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CINDERELLA; OR, THE LITTLE GLASS SLIPPER

(From the French tale by Charles Perrault)

There was once a very rich gentleman who lost his wife, and having loved her exceedingly, he was very sorry when she died. Finding himself quite unhappy for her loss, he resolved to marry a second time, thinking by this means he should be as happy as before. Unfortunately, however, the lady he chanced to fix upon was the proudest and most haughty woman ever known; she was always out of humour with every one; nobody could please her, and she returned the civilities of those about her with the most affronting disdain. She had two daughters by a former husband. These she brought up to be proud and idle. Indeed, in temper and behaviour they perfectly resembled their mother; they did not love their books, and would not learn to work; in short they were disliked by every body. The gentleman on his side too had a daughter, who in sweetness of temper and carriage was the exact likeness of her own mother, whose death he had so much lamented, and whose tender care of the little girl he was in hopes to see replaced by that of his new bride. But scarcely was the marriage ceremony over, before his wife began to show her real temper. She could not bear the pretty little girl, because her sweet obliging manners made those of her own daughters appear a thousand times the more odious and disagreeable. She therefore ordered her to live in the kitchen; and, if ever she brought any thing into the parlour, always scolded her till she was out of sight. She made her work with the servants in washing the dishes, and rubbing the tables and chairs; it was her place to clean madam's chamber, and that of the misses her daughters, which was all inlaid, had beds of the newest fashion, and looking-glasses so long and broad, that they saw themselves from head to foot in them; while the little creature herself was forced to sleep up in a sorry garret, upon a wretched straw bed, without curtains, or any thing to make her comfortable. The poor child bore this with the greatest patience, not daring to complain to her father, who, she feared, would only reprove her, for she saw that his wife governed him entirely. When she had done all her work she used to sit in the chimney-corner among the cinders; so that in the house she went by the name of Cinderbreech. The youngest of the two sisters, however, being rather more civil than the eldest, called her Cinderella. And Cinderella, dirty and ragged as she was, as often happens in such cases, was a thousand times prettier than her sisters, drest out in all their splendour. It happened that the king's son gave a ball, to which he invited all the persons of fashion in the country. Our two misses were of the number, for the king's son did not know how disagreeable they were, but supposed, as they were so much indulged, that they were extremely amiable. He did not invite Cinderella, for he had never seen or heard of her.

The two sisters began immediately to be very busy in preparing for the happy day. Nothing could exceed their joy. Every moment of their time was spent in fancying such gowns, shoes, and head-dresses as would set them off to the greatest advantage. All this was new vexation to poor Cinderella, for it was she who ironed and plaited her sisters' linen. They talked of nothing but how they should be dressed: "I," said the eldest, "will wear my scarlet velvet with French trimming." "And I," said the youngest, "shall wear the same petticoat I had made for the last ball. But then, to make amends for that, I shall put on my gold muslin train, and wear my diamonds in my hair; with these I must certainly look well." They sent several miles for the best hair dresser that was to be had, and all their ornaments were bought at the most fashionable shops. On the morning of the ball, they called up Cinderella to consult with her about their dress, for they knew she had a great deal of taste. Cinderella gave them the best advice she could, and even offered to assist in adjusting their head-dresses; which was exactly what they wanted, and they accordingly accepted her proposal. While Cinderella was busily engaged in dressing her sisters, they said to her, "Should you not like, Cinderella, to go to the ball?" "Ah!" replied Cinderella, "you are only laughing at me, it is not for such as I am to think of going to balls." "You are in the right," said they, "folks might laugh indeed, to see a Cinderbreech dancing in a ball room." Any other than Cinderella would have tried to make the haughty creatures look as ugly as she could; but the sweet tempered girl on the contrary, did every thing she could think of to make them look well. The sisters had scarcely eaten any thing for two days, so great was their joy as the happy day drew near. More than a dozen laces were broken in endeavouring to give them a fine slender shape, and they were always before the looking glass. At length the much wished for moment arrived; the proud misses stepped into a beautiful carriage, and, followed by servants in rich liveries, drove towards the palace. Cinderella followed them with her eyes as far as she could; and when they were out of sight, she sat down in a corner and began to cry. Her godmother, who saw her in tears, asked her what ailed her. "I wish——I w-i-s-h—" sobbed poor Cinderella, without being able to say another word. The godmother, who was a fairy, said to her, "You wish to go to the ball, Cinderella, is not this the truth?" "Alas! yes," replied the poor child, sobbing still more than before. "Well, well, be a good girl," said the godmother, "and you shall go." She then led Cinderella to her bedchamber, and said to her: "Run into the garden and bring me a pumpkin." Cinderella flew like lightning, and brought the finest she could lay hold of. Her godmother scooped out the inside, leaving nothing but the rind; she then struck it with her wand, and the pumpkin instantly became a fine coach gilded all over with gold. She then looked into her mouse-trap, where she found six mice all alive and brisk. She told Cinderella to lift up the door of the trap very gently; and as the mice passed out, she touched them one by one with her wand, and each immediately became a beautiful horse of a fine dapple gray mouse colour. "Here, my child," said the godmother, "is a coach and horses too, as handsome as your sisters', but what shall we do for a postillion?" "I will run," replied Cinderella, "and see if there be not a rat in the trap. If I find one, he will do very well for a postillion." "Well thought of, my child," said her godmother; "make what haste you can."

Cinderella brought the rat trap, which, to her great joy, contained three of the largest rats ever seen. The fairy chose the one which had the longest beard; and touching him with her wand, he was instantly turned into a handsome postillion, with the finest pair of whiskers imaginable. She next said to Cinderella: "Go again into the garden, and you will find six lizards behind the watering-pot; bring them hither." This was no sooner done, than with a stroke from the fairy's wand they were changed into six footmen, who all jumped up behind the coach in their laced liveries, and stood side by side as cleverly as if they had been used to nothing else the whole of their lives. The fairy then said to Cinderella: "Well, my dear, is not this such an equipage as you could wish for to take you to the ball? Are you not delighted with it?" "Y-e-s," replied Cinderella with hesitation, "but must I go thither in these filthy rags?" Her godmother touched her with the wand, and her rags instantly became the most magnificent apparel, ornamented with the most costly jewels in the whole world. To these she added a beautiful pair of glass slippers, and bade her set out for the palace. The fairy, however, before she took leave of Cinderella, strictly charged her on no account whatever to stay at the ball after the clock had struck twelve, telling her that, should she stay but a single moment after that time, her coach would again become a pumpkin, her horses mice, her footmen lizards, and her fine clothes be changed to filthy rags. Cinderella did not fail to promise all her godmother desired of her; and almost wild with joy drove away to the palace. As soon as she arrived, the king's son, who had been informed that a great princess, whom nobody knew, was come to the ball, presented himself at the door of her carriage, helped her out, and conducted her to the ball room. Cinderella no sooner appeared than every one was silent; both the dancing and the music stopped, and every body was employed in gazing at the uncommon beauty of this unknown stranger. Nothing was heard but whispers of "How handsome she is!" The king himself, old as he was, could not keep his eyes from her, and continually repeated to the queen, that it was a long time since he had seen so lovely a creature. The ladies endeavoured to find out how her clothes were made, that they might get some of the same pattern for themselves by the next day, should they be lucky enough to meet with such handsome materials, and such good work-people to make them.

