Cinderella by Charles Perrault
Once upon a time there was a worthy man who married for his second
wife the haughtiest, proudest woman that had ever been seen. She had
two daughters, who possessed their mother's temper and resembled her in
everything. Her husband, on the other hand, had a young daughter, who
was of an exceptionally sweet and gentle nature. She got this from her
mother, who had been the nicest person in the world.
The wedding was no sooner over than the stepmother began to display
her bad temper. She could not endure the excellent qualities of this
young girl, for they made her own daughters appear more hateful than
ever. She thrust upon her all the meanest tasks about the house. It was
she who had to clean the plates and the stairs, and sweep out the rooms
of the mistress of the house and her daughters. She slept on a wretched
mattress in a garret at the top of the house, while the sisters had
rooms with parquet flooring, and beds of the most fashionable style,
with mirrors in which they could see themselves from top to toe.
The poor girl endured everything patiently, not daring to complain
to her father. The latter would have scolded her, because he was
entirely ruled by his wife. When she had finished her work she used to
sit amongst the cinders in the corner of the chimney, and it was from
this habit that she came to be commonly known as Cinder-slut. The
younger of the two sisters, who was not quite so spiteful as the elder,
called her Cinderella. But her wretched clothes did not prevent
Cinderella from being a hundred times more beautiful than her sisters,
for all their resplendent garments.
It happened that the king's son gave a ball, and he invited all
persons of high degree. The two young ladies were invited amongst
others, for they cut a considerable figure in the country. Not a little
pleased were they, and the question of what clothes and what mode of
dressing the hair would become them best took up all their time. And
all this meant fresh trouble for Cinderella, for it was she who went
over her sisters' linen and ironed their ruffles. They could talk of
nothing else but the fashions in clothes.
'For my part,' said the elder, 'I shall wear my dress of red velvet,
with the Honiton lace.'
'I have only my everyday petticoat,' said the younger, 'but to make
up for it I shall wear my cloak with the golden flowers and my necklace
of diamonds, which are not so bad.'
They sent for a good hairdresser to arrange their double-frilled
caps, and bought patches at the best shop.
They summoned Cinderella and asked her advice, for she had good
taste. Cinderella gave them the best possible suggestions, and even
offered to dress their hair, to which they gladly agreed.
While she was thus occupied they said:
'Cinderella, would you not like to go to the ball?'
'Ah, but you fine young ladies are laughing at me. It would be no
place for me.'
[Illustration: 'The haughtiest, proudest woman that had ever been
'That is very true, people would laugh to see a cinder-slut in the
Any one else but Cinderella would have done their hair amiss, but
she was good-natured, and she finished them off to perfection. They
were so excited in their glee that for nearly two days they ate
nothing. They broke more than a dozen laces through drawing their stays
tight in order to make their waists more slender, and they were
perpetually in front of a mirror.
At last the happy day arrived. Away they went, Cinderella watching
them as long as she could keep them in sight. When she could no longer
see them she began to cry. Her godmother found her in tears, and asked
what was troubling her.
'I should likeI should like'
She was crying so bitterly that she could not finish the sentence.
Said her godmother, who was a fairy:
'You would like to go to the ball, would you not?'
'Ah, yes,' said Cinderella, sighing.
'Well, well,' said her godmother, 'promise to be a good girl and I
will arrange for you to go.'
She took Cinderella into her room and said:
'Go into the garden and bring me a pumpkin.'
Cinderella went at once and gathered the finest that she could find.
This she brought to her godmother, wondering how a pumpkin could help
in taking her to the ball.
Her godmother scooped it out, and when only the rind was left,
struck it with her wand. Instantly the pumpkin was changed into a
beautiful coach, gilded all over.
Then she went and looked in the mouse-trap, where she found six mice
all alive. She told Cinderella to lift the door of the mouse-trap a
little, and as each mouse came out she gave it a tap with her wand,
whereupon it was transformed into a fine horse. So that here was a fine
team of six dappled mouse-grey horses.
But she was puzzled to know how to provide a coachman.
'I will go and see,' said Cinderella, 'if there is not a rat in the
rat-trap. We could make a coachman of him.'
'Quite right,' said her godmother, 'go and see.'
Cinderella brought in the rat-trap, which contained three big rats.
The fairy chose one specially on account of his elegant whiskers.
As soon as she had touched him he turned into a fat coachman with
the finest moustachios that ever were seen.
'Now go into the garden and bring me the six lizards which you will
find behind the water-butt.'
No sooner had they been brought than the godmother turned them into
six lackeys, who at once climbed up behind the coach in their braided
liveries, and hung on there as if they had never done anything else all
Then said the fairy godmother:
'Well, there you have the means of going to the ball. Are you
'Oh, yes, but am I to go like this in my ugly clothes?'
Her godmother merely touched her with her wand, and on the instant
her clothes were changed into garments of gold and silver cloth,
bedecked with jewels. After that her godmother gave her a pair of glass
slippers, the prettiest in the world.
[Illustration: 'Her godmother found her in tears']
Thus altered, she entered the coach. Her godmother bade her not to
stay beyond midnight whatever happened, warning her that if she
remained at the ball a moment longer, her coach would again become a
pumpkin, her horses mice, and her lackeys lizards, while her old
clothes would reappear upon her once more.
She promised her godmother that she would not fail to leave the ball
before midnight, and away she went, beside herself with delight.
