Christopher sits facing a young woman dressed in a long green gown tapering in at the waist and flowing out into full skirts, her golden-brown hair arranged naturally with a few beryl pins which most of it to fall over her shoulders in shining waves. Upon her feet are a pair of glass slippers which fit perfectly.
Christopher: Cinders…you look beautiful.
Cinders: I’m guessing you never would have recognized the girl who left smudges everywhere. Sorry about that. Welcome back to the Cauldron.
Christopher: Thank you. It’s good to be back. How is At Her Service coming along?
Cinders: It may have happened before in earlier editions, but I never cease to marvel at how my fairy godmother makes all my cinders disappear in an instant, leaving me clean and wearing this dress.
Christopher: Plus your mistress’s glass slippers.
Cinders: I know. I’m not comfortable at that myself. (glances down at her feet) I’d better clean them when I return from the ball.
Christopher: Are you in the middle of the ball?
Cinders: Yes, but the scribbler stopped in the middle of the dance when I revealed something which happened in the past. This made her go back and make it part of the beginning of At Her Service. It’s a something which makes me wish I was dancing with my mistress, not the mysterious prince. No matter how handsome and charming he might be.
Christopher: What was this something in your past? Or is it too much of a spoiler to ask about?
Cinders: I don’t think so. Once upon a time my mistress asked me to dance with her. We almost dance together but the lady of the chateaux’s, my mistress’s mother stopped us. Huh, I think I can sense the scribbler getting an idea for more dialogue for that scene. She’s always rewriting my beginning.
Christopher: I know exactly how you feel. Why did your mistress’s mother stop you?
Cinders: Well, I can’t say it’s because the Lady Ariella and I are stepsisters because the lady of the chateaux has never acknowledged that. She loathed me. She loathed my family too, my very bloodline. I think she would have loathed my father but he played the feeble and helpless invalid. This made the lady decided she needed to take care of him, so she set aside her loathing.
Christopher: She was able to do that?
Cinders: She’s a very peculiar and particular woman, the Lady Ariella’s mother. If she decides she loathes you, you’re filth. If she decides she’s going to take care of you, you’re her charge, no matter what. I’ve seen her kindness to others, such as Claude. Something about my father kindled, well, not exactly kindness but a sense of purpose. She decided she was going take care of him and his estate, no matter how much she loathed him and his bloodline. This was exactly what my father wanted since he couldn’t be bothered to take care of either.
Christopher: It sounds like your stepmother married your father for his estate while your father was more than happy to be married for it, if his wife was willing to take on his responsibilities for him.
Cinders: Father was an invalid or pretended to be one. He fussed a lot, tried to get out of doing everything if he could. He exhausted Mother. When she died, he became worse than ever. I used to be the one who had to take care of him. I was actually relieved when he remarried. I didn’t mind the Lady Ariella’s mother assuming full authority over the chateaux and my father. It’s made me happier than I can say to live with the Lady Ariella. I just wish her mother hadn’t hated me.
Christopher: Is this why the lady of the chateaux didn’t want you dancing with her daughter?
Cinders: The Lady Ariella’s mother had grand plans for her daughter, schemes of marrying her to a prince which Ariella herself had no interest in. My mistress’s interest in girls always annoyed the lady. She felt this interest was an unwelcome distraction from her plans. To show an interest in me, a descendent of the man who’d stolen the estate from hers was a betrayal. Never mind that the lady had married a descendent of that man herself in order to regain the chateaux she regarded as rightfully hers.
Christopher: It sounds like this woman was as angry with her daughter as she was with you.
Cinders: Perhaps but she blamed me for the whole thing. She believed I was scheming to manipulate her daughter through her interest in me as the lady had schemed to manipulate my father. This was the first time she hit me. I haven’t danced since. I’ve been more than a little clumsy.
Christopher: Are you really clumsy? Or does the Lady Ariella’s mother agitate you to the point that you knock things overs.
Cinders: She can’t agitate me any more. She’s dead. I’ve been awkward ever since. I trip and knock things over far too often.
Christopher: Are you tripping a lot at the ball?
Cinders: I did at first, but I’m getting more relaxed. The prince is an excellent dance partner. I’m started to really enjoy myself which makes me feel like a traitor.
Cinders: My mistress hates the prince. She got so angry when she thought I wanted to go to the ball, to dance with him. To be with him instead of her. She was really hurt. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m enjoying the dance but I wish I was dancing with her. One of the reasons I’m enjoying the prince’s company is because he reminds me of her. Seeing a similarity between my beloved mistress and the prince she loathes makes me feel like even more of a traitor. I shouldn’t be enjoying myself but I am. It’s nice not tripping over my own feet. It’s nice knowing I can dance even if it’s just for one night. I just really wish I was dancing with the Lady Ariella.
Christopher: Well, you have a fairy godmother. She might just grant your wish.
Cinders: I hope so.