Thursday, August 26, 2010
Once upon a time, there lived near the capital city of a large kingdom a very worthy gentleman and his beautiful and amiable young wife. They loved each other tenderly, and they had not been wedded long before there was a pretty little girl baby in the nursery. For a time, both parents were very happy, but their joy did not last forever. Just as the daughter was growing up into a fair and lovely girl, the mother fell ill and died.
After a while, the father married again. Unhappily, the choice he made this time was not a good one. The lady he married was very rich, but proud and ill-tempered, and she had two grown-up daughters of exactly her own disposition.
The marriage was no sooner over than the new wife began to be very harsh toward her step-child, whose gentle and loving disposition caused the behavior of her own daughters to appear even more detestable than before. She made her do all the hard work of the house; scrub the floor, polish the grates, answer the door, wait at table, and wash up the plates and dishes.
But the poor child would not complain, even to her father, who always showed the most anxious affection for her. She knew how unhappy he, too, was in this second marriage, and how powerless to help her. When her work was done, she would sit for warmth in a corner of the chimney, among the cinders; and for this reason, and to show how much they despised her, the unkind sisters gave her the name of Cinderella.
One day the two sisters received an invitation to a ball that was to be given at the palace of the King, in honor of his son, the Prince, who had just come of age. An invitation to this ball being a great honor, the sisters were in high glee, and at once began making preparations to appear there in grand style.
This meant a great deal more work for Cinderella. She had to do all the sewing and ironing, to starch and plait the ruffles, to run out three or four times a day to make purchases, and, when the day of the ball came, to help her proud sisters dress, even to the arranging of their hair; for they knew she had excellent taste in all these matters, although they would not deign to admit it openly.
At last the time came to start, and the sisters rode off to the ball, being mean enough at the last moment to taunt Cinderella with not having been invited. The poor girl retired to her dismal kitchen, and could not help weeping as she sat there, thinking over her sisters' cruelty.
Suddenly she heard a tap at the door, and when she opened it there walked in an odd-looking little woman, who carried a wand in her hand. She was a Fairy who had been a great friend of Cinderella's mother while she was alive, and had been chosen as godmother for Cinderella when she was born. After telling Cinderella who she was, she asked her why she had been weeping.
"I--I--should so much have--have liked--" sobbed the broken-hearted girl, but could say no more.
"Do you mean, you would like to go with your sisters?"
"Oh! yes, I should," cried Cinderella.
"Well, well!" said her godmother, "be a good girl, and you shall go."
Cinderella soon dried her tears; and when her godmother said, "Fetch me a pumpkin, she ran and got the largest she could find. The Fairy scooped it hollow, touched it with her wand, and immediately changed it into a magnificent carriage.
Then seeing a mouse-trap in which were six live mice, she told Cinderella to open the door of it; and as each mouse ran out, she touched it with her wand; and so got as handsome a team of mouse- colored horses as were ever harnessed together.
Then she made a coachman out of a rat, and six tall footmen out of six lizards from the garden. Another touch from the wand changed Cinderella's dingy clothing into a beautiful ball-dress, that sparkled with diamonds. Last of all, the Fairy gave her a pair of slippers made of glass, the smallest and prettiest ever seen.
Cinderella was now quite ready. Just as she was stepping into the carriage, the good Fairy said, "Mind, whatever you do, don't be later than twelve;" and warned her, that if she did not leave in time, her carriage would turn back to a pumpkin, her horses to mice, her coachman to a rat, her footmen to lizards, and her dress to rags.
There was a great stir at the palace when the splendid carriage drove up, and great was the interest displayed when Cinderella alighted. The Lord High Chamberlain himself escorted her to the ball-room, and introduced her to the Prince, who immediately claimed her hand for the next dance. Cinderella was in a whirl of delight, the envy and admiration of all the ladies and gentlemen. The hours flew all too fast. At supper Cinderella was seated next her sisters, and even conversed with them, they little thinking who she was.
When the hands of the clock pointed to a quarter of twelve, Cinderella, mindful of her godmother's warning, arose and hastened to her carriage. The Prince hurried after her, expressed his regret that she must leave so soon, and invited her to come to the palace the next evening, when a second ball was to be given.
The following night the two sisters went again to the ball, and Cinderella's godmother let her also go; but in a much handsomer dress than before.
The Prince waited for her at the door, at least three-quarters of an hour, and when she arrived, led her into the ball-room. He danced with her every time, and kept by her side the whole evening.
Cinderella was so happy, she entirely forgot her godmother's warning, and the time had passed so quickly she did not think it was more than eleven when the first stroke of midnight sounded.
She jumped up from her seat by the side of the Prince, rushed across the room, and flew down stairs.
The Prince ran after her; but was too late. The only trace of her was a glass slipper, which had fallen off in her flight. The Prince picked it up, and would not part with it.
Poor Cinderella got home frightened and out of breath. She had none of her finery now, except the other glass slipper.
The Prince made the strictest inquiries, but could get no information from the servants of the palace, or the soldiers on guard. The only person that had passed them, was a poorly clad girl, who certainly could not have been at the ball.
The next day heralds were sent through all the kingdom, proclaiming that the Prince would marry the lady who could wear the slipper that he had picked up.
The rivalry among the ladies was very great, but as the slipper was a magic shoe, it fitted no one. When the herald called on the two sisters, although they squeezed their feet terribly, they fared no better than the others. When they were quite tired out with trying, Cinderella asked, "May I see if it will fit me?"
The sisters began to laugh and sneer, but the herald said, "Everybody has a right to try."
Cinderella sat down, and no sooner was the slipper tried, than it fitted like a glove. Then she drew the other slipper form her pocket and put it on, and at that moment the Fairy appeared, and touching Cinderella's clothes with her wand, made them more splendid than ever. The sisters knew then that she was the beautiful Princess of the ball, and they begged her forgiveness.
Cinderella soon married the Prince; and afterward, the sisters, whose pride had become subdued, married two noblemen of the Court.