History of Cinderella, or, The little glass slipper

History of Cinderella, or, The little glass slipper  (1840-1850) 

Date is estimated.











There was once a very rich gentleman who lost his wife; and having loved her exceedingly, he was very sorry when she died. Finding himself quite unhappy for her loss, he resolved to marry a second time, thinking by this means he should be as happy as before. Unfortunately, however, the lady he chanced to fix upon was the proudest and most haughty woman ever known; she was always out of humour with every one; nobody could please her, and she returned the civilities of those about her with the most affronting disdain. She had two daughters by a former husband, whom she brought up to be proud and idle: indeed, in temper and behaviour they perfectly resembled their mother; they did not love their books, and would not learn to work; in short, they were disliked by every body.

The gentleman on his side too had a daughter, who, in sweetness of temper and carriage, was the exact likeness of her own mother, whose death he had so much lamented, and whose tender care of the little girl he was in hopes to see replaced by that of his new bride.

But scarcely was the marriage ceremony over, before his wife began to show her real temper; she could not bear the pretty little girl, because her sweet obliging manners made those of her own daughters appear a thousand times the more odious and disagreeable.

She therefore ordered her to live in the kitchen; and, if ever she brought any thing into the parlour, always scolded her till she was out of sight. She made her work with the servants, in washing the dishes, and rubbing the tables and chairs: it was her place to clean madam’s chamber, and that of the misses her daughters, which was all inlaid, had beds of the newest fashion, and looking-glasses so long and broad, that they saw themselves from head to foot in them; while the little creature herself was forced to sleep up in a sorry garret, upon a wretched straw bed, without curtains, or any thing to make her comfortable.

The poor child bore all this with the greatest patience, not daring to complain to her father, who, she feared, would only reprove her, for she saw that his wife governed him entirely. When she had done all her work she used to sit in the chimney corner among the cinders; so that in the house she went by the name of Cinderbreech: the youngest of the two sisters, however, being rather more civil than the eldest, called her Cinderella. And Cinderella, dirty and ragged as she was, as often happens in such cases, was a thousand times prettier than her sisters, drest out in all their splendour.

It happened hat the kings son gave a ball, to which he invited all the persons of fashion in the country: our two misses were of the number; for the king’s son did not know how disagreeable they were; but supposed, as they were so much indulged, that they were extremely amiable. He did not invite Cinderella, for he had never seen or heard of her.

The two sisters began immediately to be very busy in preparing for the happy day: nothing could exceed their joy; every moment of their time was spent in fancying such gowns, shoes, and head-dresses as would set them off to the greatest advantage. All this was new vexation to poor Cinderella, for it was she who ironed and plaited her sisters’ muslins. They talked of nothing but how they should be dressed. “I,” said the eldest, “will wear my scarlet velvet with French trimming.” “And I,” said the youngest, “shall wear the same petticoat I had made for the last ball: but then to make amends for that, I shall put on my gold muslin train, and wear my diamonds in my hair; with these I must certainly look well.” They sent several miles for the best hairdresser that was to be had, and all their ornaments were bought at the most fashionable shops.

On the morning of the ball they called up Cinderella to consult with her about their dress, for they knew she had a great deal of taste. Cinderella gave them the best advice she could, and even offered to assist them in adjusting their head-dresses; which was exactly what they wanted, and they accordingly accepted her proposals.

While Cinderella was busily engaged in dressing her sisters, they said to her, "Should you not like, Cinderella, to go to the ball?” “Ah!” replied Cinderella, “you are only laughing at me; it is not for such as I am to think of going to balls.” “You are in the right,” said they: “folks might laugh indeed to see a Cinderbreech dancing in a ball-room.”

Any other than Cinderella would have tried to make the haughty creatures look as ugly as she could; but the sweet-tempered girl, on the contrary, did every thing she could think of to make them look well.

The sisters had scarcely eaten any thing for two days, so great was their joy as the happy day drew near. More than a dozen laces were broken in endeavouring to give them a fine slender shape, and they were always before the looking-glass.

At length the much-wished-for moment arrived: the proud misses stepped into a beautiful carriage, and followed by servants in rich liveries, drove towards the palace. Cinderella followed them with her eyes as far as she could; and when they were out of sight, she sat down in a corner and began to cry.

