Back to Basics: Cinderella– a Tuesday Tale

Once there was a delightful little girl whose mother had died.

When her father remarried it was to a woman with two daughters of her own, near his child’s age.

Before long the father, too, died, and the sweet child was left an orphan.

As she grew older and more beautiful her stepmother grew more and more harsh, giving her the hardest chores and making her sleep alone, away from the family.

The girl never complained, even when she had to sleep in the ashes by the kitchen fire to keep warm during the winter.  She would awake covered in cinders, without a chance to wash or even a looking glass to know.

Her two step-sisters took their cue from their mother and looked for every opportunity to belittle their unfortunate comrade.  It was they who came up with the taunt, “Cinderella,” as a way to address her, not even allowing her to keep the dignity of a true name.


Eventually the time came when the prince of the land was seeking a bride, and so held a series of balls.  Each night Cinderella’s family refused to take her, but each night she had magical help and was transformed to appear in the eyes of anyone as beautiful as her good spirit.

Her beauty captivated the prince, who would dance with no one else, but always she slipped away before midnight.  By the third night the prince recognized the pattern and was too close behind for her to stop when she lost one of her tiny dancing slippers.

The next day the kingdom received word that the Prince would marry whoever fit the little shoe.

The stepmother, seeking vicariously to advance her own position, cut off a piece of her oldest daughter’s heel, so that her foot would fit the little shoe.

Riding away to the palace with the false bride the prince heard,

Turn back, good prince, turn back.
There is blood in the little shoe.

He looked and seeing the mutilation he returned the girl to her mother.

The mother, however, wasted no time but cut off the toe of her other daughter, allowing the slipper to fit.  The prince placed this girl on his horse and began to ride away, but again he heard,

Turn back, good prince, turn back.
There is blood in the little shoe.

Having seen the proof with his own eyes the prince returned her as well.

Now Cinderella was able to get at the soe and prove it fit.

As they rode on to the palace the now familiar voice sang out,

Ride on, good prince, Ride on.
The slipper has found its home.

The prince was happy to do so, and took her back to the palace where he married her at once and lived in great contentment.

4 thoughts on “Back to Basics: Cinderella– a Tuesday Tale

  1. You notice I did keep (what I heard was) the original ending, where only the prince’s happiness that was specified.

    One idiosyncrasy of my tellings is that I want to keep as much of the older form as possible, while at the same time neutralizing the blatant inconsistencies that I can.

    For example, if the slipper was made of glass or crystal, the prince wouldn’t need a talking tree as an informant.

    Of course, it’s impossible to fix everything.

    e.g. Unless the step-sisters were beautiful enough (or something) that the prince was satisfied with merely fitting the shoe… This dude must have been *so* out of it the three nights before not to recognize he was carrying off a two different girls than he set out looking for.

    But, here is one huge way oral storytelling differs from a purely visual medium like movies. We can believe or tell anything we want, because we see what we want to see.

  2. It is the Grimm version, though in my book it’s talking birds from her mother, not a tree.

    I’ve never thought about the Prince being an absolute idiot before, but I guess that’s were some of the ideas from the show “Into the Woods” come from. It’s a very funny thought.

  3. I actually did this rendition as a telling.

    That is, I took all the threads of happenings and images and “spun” them into a sort of conglomerate version designed to let you see some things as familiar (and therefore more comfortable) as possible.

    You could see a ghost/tree/fairy godmother if you wanted. And even whatever shoe material you expected (some people actually default to gold, which would, you notice, be opaque).

    It was only in the comment I spoiled that by specifying a tree.

    Yes, I am familiar with Into the Woods.

    Our local light opera did it in town when I was in high school (I think). And our library has a very good movie of one (big name) performance, too. That’s how I introduced my favorite song to my husband.

    “Agony” has got to be one of the songs (if not the song) that makes me laugh the most– not just in this performance, but nearly any. Fabulous lyrics and *perfect* timing.

    Naturally I like the first time through (where they’re mooning over their wives-to-be) better than the reprise.

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