From the Charles Perrault Collection
There once lived a gentleman, who, on becoming a widower, married a most haughty woman for his second wife. The lady had two daughters from a former marriage, equally proud and disagreeable as herself, while the husband had one daughter, of the sweetest temper and most angelic disposition, who was the complete counterpart of her late mother. No sooner was the wedding over, than the stepmother began to show her bad temper.
She could not bear her stepdaughter’s good qualities, that only showed up her daughters’ unamiable ones still more obviously, and she accordingly compelled the poor girl to do all the drudgery of the household. It was she who washed the dishes, and scrubbed down the stairs, and polished the floors in my lady’s chamber, and in those of the two pert misses, her daughters; and while the latter slept on good featherbeds in elegant rooms, furnished with full-length looking-glasses, their sister lay in a wretched garret on an old straw mattress. Yet the poor thing bore this ill treatment very meekly, and did not dare complain to her father, who was so besotted to his wife that he would only have scolded her.
When her work was done, she used to sit in the chimney corner amongst the cinders, which had caused the nickname of Cinderella to be given her by the family; yet, for all her shabby clothes, Cinderella was a hundred times prettier than her sisters, no matter how magnificently they dressed.