The Little Glass Slipper
By Charles Perrault, 1729
Modified by Judith Bronte
here was once upon a time, a gentleman who married
for his second wife the proudest and most haughty woman that ever was known. She
had been a widow, and had by her former husband two daughters of her own humour,
who were exactly like her in all things. He had also by a former wife a young daughter,
but of an unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper, which she took from her
mother, who was the best creature in the world.
No sooner were the ceremonies of the wedding over, but the mother-in-law began to
display her ill humour; she could not bear the good qualities of this pretty girl;
and the less, because they made her own daughters so much the more hated and despised.
She employed her in the meanest work of the house, she cleaned the dishes and stands,
and rubbed Madam's chamber, and those of the young Madams her daughters: she lay
on the top of the house in a garret, upon a wretched straw bed, while her sisters
lay in fine rooms, with floors all inlaid, upon beds of the newest fashion, and where
they had looking-glasses so large, that they might see themselves at their full length,
from head to foot. The poor girl bore all patiently, and dared not tell her father,
who would have rattled her off; for his wife governed him entirely. When she had
done her work, she used to go into the chimney corner, and sit down upon the cinders,
which made her commonly be called in the house Cinderbreech: but the youngest, who
was not so rude and uncivil as the eldest, called her Cinderilla. However, Cinderilla,
not withstanding her poor clothes, was a hundred times handsomer than her sisters,
though they wore the most magnificent apparel.
Now, it happened that the King's son gave a ball, and invited all persons of quality
to it: our young ladies were also invited; for they made a very great figure. They
were very well pleased thereat, and were very busy in choosing out such gowns, petticoats,
and head-clothes as might become them best. This was a new trouble to Cinderilla;
for it was she that ironed her sisters linen, and plaited their ruffles; they talked
all day long of nothing but how they should be dressed.
"For my part," said the eldest, "I'll wear my red velvet suit, with
"And I," said the youngest, "will have my common petticoat; but then,
to make amends for that, I'll put on my gold flowered manteau, and my diamond stomacher,
which is not the most indifferent in the world." They sent for the best tirewoman
they could get, to dress their heads, and adjust their double pinners, and they had
their red brushes and patches from Mrs. De la poche.
Cinderilla advised them the best in the world, and offered herself to dress their
heads; which they were very willing she should do. As she was doing this, they said
"Cinderilla, would you not be glad to go to the ball?"
"Ah!" said she, "you only banter me; it is not for such as I am to
"You are in the right of it," said they, "it would make the people
laugh to see a Cinderbreech at a ball." Any one but Cinderilla would have dressed
their heads awry; but she was very good, and dressed them perfectly well. They were
almost two days without eating, so much were they transported with joy: they broke
above a dozen of laces in trying to be laced up close, that they might have a fine
slender shape, and they were continually at their looking-glass. At last the happy
day came; they went to court, and Cinderilla followed them with her eyes as long
as she could, and when she had lost sight of them, she fell a crying.
Her godmother, who saw her all in tears, asked her what was the matter?
"I wish I could -, I wish I could -," she could not speak the rest, her
tears interrupting her. Her godmother, who was a [Angel], said to her,
"Thou wishest thou could'st go to the ball, is it not so?"
"Y -es," said Cinderilla, with a great Sob.
"Well," said her godmother, "be but a good girl, and I'll contrive
thou shalt go." Then she took her into her chamber, and said to her, "go
into the garden, and bring me a pompion." Cinderilla went immediately to gather
the finest she could get, and brought it to her Godmother, not being able to imagine
how this pompion could make her go to the ball: her godmother scooped out all the
inside of it, having left nothing but the rind; she struck it with her wand, and
the pompion immediately was turned into a fine coach, gilt all over with gold. After
that, she went to look into her mouse-trap, where she found six mice all alive; she
ordered Cinderilla to lift up a little the trap door, and she gave every mouse that
went out a stroke with her wand, and the mouse was that moment turned into a fine
horse, which all together made a very fine set of six horses, of a beautiful mouse-coloured
"I'll go and see," says Cinderilla, "if there be never a rat in the
rat-trap, we'll make a coach-man of him."
