You may think you know the story of Cinderella, but do you really? Did you know that her name wasn’t even Cinderella. Did you know she didn’t sleep in the cinders? Did you know that her magic Godmother wasn’t a fairy? How about her older stepsister? Did you know that she was quite lovely and just had an ugly personality? Her other sister was quite nice.
Like many ancient stories, this one also got twisted along the way of being passed down, but after years of detangling, the truth is reviled.
Once there lived a Lord, and a Lady, and their daughter. The Lord, John, was a kind man, who loved his family with all his heart, but was often gone to assist the King. His wife, Lady Carmin stayed and attended to the estate with their daughter Bell. Together Lady Carmin and Bell would help the servants cook, clean, and care for the house and garden. Laughter often filled the house, even more when Lord John was home. Each morning, the Lord, Lady, and Carmin would take a walk in the garden, and each evening they would read by the fire until Bell fell asleep by the embers, to this, Lord John took to calling his daughter Emberbell.
When Bell turned nine, Lady Carmin fell ill, and passed away. The estate grew quiet as Lord John went to help the King, and felt guilty leaving Bell by herself to help the servants care for their home. So he quickly re-married to a woman named Lady Gauzette, who had two daughters of her own, the eldest daughter was named Cora; the youngest daughter was named Harmacy.
When Lord John first told Bell that he was re-marring, Bell knew that no one could replace her mother, but was happy to have a new mother and two new sisters.
After Bells father went back to work for the king, and left Bell alone with her new mother and sisters for the first time, Gauzette quickly went to work firing the staff and moving Bell to the now empty servants quarters, forced to do all the chores her self, at the end of most days Bell would fall asleep reading next to the hearth in the Embers glow. One day when Cora came to find her, she saw Bell waking up next to the glowing coal and started to call her Ashbell. When her father came home, and laughter filled the house, Bell couldn’t bring her self to tell of her father all the things her step mother made her do by herself and the name her step sisters called her. So as her mother taught her, she held in her sorrows and put on a happy face, but that happy face was quickly gone when Lord John fell ill, and passed away.
Years passed and Bell, along with her stepsisters, grew in beauty. But unlike her sisters, Bell also grew in patience and grace that could only come from years of carful cleaning and the high demands of her stepmother. Our story begins on a rainy morning. Bell woke from her sleep at the first chime of the castle bells. She counted the five chimes that followed as she dressed in a worn blue dress, and slipped on her black slippers and tied her fine brown hair back, she went to work preparing breakfast for her mother and sisters. Going out to the barn, she collected several eggs, to be boiled, and cooked some fresh bread and meat. As Bell prepared herself a small breakfast of fruit, she heard the house creak many floors above her. Through years of waking early, Bell could always tell who was the first to wake on what occasion, and hear the steps creak through the house. She could tell where a person was as they walked, no matter how quiet they walked. Harmacy was the first one up. Her light feet carried her down to the kitchen to Bell, when she entered she put on an apron came up to Bell. “Gauzette will kill me, and then you, and me again, if she found out you were cooking and cleaning, especially today.” Bell told her.
“That’s why she must never find out, you won’t tell will you? Not on my birthday?” Harmacy said, she was a small girl, with brown hair and a slight round face, her brown eyes looked up at Bell. Bell sighed, “Fine, but only for an hour, I have a lot to do today, and I can’t babysit you. “ Harmacy gave a small squeal as she grabbed a broom and started to sweep the kitchen, and through wood on the fire.
“Since it’s raining where shall we hold the tea party?” Harmacy asked
“I’ll clean the parlor so you and your friends can have a lovely time.”
“It’s a sham mothers plans will go to waste.”
“Gauzette will find a way to bring her plans inside, but it wont all fit.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I can arrange the furniture, and put in tables, but I don't think all the flowers will fit in one room.”
“Your right, mother will be disappointed.”
“Your mother will get over it, she can’t control the weather.” Harmacy gave a small giggle.
“Now, what would you like for breakfast?” Bell asked
“Oh, just a hard boil egg please, mother will be furious if I don’t have breakfast with her and Cora.” she said.
“Two boiled eggs coming up.” Bell said.
When the eggs finished, Harmacy and Bell sat down at the little table in the middle of the kitchen and ate small breakfast. Rain pounded on the window outside, the only light came from the fire, and the candles around the oven where the bread was baking.