Her godmother, who saw her in tears, asked what ailed her. “I wish------I w-i-s-h---,” sobbed poor Cinderella without being able to say another word.

The godmother who was a fairy, said to her, “You wish to go to the ball, Cinderella; is not this the truth?” “ Alas! yes,” replied the poor child, sobbing still more than before. “Well, well, be a good girl,” said the godmother, “and you shall go.”

She then led Cinderella to her bed chamber, and said to her, “Run into the garden and bring me a pumpion.” Cinderella flew like lightning, and brought the finest she could lay hold of. Her godmother scooped out the inside, leaving nothing but the rind; she then struck it with her wand, and the pumpion instantly became a fine coach gilded all over with gold. She next looked into her mousetrap, where she found six mice all alive and brisk: she told Cinderella to lift up the door of the trap very gently; and as the mice passed out, she touched them one by one with her wand, and each immediately became a beautiful horse of a fine dapple grey mouse-colour. “Here, my child,” said the godmother, “is a coach and horse too, as handsome as your sisters’: but what shall we do for a postilion?”

“I will run,” replied Cinderella, “and see if there be not a rat in the rat-trap; if I find one, he will do very well for a postilion.”

“Well thought of, my child!” said her godmother; “make what haste you can.”

Cinderella brought the rat-trap, which to her great joy, contained three of the largest rats ever seen. The fairy chose the one which had the longest beard, and touching him with her wand, he was instantly turned into a smart handsome postilion, with the finest pair of whiskers imaginable.

She next said to Cinderella, “Go again into the garden, and you will find six lizards behind the watering-pot; bring them hither.” This was no sooner done, than, with a stroke from the fairy’s wand, they were changed into six footmen, who all imme ately jumped up behind the coach in laced liveries, and stood side by side as cleverly as if they had been used to nothing else the whole of their lives.

The fairy then said to Cinderella, “Well, my dear, is not this such an equipage as you could wish for to take you to the ball? Are you not delighted with it ?” “Y-e-s,” replied Cinderella with hesitation; “but must I go hither in these filthy rags?”

Her godmother touched her with the wand and her rags instantly became the most magnificent apparel, ornamented with the most costly jewels in the whole world. To these she added a beautiful pair of glass slippers, and bade her set out for the palace.

The fairy, however, before she took leave of Cinderella, strictly charged her on no account whatever to stay at the ball after the clock had struck twelve; telling her that, should she stay but a single moment after that time, her coach would again become a pumpion, her horses mice, her footmen lizards, and her fine clothes be changed to filthy rags.

Cinderella did not fail to promise all her godmother desired of her; and, almost wild with joy, drove away to the palace.

As soon as she arrived, the king’s son, who had been informed that a great princess whom nobody knew, was come to the ball.

presented himself at the door of the carnage, helped her out, and conducted her to the ball-room.

Cinderella no sooner appeared than every one was silent; both the dancing and the music stopped, and every body was employed in gazing at the uncommon beauty of this unknown stranger: nothing was heard but whispers of “How handsome she is!” The king himself, old as he was, could not keep his eyes from her, and continually repeated to the queen, that it was a long time since he had seen so lovely a creature. The ladies endeavoured to find out how her clothes were made, that they might get some of the same pattern for themselves by the next day, should they be lucky enough to meet with such handsome materials, and such good work-people to make them.

The king’s son conducted her to the most honourable seat, and soon after took her out to dance with him. She both moved and danced so gracefully, that every one admired her still more than before, and she was thought the most beautiful and accomplished lady ever beheld.

After some time a delicious collation was served up: but the young prince was so busily employed in looking at her, that he did not eat a morsel.

Cinderella seated herself near her sisters, paid them a thousand attentions, and offered them a part of the oranges and sweatmeats with which the prince had presented her; while they on their part were quite astonished at these civilities from a lady whom they did not know.

As they were conversing together, Cinderella heard the clock strike eleven and three quarters: she rose from her seat, curtsied to the company, and hastened away as fast as she could.