"You are in the right," said her godmother, "go and see." Cinderilla
brought the trap to her, and in it there were three huge rats: the [Angel] made choice
of one of the three, which had the largest beard, and having touched him with her
wand, he was turned into a fat jolly coach-man, that had the finest whiskers as ever
After that, she said to her,
"Go into the garden, and you will find six Lizards behind the watering-pot,
bring them to me." She had no sooner done so, but her godmother turned them
into six footmen, who skipped up immediately behind the coach, with their liveries
all bedaubed with gold and silver, and clung so close behind one another, as they
had done nothing else all their lives. The [Angel] then said to Cinderilla, "Well,
you see here an equipage fit to go to the Ball with; are you not pleased with it?"
"O yes," said she, "but must I go thither as I am, with these ugly
nasty clothes?" Her godmother only just touched her with her wand, and at the
same instant her clothes were turned into cloth of gold and silver, all beset with
jewels: after this, she gave her a pair of Glass Slippers, the finest in the world.
Being thus dressed out she got into her coach; but her godmother, above all things,
commanded her not to stay beyond twelve a clock at night; telling her at the same
time, that if she stayed at the ball one moment longer, her coach would be a pompion
again, her horses mice, her footmen lizards, and her clothes resume their old form.
She promised her godmother she would not fail of leaving the ball before midnight,
and then departed not a little joyful at her good fortune.
The King's son, who was informed that a great Princess, whom they did not know, was
come, ran out to receive her; he gave her his hand as she alighted out of the coach,
and led her into the hall where the company was: there was a great silence; they
left off dancing, and the violins ceased to play, so attentive was every body to
contemplate the extraordinary beauties of this unknown person: there was heard nothing
but a confused noise of
"Ha! how handsome she is, Ha! how handsome she is." The King himself, as
old as he was, could not help looking at her, and telling the Queen in a low voice,
that it was a long time since that he had seen so beautiful and lovely a creature.
All the ladies were busied in considering her clothes and head-dress, that they might
have some made the next day after the same pattern, supposing they might get such
fine materials, and as able hands to make them.
The King's son shewed her to the most honorable place, and afterwards took her out
to dance with him: she danced with so much gracefulness, that they more and more
admired her. A fine collation was served up, of which the young Prince ate nothing,
so much was he taken up in looking upon her. She went and set herself down by her
sisters, and shewed them a thousand civilities: she gave them some of the oranges
and lemons that the Prince had presented her with; which very much surprised them;
for they did not know her. While the company was thus employed, Cinderilla heard
the clock go eleven and three quarters; upon which she immediately made a courtesy
to the company, and went away as fast as she could.
As soon as she came home, she went to find out her godmother, and after having thanked
her, she told her, she could not but heartily wish to go the next day to the ball,
because the King's son had desired her. As she was busied in telling her godmother
every thing that had passed at the ball, her two sisters knocked at the door, Cinderilla
went and opened it.
"You have stayed a long while," said she.
"If thou hadst been at the ball," said one of her sisters, "thou would'st
not have been tired with it: there came thither the most beautiful Princess, the
most beautiful that ever was seen; she shewed us a thousand civilities, and gave
us oranges and lemons." Cinderilla seemed indifferent; she asked them the name
of that Princess; but they told her they did not know it, and that the King's son
was very uneasy on her account, and would give all the world to know where she was.
At this Cinderilla smiled, and said,
"She must then be very handsome indeed; How happy have you been! Could not I
see her? Ah! good Madam Charlotte, lend me your yellow suit of clothes that you wear
"Undoubtedly," said Madam Charlotte, "lend my clothes to such a Cinderbreech
as you are, who is fool then?" Cinderilla was very glad of the refusal, for
she would have been sadly put to it, if her sister had lent her her clothes.
