Cinderella #265 Walt Disney's Cinderella (1950)
Retta Scott Worcester
Once upon a time, there was a very nice fellow who had a grand home, and all the comforts which money could buy. He also had a little girl, and he gave her "a pony, a puppy named Bruno, and many beautiful dresses." For all that, the child was unhappy, because she had no mother. So her father decided to find a wife. When he did find a lady, she had two daughters of her own. Perfect for his own little girl, or so he thought. Then tragedy struck: the good man died. His daughter was now but an orphan step-child to the lady, and she was none too kind. She made the girl sleep in the attic, and toil among the cinders all day. Because she was always sooty from the fireplace, her stepsisters began calling her Cinderella. Her only friends were "guess who—the mice!" She made little outfits for them and "they thought Cinderella was the sweetest girl in the world". She loved animals, and every morning, she "set a bowl of milk for the Stepmother's disagreeable cat...fed grain to the chickens and ducks and geese." She took breakfast trays upstairs every morning, and carried down dirty laundry and spilling chamber pots. When her long list of chores was done, said Stepmother, "Then you may rest." It happened one day that an invitation came from the King. There was to be a ball and "every girl in the land" was invited. So Cinderella said,"I am invited too!" and danced with joy. That's when her stepmother mocked her, saying, "If you finish your work and if you have something suitable to wear. I said if." No one was surprised when the big night came and Cinderella was left behind. But she was surprised when she went back to her room, because the mice "had been gathering discarded items from the stepsisters' rooms to fix a party dress for her". Her stepmother's coach had not left yet; maybe she could still ride in it! She dressed quickly, then ran out to join her family. But her stepsister's greed was such that they grabbed at her dress, tearing off the little scraps they had once thrown away. Now "Cinderella ran to the garden and cried as though her heart would break." Suddenly, she saw "a sweet-faced little woman" beside her, saying, "I am your Fairy Godmother." Then the old woman asked her to fetch a pumpkin, some mice and "Bruno, the dog". When the lovely orange coach was ready, with a team of mouse-gray horses and a canine coachman, the fairy beckoned for her to hop in. Then Cinderella said, "But my dress—" so the fairy waved her wand once more. Then there appeared "the most beautiful gown in the world, and tiny glass slippers."Away she went to the ball. When the prince saw her enter, he asked her to dance. The King "motioned to the musicians, and they struck up a dreamy waltz." Then Cinderella and the prince "swirled across the dance floor". Suddenly, the clock began to strike twelve. Cinderella ran out the door. "One of her little glass slippers fell off, but she could not stop." She made it home just before her stepsisters. The next day, two things happened. The news came that the prince was seeking the mysterious maiden who had lost a slipper the night before, and planning to marry her! And Cinderella walked around "humming a waltzing tune", which made her stepmother put two and two together. That is why she locked Cinderella in her room, high at the top of a winding, wooden staircase. But her friends the mice promised her that they would find the key. Meanwhile, "the house was in a flurry" because the royal messenger had arrived with the glass shoe. Now "each stepsister tried to forcer her foot into the tiny glass slipper." They could not. While no one was looking, a little mouse climbed Stepmother's apron, and dropped into her pocket. It bobbed up a moment later with the key, and scurried away. A few moments later, just as the royal messenger was about to depart, Cinderella rushed in and said, "May I try the slipper on?" When the messenger agreed, Stepmother "tripped the servant with the slipper. Crash! It splintered into a thousand pieces." But Cinderella drew the other glass slipper from her pocket and slipped it on. Before long she was married and "Princess of the land. And she and her husband, the charming Prince, rode to their palace in a golden coach to live happily ever after!"
From: Walt Disney's Cinderella: A Little Golden Book Classic (1950)
Notes: The illustrations in this book are lovely, with rich colors and many compelling details. What has happened to the Disney books? Why are they so much uglier today than they were in 1950? I have another lovely Disney Cinderella from 1974, and it too has wonderful colors and perspectives. The brand new Little Golden Book Cinderella, (2009) has illustrations that have shrunk by about 2/3 and way too much print. Even the wording from the older books is well done, with rich vocabulary and a succinct story line. This book shows me for the first time that the original Disney Cinderella story was indeed taken from the Perrault version. Here that tale is hewed closely too, with the exception of the dog as coachman and the mice who actually steal the key. Note that the mice do not talk yet, and are show as tiny, mouse sized creatures rather than the grotesque, overgrown and gaudily dressed fake-animals of the current story.
P.S. I just love the king! I think when I was little I associated him with Old King Cole, that merry old soul, and Santa Claus. The king is a symbol of plenty.