|The Fairy Book|
|by Dinah Maria Mulock|
|One of the earliest collections of fairy tales from different countries, first published in 1863. Carefully selected and rendered anew in language close to the oral tradition. Includes old English tales, such as Jack the Giant-killer and Tom Thumb, as well as German stories from Grimm, and French tales of Perrault and Madame d'Aulnoy, and many other delightful and time-honored fairy tales. Numerous black and white illustrations by Louis Rhead complement the text. Ages 6-9 |
THE LITTLE GLASS SLIPPER
HERE was once an honest gentleman who took for his
second wife a lady, the proudest and most disagreeable
in the whole country. She had two daughters exactly
like herself in all things. He also had one little
girl, who resembled her dead mother, the best woman in
all the world. Scarcely had the second marriage taken
place, than the step-mother became jealous of the good
qualities of the little girl, who was so great a
contrast to her own two daughters. She gave her all the
menial occupations of the house; compelled her to wash
the floors and staircases, to dust the bed-rooms, and
clean the grates; and while her sisters occupied
carpeted chambers hung with mirrors, where they could
see themselves from head to foot, this poor little
damsel was sent to sleep in an attic, on an old straw
mattress, with only one chair and not a looking-glass
in the room.
She suffered all in silence, not daring to complain to
her father, who was entirely ruled by his new wife.
When her daily work was done,
 she used to sit down in
the chimney-corner among the ashes; from which the two
sisters gave her the nick-name of Cinderella. But
Cinderella, however shabbily clad, was handsomer than
they were with all their fine clothes.
It happened that the king's son gave a series of balls,
to which were invited all the rank and fashion of the
city, and among the rest the two elder sisters. They
were very proud and happy, and occupied their whole
time in deciding what they should wear; a source of new
trouble to Cinderella, whose duty it was to get up
their fine linen and laces, and who never could please
them however much she tried. They talked of nothing but
"I," said the elder, "shall wear my velvet gown and my
trimmings of English lace."
"And I," added the younger, "will have but my ordinary
silk petticoat, but I shall adorn it with an upper
skirt of flowered brocade, and shall put on my diamond
tiara, which is a great deal finer than anything of
Here the elder sister grew angry, and the dispute began
to run so high, that Cinderella, who was known to have
excellent taste, was called upon to decide between
them. She gave them the best advice she could, and
gently and submissively offered to dress them herself,
and especially to arrange their hair, an accomplishment
in which she excelled many a noted coiffeur. The
important evening came, and she exercised all her skill
to adorn the two young ladies. While she was combing
out the elder's hair, this
 ill-natured girl said
sharply, "Cinderella, do you not wish you were going to
"Ah, madam" (they obliged her always to say madam),
"you are only mocking me; it is not my fortune to have
any such pleasure."
"You are right; people would only laugh to see a little
cinder-wench at a ball."
Any other than Cinderella would have dressed the hair
all awry, but she was good, and dressed it perfectly
even and smooth, and as prettily as she could.
The sisters had scarcely eaten for two days, and had
broken a dozen stay-laces a day in trying to make
themselves slender; but to-night they broke a dozen
more, and lost their tempers over and over again before
they had completed their toilette. When at last the
happy moment arrived, Cinderella followed them to the
coach; after it had whirled them away, she sat down by
the kitchen fire and cried.
Immediately her godmother, who was a fairy, appeared
beside her. "What are you crying for, my little maid?"
"Oh, I wish—I wish—" Her sobs stopped her.
"You wish to go to the ball; isn't it so?"
"Well, then, be a good girl, and you shall go. First
run into the garden and fetch me the largest pumpkin
you can find."
Cinderella did not comprehend what this had to do with
her going to the ball, but being obedient and obliging,
she went. Her godmother
 took the pumpkin, and having
scooped out all its inside, struck it with her wand; it
became a splendid gilt coach, lined with rose-coloured
"Now fetch me the mouse-trap out of the pantry, my
Cinderella brought it; it contained six of the fittest,
sleekest mice. The fairy lifted up the wire door, and
as each mouse ran out, she struck it and changed it
into a beautiful black horse.
