| Cinderella; Or, The Little Glass Slipper |
HE 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.