The king's son conducted her to the most honourable seat, and soon after took her out to dance with him. She both moved and danced so gracefully, that every one admired her still more than before, and she was thought the most beautiful and accomplished lady they ever beheld. After some time a delicious collation was served up; but the young prince was so busily employed in looking at her, that he did not eat a morsel. Cinderella seated herself near her sisters, paid them a thousand attentions, and offered them a part of the oranges and sweetmeats with which the prince had presented her, while they on their part were quite astonished at these civilities from a lady whom they did not know. As they were conversing together, Cinderella heard the clock strike eleven and three quarters. She rose from her seat, curtesied to the company, and hastened away as fast as she could. As soon as she got home she flew to her godmother, and, after thanking her a thousand times, told her she would give the world to be able to go again to the ball the next day, for the king's son had entreated her to be there. While she was telling her godmother every thing that had happened to her at the ball, the two sisters knocked a loud rat-tat-tat at the door; which Cinderella opened. "How late you have stayed!" said she, yawning, rubbing her eyes, and stretching herself, as if just awakened out of her sleep, though she had in truth felt no desire for sleep since they left her. "If you had been at the ball," said one of her sisters, "let me tell you, you would not have been sleepy. There came thither the handsomest, yes, the very handsomest princess ever beheld! She paid us a thousand attentions, and made us take a part of the oranges and sweetmeats the prince had given her." Cinderella could scarcely contain herself for joy: she asked her sisters the name of this princess, to which they replied, that nobody had been able to discover who she was; that the king's son was extremely grieved on that account, and had offered a large reward to any person who could find out where she came from. Cinderella smiled, and said: "How very beautiful she must be! How fortunate you are! Ah, could I but see her for a single moment! Dear Miss Charlotte, lend me only the yellow gown you wear every day, and let me go to see her." "Oh! yes, I warrant you; lend my clothes to a Cinderbreech! Do you really suppose me such a fool? No, no; pray, Miss Forward, mind your proper business, and leave dress and balls to your betters." Cinderella expected some such answer, and was by no means sorry, for she would have been sadly at a loss what to do if her sister had lent her the clothes that she asked of her.

The next day the two sisters again appeared at the ball, and so did Cinderella, but dressed much more magnificently than the night before. The king's son was continually by her side, and said the most obliging things imaginable to her. The charming young creature was far from being tired of all the agreeable things she met with. On the contrary, she was so delighted with them that she entirely forgot the charge her godmother had given her. Cinderella at last heard the striking of a clock, and counted one, two, three, on till she came to twelve, though she thought that it could be but eleven at most. She got up and flew as nimbly as a deer out of the ball-room. The prince tried to overtake her; but poor Cinderella's fright made her run the faster. However, in her great hurry, she dropped one of her glass slippers from her foot, which the prince stooped down and picked up, and took the greatest care of it possible. Cinderella got home tired and out of breath, in her old clothes, without either coach or footmen, and having nothing left of her magnificence but the fellow of the glass slipper which she had dropped. In the mean while, the prince had inquired of all his guards at the palace gates, if they had not seen a magnificent princess pass out, and which way she went? The guards replied, that no princess had passed the gates; and that they had not seen a creature but a little ragged girl, who looked more like a beggar than a princess. When the two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderella asked them if they had been as much amused as the night before, and if the beautiful princess had been there? They told her that she had; but that as soon as the clock struck twelve, she hurried away from the ball room, and in the great haste she had made, had dropped one of her glass slippers, which was the prettiest shape that could be; that the king's son had picked it up, and had done nothing but look at it all the rest of the evening; and that every body believed he was violently in love with the handsome lady to whom it belonged.

This was very true; for a few days after, the prince had it proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, that he would marry the lady whose foot should exactly fit the slipper he had found. Accordingly the prince's messengers took the slipper, and carried it first to all the princesses, then to the duchesses, in short, to all the ladies of the court. But without success. They then brought it to the two sisters, who each tried all she could to squeeze her foot into the slipper, but saw at last that this was quite impossible. Cinderella who was looking at them all the while, and knew her slipper, could not help smiling, and ventured to say, "Pray, sir, let me try to get on the slipper." The gentleman made her sit down; and putting the slipper to her foot, it instantly slipped in, and he saw that it fitted her like wax. The two sisters were amazed to see that the slipper fitted Cinderella; but how much greater was their astonishment when she drew out of her pocket the other slipper and put it on! Just at this moment the fairy entered the room, and touching Cinderella's clothes with her wand, made her all at once appear more magnificently dressed than they had ever seen her before.

The two sisters immediately perceived that she was the beautiful princess they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet, and asked her forgiveness for the ill treatment she had received from them. Cinderella helped them to rise, and, tenderly embracing them, said that she forgave them with all her heart, and begged them to bestow on her their affection. Cinderella was then conducted, dressed as she was, to the young prince, who finding her more beautiful than ever, instantly desired her to accept of his hand. The marriage ceremony took place in a few days; and Cinderella, who was as amiable as she was handsome, gave her sisters magnificent apartments in the palace, and a short time after married them to two great lords of the court.

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