[Illustration: 'Away she went']
The king's son, when he was told of the arrival of a great princess
whom nobody knew, went forth to receive her. He handed her down from
the coach, and led her into the hall where the company was assembled.
At once there fell a great silence. The dancers stopped, the violins
played no more, so rapt was the attention which everybody bestowed upon
the superb beauty of the unknown guest. Everywhere could be heard in
'Oh, how beautiful she is!'
The king, old man as he was, could not take his eyes off her, and
whispered to the queen that it was many a long day since he had seen
any one so beautiful and charming.
All the ladies were eager to scrutinise her clothes and the dressing
of her hair, being determined to copy them on the morrow, provided they
could find materials so fine, and tailors so clever.
The king's son placed her in the seat of honour, and at once begged
the privilege of being her partner in a dance. Such was the grace with
which she danced that the admiration of all was increased.
A magnificent supper was served, but the young prince could eat
nothing, so taken up was he with watching her. She went and sat beside
her sisters, and bestowed numberless attentions upon them. She made
them share with her the oranges and lemons which the king had given
hergreatly to their astonishment, for they did not recognise her.
While they were talking, Cinderella heard the clock strike a quarter
to twelve. She at once made a profound curtsey to the company, and
departed as quickly as she could.
As soon as she was home again she sought out her godmother, and
having thanked her, declared that she wished to go upon the morrow once
more to the ball, because the king's son had invited her.
While she was busy telling her godmother all that had happened at
the ball, her two sisters knocked at the door. Cinderella let them in.
'What a long time you have been in coming!' she declared, rubbing
her eyes and stretching herself as if she had only just awakened. In
real truth she had not for a moment wished to sleep since they had
[Illustration: 'She rose and fled as nimbly as a fawn']
'If you had been at the ball,' said one of the sisters, 'you would
not be feeling weary. There came a most beautiful princess, the most
beautiful that has ever been seen, and she bestowed numberless
attentions upon us, and gave us her oranges and lemons.'
Cinderella was overjoyed. She asked them the name of the princess,
but they replied that no one knew it, and that the king's son was so
distressed that he would give anything in the world to know who she
Cinderella smiled, and said she must have been beautiful indeed.
'Oh, how lucky you are. Could I not manage to see her? Oh, please,
Javotte, lend me the yellow dress which you wear every day.'
'Indeed!' said Javotte, 'that is a fine idea. Lend my dress to a
grubby cinder-slut like youyou must think me mad!'
Cinderella had expected this refusal. She was in no way upset, for
she would have been very greatly embarrassed had her sister been
willing to lend the dress.
The next day the two sisters went to the ball, and so did
Cinderella, even more splendidly attired than the first time.
The king's son was always at her elbow, and paid her endless
The young girl enjoyed herself so much that she forgot her
godmother's bidding completely, and when the first stroke of midnight
fell upon her ears, she thought it was no more than eleven o'clock.
She rose and fled as nimbly as a fawn. The prince followed her, but
could not catch her. She let fall one of her glass slippers, however,
and this the prince picked up with tender care.
When Cinderella reached home she was out of breath, without coach,
without lackeys, and in her shabby clothes. Nothing remained of all her
splendid clothes save one of the little slippers, the fellow to the one
which she had let fall.
Inquiries were made of the palace doorkeepers as to whether they had
seen a princess go out, but they declared they had seen no one leave
except a young girl, very ill-clad, who looked more like a peasant than
a young lady.
When her two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderella asked them
if they had again enjoyed themselves, and if the beautiful lady had
been there. They told her that she was present, but had fled away when
midnight sounded, and in such haste that she had let fall one of her
little glass slippers, the prettiest thing in the world. They added
that the king's son, who picked it up, had done nothing but gaze at it
for the rest of the ball, from which it was plain that he was deeply in
love with its beautiful owner.
They spoke the truth. A few days later, the king's son caused a
proclamation to be made by trumpeters, that he would take for wife the
owner of the foot which the slipper would fit.
They tried it first on the princesses, then on the duchesses and the
whole of the Court, but in vain. Presently they brought it to the home
of the two sisters, who did all they could to squeeze a foot into the
slipper. This, however, they could not manage.
Cinderella was looking on and recognised her slipper:
'Let me see,' she cried, laughingly, 'if it will not fit me.'
[Illustration: 'They tried it first on the princesses']
Her sisters burst out laughing, and began to gibe at her, but the
equerry who was trying on the slipper looked closely at Cinderella.
Observing that she was very beautiful he declared that the claim was
quite a fair one, and that his orders were to try the slipper on every
maiden. He bade Cinderella sit down, and on putting the slipper to her
little foot he perceived that the latter slid in without trouble, and
was moulded to its shape like wax.
Great was the astonishment of the two sisters at this, and greater
still when Cinderella drew from her pocket the other little slipper.
This she likewise drew on.
At that very moment her godmother appeared on the scene. She gave a
tap with her wand to Cinderella's clothes, and transformed them into a
dress even more magnificent than her previous ones.
The two sisters recognised her for the beautiful person whom they
had seen at the ball, and threw themselves at her feet, begging her
pardon for all the ill-treatment she had suffered at their hands.
Cinderella raised them, and declaring as she embraced them that she
pardoned them with all her heart, bade them to love her well in future.
She was taken to the palace of the young prince in all her new
array. He found her more beautiful than ever, and was married to her a
few days afterwards.
Cinderella was as good as she was beautiful. She set aside
apartments in the palace for her two sisters, and married them the very
same day to two gentlemen of high rank about the Court.