There was once a gentleman who lived in a fine house, with his kind and gentle wife and their pretty daughter. His wife died, so the gentleman married again. His new wife was not at all kind or pretty. She had been married before and had two daughters who were known, behind their backs, as the Ugly Sisters.

Although they had no reason to be unkind, the two sisters were horrid to their new stepsister. They ordered her about, scolded her and made her do all the work in the big house. Her clothes became ragged and thin and far too small. The poor girl was always cold and tired. In the evenings she would rest on a stool close to the fire, almost in the cinders and ashes.

"Cinderella, That's the perfect name for you", jeered the stepsisters when they saw her trying to keep warm.

Now the king and queen of their country had a son, and they planned a big ball for the prince in the hope that he might find a bride. Invitations were sent to all the big houses. When a large invitation card to the royal ball arrived at Cinderella's house, there was a great flurry of excitement. New dresses were chosen for the Ugly Sisters and their mother, and nobody talked about anything except the ball.

"I am sure the prince will fall in love with me", said one sister, smiling at herself in the mirror.

"You silly fool", said the other, pushing her aside. "He won't be able to resist falling in love with me. Just think, one day I could he queen", and she pretended she was the queen already as she ordered Cinderella to get another pair of shoes for her to try on. No one thought of asking Cinderella if she would like to go to the ball. They scarcely even noticed her as they rushed around trying on different wigs, fans and gloves to go with their new ball dresses.

At last the day of the ball came, and Cinderella worked harder than ever, helping the Ugly Sisters and her stepmother to get ready. They quarrelled with each other all day, and by the time the carriage drove away to the king's palace, with all the family in it, Cinderella was glad to have some peace. But as she sat on her stool by the fire she could not help a tear falling onto the ashes, for she wished that she could have gone with them.

Suddenly she realized that she was not alone. A beautiful lady stood before her with a silver wand in her hand.

"Cinderella", she said. "I am your fairy godmother. Tell me, what are those tears for?"

Cinderella looked away.

"I wish, oh how I wish, I could have gone to the ball too".

"So you shall", said her fairy, "godmother, but first we have some work to do. For if you are to go to the ball, I cannot send you as you are. Fetch me the largest pumpkin you can find in the garden".

Cinderella fetched the largest pumpkin she could see and with just a wave of her wand, her fairy godmother turned it into a gleaming golden coach.

"Now we need a few horses", said her godmother. "Look in the mouse trap and see if there is anything we can use".

Cinderella ran to the larder and found six mice running around in a cage. She watched her godmother wave her wand and suddenly, harnessed to the coach, there were six shining dappled horses, stamping their feet.

Those horses need a coachman, decided her godmother. Look in the rat trap, Cinderella. There were three rats in the trap and as the godmother touched the largest rat with her wand, it disappeared. But now up at the front of the coach sat a fine plump whiskery coachman in a smart uniform.

"Go and look behind the water barrel, Cinderella", said her godmother. "and see if you can find something we can use for footmen".

Cinderella ran to the water barrel and brought two lizards to her godmother. At the wave of her wand they were transformed into splendid footmen.

"There now, Cinderella, your coach is ready", said her godmother with a smile. "You will be able to go to the ball after all".

"How can I go like this?" sighed Cinderella, looking down in despair at her ragged clothes and bare feet. Her godmother touched her with her wand - her rags turned into a shimmering gown and on her feet she was wearing the prettiest pair of glass shoes she had ever seen.

As Cinderella stepped into the coach her godmother gave her a strict warning. "The magic will only last until midnight, and then everything will return to what it was before. Be sure you leave the ball before midnight, Cinderella".

When Cinderella's coach arrived at the palace the word went round that a beautiful lady had arrived in such a splendid coach that she must be a princess. The prince himself came down the steps to greet her and led her to the ballroom. As they entered, the other guests fell silent in wonder and the musicians stopped playing. The prince signaled to the musicians to play again and danced with Cinderella.

The prince stayed at Cinderella's side all evening. No one knew who she was. Not even the Ugly Sisters recognized her. Cinderella was so happy that she did not notice how quickly the time was flying by.

Suddenly she heard the clock strike the first stroke of midnight. With a cry she left the prince and ran out of the ballroom. As she flew down the steps, one of her shoes fell off, but she could not stop to pick it up.

Although the prince tried to follow Cinderella through the crowd, he soon lost sight of her. He questioned everyone carefully but no one had seen the beautiful lady leave. The guards said that the only person who had gone out was a young raggedly-dressed girl. No one noticed the pumpkin in the corner of the courtyard or some mice, a rat and a pair of lizards that slunk into the shadows. But the prince did find the glass shoe on the steps, and lie recognized it as one of the elegant shoes the mysterious and lovely lady had worn.

The next day the Ugly Sisters could talk of nothing but the beautiful lady who had captured the prince's heart and how she had disappeared so suddenly and how no one knew her name.

The palace issued a proclamation that the prince was looking for the lady who had worn the glass shoe. His servants would tour the country with it until they found the lady whose foot it fitted and the prince would marry that lady. The prince traveled around with his servants but time and again he was disappointed as the shoe failed to fit any lady's foot.

At last they came to Cinderella's house. The Ugly Sisters were waiting.

"Let me try first", cried one, holding out her foot, and pushing as hard as she could to squeeze it into the shoe. But it was no good. She gave up and laughed at her sister's efforts as she, too, tried to force her foot into the tiny glass shoe. When she had failed, Cinderella stepped forward.

"You!" sneered the Ugly Sisters. "But you were not even at the ball".

Cinderella slipped her foot into the glass shoe - it fitted perfectly. Then she drew from behind her back a second shoe which she put on her other foot. At the same moment the fairy godmother appeared and touched Cinderella with her wand. Instantly her ragged clothes changed back into the beautiful shimmering dress, and Cinderella once again became the lovely stranger.

The delighted prince asked Cinderella to marry him and Cinderella replied that there was nothing she would like more. The Ugly Sisters begged Cinderella to forgive them for their unkindness and she happily agreed. There was a fine royal wedding for Cinderella and the prince, and they lived happily ever after.

Cinderella found two husbands for the Ugly Sisters at court, and they too lived happily ever after - well, almost.