The next day the two sisters were at the ball, and so was Cinderilla, but dressed
more richly than she was at first. The King's son was always by her, and saying abundance
of tender things to her; the young lady was no ways tired, and forgot what her godmother
had recommended to her, so that she heard the clock begin to strike twelve, when
she thought it was only eleven, she then rose up and fled as nimble as a deer: the
Prince followed her, but could not catch hold of her; she dropped one of her Glass
Slippers, which the Prince took up very carefully; Cinderilla came home quite out
of breath, without coach or footmen, and in her old ugly clothes; she had nothing
left her of all her finery, but one of the little Slippers, fellow to that she dropped.
The guards at the palace- gate were asked if they had not seen a Princess go out,
who said, they had seen no body go out, but a young woman very badly dressed, and
who had more the air of a poor country wench than a lady.
When the two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderilla asked them, if they had been
well diverted, and if the fine lady had been there; they told her, Yes, but that
she flew away as soon as it had struck twelve a clock, and with so much haste, that
she dropped one of her little Glass Slippers, the prettiest in the world, and which
the King's son had taken up, that he did nothing but look at her all the time of
the ball, and that certainly he was very much in love with the beautiful person who
owned the little Slipper. What they said was very true; for a few days after, the
King's son caused it to be proclaimed by sound of trumpet, that he would marry her
whose foot this Slipper would just fit. They began to try it on upon the princesses,
then the dutchesses, and all the court, but in vain; it was brought to the two sisters,
who did all they possibly could to thrust their foot into the Slipper, but they could
not effect it. Cinderilla, who saw all this, and knew the Slipper, said to them laughing,
"Let me see if it will not fit me." Her sisters burst out a laughing, and
began to banter her. The gentleman who was sent to try the Slipper, looked earnestly
at Cinderilla, and finding her very handsome, said, it was but just that she should
try, and that he had orders to let every body do so. He made Cinderilla sit down,
and putting the Slipper to her foot, he found it went in very easily, and fitted
her, and if it had been made of wax. The astonishment her two sisters were in, were
very great; but much greater, when Cinderilla pulled out of her pocket the other
Slipper, and put it upon her foot. Upon this her godmother came in, who having touched
with her wand Cinderilla's clothes, made them more rich and magnificent than ever
they were before.
And now, her two sisters found her to be that fine beautiful lady that they had seen
at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet, to beg pardon for all the ill treatment
they had made her undergo. Cinderilla took them up, and told them, as she embraced
them, that she forgave them with all her heart, and desired them always to love her.
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in
you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather
give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith
the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink:
for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil,
but overcome evil with good."
~ Romans 12:18-21 ~
She was conducted to the young Prince dressed as she was: he thought her more beautiful
than ever, and a few days after married her. Cinderilla, who was as good as handsome,
gave her two sisters lodgings in the palace, and married them the same day to two
great lords of the court.
Beauty's to the sex a treasure,
We still admire it without measure,
And never yet was any known
By still admiring weary grown.
But that thing, which we call good grace,
Exceeds by far a handsome face;
Its charms by far surpass the other,
And this was what her good godmother
Bestowed on CINDERILLA fair,
Whom she instructed with such care,
And gave her such a graceful mien,
That she became thereby a Queen.
For thus (may ever truth prevail)
We draw our moral from this Tale.
This quality, fair ladies, know
Prevails much more, you'll find it so,
To engage and captivate a heart,
Than a fine head dressed up with art;
'Tis the true gift of heaven and fate,
Without it none in any state
Effectual any thing can do;
But with it all things well and true.
A Great advantage 'tis, no doubt, to man,
To have wit, courage, birth, good sense and brain,
And other such like Qualities, which we
Received from heaven's kind hand and destiny.
But none of these rich graces from above,
In your advancement in the world will prove
Of any use, if God desires to make delay,
Or Godmothers your merit to display.
"Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth
the LORD, she shall be praised."
~ Proverbs 31:30 ~
Text courtesy of "The Cinderella Project"
Editor, Michael N. Salda
Resource from the de Grummond Children's Literature Research Collection,
University of Southern Mississippi