“The princess is coming!” A crowd of girls exclaimed as they watched Cinderella’s carriage come down the hill of their school.
“Let me see! Let me see!” Cried Emma, who had arrived at the school only a few days earlier. “I want to see the princess!”
“Don’t worry, you will,” replied Claire, who was the oldest. “She’s coming to visit us.”
Sure enough, the coach came to a stop right outside.
A royal trumpeter blew his horn loudly to announce Cinderella’s arrival at the school.
“Quickly, girls, gather around,” said the headmistress of the school. She scurried to the door and opened it wide. “Welcome, Your Highness!” She exclaimed. She and the girls curtsied as Cinderella entered the room.
“It’s so nice to see you all again,” said the princess. Cinderella liked to stop by the school to help the girls with their reading and writing. She also brought books, clothes, toys, and food. Many of the girls were poor and had few things of their own.
Everyone was happy to see Cinderella. But no one was more excited than Emma.
Cinderella and the girls spent a wonderful afternoon together. After their lessons, they sung and danced and told stories. Then they read together, shared sweets, and played with some of the toys the princess had brought.
When it was time for Cinderella to go, she gathered the children together and made an announcement. “In one week’s time, there will be a grand ball at the castle – to be held in your honor.”
“For us? Yay!” The girls shouted excitedly. Emma and some of the others even clapped.
“But what will we wear?” Asked a girl named Annabelle. She had on a dress that had patches on it.
Cinderella smiled, “Why, the dresses I am having made for each of you, of course! And you shall have new shoes and gloves as well! I remember how much fun it was when I got to dress up for the ball where I met the Prince. I thought all of you would like to wear fancy gowns, too. “
The next day, the girls talked about nothing but the party. They couldn’t wait to dress up.
“Do you think my gown will be blue to match my eyes?” Asked Claire.
“I hope there will be lots of yummy cake and candy to eat!” Said Annabelle.
“I wonder how I should wear my hair,” Emma remarked.
That afternoon, the headmistress decided to take the girls outside for some fresh air. “It’s a lovely day,” she announced. “Let’s have a picnic.”
The girls climbed the hill and spread blankets in the meadow near the royal estate. While her classmates ran and played, Emma gazed at the castle. I can’t wait to see what it looks like inside, she said to herself. It must be the most wonderful place in the whole world.
Soon, Emma noticed a group of seamstresses approaching the castle gates. Hmm, she thought, maybe when they go inside I can peek at the courtyard. She ran over by the castle and hid.
The women spoke with the guard. He opened the gates and let them in. Without thinking, Emma slipped behind the seamstresses and followed them straight through the courtyard and into the castle! Then she hid behind a curtain.
Cinderella welcomed the women, then led them up a sweeping staircase. When everyone was gone, Emma slipped out from her hiding place, ran up the stairs, and began to explore. One room had a huge bed with a pink, ruffled canopy. She climbed onto it and closed her eyes for a moment.
Cinderella’s mouse friends, Jaq, Gus, and Mary, quickly came out from under the bed. They introduced themselves to Emma, who smiled, stood up, and curtsied.
Suddenly, they heard a voice declare. “This fabric is gorgeous!” It came from a room down the hall.
Emma and the mice went to the room and peeked around the doorway. Seamstresses were cutting satin, silk, and velvet inside
“Everything is so pretty!” Emma blurted out.
“Come in! Come in!” The seamstresses called.
“Stand here, dear. Now, hold still,” one of the women said as she began draping fabric around Emma. She thought Cinderella had sent her to model the dresses.
Emma just smiled. She loved the swishing sound the cloth made and the smooth feel of the gown. She also liked the way everyone fussed over her.
When Cinderella stopped by a while later, Emma was barely visible beneath all the satin and lace. “More bows, please,” Emma requested. “And another layer of ruffles.”
“Oh, my!” Exclaimed Cinderella. “That certainly is a fancy dress! And you look beautiful in it.
” She thought Emma had come to the castle with the seamstresses and that she must be tired from working all afternoon. Cinderella remembered whar it was like to do chores all day. So she invited Emma to have tea with her.
Cinderella and Emma went downstairs to the dining room, where they sat at a table laid with delicate china and gleaming silver. A servant brought in tea and cakes and cookies, and soon the princess and the little girl were chatting like old friends.
“It must be wonderful to be a princess,” Emma said between bites. “You get to wear fancy clothes, live in a big castle, go to parties all day, and order servants around.”
Cinderella laughed. “When a princess wants something, she asks politely. And there’s much more to being a princess than clothes and parties,” she replied. “Why don’t you help me this afternoon and see what a princess really does?”
For the next few hours, Emma and Cinderella put together baskets of food, clothing, books, and toys for schools and orphanages around the kingdom.
Emma’s favorite part was going through Cinderella’s wardrobe to look for old clothes that could be donated.
She put on a long velvet cape and twirled around in front of the mirror. “Look at me!” She cried.
“You look positively stunning!” Said Cinderella, laughing.
Soon, it was time to deliver the baskets. Emma climbed into the royal carriage beside Cinderella. As they passed through the village, the little girl leaned out the window and waved at a passerby.
Princess Emma, she thought. I like the sound of that!
When they arrived at her school to deliver some baskets, the headmistress gave Emma a big hug.
“Where have you been?” She cried. “We’ve been so worried.” The headmistress and the other girls had been looking for Emma all afternoon.
“But I thought she was with the seamstresses,” Cinderella said, puzzled.
Emma explained how she’d snuck into the castle. “I’m sorry.” She said. “I didn’t mean to make anyone worry. I just wanted to see what it was like to be a princess.”
“Being a princess is more than just playing dress-up,” Cinderella told her. “It also means being responsible.” Why don’t you come to the castle when you’ve finished your studies each day? “Cinderella suggested.” Then you can learn more about what it’s really like to be a princess. “
” I’d love to, “Emma agreed. After that, every afternoon when her lessons were over, she went to the castle. The princess was always very busy making sure things ran smoothly, and bringing supplies to the poor and hungry. Emma saw that being a princess was not easy, and she admired Cinderella even more.
Emma’s favorite task was helping Cinderella plan the party for the girls’ school. “May we serve little cakes with pink icing?” Emma asked, thinking of the girls’ favorite treats.
“Of course!” Cried Cinderella. “You’re a thoughtful friend to know what the other girls would like.”
Meanwhile, Jaq, Gus, and Mary had been busy, too. They are secretly sewed extra beads and ribbons onto Emma’s dress. “Because she likes things fancy,” said Jaq.
When the nice presented Emma with the dress, she clapped her hands together with delight. “It’s fit for a prince!” She exclaimed.
Finally, the night of the ball arrived. The girls twirled across the dance floor in their magnificent new dresses.
“I still wish I could be a real princess,” said Emma.
“Because you’ve worked so hard, I’m going to make you an honorary princess for the evening,” Cinderella said with a smile.
“Oh, thank you!” The girl cried happily, thrilled that she’d get to be Princess Emma for a magical night.