When the hour was up, Harmacy went up to her room to change into the dress Gauzette wanted her to ware today. Bell stayed in the kitchen as more footsteps began to creak through out the house. Cora was awake; she was heading to Harmacy’s room. Cora tried to step quietly like Harmacy, but her anger made her footsteps not as delicate as her younger sisters. Next Bell could hear Gauzette wake. Her steps were like Cora’s, but with more anger, and sounded like she had control. She too went to Harmacy’s room, and before long, a little bell rang, calling Bell to Harmacy’s room.
Running up the servant’s steps, to the hidden part at the back of the house, Bell entered Harmacy’s room. Harmacy sat on her bed Gauzette sat next to her. Her blond hair was in a messy braid, and her pointed face looked sternly at Bell. Cora stood next to the bedpost. She looked much like Gauzette, down to the smirk she had on her face. “Today is a very important day Bell, and it is ruined because of this basted rain. Do you know what you are going to do now?” Gauzette asked.
“After preparing your breakfast, I am going to arrange the furniture in the parlor room and bring in tables from one of the closed off rooms to place the food on.” Bell said.
“Very well, but you must take the coach into the village and pick up Harmacy’s special birthday gifts.” Gauzette started to play with Harmacy’s hair, brushing it back and seeing how it would look in different styles. She looked back to Bell standing in the doorway, “What are you still doing here? Go fetch our breakfasts.” She demanded.
Bell ran back down stares and whipped up eggs, bread, and hot cereal for her stepmother and sisters. When they finished eating, and Bell cleaned up from breakfast, she went into the parlor and started to move the couches around a table, and made the room look presentable for Cora, and Harmacy’s friends. Bell was happy with her self for scrubbing the floor of the Parlor room the day before, and to dust the entirety of the room as well. When she finished rearranging the furniture she went up to Gauzette for the next task that her stepmother would give her.
“When you get to town go to the blacksmith and pick up the necklace and hair pin his wife made that I had Cora order. Next I want you to go to the shoemaker and pick up the slippers I had especially made for Harmacy. And it is always important for the help to pay their respects to the family of the house hold, so you may take three coins and get her something as well.” Gauzette said giving her a pouch, “This pouch has eighteen gold pieces, exactly what you need. Five for the shoes, five for the necklace, five for the pin, and three for your gift. If it isn’t empty when you come back I will know you’ve shorted me.” Gauzette threatened her voice a growl. Bell curtsied and left the room; putting on a green cloak she took the carriage into the village. As she rode, the rain had stopped, but the clouds hung in the sky, threatening to start again at any moment. The market place right outside the castle was in a bustle with Smiths hammering, horses naying, and people shouting over the clamor. Heading to the shoemaker, Bell gazed at the dazzling slippers and heels as she entered the little shop. “Hello?” she called, there was a bang in the back of the shop and a man came stumbling out. He was an older man, with salt and pepper hair. He had a fat nose that a pair of spectacles rested on, and rosy cheeks. “Are you alright sir?” Bell asked carefully
“I’m fine, just looking for those elves.” The man fumbled around his shop.
“Yes, yes three of them. You see, for the past few nights little elves have been coming into my shop and helping me make my shoes. When I saw them they had no shoes of their own, or hats or scarves. So I am making them some as a thank you for all their help.” The man said.
“Oh.” Bell smiled, “Well perhaps they will return tonight.”
The shoemaker gazed at her, “You know? You may be right.”
“And you can leave their gifts on your workbench so when they return tonight they will see them.” Bell concluded.
“Well that is a brilliant idea! Thank you Miss. Now, how may I help you?” The shoemaker questioned.
“I’m here to pick up an order for Gauzette.” Bell responded.
“Ah! Yes, the ball shoes. Personally, I think these are the best shoes the elves made.” The shoemaker said gleefully as he went into the back to get them. He returned and put the slippers on a tabletop. The slippers were made with gold fabric and had red stitched butterflies on them. Little red flowers were embroidered all around the shoe, almost as if it were on fire. The shoemaker put the slippers into a round decretive box with a ribbon handle and handed it to Bell. “Thank you sir, these are quite lovely. I know Gauzette will approve.” Reaching into her pouch of coins, she pulled out five gold ones to pay the man. “Oh no. For your wonderful idea the shoes are only two gold coins. You keep the rest.” He smiled.
“Sir, I can’t. My stepmother will punish me if I comeback with coins in the pouch.” Bell begged.“Then you had better find a place to hide those coins.” The man winked and went into the back room. Bell left the shop confused and headed to the blacksmith.