“Never mind about that mop now, Cindy,” Lorraine said as she strode into the kitchen. “The crown prince is outside and he demands every girl in the kingdom try on a silly shoe.”
Cindy backed up against the far wall. “But why me? I’m just a servant now.”
“Of course you aren’t, darling,” her stepmother cooed placatingly. “Your father was a friend to the king himself. Hurry now! Mustn’t keep royalty waiting.”
Cindy followed Lorraine outside into the cool autumn afternoon. Lots of people milled about staring at the prince’s gaudy carriage and the line of girls waiting to try on a glittering shoe. Cindy realized it was the one she’d lost Saturday night when she snuck out to the charity ball and then run off like a madwoman to beat her stepsisters home before curfew.
They were now whining to their mother that the shoe hadn’t fit either one of their feet. “It’s a small shoe,” groused one. “Like Cindy’s size,” complained the other.
“Cindy doesn’t go to dances,” Lorraine said. “She’s busy… studying. Regardless, she must try the shoe or we will look suspicious.”
Cindy had qualms when it was her turn and the crown prince smiled vaguely at her. His gaze was cloudy and myopic, and she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw he didn’t remember her from the other night. Thank goodness! He’d stepped on her feet so many times her toes were quite swollen, and she winced when his maid attempted to slide it on her foot.
The prince shrugged and turned away. “Anyone else? I will give a bonus of a thousand pounds of gold to the person who finds the lovely lady who fits into this shoe!”
Then Cindy remembered that her stepmother also had small feet, for she had pilfered all of Cindy’s favorite shoes soon after her father’s funeral.
“Lorraine!” Cindy called. “I believe this is your shoe!”
“What? No.” The older woman laughed, but the prince insisted she try on the shoe, which fit her perfectly.
“Hurrah!” the nearsighted prince shouted. “I have found my bride!”
Cindy received her thousand pounds of gold, bought a cute cottage on the edge of the kingdom, and lived happily ever after with her animal friends. Mostly, they all went barefoot.
Image is mine.
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