"But what shall I do for your coachman, Cinderella?"
Cinderella suggested that she had seen a large black
rat in the rat-trap, and he might do for want of
"You are right; go and look again for him."
He was found, and the fairy made him into a most
respectable coachman, with the finest whiskers
imaginable. She afterwards took six lizards from behind
the pumpkin frame, and changed them into six footmen,
all in splendid livery, who immediately jumped up
behind the carriage, as if they had been footmen all
their days. "Well, Cinderella, now you can go to the
"What, in these clothes?" said Cinderella piteously,
looking down on her ragged frock.
Her godmother laughed, and touched her also with the
wand; at which her wretched threadbare jacket became
stiff with gold, and sparkling with jewels; her woollen
petticoat lengthened into a gown of sweeping satin,
from underneath which peeped out her little feet, no
longer bare, but covered with silk stockings and the
prettiest glass slippers in the world. "Now,
 Cinderella, depart; but remember, if you stay one
instant after midnight, your carriage will become a
pumpkin, your coachman a rat, your horses mice, and
your footmen lizards; while you yourself will be the
little cinder-wench you were an hour ago."
Cinderella promised without fear, her heart was so full
Arrived at the palace, the king's son, whom some one,
probably the fairy, had told to await the coming of an
uninvited princess whom nobody knew, was standing at
the entrance, ready to receive her. He offered her his
hand and led her with the utmost courtesy through the
assembled guests, who stood aside to let her pass,
whispering to one another, "Oh, how beautiful she is!"
It might have turned the head of any one but poor
Cinderella, who was so used to be despised, that she
took it all as if it were something happening in a
Her triumph was complete; even the old king said to the
queen, that never since her majesty's young days had he
seen so charming and elegant a person. All the court
scanned her eagerly, clothes and all,
determining to have theirs made next day of exactly the
same pattern. The king's son himself led her out to
dance, and she danced so gracefully that he admired her
more and more. Indeed, at supper, which was fortunately
early, his admiration quite took away his appetite. For
Cinderella herself, with an involuntary shyness she
sought out her sisters; placed herself beside them and
offered them all sorts of
 civil attentions, which,
coming as they supposed from a stranger, and so
magnificent a lady, almost overwhelmed them with
While she was talking with them, she heard the clock
strike a quarter to twelve, and making a courteous
adieu to the royal family, she re-entered her carriage,
escorted tenderly by the king's son, and arrived in
safety at her own door. There she found her godmother,
who smiled approval; and of whom she begged permission
to go to a second ball, the following night, to which
the queen had earnestly invited her.
While she was talking, the two sisters were heard
knocking at the gate, and the fairy godmother vanished,
leaving Cinderella sitting in the chimney-corner,
rubbing her eyes and pretending to be very sleepy.
"Ah," cried the eldest sister maliciously, "it has been
the most delightful ball, and there was present the
most beautiful princess I ever saw, who was so
exceedingly polite to us both."
"Was she?" said Cinderella indifferently; "and who
might she be?"
"Nobody knows, though everybody would give their eyes
to know, especially the king's son."
"Indeed!" replied Cinderella, a little more interested;
"I should like to see her. Miss Javotte"—that was the
elder sister's name—"will you not let me go to-morrow,
and lend me your yellow gown that you wear on Sundays?"
"What, lend my yellow gown to a
cinder-  wench? I am not
so mad as that;" at which refusal Cinderella did not
complain, for if her sister really had lent her the
gown she would have been considerably embarrassed.
The next night came, and the two young ladies, richly
dressed in different toilettes, went to the ball.
