Long ago, in a land far away, there lived a beautiful young girl. She was very sad. Her mother had died and her father had married again. His new wife had two ugly daughters, Esmerelda and Griselda.
Soon after, her father also died and life immediately changed for the girl.
"You will be our servant, "said her stepmother. "You will do everything we say."
"You must sleep in the kitchens, by the fire," said the stepsisters.
After tending the fire, and cooking and leaning, the girl's clothes were very dirty. She was called to clear away dishes.
"There are cinders all over your clothes!" exclaimed the stepmother. "Cinders for Cinderella. That's your new name. Clear these things away, Cinderella."
"Cinderella! Cinderella!" sang Esmerelda and Griselda. "Oh, how clever you are, Mama!"
Cinderella had to work very hard, as all the other servants were dismissed.
One day, an invitation arrived from the palace.
"Girls, listen to this," said the stepmother. Cinderella was serving the breakfast. She listened as her stepmother read the invitation.
"The King is having a ball," she said, excitedly. "He is looking for a wife for the Prince! Oh, my dears, this is wonderful. He will probably choose one of you, but it will be such a hard choice to make.
"Am I invited too, stepmother?" asked Cinderella.
"You! Certainly not!" exclaimed her stepmother. "The thought of such a thing. A scruffy servant going to a ball, when only beautiful ladies are invited!"
"Hah! Hah!" laughed the stepsisters. "Beautiful! That doesn't include you, Cinderella!"
"You may help my two lovely girls to get ready," said her stepmother.
"Oh," said Cinderella, sadly.
"We shall all have new dresses, girls, and we shall go shopping today. Clear away these things, Cinderella."
'Oh, I wish I could go to the ball,' thought Cinderella.
The day of the ball arrived and the whole day was spent preparing Esmerelda and Griselda. Cinderella did her best to make the sisters look pretty, but it was an impossible task.
Finally, the coach arrived to collect the girls and their mother.
Cinderella was very tired and she wandered back to the kitchens.
"Oh, I did so want to go," she sighed as she sat down by the fire.
"What's to stop you?" asked a voice.
"Who's that?" asked Cinderella, looking around.
"I'm here by the door." A strange woman walked up to Cinderella. "I heard you the other day, wishing you could go to the ball. Well, the ball is this evening, and you're going."
"But how?" asked Cinderella. "What can you do?"
"Anything I want to," said the woman. "I'm your fairy godmother, and I'm here to send you to the ball.
She sat down.
"Come now," she said. "Dry those tears. We have work to do. I need a large pumpkin, two rats, two mice and a frog. Can you find these?"
"Yes," said Cinderella, mystified by the request.
"Off you go, then."
When Cinderella found all the things, her fairy godmother took them all outside.
"Now for the magic," she said. She waved her hands and the air began to twinkle and sparkle. The pumpkin began to grow and change, until standing there was a glittering coach.
The mice changed into two fine footmen, the frog into the driver, and the rats into two beautiful horses to pull the coach.
Cinderella clapped her hands. "It's beautiful!" she cried.
"In you get," said her fairy godmother.
"But I can't go like this," said Cinderella.
"Like what?" asked the fairy godmother. "You look lovely to me."
Cinderella looked at herself. While the magic had been working on the pumpkin, it had also been working on her. Instead of her ragged dress she wore a beautiful ball gown, with glass slippers on her feet.
"Oh, fairy godmother," said Cinderella. "It's lovely. How can I thank you?"
"By going to the ball," said the fairy godmother. "Off you go, but remember, the magic stops working at midnight. Everything will change back then. Now go and enjoy yourself."
"Good-bye, fairy godmother," called Cinderella, as the coach swept off.
Cinderella arrived at the palace and walked into the ballroom. Everyone stopped and stared.
"Who is she?" people asked, including her stepmother and stepsisters.
The Prince saw her, and had eyes for no one else for the rest of the evening. Cinderella danced only with the Prince, and as the evening passed, he fell in love with her.
A clock chiming reminded Cinderella of her fairy godmother's warning. 'It must be eleven o'clock,' she thought, but she asked the Prince. "What time is it?"
"Almost midnight," he answered.
"Oh, no!" cried Cinderella. "I must go!"
"You can't. Not now," said the Prince.
"I must." And Cinderella swept out of the room, and ran out of the palace. As she ran, the clock finished chiming. Cinderella's clothes changed back into rags, and the coach and horses were nowhere to be seen.
The Prince tried to follow, but he couldn't catch up. When he reached the door, all he found was one glass slipper. He ran to the main gate.
"Was a beautiful girl just driven out of here?" he asked the guard.
"No, your Highness. I've only seen a scruffy servant girl," the guard answered.
"I've lost her," said the Prince, and he returned sadly to the palace.
The next morning, Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters were talking about the ball.
"Did you see the Prince, once that girl arrived." said Esmerelda. "He wouldn't look at anybody else. And it was my turn to dance with him."
"Never mind, my dear," said her mother. "She disappeared, so there will probably be another ball, and then you will be chosen."
The Prince meanwhile decided to look for the mysterious girl he had fallen in love with. He issued a proclamation. "Whoever the glass shoe fits, shall be wife to the Prince."
The Prince and his footman went from house to house of all the ladies invited to the ball.
First to the princesses, and then to the duchesses, and finally to all the ladies.
He finally arrived at the stepmother's house.
"It's my shoe!" cried Esmerelda, trying desperately to pull the shoe on.
"Please, miss!" said the footman. "Your foot is too big. you will break the slipper."
Griselda tried the shoe, but her toes were far too long.
"Is there anyone else?" asked the Prince.
"There's only Cinderella, the maid," said the stepmother. "But she wasn't even at the ball."
"All the ladies in the kingdom must try the slipper," said the footman.
Cinderella was called from the kitchen. Esmerelda and Griselda laughed when they saw how dirty she was. But their laughter turned to tears when they saw Cinderella's foot slide easily into the slipper.
"Oh!" they cried. "It fits!"
The Prince looked at Cinderella and realised that she was the girl that he had fallen in love with.
Cinderella took the other slipper from her pocket and put it on.
The Prince was delighted to have found her, and on a bright sunny day, he and Cinderella were married. They lived happily ever after.