This wife, who was a widow, had two daughters, as proud as herself. Her husband had one daughter, who was gentle and good, as her own mother had been.
Cinderella's stepsisters were invited; and very proud and happy they were, as they talked of the [PAGE] [PAGE] smart dresses they would wear, and the grand folk they would meet at the palace.
When the great day came, Cinderella was busy, from morning till evening, helping her stepsisters to get ready for the ball. She laced their gownsm, dressed their hair, arranged their feathers and jewels, and even put on their slippers.
As she did so, they teased her, to amuse themselves.
At last the sisters were ready, and with their mother, they drove away to the palace.
When they were gone, Cinderella, left alone, sat down among the cinders, and began to cry.
"I can guess, what you wish," said the fairy Godmother. "You wish to go to the ball at the palace."
"Yes, indeed I do, dear Godmother," cried Cinderella.
"Run into the garden," said the Godmother, "and fetch me the largest pumpkin you can find."
Away went Cinderella, and very soon she ran back again, hugging a big green-and-yellow pumpkin.
The fairy Godmother scooped out the inside of the pumpkin, leaving nothing but the rind. Then she touched it with her stick, which was really a fairy wand, and at once the pumpkin became a fine coach, shining all over with gold, and lined with green.
[PAGE] [PAGE] "Now fetch the mousetrap," said she.
Cinderella obeyed quickly. In the mousetrap were six mice. The fairy Godmother opened the trap, and as each mouse ran out, she touched it with her wand, and it became a sleek and prancing horse.
"There are your coach and horses," said she; "now for the coachman. Bring me the rat-trap."
Cinderella brought the rat-trap. There were three rats in it. The fairy Godmother chose the finest of the three, and touched it with her wand. At once the rat became a tall and handsomely-dressed coachman. "Behind the watering pot are six green lizards," said the fairy Godmother; "bring them here."
Cinderella brought the six lizards, and at a touch of the wand, each one was turned into a smart footman, in a green uniform. The coachman mounted the box, and the footman climbed to the back of the coach. "Now your carriage is ready," said the fairy Godmother.
"But how can I go to the ball like this?" said Cinderella, looking down at her shabby frock.
"You shall soon be more beautiful than your coach," replied her Godmother, tapping her lightly with her wand. Then Cinderella's old clothes were turned into robes of silk and velvet, glittering with jewels. And the fairy Godmother gave her a little [PAGE] pair of shining glass slippers, the prettiest that ever were seen.
"Remember," said her Godmother, "you must leave the ball before the clock strikes twelve. If you do not, your coach will again become a pumpkin, your horses will become mice; your coachman will turn into a rat, and your footmen into lizards; while you will find yourself once more in shabby clothes."
All the evening, the prince kept at Cinderella's side, dancing with her, and serving her with dainty dishes at supper-time. Indeed, his mind was so taken up with her, that he forgot to eat a morsel himself. While Cinderella was talking to her stepsisisters, who did not know it was Cinderella, the clock chimed the quarter before twelve. Cinderella rose, and after curtsying to the company, left the palace, and drove home in her coach. Then she thanked her Godmother for the kindness which had given her so much happiness, and asked leave to go to the ball again on the next evening, when the prince had specially begged her to come. At this moment there was a knock at the door. The fairy Godmother, and the beautiful clothes vanished as suddenly as they had come, and Cinderella drew back the bolt, and let her stepmother and stepsisters in.
[PAGE] [PAGE] Cinderella's stepsisters told her of the beautiful princess who had been at the ball.
She thought it not yet eleven, when the clock struck twelve. Then she started in affright, and fled from the ballroom as swiftly as a deer. The prince ran after her, but he did not catch her. All he could find of her was a little glass slipper lying on the staircase.
Cinderella's stepsisters were in great haste to try on the slipper. But, though, they pinched their toes, and squeezed their heels, their feet were far too large to go into it. Then the royal chamberlain enquired whether there were any other young women in the house.
"Only Cinderella," said the elder sister. "Of course the slipper would not fit her."
"Let her be brought here," said the chamberlain.
Then, to the surprise of everyone, Cinderella drew the other little glass slipper from her [PAGE] [PAGE] pocket, and put that on also. And at this moment the fairy Godmother appeared, and, with a touch of her wand, changed Cinderella's poor garments into robes, more splendid than ever.
And then everyone saw that she was indeed the beautiful princess whom the prince loved.
The stepsisters fell at Cinderella's feet and begged her forgiveness. And Cinderella freely forgave them, and asked them to try to love her.
Soon afterwards, Cinderella fetched her stepsisters to live at the palace. And they were so much ashamed of their past conduct, and so grateful for her kindness, that they ceased to be proud and unkind. And, as their hearts became good, their faces became beautiful. Then two lords of the court loved and married them, and they, as well as Cinderella, were happy.