There was once a rich man, whose
wife died, leaving him with one little girl. After some years,
hoping to give his child a mother's love and care, he married again,
this time a widow, with two grown-up daughters. But his second wife
was haughty and proud, and her two daughters were even worse than
their mother; and the poor little girl had a very unhappy time with
her new relations. Her stepsisters were jealous of her, for she was
very beautiful, and they themselves were plain and ugly. They did
all they could to make her miserable; and, at length, through their
wicked spite and envy, her life became a burden to her. The poor
child was sent to live in the kitchen, where she had to do all the
rough and dirty work; and because she was always dressed in rags,
and sat beside the cinders in the grate, they called her Cinderella.
It happened that the King of the country had an only son. He was
very anxious that the Prince should be married; so he gave a great
ball, and invited all the grand ladies in the country to come to it.
It was to be a very splendid affair, lasting for three nights, and
people were very eager to be invited to it, for it was known that
the Prince would choose his bride from among the ladies present.
Cinderella's sisters received invitations; and from the day they
arrived they talked of nothing but of what they should wear, for
each of them secretly hoped that she would be chosen as the Prince's
When the great day came at last, they began to dress for the ball
directly after breakfast. Cinderella had to help them; and they kept
her busy all day doing their hair, and running messages, and helping
them to lace up their fine dresses.
When Cinderella saw their beautiful clothes she wished that she
could go to the ball as well; but when she timidly asked if she
might, they laughed in mocking scorn.
"You go to the ball!" they cried. "What would you do at the ball,
with your rags and tatters and your dirty face? No, no, Cinderella,
go back to your seat amongst the ashes—that is the place for a
little kitchen girl like you!"
So the two sisters and their mother drove away in a carriage and
pair to the King's palace, and Cinderella was left behind. She sat
down on the hearth before the kitchen fire and began to cry softly
to herself, because she felt so very lonely and miserable.
As she sat there in the dusk, with the firelight dancing over her,
and her face buried in her hands, she heard a voice calling:
"Cinderella, Cinderella!" and with a start she looked up to see who
it could be.
There on the hearth in front of her stood an old woman, leaning upon
a stick. She was dressed in a long red cloak, and she wore
high-heeled shoes and a tall black hat.
Where she had come from Cinderella could not imagine. She certainly
had not come in through the door, nor yet through the window for
both were shut.
Cinderella was so surprised to see her that she stopped crying, and
stared at her in astonishment.
"What are you crying for?" asked the old woman.
"Because my mother and sisters have gone to the ball, and I am left
here all alone," said Cinderella.
"Do you want to go to the ball, too!" said the old lady.
"Yes, but it is no good; I have nothing but rags to wear," sobbed
"Well, well, be a good child and don't cry any more," said the old
woman, briskly. "I am your Fairy Godmother, and if you do what I
tell you, perhaps you shall go after all. Run out into the garden
and bring me in a pumpkin!"
Cinderella ran out into the garden and brought in the biggest
pumpkin that she could find.
"Now go and fetch the mouse-trap out of the cellar," said her
Godmother, and Cinderella hurried to get it. There were six mice in
the trap, and the old woman harnessed them to the pumpkin, put a rat
on the top to drive them, and two lizards behind, and then waved her
wand over them. Immediately the pumpkin turned into a gorgeous
coach, the mice into six beautiful horses, the rat into a stately
coachman, and the lizards into tall footmen, with powdered hair and
"There," said the old woman; "there's a carriage to take you to the
"Alas," said Cinderella, "how can I go to the ball? I have nothing
to wear but this!" and she touched her ragged frock.
"Is that all?" said the Fairy Godmother. Once more she waved her
wand, and Cinderella's rags turned into the most beautiful dress in
the world, all shining with gold and silver threads and covered with
costly gems. In her hair was a circlet of pearls, and her feet were
shod with the prettiest and daintiest pair of glass slippers that
ever were seen.
"Now," said the Fairy Godmother, "now you can go to the ball. But
mind you come away before the clock strikes twelve, for should you
linger beyond that hour, all your splendor will vanish, and your
dress will turn into rags again."
Cinderella promised to obey her Godmother's instructions. Then she
got into the beautiful coach. The footman shut the door, the
coachman whipped up the horses, and away she went to the ball.
