|By William Wegman and Carole Kismaric|
Once upon a time, "there lived a rich, widowed gentleman and his lovely young daughter, Ella." They were both dogs. Ella was "beautiful and intelligent", and although she felt that she lacked for nothing, her father felt that she needed "a mother's attention." So he remarried, to a lady with a pair of girls Ella's age. All three of them were real b******. And worst of all, Ella's father suddenly died. Now she was left alone with a falsely kind stepmother, who soon found her stepdaughter lacking in every way. She treated the girl like a servant, and ordered her to beat the rugs, and scrub the kitchen floor. "One of Ella's many chores was sweeping and cleaning the chimneys, fireplaces, and cellar." It was a dirty job, and when she was finished, her sisters took turns calling her names. "Ashcan Ella! Cellarella! Cinderella!" they sneered. The last name stuck. It happened one day that an invitation came from the king. There would be a special ball, at which his son would choose a bride. Ella's stepmother had "no question in her mind that the prince would choose one of her daughters to be his wife." But she had no idea which one it would turn out to be! When Cinderella asked what she would wear, they all laughed. It was a shame, said Stepmama, that her ball gown had been "sent overseas by mistake". Tough luck for Ella, but would she please get busy with sewing new gowns for her sisters? So she did, and when the big day finally came, she secretly saved herself some scraps. She was planning to make herself a dress. But when she finally got the chance, "and managed to piece together a gown, Cinderella realized that without proper shoes, she could never get to the ball." She ended up crying herself to sleep. But later, she "awakened to a glowing light". It was so soft and warm, and bathed in its glow was "a vision so lovely, radiant and serene, it could only be" her fairy godmother! And it was. "Together, they floated down into the garden."They picked a big, fat pumpkin, and then the fairy called for "that charming rat in the basement". With a flick of her wand, she she "transformed the rat into a debonair footman." Now, "How about those little garden mice?" asked the fairy,and before Cinderella knew it, "with six taps of the fairy's wand", they turned into a team of horses. And that's when Cinderella said that she appreciated the efforts so much, but what about "the way I'm dressed." The fairy answered, "No problem. Voila!" And she "turned Cinderella's frock into the most beautiful gown in the world, complete with matching corsage and tiara." Then she told Cinderella that she could attend the ball, so long as she was home by midnight. That is when the magic would wear off,and all would return to the way it had been. When she got to the ball, she saw her two stepsisters "who stuck to [the prince] like frosting on a cake." But when the clock struck twelve, Ella ran. She ran and ran and ran, and in her haste, she lost a shoe. "Meanwhile the prince was in a state of great distress. His dog, Robaire, led the prince to the head of the grand stairway, where he had found the lost slipper."And though the prince searched far and wide, he could not find the girl who fit the shoe. Just as the "shoe bearer was leaving" Cinderella's house" he heard a noise, and saw that he had missed a maiden. Though the stepmother and sisters protested, the shoe bearer said, "I am under oath to the prince that no fair foot be left untried. Present her!" And when Cinderella stepped forward and tried the shoe, it fit perfectly. "What an impossible coincidence! A freak occurenc!" yelled her sisters. But the shoe bearer said that he must take Cinderella to the palace at once. And when he took her to the prince, and he and Cinderella "gazed into each other's eyes and knew that they were in love." They were married soon, and it was a very spectacular wedding. Cinderella forgave her stepmother and sisters, who moved into the palace with her and the prince, and they all "lived happily ever after."
From Fay's Fairy Tales: Cinderella by William Wegman (1993) New York: Hyperion Books