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Cinderella or the Little Glass Slipper
by [?]

ONCE upon a time there lived a gentleman who married twice. His second wife was a widow with two grown-up daughters, both somewhat past their prime, and this woman would have been the proudest and most overbearing in the world had not her daughters exactly resembled her with their fine airs and insolent tempers. The husband, too, had by his first wife a child of his own, a young daughter, and so good and so gentle that she promised to grow up into the living image of her dead mother, who had been the most lovable of women.

The wedding festivities were no sooner over than the stepmother began to show herself in her true colours. She could not endure the girl’s good qualities, which by contrast rendered her own daughters the more odious. She put her to drudge at the meanest household work, and thus she and her precious darlings not only wreaked their spite but saved money to buy themselves dresses and finery. It was the child who scoured the pots and pans, scrubbed the floors, washed down the stairs, polished the tables, ironed the linen, darned the stockings, and made the beds. She herself slept at the top of the house in a garret, upon a wretched straw mattress, while her sisters had apartments of their own with inlaid floors, beds carved and gilded in the latest fashion, and mirrors in which they could see themselves from head to foot.

Yet they were so helpless, or rather they thought it so menial to do anything for themselves, that had they but a ribbon to tie, or a bow to adjust, or a bodice to be laced, the child must be sent for. When she came it was odds that they met her with a storm of abuse, in this fashion:—

“What do you mean, pray, by answering the bell in this state? Stand before the glass and look at yourself! Look at your hands—faugh! How can you suppose we should allow you to touch a ribbon, or even come near us, with such hands? Run downstairs, slut, and put yourself under the kitchen pump”—and so on.

“How can I help it?” thought the poor little drudge. “If I do not run at once when the bell rings, they scold me for that. Yet they ring—both of them together sometimes—a minute after setting me to rake out a grate and sift the ashes. As for looking at myself in the glass, gladly would I do it if they allowed me one. But they have told me that if I had a glass I should only waste time in front of it. ”

She kept these thoughts to herself, however, and suffered her ill-usage patiently, not daring to complain to her father, who would, more-over, have joined with the others in chiding her, for he was wholly under his wife’s thumb; and she had enough of chiding already. When she had done her work she used to creep away to the chimney-corner and seat herself among the cinders, and from this the household name for her came to be Cinder-slut;but the younger sister, who was not so ill-tempered as the elder, called her Cinderella. They were wise in their way to deprive her of a looking-glass; for in truth, and in spite of her sorry rags, Cinderellawas a hundred times more beautiful than they with all their magnificent dresses.

It happened that the King’s son gave a ball, and sent invitations through the kingdom to every person of quality. Our two misses were invited among the rest, for they cut a great figure in that part of the country. Mightily pleased they were to be sure with their cards of invitation, all printed in gold and stamped with the broad red seal of the Heir Apparent; and mightily busy they were, discussing what gowns and head-dresses would best become them. This meant more worry for Cinderella,for it was she who ironed her sisters’ linen, goffered their tucks and frills, pleated their wristbands, pressed their trimmings of old lace and wrapped them away in tissue paper. A score of times all this lace, piece by piece, had to be un-wrapped, inspected, put away again; and after a trying-on, all the linen had to be ironed, goffered, crimped, or pleated afresh for them. They could talk of nothing but their ball dresses.