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Cinderella

2006-07-13 21:36

  A man once had a wife who was the kindest woman in the world. They had a daughter who was gentle, good and loving. Then the girl's mother died and her father married another wife, who was proud, harsh and bad-tempered. She also had been married before and had two daughters, quite as unpleasant as herself.

  The stepmother quickly showed her nasty nature. She hated anything good about the girl because it showed up everything bad about her daughters.

  'Do this,' she snapped, 'do that.'

  There were always the hardest jobs for the girl, cleaning the dishes and scrubbing the tables and sweeping the floors.

  'Upstairs to bed!' snapped her stepmother at the end of the day, almost before the poor girl had finished her supper. So she climbed wearily up to a garret at the very top of the house, where she lay on a rough straw bed. Meanwhile her stepsisters slept on soft mattresses in fine rooms with mirrors long enough to see themselves full length.

  There she lay, too miserable and frightened to tell her father. He was away for weeks on end and would have scolded her for telling tales, for he believed every world his new wife said.

  When the girl could rest for a moment from her work, she used to go and sit exhausted in the corner by the chimney, to keep warm by the cinders of of the fire. The elder sister called her Cinder-girl, but the younger sister, who was a little but not a lot more kind than the other, called her Cinderella.

  The trouble was that both sisters were extremely jealous, for Cinderella was much more beautiful than they, despite her shabby clothes. So, when the king's son gave a ball at the nearby castle and they received an invitation, they were immensely proud and delighted at the chance to wear their splendid clothes.

  They made a great fuss deciding which clothes to wear. This meant more work for Cinderella, who had to clean and iron their clothes and starch their ruffles. No sooner had she prepared one costume that they said:

  'No, no, not that one. I have quite decided against that one. This one, now. I much prefer it.'

  'You stupid girl,' they shrieked. 'Not that one. My red velvet suit, the one with the French trimming.'

  'My other petticoat, silly,' they screamed. 'My gold flowered clock and my diamond belt. That's what I need to catch the prince's eye.'

  'We must send for the best milliner in town,' they said. They did so, and ordered special make-up and the strangest beauty-patches for their faces.

  'What a sight!' said Cinderella when she saw them.

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