As soon as she got home she flew to her godmother, and, after thanking her a thousand times, told her she would give the world to be able to go again to the ball the next day, for the king’s son had entreated her to be there.

While she was telling her godmother every thing that had happened to her at the ball, the two sisters knocked a loud rat-tat-tat at the door, which Cinderella opened.

“How late you have staid!” said she, yawning, rubbing her eyes, and stretching herself as if just awaked out of her sleep, though she had in truth felt no desire to sleep since they left her.

“If you had been at the ball,” said one of the sisters, "let me tell you, you would not have been sleepy: there came thither the handsomest, yes, the very handsomest princess ever beheld! She paid us a thousand attentions, and made us take a part of the oranges and sweatmeats the prince had given her.”

Cinderella could scarcely contain herself for joy: she asked her sisters the name of this princess: to which they replied, that nobody had been able to discover who she was; that the king’s son was extremely grieved on that account, and had offered a large reward to any person who could find out where she came from.

Cinderella smiled, and said, “How very beautiful she must be! How fortunate you are! Ah, could I but see her for a single moment! Dear Miss Charlote, lend me only the yellow gown you wear everyday, and let me go and see her.”

“Oh! yes, I warant you; lend my clothes to a Cinderbreech! Do you really suppose me such a fool? No, no; pray, Miss Forward, mind your proper business, and leave dress and balls to your betters.”

Cinderella expected some such answer, and was by no means sorry, for she would have been sadly at a loss what to do if her sister had lent her the clothes that she asked of her.

The next day the two sisters again appeared at the ball, and so did Cinderella, but dressed much more magnificently than the night before. The king’s son was continually by her side, and said the most obliging things to her imaginable.

The charming young creature was far from being tired of all the agreeable things she met with: on the contrary, she was so delighted with them, that she entirely forgot the charge her godmother had given her.

Cinderella at last heard the striking of a clock, and counted one, two, three, on till she came to twelve, though she had thought that it could be but eleven at most. She got up and flew as nimbly as a deer out of the ball-room.

The prince tried to overtake her; but Cinderella’s fright made her run the faster. However, in her great hurry, she dropped one of the little glass slippers from her foot, which the prince stooped down and picked up, and took the greatest care of it possible.

Cinderella got home tired and out of breath, in her dirty old clothes, without either coach or footman, and having nothing left of her magnificence but the fellow of the glass slipper which she had dropped.

In the meanwhile, the prince had enquired of all his guards at the palace gates, if they had not seen a magnificent princess pass out, and which way she went? The guards replied, that no princess had passed the gates; and that they had not seen a creature but a little ragged girl, who looked more like a beggar than a princess.

When the two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderella asked them if they had been as much amused as the night before, and if the beautiful princess had been there? They told her that she had; but that as soon as the clock struck twelve she hurried away from the ball-room, and in the great haste she made, had dropped one of her glass slippers, which was the prettiest shape that could be; that the king’s son had picked it up, and had done nothing but looked at it all the rest of the evening; and that every body believed he was violently in love with the handsome lady to whom it belonged.

This was very true; for a few days after, the prince had it proclaimed by sound of trumpet, that he would marry the lady whose foot should exactly fit the slipper he had found.

Accordingly the prince’s messengers took the slipper, and carried it first to all the princesses; then to the duchesses: in short, to all the ladies of the court,---but without success.

They then brought it to the two sisters, who each tried all she could to squeeze her foot into the slipper, but saw at last that this was quite impossible.

Cinderella, who was looking at them all the while, and knew her slipper, could not help smiling, and ventured to say, "Pray, sir, let me try to get on the slipper.”

Her sisters burst out a laughing in the rudest manner possible:---“Very likely, truly,” said one of them, “that such a clumsy foot as your’s should fit the slipper of a beautiful princess.”

The gentleman, however, who brought the slipper, turned round, looked at Cinderella, and observing that she was very handsome, said, that as he was ordered by the prince to try it on every one till it fitted, it was but just that Cinderella should have her turn.

Saying this, he made her sit down; and putting the slipper to her foot, it instantly slipped in, and he saw that it fitted her like wax.

