The poor child bore all this without complaint. 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 their contempt for her, the unkind sisters called her Cinderella.
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 buy things, 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 good taste in all these matters, although they would not 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 jeer at Cinderella because she was not going. The poor girl retired to her dismal kitchen, and could not help weeping as she sat there, thinking over her sisters' cruelty.
"I--I--should so much have--have liked--" sobbed the broken-hearted girl, but she 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 splendid carriage.
[PAGE] [PAGE] [PAGE] Then seeing a mouse-trap in which were six live mice, she told Cinderella to open it; and as each mouse ran out, she touched it with her wand; and so got as handsome a team of 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 of 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 coachmen to a rat, her footmen to lizards, and her dress to rags.
When the hands of the clock pointed to a quarter of twelve, Cinderella, mindful of her godmother's warning, arose, and making a low bow to the King and Queen, bade them good night. The Queen said there was to be another ball the next night and she must come to that. Then the Prince led her to her carriage, and she went home.
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 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 heralds had orders to stop at every house, and every lady tried to put on the slipper, but all in vain. At last the heralds came to the home of Cinderella's sisters, who tried to put on the lovely glass slipper. But it was too short for one and too narrow for the other, and when their frantic efforts had all proved utterly useless, they had to give it up.
Cinderella, who had been watching them eagerly, stepped forward and asked if she might try on the slipper. The sisters exclaimed, "What impudence!" but the heralds said that their orders were to pass no lady by, and Cinderella seated herself to try on the slipper.
Now the sisters could see in Cinderella's face some resemblance to that of the lady's who had taken so much notice of them at the ball, and whose attentions they were so proud to receive. How had it been brought about?
As if in answer to their thought the fairy godmother now entered the room, and touching Cinderella's clothes with her wand, made them more costly and dazzling than ever. The heralds set of at once to bear the joyful news to their master that the owner of the slipper was found.
You may well believe that the sisters were sorry enough that they had treated Cinderella so harshly, and they supposed that now the tables were turned she would despise them, and be glad of a chance to pay them back for their ill-usage. So, mortified and ashamed, they went down on their knees and asked her forgiveness, and Cinderella bidding them rise, begged them to think no more of the past, or to fear her hatred. She assured them that she should never forget that they were her sisters, and would do all she could to add to their future happiness.
The sisters were put in the place of honor at the banquet, and owing to Cinderella's kindness, were able to make a fine appearance. Cinderella made hosts of friends, and she and the Prince lived happily together for many years, and among all the treasure of the royal palace there was nothing quite so precious as
CINDERELLA'S GLASS SLIPPER.