Oncethe wife of a rich man was on her deathbedand she said to her daughter Cinderella:Be devout. Be good. Then I will smiledown from heaven in the seam of a cloud.The man took another wife who hadtwo daughters, pretty enoughbut with hearts like blackjacks.Cinderella was their maid.She slept on the sooty hearth each nightand walked around looking like Al Jolson.Her father brought presents home from town,jewels and gowns for the other womenbut the twig of a tree for Cinderella.She planted that twig on her mother's graveand it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.Whenever she wished for anything the dovewould drop it like an egg upon the ground.The bird is important, my dears, so heed him.Next came the ball, as you all know.It was a marriage market.The prince was looking for a wife.All but Cinderella were preparingand gussying up for the event.Cinderella begged to go too.Her stepmother threw a dish of lentilsinto the cinders and said: Pick themup in an hour and you shall go.The white dove brought all his friends;all the warm wings of the fatherland came,and picked up the lentils in a jiffy.No, Cinderella, said the stepmother,you have no clothes and cannot dance.That's the way with stepmothers.Cinderella went to the tree at the graveand cried forth like a gospel singer:Mama! Mama! My turtledove,send me to the prince's ball!The bird dropped down a golden dressand delicate little slippers.Rather a large package for a simple bird.So she went. Which is no surprise.Her stepmother and sisters didn'trecognize her without her cinder faceand the prince took her hand on the spotand danced with no other the whole day.As nightfall came she thought she'd betterget home. The prince walked her homeand she disappeared into the pigeon houseand although the prince took an axe and brokeit open she was gone. Back to her cinders.These events repeated themselves for three days.However on the third day the princecovered the palace steps with cobbler's waxand Cinderella's gold shoe stuck upon it.Now he would find whom the shoe fitand find his strange dancing girl for keeps.He went to their house and the two sisterswere delighted because they had lovely feet.The eldest went into a room to try the slipper onbut her big toe got in the way so she simplysliced it off and put on the slipper.The prince rode away with her until the white dovetold him to look at the blood pouring forth.That is the way with amputations.They just don't heal up like a wish.The other sister cut off her heelbut the blood told as blood will.The prince was getting tired.He began to feel like a shoe salesman.But he gave it one last try.This time Cinderella fit into the shoelike a love letter into its envelope.At the wedding ceremonythe two sisters came to curry favorand the white dove pecked their eyes out.Two hollow spots were leftlike soup spoons.Cinderella and the princelived, they say, happily ever after,like two dolls in a museum casenever bothered by diapers or dust,never arguing over the timing of an egg,never telling the same story twice,never getting a middle-aged spread,their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.Regular Bobbsey Twins.That story. Anne Sexton, Cinderella.