Not so very long ago, in a suburb of a rich and fashionable capital city, a young orphaned woman called Cinderella lived with her Stepmother and two ambitious Stepsisters. Cinderella tried to keep house for this small family but no matter how hard she worked, her Stepsisters flew through the house like whirlwinds and turned any order she might create into chaos. Whenever she had a chance to rest which was not very often, Cinderella would sit and dream by the hearth or go into her kitchen garden, for she always felt happiest amongst the vegetables and herbs.
One day, the Prince’s advisors decided to have a ball for all the well-born, well-to-do young people of the land so the Prince could choose a bride. Cinderella’s Stepsisters were accomplished social climbers and somehow they managed to wrangle invitations for themselves. Because they wanted to present themselves in the most glamorous and fashionable light, they hired the most expensive and well-trained dressmakers, makeup artists and escorts from the very best agency in the city; the best agency they could afford.
Once the Stepsisters were on their way and Cinderella had settled in at the hearth, something very magical indeed happened (unless, of course, Cinderella was only dreaming). Her Fairy Godmother appeared and summoned the creatures of the garden – Blossom, Petal, Moss and Twig – as well as the moths, butterflies and other insects who so mysteriously transform themselves from one shape to another as the seasons change. Each creature brought something for Cinderella to wear to the ball but her Fairy Godmother warned Cinderella to return home by midnight lest something dreadful happen to her. It’s not safe in palaces late at night.
In the palace, the Prince was very uncomfortable. He was depressed by the chic young women vying for his attention, seeking fame and riches. He felt like a complete outsider even at his own party. All the Prince really wanted was a quiet life with a woman he could love deeply and he saw no such person until Cinderella and her attendants arrived. The Prince and Cinderella instantly fell in love but all too soon it was midnight.
As the clock struck twelve, the courtiers underwent a horrible transformation into Pumpkinheads, attacking the terrified Cinderella. In her desperate attempts to escape, Cinderella lost all of her finery except one of her beautiful new slippers. The other slipper was all that the Prince could find to remind him of the woman he had come to love so suddenly.
The Prince and his aides searched all around the world to find the woman who had lost that slipper. They found countries where women wore wooden shoes, boots with blades for gliding on the ice, long thin wooden slats for sliding over snow, riding boots and every kind of footwear you can imagine, but never did they find a woman who could wear the slipper that the Prince’s ideal woman had lost.
Meanwhile, Cinderella was back home in the suburbs where the kitchen itself had been miraculously transformed into a place of order and her sisters didn’t seem to be such a nuisance anymore. But all she had to remind her of the ball was that slipper. She couldn’t bear to take it off but, not wanting to draw attention to it, she covered it up with a sock.
Finally it occurred to one of the Prince’s aides to check out the suburbs of the capital city just in case they’d missed anyone. And there, in his own back yard, and quite literally in Cinderella’s own back garden, the Prince and Cinderella found each other again. They had a fairly fashionable afternoon wedding – even Princes can’t completely ignore the conventions – but then, instead of a lavish honeymoon abroad, the Prince and Cinderella did what each of them would love best for the rest of their lives, they retired quietly to the garden where they would always find peace and love in making their garden grow.
— Penelope Reed Doob