When she arrived there was a great stir in the Palace. So lovely a
face and so costly and rich a dress had never before been seen, and
everybody thought it must be some great Princess arrived from
All the courtiers and other guests stood back to let her pass, and
when the Prince caught sight of her he fell in love with her on the
spot. He danced with her the whole of the evening, and people
thought there was no doubt as to whom he would choose for his bride.
At a quarter to twelve, Cinderella, remembering her Godmother's
instructions, said good-bye to the Prince and came away.
She arrived home just as the clock struck twelve. At once the
coachman and footmen turned back into rats and mice, and the coach
into a pumpkin; and when the sisters came home a little later, there
was Cinderella, dressed in her old shabby frock, sitting in her
usual place amongst the cinders.
The two ugly sisters were full of the strange Princess who had come
to the ball. They talked about her all the next day, little dreaming
that all the while the beautiful lady was their despised sister
In the evening after they had gone again to the ball, the Fairy
Godmother made her appearance. Once more Cinderella drove to the
Palace in her coach and six; this time arrayed in a still more
gorgeous and beautiful dress; and once more the Prince danced with
her all the evening.
But when the third night came Cinderella was enjoying herself so
much that she quite forgot what her Fairy Godmother had said, until
suddenly she heard the clock begin to strike twelve. She remembered
that as soon as it finished striking, all her fine clothes would
turn to rags again; and, jumping up in alarm, she ran out of the
room. The Prince ran after her, trying to overtake her; and
Cinderella in her fright ran so fast that she left one of her little
glass slippers on the floor behind her.
The Prince stopped to pick it up, and this gave Cinderella time to
escape; but she was only just in time. Just as she was crossing the
Palace yard, the clock finished striking, and immediately all her
finery vanished; and there she was, dressed in her old ragged frock
When the Prince came out upon the Palace steps, he could see no sign
of the lovely Princess. The guards at the gate told him that nobody
at all had passed that way, except a little ragged kitchenmaid; and
the Prince had to go back to the ball with only a little glass
slipper to remind him of the beautiful lady with whom he was so
desperately in love.
The next day the King sent out all his heralds and trumpeters with a
Proclamation, saying that the Prince would marry the lady whose foot
the slipper fitted. But though all the ladies in the land tried on
the slipper it would fit none of them—their feet were all too big!
At last the heralds came to the house where Cinderella lived. The
eldest stepsister tried the slipper on first, but it was quite
impossible for her to get her foot into it, for her great toe was
too big. Then her mother, who was watching eagerly, fetched a
"Be quick, cut the toe off," she said; "what does it matter if you
are lame—if you are the Prince's bride you will always ride in a
So the eldest sister cut off her big toe, but it was no use, the
slipper would not fit, and at last she was obliged to hand it to her
But the other sister had no better luck. She did, indeed, get her
toes inside, but her foot was much too long, and her heel stuck out
behind. The mother urged her to cut it off.
"What does it matter?" she said. "If you are the Prince's bride you
will never need to walk any more."
But although she cut her heel off, the slipper was still too small;
and at length she, too, had to give up the attempt to force her foot
Then Cinderella came shyly out from behind the door where she had
been standing out of sight, and asked if she might try on the
slipper. Her stepmother and sisters were very angry, and were about
to drive her away with blows, but the herald stopped them.
"The Prince wishes every woman in the land to try on this slipper,"
he said; and asking Cinderella to sit on a chair, he knelt down and
tried the slipper on her foot.
And it fitted her exactly!
While everyone stood and stared in astonishment, Cinderella drew
from her pocket the other slipper and put it on. No sooner had she
done so than her ragged frock changed into the beautiful ball dress
again, and she stood up before them all—the beautiful lady with whom
the Prince had fallen in love at the ball.
The Prince was overjoyed to find her again; and they were married at
once with much pomp amid great rejoicings.
As for the wicked sisters they were so jealous that they both turned
green with envy. They grew uglier and uglier every day, until at
last they grew so dreadfully ugly that nobody could bear to look at
them any longer. But Cinderella became more and more beautiful, and
lived happily with the Prince for ever afterwards.