Once upon a time, there was a lovely little girl named Cinderella. She was as beautiful as she was kind and treated everyone with compassion and respect, from the lords and ladies that lived in her village to the small mice that lived in her garden. Cinderella had a heart of gold and was beloved and befriended by all she met.
She lived in a charming home with her mother and father, and they were as happy as a family could be, until the unfortunate day her mother passed away.
Fearing Cinderella would grow up unhappy without a mother, her father soon remarried a widow from the village who had two daughters of her own. Her stepmother wasn’t as warm or gentle as Cinderella’s mother had been, and her stepsisters weren’t very kind, but Cinderella loved them like the family she hoped they’d become.
Sadly, shortly after the marriage began, Cinderella’s father also died, leaving her alone with her stepmother and stepsisters. It was then that her new family’s true nature revealed itself. They removed everything from the home that had belonged to Cinderella’s mother and father and filled the house with their own belongings. The stepsisters took Cinderella’s bedroom for themselves and made her sleep on a stack of hay in the cellar. The stepmother took Cinderella’s dresses away and gave her raggedy clothes to wear.
“If you want to continue living here, you’ll have to work for it,” the stepmother said.
From then on, Cinderella wasn’t treated like a sister or daughter, but like a maid. Her stepmother and stepsisters gave her grueling chores and frivolous tasks and made her wait on them hand and foot as they enjoyed their new home.
As time went on, Cinderella grew to be a beautiful young woman, igniting the jealousy of her two stepsisters. As punishment for her beauty, they added to her chores until she was constantly covered in dirt, and Cinderella forgot she was pretty at all.
Despite her misfortune, Cinderella remained a kind and compassionate person. She knew her heart of gold was something her stepmother and stepsisters could never take away, and that alone gave her joy on the gloomiest days. She may have spent her time working for her stepfamily, but the nights were hers to dream of a better life, and those dreams gave her hope that good things would come.
One day, royal invitations were sent throughout the kingdom inviting all the young women in the land to a special ball the king and queen were hosting at the palace. At the ball, the very handsome Prince Charming would dance with all the young women in attendance and choose his future bride.
It was the most exciting news the kingdom had heard in years, and Cinderella’s house was buzzing with anticipation. For weeks leading up to the ball, Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters spoke of nothing else. The stepsisters took turns fantasizing about what it would be like to dance with the prince and accept his marriage proposal. They purchased elegant fabrics and ordered Cinderella to make them dresses for the occasion.
While she listened to her stepsisters’ daydreams and sewed their dresses, Cinderella also dreamed of what it would be like to attend the ball. She had never been to the palace before and wanted nothing more than to attend the ball with the other young women of the kingdom.