The next day, the whole kingdom was gossiping about what had happened the previous night but slowly news spread from town to town that the Prince was looking for a mysterious unknown girl he’d met at the ball and that she had won his heart. Stranger still, the only clue to the identity of this young woman was an item of unusual footwear that she had left behind. It was said that the King was willing to pay a handsome reward for information about the owner of this shoe and it was even suggested in some circles that the daft prince would marry the first woman to claim the shoe was hers. The trouble was, no one knew what this shoe looked like.
Cinderella’s little town had been one of the first to hear the news though Cinders herself had not yet had the news reach her. Upon her return home the previous night she had been persuaded to return to the cellar so as not to alert her stepmother of her escape. Shortly after, her stepfamily had returned home and retired to bed without sparing a thought for the poor girl locked downstairs. When her stepmother let her out the next morning, she said very little but ordered poor cinders to carry out her chores as usual. It was only when Cinderella overheard her stepsisters arguing over dinner that evening that she knew the whole town was talking about her, even if they didn’t know it, and what she heard made her heart swell with joy.
‘Of course she doesn’t exist’ said the first sister. ‘Everyone says so. The Prince is obviously mad.’
‘If he’s mad, then why do you want to marry him so much?’ replied the other sister.
‘Uh, because he’s a prince. Duh. And that would make me a princess. It’s my dream to be a princess.’
‘But why would he marry you?’
‘Cos like I said.. this girl doesn’t exist. And that means I can pretend to be her. And from what I hear, the Prince is so desperate to marry her, it won’t take much pretending.’
‘But you’ve never met him. How on earth are you going to make him think you have? He won’t recognise you.’
‘He’s stark raving mad. He’ll recognise me when he sees how pretty I am. All I need to do is figure out this damn shoe problem.’
Cinderella almost blurted out ‘what shoe problem?’ though she managed to hold her tongue and wait for the answer. Her stepmother was the one who provided it.
‘I’ll have a word with my captain. I’ll see what I can dig out about this mystery shoe they found in the palace. I think it’s best to act quick. I suspect that many ladies in the town are having equally hair-brained ideas but if we can get in there first and play this right, who knows my dear daughter what we might gain?’
The next day, Cinders was cleaning pots in the kitchen when her stepmother entered frantically. ‘Where are your sisters? Where are they?’ Cinders had no time to answer before her stepmother had left shouting her stepsisters names. ‘Drizella? Anastasia? Get here at once.’
‘There you are. Listen, there’s not much time. They’ll be here any minute. They are questioning every young lady in the kingdom to find this mystery girl the prince has fallen for. You must tell them what I tell you. I have learned from my sources that this shoe is a glass slipper.’
‘Drizella my dear, we shall say that these slippers are yours.’ Anastasia, the younger sister, seemed quite annoyed by her mothers instruction but dared not protest. ‘You took them to the ball in your handbag to save them getting ruined and put them on to dance with the prince. You talked about your love of animals… yes you heard me, you love animals… I don’t know what kind of animals, don’t interrupt. And you’re lovely Godmother.’
‘But I don’t have a godmother’ interrupted Drizella.
‘You do now! Our neighbour Mrs Winter. You left the prince to go find her and you found out that she hadn’t come to the ball because she had taken ill and that’s why you left. Have you got that?’
There was no answer from Drizella as there was a knock on the door.
‘Cinderella! Answer the door’ bellowed the stepmother.
Cinders answered the door to the Captain and three other men and showed them in.
‘My dear Captain,' said the older woman suddenly all sweet and nice, 'I am so pleased to see you. But I think you are not here to see me. I have heard that you come on official business of his majesty. Well I have excellent news, you’re search may be over.’
‘Let us hope so’ said the Captain ‘but why do you say that?’
‘My daughter lost a pair of beautiful glass slippers at the ball, a family heirloom, and we have all heard that some distinguishable footwear was found that may belong to the young woman you are seeking. As it happens, my daughter did indeed dance with the Prince.’
‘I’m sorry my lady’ said one of the men ‘but your daughter does not match the description of the girl we are looking for.’
‘It was me’ cried Anastasia. ‘It wasn’t her. It was me.’ Now Drizella shot a scowl at her younger sister.
‘I danced with the prince’ continued Anastasia. ‘I tried on Drizella’s glass slippers and the Prince asked me to dance and we talked about animals and my godmother.’
‘Are you sure my lady?’ asked the Captain.
‘She said so didn’t she? My daughter wouldn’t lie. It must be one of them. How else would we know about the glass slippers?’
‘My lady, every house in the land knows about the glass slippers by now’ one man answered.
‘Then let her try them on. And you will see. They fit perfectly.’
Bobbity Boo almost laughed out loud. She had been quietly observing waiting for this moment. It had been a funny morning for the fairy as she had escorted the royal servants from house to house, watching as each maiden tried to squeeze her foot into the enchanted slipper. Bobbity had seen to it that it would never fit anyone but Cinderella.
First, Anastasia tried on the slipper. Then her sister had a turn, her cruel mother berating her for her horrible swollen feet. The visitors sighed and went to leave. But as one man stood he suddenly remembered.
‘What about the girl who answered the door? She matches the description perfectly. Was she in attendance that night?’
‘I’m afraid not’ replied the Captain. ‘She was to attend with us but there were unfortunate circumstances.’
‘Wait’ said Cinderella. ‘Please. I was there. I snuck out.’
Her stepmother almost exploded in fury but turned and calmly said. ‘Please ignore this girl. She is a liar or else quite deluded. I often find her talking to animals. She lives in a fantasy, a fairytale.’
The Captain shared a look with another man and beckoned another to bring the slipper forward. ‘It couldn’t do any harm to check.’
The room fell into complete disbelief, as for the first time that day, the glass shoe slipped perfectly onto the foot of a lady. ‘It’s a miracle’ cried out one man who could not bare the thought of one more house of eligible ladies.
‘This proves nothing’ came the protests of the stepmother. ‘So it fits. But shoes fit lots of people. It’s not like a shoe can only fit one person.’
‘That’s true’ admitted Cinderella. ‘If only I had some other proof. Maybe if I had the other glass slipper?’ Cinders’ stepmother’s jaw dropped to the floor as Cinders produced the matching slipper. Of course, the final proof was when Cinderella was taken to the palace where the Prince immediately recognised her. He got down on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage.
Quite rightly Cinders refused and said they should get to know each other first. Bobbity Boo was very proud of her goddaughters clear headed response and knew that Cinders was going to be just fine from now on. Her cruel stepmother was thrown in jail for her crimes of child cruelty and theft. But everyone else lived happily ever after. And that’s the real story of Cinderella and her fabulous fairy godmother.