: THE OLD FAIRY TALES
: Boys And Girls Bookshelf
BY CHARLES PERRAULT
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 his first wife, a
young daughter, but of unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper,
which she took from her mother, who w
s the best creature in the world.
No sooner were the ceremonies of the wedding over but the step-mother
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 the meanest work
of the house: the young girl 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
Cinderwench; 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 sister's 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
"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
They sent for the best tire-woman they could get to dress their hair
and to adjust their double pinners.
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
"Cinderella, would you not be glad to go to the ball?"
"Alas!" said she, "you only jeer at me; it is not for such as I am to
"Thou art in the right of it," replied they; "it would make the people
laugh to see a Cinderwench at a ball."
Anyone but Cinderella would have dressed their heads awry, but she was
very good, and did 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-glasses. 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 couldst go to the ball; is it not so?"
"Y--es," cried Cinderella, with a great sigh.
"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 the mouse-trap, where she found six mice,
all alive, and ordered Cinderella to lift up a little the trap-door,
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,
"I will go and see," says Cinderella, "if there should be a rat in the
rat-trap--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 than 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 nasty
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. This done, she gave her a pair of glass slippers,
the prettiest in the whole world. Being thus decked out, she got up
into her coach; 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 drove, 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 everyone
to contemplate the singular beauties of the unknown new-comer. Nothing
was then heard but a confused noise of:
"Ah! how handsome she is! Ah! 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 head-dress,
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
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.
Arrived at 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 whatever had passed at the
ball, her two sisters knocked at the door, which Cinderella ran and
"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, any manner of inclination to sleep since they went
"If thou hadst been at the ball," says one of her sisters, "thou
wouldst not have been tired with it. There came thither the finest
princess, the most beautiful ever seen with mortal eyes; she showed us
a thousand civilities, and gave us oranges and citrons."
Cinderella seemed very indifferent in the matter. She did ask 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 day."
"Ay, to be sure!" cried Miss Charlotte; "lend my clothes to such a
dirty Cinderwench as thou art! I should be a fool."
Cinderella, indeed, expected well such an 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. 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 nasty 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
princess go out. To this they replied that they had seen nobody go out
but a young girl, very meanly dressed, and who had more the air of a
poor country wench than a gentlewoman.
When the two sisters returned from the ball Cinderella asked them
whether they had had a good time, and if the fine lady had been there.
They told her: "Yes, but she hurried away immediately when it 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 picked up;
he did nothing but look at her all the time at the ball, and most
certainly he is 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 foot into the slipper, but they could
not effect it. Cinderella, who saw all this, and knew her slipper, said
to them, laughing:
"Let me see if it will not fit me."
Her sisters burst out a-laughing, and began to banter her. The
gentleman who was sent to try the slipper looked earnestly at
Cinderella, and, finding her very handsome, said:
"It is but just that she should try, and I have orders to let everyone
He obliged Cinderella to sit down, and, putting the slipper to her
foot, he found it went on very easily, and fitted her as if it had been
made of wax. The astonishment her two sisters were in was excessively
great, but still abundantly greater when Cinderella pulled out of her
pocket the other slipper, and put it on her foot. Thereupon, in came
her godmother, who, having touched with her wand Cinderella's clothes,
made them richer and more magnificent than any of those she had before.
And now her two sisters found her to be that fine, beautiful lady whom
they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet to beg
pardon for all the ill-treatment they had made her undergo. Cinderella
took them up, and, as she embraced them, cried:
"I forgive you with all my heart, and I want you to love me always."
She was conducted to the young Prince, dressed as she was; he thought
her more charming than ever, and, a few days after, married her.
Cinderella, who was no less good than beautiful, gave her two sisters
lodgings in the palace, and that very same day matched them with two
great lords of the Court.