The two sisters were amazed to see that the slipper fitted Cinderella: but how much greater was their astonishment, when she drew out of her pocket the other slipper and put it on!

Just at this moment the fairy entered the room, and touching Cinderella’s clothes with her wand, made her all at once appear more magnificently dressed than they had seen her before.

The two sisters immediately perceived that she was the beautiful princess they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet, and asked her forgiveness for the ill treatment she had received from them. Cinderella helped them to rise, and, tenderly embracing them, said that she forgave them with all her heart, and begged them to bestow upon her their affection.

Cinderella was then conducted, drest as she was, to the young prince, who finding her more beautiful than ever, instantly desired her to accept of his hand.

The marriage ceremony took place in a few days; and Cinderella, who was as amiable as she was handsome, gave her sisters magnificent apartments in the palace, and a short time after married them to two great lords of the court.




A great many years ago, there lived in the county of Norfolk a gentleman and his lady. The gentleman was brave, generous, and honourable; and the lady gentle, beautiful, and virtuous: they were beloved by all who knew them, and were blessed with two children, a boy and a girl. The boy was only about three years old, and the girl not quite two, when the gentleman was seized with a dangerous malady, and the lady, in attending her beloved husband, caught the contagion. Notwithstanding every medical assistance their disorder daily increased, and as they expected to be soon snatched away from their little babes, they sent for the gentleman’s brother, and gave the darlings into his care.

“Ah! brother,” said the dying man, “you see I have but a short time to live; yet neither death nor pain can pierce my heart with half so much anguish as what I feel at the thought of that these dear babes will do without a parent’s care. Brother they will have none but you to be kind to them, to see them clothed and fed, and to teach them to be good.”

”Dear, dear brother,” said the dying lady, “you must be father, mother, and uncle too, to these dear innocent lambs. First let William be taught to read; and then he should be told how good his father was. And little Jane, -Oh! brother, it wrings my heart to talk of her; think of the gentle usage she will need, and take her fondly on your knee, brother, and she and William too will pay your care with love.”

How does it grieve my heart to see you, my dear relatives, in this mournful condition! replied the uncle. "But be comforted, there may yet be hopes of your well-doing: but should we have the misfortune to lose you, I will do all you can desire for your darling children. In me they shall find father, mother, and uncle; but, dear brother, you have said nothing of your wealth.” “H-e-r-e, h-e-r-e, brother, replied he, is my will, in which I have provided for my dear babes.”

The gentleman and his lady then kissed their children, and a short time after they both died.

The uncle, after sheding a few tears, opened the will, in which he found, that to William was bequeathed three hundred pounds a-year, when he became of age, and to little Jane five hundred pounds in gold on her marriage day. But if the children should chance to die before coming of age, then all their wealth was to be enjoyed by their uncle. The will of the unfortunate gentleman next desired, that he and his beloved wife should be buried side by side in the same grave.

The two little innocents were now taken to the house of their uncle, who, for some time, recollecting what their parents said so sorrowfully upon their death-bed, behaved to them with great kindness. But when he had kept them about a twelvemonth, he by degrees forgot to think both how their parents looked when they gave their children to his care, and the promises he made to be their father, mother, and uncle, all in one.

After a little more time had passed, the uncle could not help thinking that he wished the little boy and girl would die, for he should then have all their wealth for himself; and when he had begun to think this, he went on till he could think scarcely of any thing else; and at last, says he to himself, It will not be very difficult for me to kill them, so as nobody knows any thing of the matter, and then their gold is mine.

When the barbarous uncle had once brought his mind to kill the helpless little creatures, he was not long in finding a way to execute his cruel purpose. He hired two sturdy ruffians, who had already killed many travellers in a dark thick wood, at some distance, and then robbed them of their money. These two wicked creatures agreed, for a large reward, to do the blackest deed that ever yet was heard of; and the uncle began to prepare every thing accordingly.

He told an artful story to his wife, of what good it would be to put the children forward in their learning; how he had a relation in London who would take the greatest care of them. He then said to the innocent children, "Should you not like, my pretty ones, to see the famous town of London, where you, William, can buy a fine wooden horse to ride upon all day long, and a whip to make him gallop, and a fine sword to wear by your side ? And you, Jane, shall have pretty dolls, and pretty pincushions, and a nice gilded coach shall be got to take you there.”

"Oh, yes, I will go, uncle,” said William, “ Oh, yes, I will go, uncle,” said Jane; and the uncle, with a heart of stone soon got them ready for their journey.

The unsuspecting little creatures were a few days after put into a finecoach, and with them the two inhuman butchers, who were soon to end their joyful prattle, and turn their smiles to tears. One of them served as coachman, and the other sat between little William and little Jane. When they had reached the entrance to the dark thick wood, the two ruffians took them out of the coach, telling them they might now walk a little way, and gather flowers; and, while the children were skipping about like lambs, the ruffians turned their backs on them, and began to consult about what they had to do.

"In good truth,” says the one who had been sitting all the way between the children, "now I have seen their cherub faces, and heard their pretty speech, I have no heart to do the bloody deed; let us fling away the ugly knife, and send the children back to their uncle.” “That I will not,” says the other; “what boots their pretty speech to us? And who will pay us for being so chicken-hearted?”

At last the ruffians fell into so great a passion about butchering the innocent little creatures, that he who wished to spare their lives, suddenly opened the great knife he had brought to kill them, and stabbed the other to the heart, so that he fell down dead.

The one who had killed him was now greatly at a loss what to do with the children, for he wanted to get away as fast as he could, for fear of being found in the wood. He was not, however, long in determining that he must leave them in the wood, to the chance of some traveller passing by. “Loo ye, my pretty ones,” said he, “you must each take hold and come along with me.” The poor children each took a hand, and went on, the tears bursting from their eyes, and their little limbs trembling with fear.

Thus did he lead them about two miles further on in the wood, and then told them to wait there till he came back with some cakes.

William took his sister Jane by the hand, and they wandered fearfully up and down the wood. “Will the strange man come with some cakes, Billy?” says Jane, "Presently, dear Jane,” says William. And soon again, "I wish I had some cakes, Billy,” said she; and it would have melted a heart of stone to have seen how sorrowfully they looked.

After waiting very long, they tried to satisfy their hunger with black-berries; but they soon devoured all that were within their reach; and night coming on, William, who had tried all he could to comfort his little sister, now wanted comfort himself; so when Jane said once more, “How hungry I am, Billy, I b-e-l-i-e-v-e I cannot help crying,”---William burst out crying too; and down they lay upon the cold earth, and putting their arms round each other’s neck, there they starved, and there they died.

Thus were these pretty little innocents murdered; and as no one knew of their death so no one sought to give them burial.

The wicked uncle, supposing they had been killed as he desired, told all who asked after them an artful tale of their having died in London of the small pox; and accordingly took possession openly of their fortune.

all this did him very little service, for soon after his wife died; and being very unhappy, and always thinking too that he saw the bleeding innocents before his eyes, he neglected all his business; so that, instead of growing richer, he every day grew poorer. His two sons, also, who had embarked for a foreign land, were both drowned at sea, and he became completely miserable.

When things had gone on in this manner for years, the ruffian who took pity on the children, committed another robbery in the wood, and being pursued by some men, he was laid hold of, and brought to prison, and soon after was tried at the assizes, and found guilty---so that he was condemned to be hanged for the crime.

As soon as he found what his unhappy end must be, he sent for the keeper of the prison, and confessed to him all the crimes he had been guilty of in his whole life, and thus declared the story of the pretty innocents; telling him at the same time, in what part of the wood he had left them to starve. The news of the discovery he had made soon reached the uncle’s ears; who being already broken-hearted for misfortunes that had befallen him, and unable to bear the load of public shame that could not but await him, lay down upon his bed and died that very day.

No sooner were the tidings of the fate of the two children made public, than proper persons were sent to search the wood; when after many fruitless endeavours, the pretty babes were at length found stretched in each other’s arms, with William’s arm round the neck of Jane, his face turned close to her’s and his frock pulled over her body. They were covered all over with leaves, which in all that time never withered; and on a bush near this cold grave a Robin-Redbreast watched and chirped: so that many gentle hearts still think that pretty bird did bring the leaves which made their grave.


This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.