SLIPPER SALES SPOIL PRINCE'S PARTY (Cinderella)

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Popularity of Glass Footwear Hobbles Search for Mystery Bride

Dansemeister Palace, Pleasant Kingdoms - Three days following Prince Dansemeister's inaugural Golden Ball, the mystery girl who captured his heart is still nowhere to be found. After seventeen consecutive dances with the prince, the unknown ingénue had firmly positioned herself as the odds-on favourite (at 3-1) to earn his much-anticipated proposal. However, at the stroke of midnight on Saturday, she inexplicably fled, leaving only a sparkling slipper behind. Since then, a sudden surge in glass footwear sales has complicated the search for the bride-to-be.

"We have summoned all the girls in town to the palace square," the bedraggled prince told reporters this morning. "As you can see, half of them showed up in glass slippers. So, how am I supposed to tell these women apart? What, their faces? It was a masquerade! Last time I throw one of those."

As more glass-shod girls flooded the square, Sir Wolfgang Ferrell, the Chief Royal Investigator, brought in a team of hounds to sniff out the prince's sweetheart. Sir Wolfgang boasted about his dogs' abilities: "They shall most definitely find her. True love has a distinct scent, like roast pork with gravy. Thick gravy. Not the juicy stuff--the kind with an extra cup of flour." However, upon their release, the hounds ignored the crowd of girls and immediately pursued a pair of passing butchers delivering their finest cuts to the palace kitchens. Your correspondent--and several other eyewitnesses--observed Sir Wolfgang himself at the head of the pack. When questioned about this afterwards, the Chief Royal Investigator proved unapologetic: "Well, naturally, I was leading the chase. A good investigator always stays a step ahead!"

Staying a step ahead has not resolved this search, but staying in-step might. Shortly before press time, the prince summoned palace dance instructor, Ms. Ivanna Pavane, to see if she could identify his disappearing darling. "I carefully scored every dance between the prince and the girl at the ball using the latest analytics," Ms. Pavane explained. "You see, I track everything: average step length, twirl velocity, hand placement, chin angle. Not only have these advanced statistics revolutionized my teaching method, they will identify the mystery bride. I will analyze all these girls and find the match. The math does not lie."

Prince Dansemeister certainly hopes so. For now, all he can do is watch, wait, and hope his story prevents other love-struck royals from repeating his missteps. "The moral of all this would be: no masquerades, like I said earlier. Also, confirm your guest list, and, I suppose, use name tags. Or, at least, ask someone's name if you are infatuated with them. That would definitely save a lot of trouble."

Based on Perrault's version of "Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper."

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