Cinderella, more splendidly attired and beautiful than
ever, followed them shortly after. "Now remember twelve
o'clock," was her godmother's parting speech; and she
thought she certainly should. But the prince's
attentions to her were greater even than the first
evening, and in the delight of listening to his
pleasant conversation, time slipped by unperceived.
While she was sitting beside him in a lovely alcove, and
looking at the moon from under a bower of orange
blossoms, she heard a clock strike the first stroke of
twelve. She started up, and fled away as lightly as a
Amazed, the prince followed, but could not catch her.
Indeed he missed his lovely princess altogether, and
only saw running out of the palace doors a little dirty
lass whom he had never beheld before, and of whom he
certainly would never have taken the least notice.
Cinderella arrived at home breathless and weary,
ragged and cold, without carriage, or footmen, or
coachman; the only remnant of her past magnificence
being one of her little glass slippers;—the other
she had dropped in the ball-room as she ran away.
When the two sisters returned they were full of this
strange adventure, how the beautiful lady had appeared
at the ball more beautiful than
 ever, and enchanted
every one who looked at her; and how as the clock was
striking twelve she had suddenly risen up and fled
through the ball-room, disappearing no one knew how or
where, and dropping one of her glass slippers behind
her in her flight. How the king's son had remained
inconsolable until he chanced to pick up the little
glass slipper, which he carried away in his pocket, and
was seen to take it out continually, and look at it
affectionately, with the air of a man very much in
love; in fact, from his behaviour during the remainder
of the evening, all the court and royal family were
convinced that he had become desperately enamoured of
the wearer of the little glass slipper.
Cinderella listened in silence, turning her face to the
kitchen fire, and perhaps it was that which made her
look so rosy; but nobody ever noticed or admired her at
home, so it did not signify, and the next morning she
went to her weary work again just as before.
A few days after, the whole city was attracted by the
sight of a herald going round with a little glass
slipper in his hand, publishing, with a flourish of
trumpets, that the king's son ordered this to be fitted
on the foot of every lady in the kingdom, and that he
wished to marry the lady whom it fitted best, or to
whom it and the fellow slipper belonged. Princesses,
duchesses, countesses, and simple gentlewomen all tried
it on, but being a fairy slipper, it fitted nobody; and
beside, nobody could produce its fellow slipper, which
lay all the time safely in the pocket of Cinderella's
old linsey gown.
 At last the herald came to the house of the two
sisters, and though they well knew neither of
themselves was the beautiful lady, they made every
attempt to get their clumsy feet into the glass
slipper, but in vain.
"Let me try it on," said Cinderella from the chimney
"What, you?" cried the others, bursting into shouts of
laughter; but Cinderella only smiled, and held out her
Her sisters could not prevent her, since the command
was that every young maiden in the city should try on
the slipper, in order that no chance might be left
untried, for the prince was nearly breaking his heart;
and his father and mother were afraid that though a
prince, he would actually die for love of the beautiful
So the herald bade Cinderella sit down on a
three-legged stool in the kitchen, and himself put the
slipper on her pretty little foot, which it fitted
exactly; she then drew from her pocket the fellow
slipper, which she also put on, and stood up—for with
the touch of the magic shoes all her dress was changed
likewise—no longer the poor despised cinder-wench,
but the beautiful lady whom the king's son loved.
Her sisters recognized her at once. Filled with
astonishment, mingled with no little alarm, they threw
themselves at her feet, begging her pardon for all
their former unkindness. She raised and embraced them:
told them she forgave them with all her heart, and only
 they would love her always. Then she departed
with the herald to the king's palace, and told her
whole story to his majesty and the royal family, who
were not in the least surprised, for everybody believed
in fairies, and everybody longed to have a fairy
For the young prince, he found her more lovely and
loveable than ever, and insisted upon marrying her
immediately. Cinderella never went home again, but she
sent for her two sisters to the palace, and with the
consent of all parties married them shortly after to
two rich gentlemen of the court.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics