Once there was a gentleman who married, for his second wife, theproudest and most haughty woman that was ever seen. She had, by aformer husband, two daughters of her own humour and they were indeedexactly like her in all things. He had likewise, by another wife, ayoung daughter, but of unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper,which she took from her mother, who was the best creature in theworld.
No sooner were the ceremonies of the wedding over, but the stepmotherbegan to shew herself in her colours. She could not bear the goodqualities of this pretty girl; and the less, because they made her owndaughters appear the more odious. She employed her in the meanest workof the house; she scoured the dishes, tables, &c. and rubbed Madam’schamber, and those of Misses, her daughters; she lay up in a sorrygarret, upon a wretched straw-bed, while her sisters lay in finerooms, with floors all inlaid, upon beds of the very newest fashion,and where they had looking-glasses so large, that they might seethemselves at their full length, from head to foot.
The poor girl bore all patiently, and dared not tell her father, whowould have rattled her off; for his wife governed him intirely. Whenshe had done her work, she used to go into the chimney-corner, andsit down among cinders and ashes, which made her commonly be calledCinder-breech; but the youngest, who was not so rude and uncivil asthe eldest, called her Cinderilla. However, Cinderilla,notwithstanding her mean apparel, was a hundred times handsomer thanher sisters, tho’ they were always dressed very richly.
It happened that the King’s son gave a ball, and invited all personsof fashion to it. Our young misses were also invited; for they cut avery grand figure among the quality. They were mightily delighted atthis invitation, and wonderfully busy in chusing out such gowns,petticoats, and head-clothes as might best become them. This was a newtrouble to Cinderilla; for it was she who ironed her sisters’ linen,and plaited their ruffles; they talked all day long of nothing but howthey should be dressed. “For my part,” said the eldest, “I will wearmy red velvet suit, with French trimming.” “And I,” said the youngest,”shall only have my usual petticoat; but then, to make amends forthat, I will put on my gold-flowered manteau, and my diamondstomacher, which is far from being the most ordinary one in theworld.” They sent for the best tire-woman they could get, to make uptheir head-dresses, and adjust their double-pinners, and they hadtheir red brushes, and patches from the fashionable maker.[Footnote 3: ‘Pinners’ were coifs with two long side-flaps pinned on.’Double-pinners’–with two side-flaps on each side–accuratelytranslates the French _cornettes à deux rangs_.] [Illustration: “ANY ONE BUT CINDERILLA WOULD HAVE DRESSED THEIR HEADSAWRY”]
Cinderilla was likewise called up to them to be consulted in all thesematters, for she had excellent notions, and advised them always forthe best, nay and offered her service to dress their heads, which theywere very willing she should do. As she was doing this, they said toher:
“Cinderilla, would you not be glad to go to the ball?”
“Ah!” said she, “you only jeer at me; it is not for such as I am to gothither.”
“Thou art in the right of it,” replied they, “it would make the peoplelaugh to see a Cinder-breech at a ball.”
Any one but Cinderilla would have dressed their heads awry, but shewas very good, and dressed them perfectly well. They were almost twodays without eating, so much they were transported with joy; theybroke above a dozen of laces in trying to be laced up close, that theymight have a fine slender shape, and they were continually at theirlooking-glass. At last the happy day came; they went to Court, andCinderilla followed them with her eyes as long as she could, and whenshe had lost sight of them she fell a-crying.
Her godmother, who saw her all in tears, asked her what was thematter.
“I wish I could—-, I wish I could–;” she was not able to speak therest, being interrupted by her tears and sobbing.
This godmother of hers, who was a Fairy, said to her:
“Thou wishest thou couldest go to the ball, is it not so?”
“Y–es,” cried Cinderilla, with a great sigh.
“Well,” said her godmother, “be but a good girl, and I will contrivethat thou shalt go.” Then she took her into her chamber, and said toher:
“Run into the garden, and bring me a pumpkin.”
Cinderilla went immediately to gather the finest she could get, andbrought it to her godmother, not being able to imagine how thispumpkin could make her go to the ball. Her godmother scooped out allthe inside of it, leaving nothing but the rind; which done, she struckit with her wand, and the pumpkin was instantly turned into a finecoach, gilded all over with gold.
She then went to look into her mouse-trap, where she found six miceall alive, and ordered Cinderilla 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 at that moment turned into a fair horse, whichaltogether made a very fine set of six horses of a beautifulmouse-coloured dapple-grey.
Being at a loss for a coachman, “I will go and see,” says Cinderilla,”if there be never a rat in the rat-trap, that we may make a coachmanof him.”
“Thou art in the right,” replied her godmother; “go and look.”
Cinderilla brought the trap to her, and in it there were three hugerats. The Fairy made choice of one of the three, which had the largestbeard, and, having touched him with her wand, he was turned into a fatjolly 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 thewatering pot; bring them to me.”
She had no sooner done so, but her godmother turned them into sixfootmen, who skipped up immediately behind the coach, with theirliveries all bedaubed with gold and silver, and clung as close behindit, as if they had done nothing else their whole lives. The Fairy thensaid to Cinderilla:
“Well, you see here an equipage fit to go to the ball with; are younot pleased with it?”
“O yes,” cried she, “but must I go thither as I am, in these poisonnasty rags?”
Her godmother only just touched her with her wand, and, at the sameinstant, her clothes were turned into cloth of gold and silver, allbeset with jewels. This done she gave her a pair of glass-slippers,the prettiest in the whole world.[Footnote 4: In Perrault’s tale: _pantoufles de verre_. There is nodoubt that in the medieval versions of this ancient tale Cinderillawas given _pantoufles de vair_–_i.e._, of a grey, or grey and white,fur, the exact nature of which has been a matter of controversy, butwhich was probably a grey squirrel. Long before the seventeenthcentury the word _vair_ had passed out of use, except as a heraldicterm, and had ceased to convey any meaning to the people. Thus the_pantoufles de vair_ of the fairy tale became, in the oral tradition,the homonymous _pantoufles de verre_, or glass slippers, a delightfulimprovement on the earlier version.]
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 at the ball onemoment longer, her coach would be a pumpkin again, her horses mice,her coachman a rat, her footmen lizards, and her clothes become justas they were before.
She promised her godmother, she would not fail of leaving the ballbefore midnight; and then away she drove, scarce able to containherself 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 hishand as she alighted out of the coach, and led her into the hall,among all the company. There was immediately a profound silence, theyleft off dancing, and the violins ceased to play, so attentive wasevery one to contemplate the singular beauty of this 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 ogling her, andtelling the Queen softly, “that it was a long time since he had seenso beautiful and lovely a creature.” All the ladies were busied inconsidering her clothes and head-dress, that they might have some madenext day after the same pattern, provided they could meet with suchfine materials, and as able hands to make them.
The King’s son conducted her to the most honourable seat, andafterwards took her out to dance with him: she danced so verygracefully, that they all more and more admired her. A fine collationwas served up, whereof the young Prince ate not a morsel, so intentlywas he busied in gazing on her. She went and sat down by her sisters,shewing them a thousand civilities, giving them part of the orangesand citrons which the Prince had presented her with; which very muchsurprised them, for they did not know her.
While Cinderilla was thus amusing her sisters, she heard the clockstrike eleven and three quarters, whereupon she immediately made acurtesy to the company, and hasted away as fast as she could.
Being got home, she ran to seek out her godmother, and after havingthanked her, she said, “she could not but heartily wish she might gonext day to the ball, because the King’s son had desired her.” As shewas eagerly telling her godmother whatever had passed at the ball, hertwo sisters knocked at the door which Cinderilla ran and opened.
“How long you have stayed,” cried she, gaping, rubbing her eyes, andstretching herself as if she had been just awaked out of her sleep;she had not, however, any manner of inclination to sleep since theywent from home.
“If thou hadst been at the ball,” said one of her sisters, “thouwouldst not have been tired with it; there came thither the finestPrincess, the most beautiful ever was seen with mortal eyes; sheshewed us a thousand civilities, and gave us oranges and citrons.”Cinderilla was transported with joy; she asked them the name of thatPrincess; but they told her they did not know it; and that the King’sson was very anxious to learn it, and would give all the world to knowwho she was. At this Cinderilla, smiling, replied:
“She must then be very beautiful indeed; Lord! how happy have youbeen; could not I see her? Ah! dear Miss Charlotte, do lend me youryellow suit of cloaths which you wear every day!”
“Ay, to be sure!” cried Miss Charlotte, “lend my cloaths to such adirty Cinder-breech as thou art; who’s the fool then?”
Cinderilla, indeed, expected some such answer, and was very glad ofthe refusal; for she would have been sadly put to it, if her sisterhad lent her what she asked for jestingly.
The next day the two sisters were at the ball, and so was Cinderilla,but dressed more magnificently than before. The King’s son was alwaysby her, and never ceased his compliments and amorous speeches to her;to whom all this was so far from being tiresome, that she quite forgotwhat her godmother had recommended to her, so that she, at last,counted the clock striking twelve, when she took it to be no more thaneleven; she then rose up, and fled as nimble as a deer.
The Prince followed, but could not overtake her. She left behind oneof her glass slippers, which the Prince took up most carefully. Shegot home, but quite out of breath, without coach or footmen, and inher nasty old cloaths, having nothing left her of all her finery, butone of the little slippers, fellow to that she dropped. The guards atthe palace gate were asked if they had not seen a Princess go out; whosaid, they had seen nobody go out, but a young girl, very meanlydressed, and who had more the air of a poor country wench, than agentle-woman.[Illustration: “SHE LEFT BEHIND ONE OF HER GLASS SLIPPERS, WHICH THEPRINCE TOOK UP MOST CAREFULLY”]
When the two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderilla asked them ifthey had been well diverted, and if the fine lady had been there. Theytold her, Yes, but that she hurried away immediately when it strucktwelve, and with so much haste, that she dropped one of her littleglass slippers, the prettiest in the world, and which the King’s sonhad taken up; that he had done nothing but look at it during all thelatter part of the ball, and that most certainly he was very much inlove with the beautiful person who owned the little slipper.
What they said was very true; for a few days after, the King’s soncaused it to be proclaimed by sound of trumpet, that he would marryher whose foot this slipper would just fit. They whom he employedbegan to try it on upon the Princesses, then the duchesses, and allthe Court, but in vain. It was brought to the two sisters, who did allthey possibly could to thrust their feet into the slipper, but theycould not effect it.
Cinderilla, who saw all this, and knew her slipper, said to themlaughing:
“Let me see if it will not fit me?”
Her sisters burst out a-laughing, and began to banter her. Thegentleman who was sent to try the slipper, looked earnestly atCinderilla, and finding her very handsome, said it was but just thatshe should try, and that he had orders to let every one make tryal. Heinvited Cinderilla to sit down, and putting the slipper to her foot,he found it went on very easily, and fitted her, as if it had beenmade of wax. The astonishment her two sisters were in was excessivelygreat, but still abundantly greater, when Cinderilla pulled out of herpocket the other slipper, and put it on her foot. Thereupon, in cameher godmother, who having touched, with her wand, Cinderilla’scloaths, made them richer and more magnificent than any of those shehad before.
And now her two sisters found her to be that fine beautiful lady whomthey had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet, to begpardon for all the ill treatment they had made her undergo. Cinderillatook them up, and as she embraced them, cried that she forgave themwith all her heart, and desired them always to love her.
She was conducted to the young Prince, dressed as she was; he thoughther more charming than ever, and, a few days after, married her.
Cinderilla, who was no less good than beautiful, gave her two sisterslodgings in the palace, and that very same day matched them with twogreat lords of the court.