twelve. At once the coachman
and footmen turned back into rats and mice, and the coach into a
pumpkin; and when the sisters came home a little later, there was
Cinderella, dressed in her old shabby frock, sitting in her usual place
amongst the cinders.

The two ugly sisters were full of the strange Princess who had come to
the ball. They talked about her all the next day, little dreaming that
all the while the beautiful lady was their despised sister Cinderella.

In the evening after they had gone again to the ball, the Fairy
Godmother made her appearance. Once more Cinderella drove to the Palace
in her coach and six; this time arrayed in a still more gorgeous and
beautiful dress; and once more the Prince danced with her all the
evening.



But when the third night came Cinderella was enjoying herself so much
that she quite forgot what her Fairy Godmother had said, until suddenly
she heard the clock begin to strike twelve. She remembered that as soon
as it finished striking, all her fine clothes would turn to rags again;
and, jumping up in alarm, she ran out of the room. The Prince ran after
her, trying to overtake her; and Cinderella in her fright ran so fast
that she left one of her little glass slippers on the floor behind her.

The Prince stopped to pick it up, and this gave Cinderella time to
escape; but she was only just in time. Just as she was crossing the
Palace yard, the clock finished striking, and immediately all her finery
vanished; and there she was, dressed in her old ragged frock again.

When the Prince came out upon the Palace steps, he could see no sign of
the lovely Princess. The guards at the gate told him that nobody at all
had passed that way, except a little ragged kitchenmaid; and the Prince
had to go back to the ball with only a little glass slipper to remind
him of the beautiful lady with whom he was so desperately in love.

The next day the King sent out all his heralds and trumpeters with a
Proclamation, saying that the Prince would marry the lady whose foot
the slipper fitted. But though all the ladies in the land tried on the
slipper it would fit none of them--their feet were all too big!

At last the heralds came to the house where Cinderella lived. The eldest
stepsister tried the slipper on first, but it was quite impossible for
her to get her foot into it, for her great toe was too big. Then her
mother, who was watching eagerly, fetched a carving-knife.



"Be quick, cut the toe off," she said; "what does it matter if you are
lame--if you are the Prince's bride you will always ride in a carriage!"

So the eldest sister cut off her big toe, but it was no use, the slipper
would not fit, and at last she was obliged to hand it to her sister.

But the other sister had no better luck. She did, indeed, get her toes
inside, but her foot was much too long, and her heel stuck out behind.
The mother urged her to cut it off.

"What does it matter?" she said. "If you are the Prince's bride you will
never need to walk any more."

But although she cut her heel off, the slipper was still too small; and
at length she, too, had to give up the attempt to force her foot into
it.

Then Cinderella came shyly out from behind the door where she had been
standing out of sight, and asked if she might try on the slipper. Her
stepmother and sisters were very angry, and were about to drive her away
with blows, but the herald stopped them.

"The Prince wishes every woman in the land to try on this slipper," he
said; and asking Cinderella to sit on a chair, he knelt down and tried
the slipper on her foot.

And it fitted her exactly!

While everyone stood and stared in astonishment, Cinderella drew from
her pocket the other slipper and put it on. No sooner had she done so
than her ragged frock changed into the beautiful ball dress again, and
she stood up before them all--the beautiful lady with whom the Prince
had fallen in love at the ball.

The Prince was overjoyed to find her again; and they were married at
once with much pomp amid great rejoicings.

As for the wicked sisters they were so jealous that they both turned
green with envy. They grew uglier and uglier every day, until at last
they grew so dreadfully ugly that nobody could bear to look at them any
longer. But Cinderella became more and more beautiful, and lived happily
with the Prince for ever afterwards.





Next: Jack The Giant Killer

Previous: Beauty And The Beast



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