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Briar Rose

from Grimms' Fairy Tales





A king and queen once upon a time reigned in a country a great way off,
where there were in those days fairies. Now this king and queen had
plenty of money, and plenty of fine clothes to wear, and plenty of
good things to eat and drink, and a coach to ride out in every day: but
though they had been married many years they had no children, and this
grieved them very much indeed. But one day as the queen was walking
by the side of the river, at the bottom of the garden, she saw a poor
little fish, that had thrown itself out of the water, and lay gasping
and nearly dead on the bank. Then the queen took pity on the little
fish, and threw it back again into the river; and before it swam away
it lifted its head out of the water and said, 'I know what your wish is,
and it shall be fulfilled, in return for your kindness to me--you will
soon have a daughter.' What the little fish had foretold soon came to
pass; and the queen had a little girl, so very beautiful that the king
could not cease looking on it for joy, and said he would hold a great
feast and make merry, and show the child to all the land. So he asked
his kinsmen, and nobles, and friends, and neighbours. But the queen
said, 'I will have the fairies also, that they might be kind and good
to our little daughter.' Now there were thirteen fairies in the kingdom;
but as the king and queen had only twelve golden dishes for them to eat
out of, they were forced to leave one of the fairies without asking her.
So twelve fairies came, each with a high red cap on her head, and red
shoes with high heels on her feet, and a long white wand in her hand:
and after the feast was over they gathered round in a ring and gave all
their best gifts to the little princess. One gave her goodness, another
beauty, another riches, and so on till she had all that was good in the
world.

Just as eleven of them had done blessing her, a great noise was heard in
the courtyard, and word was brought that the thirteenth fairy was
come, with a black cap on her head, and black shoes on her feet, and a
broomstick in her hand: and presently up she came into the dining-hall.
Now, as she had not been asked to the feast she was very angry, and
scolded the king and queen very much, and set to work to take her
revenge. So she cried out, 'The king's daughter shall, in her fifteenth
year, be wounded by a spindle, and fall down dead.' Then the twelfth of
the friendly fairies, who had not yet given her gift, came forward, and
said that the evil wish must be fulfilled, but that she could soften its
mischief; so her gift was, that the king's daughter, when the spindle
wounded her, should not really die, but should only fall asleep for a
hundred years.

However, the king hoped still to save his dear child altogether from
the threatened evil; so he ordered that all the spindles in the kingdom
should be bought up and burnt. But all the gifts of the first eleven
fairies were in the meantime fulfilled; for the princess was so
beautiful, and well behaved, and good, and wise, that everyone who knew
her loved her.

It happened that, on the very day she was fifteen years old, the king
and queen were not at home, and she was left alone in the palace. So she
roved about by herself, and looked at all the rooms and chambers, till
at last she came to an old tower, to which there was a narrow staircase
ending with a little door. In the door there was a golden key, and when
she turned it the door sprang open, and there sat an old lady spinning
away very busily. 'Why, how now, good mother,' said the princess; 'what
are you doing there?' 'Spinning,' said the old lady, and nodded her
head, humming a tune, while buzz! went the wheel. 'How prettily that
little thing turns round!' said the princess, and took the spindle
and began to try and spin. But scarcely had she touched it, before the
fairy's prophecy was fulfilled; the spindle wounded her, and she fell
down lifeless on the ground.

However, she was not dead, but had only fallen into a deep sleep; and
the king and the queen, who had just come home, and all their court,
fell asleep too; and the horses slept in the stables, and the dogs in
the court, the pigeons on the house-top, and the very flies slept upon
the walls. Even the fire on the hearth left off blazing, and went to
sleep; the jack stopped, and the spit that was turning about with a
goose upon it for the king's dinner stood still; and the cook, who was
at that moment pulling the kitchen-boy by the hair to give him a box
on the ear for something he had done amiss, let him go, and both fell
asleep; the butler, who was slyly tasting the ale, fell asleep with the
jug at his lips: and thus everything stood still, and slept soundly.

A large hedge of thorns soon grew round the palace, and every year it
became higher and thicker; till at last the old palace was surrounded
and hidden, so that not even the roof or the chimneys could be seen. But
there went a report through all the land of the beautiful sleeping Briar
Rose (for so the king's daughter was called): so that, from time to
time, several kings' sons came, and tried to break through the thicket
into the palace. This, however, none of them could ever do; for the
thorns and bushes laid hold of them, as it were with hands; and there
they stuck fast, and died wretchedly.

After many, many years there came a king's son into that land: and an
old man told him the story of the thicket of thorns; and how a beautiful
palace stood behind it, and how a wonderful princess, called Briar Rose,
lay in it asleep, with all her court. He told, too, how he had heard
from his grandfather that many, many princes had come, and had tried to
break through the thicket, but that they had all stuck fast in it, and
died. Then the young prince said, 'All this shall not frighten me; I
will go and see this Briar Rose.' The old man tried to hinder him, but
he was bent upon going.

Now that very day the hundred years were ended; and as the prince came
to the thicket he saw nothing but beautiful flowering shrubs, through
which he went with ease, and they shut in after him as thick as ever.
Then he came at last to the palace, and there in the court lay the dogs
asleep; and the horses were standing in the stables; and on the roof sat
the pigeons fast asleep, with their heads under their wings. And when he
came into the palace, the flies were sleeping on the walls; the spit
was standing still; the butler had the jug of ale at his lips, going
to drink a draught; the maid sat with a fowl in her lap ready to be
plucked; and the cook in the kitchen was still holding up her hand, as
if she was going to beat the boy.

Then he went on still farther, and all was so still that he could hear
every breath he drew; till at last he came to the old tower, and opened
the door of the little room in which Briar Rose was; and there she lay,
fast asleep on a couch by the window. She looked so beautiful that he
could not take his eyes off her, so he stooped down and gave her a kiss.
But the moment he kissed her she opened her eyes and awoke, and smiled
upon him; and they went out together; and soon the king and queen also
awoke, and all the court, and gazed on each other with great wonder.
And the horses shook themselves, and the dogs jumped up and barked; the
pigeons took their heads from under their wings, and looked about and
flew into the fields; the flies on the walls buzzed again; the fire in
the kitchen blazed up; round went the jack, and round went the spit,
with the goose for the king's dinner upon it; the butler finished his
draught of ale; the maid went on plucking the fowl; and the cook gave
the boy the box on his ear.

And then the prince and Briar Rose were married, and the wedding feast
was given; and they lived happily together all their lives long.





Next: The Dog And The Sparrow

Previous: The Straw The Coal And The Bean



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