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The Sleeping Beauty

from Boys And Girls Bookshelf - THE OLD FAIRY TALES





ADAPTED FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM


The King and Queen of a faraway country once had a little daughter, who
was more beautiful than any child that had ever before been seen. Her
father and mother were so delighted that they proclaimed a public
holiday on her christening, and invited to act as godmothers the seven
good fairies who lived in the kingdom. Unfortunately, they forgot to
ask one ugly old fairy, who had remained shut up in her tower so many
years that people really had forgotten about her.

When the night of the christening arrived the castle was beautiful to
behold. Lights shone even to the highest tower; beautiful music sounded
from behind masses of fragrant flowers; splendidly dressed knights and
ladies were there to honor the little Princess; and the seven good
fairies smilingly gave her their gifts.

So excited and happy were all that no one noticed an old creature who
had slipped in and stood in the shadow looking on. This was the fairy
who had not been invited; and, in anger at the slight, she was waiting
her chance to make trouble.

"For my gift," said the first fairy, "I grant that the Princess shall
be the most beautiful person in the world."

"I give her the mind of an angel," said the second.

"She shall be grace itself," said the third.

"She shall dance like a goddess," said the fourth.

"Her voice shall equal the nightingale's," said the fifth.

"The art of playing on all musical instruments shall be hers," said
the sixth.

Now the wicked old enchantress thought that all seven good fairies had
spoken, so she stepped forth, her face distorted with hatred and envy,
and said: "So I am not thought good enough to be a guest here: you
despise me because I am old and ugly. I shall make a gift, and it shall
be a curse. When your fine young lady becomes sixteen she shall fall
asleep, and nothing you can do will be able to waken her."

Then with a horrid laugh the hag disappeared.

Horror seized the guests, and the party, which had been so gay, became
solemn indeed.

Then the seventh good fairy sprang up and said in silvery tones: "My
gift is yet to be laid before the Princess. I am young, and I can not
undo the evil that has befallen. But be not unhappy, for I grant that
on the day when the curse falls, every living thing in the castle shall
also fall asleep. Moreover, I grant that whenever there is a Prince who
is brave enough to be worthy of this lovely Princess, he shall find a
way to break the spell."

As the little girl grew older the words of the good fairies came true.
Not only was she beautiful and gifted, but she was so kind and
thoughtful that everyone loved her dearly.

At first they were very careful to tell her nothing of the wicked
fairy's curse, and then there were so many other things to think about
that people forgot all about the old fairy and her gift.

The sixteenth birthday arrived, and there was a very special
celebration to please the Princess. The castle was decorated more
beautifully, if possible, than on the night of the christening, and
everyone was dancing or laughing and as happy as could be. Suddenly the
old fairy stepped out from a shadow, as she had done years before, and
looking at the beautiful girl said, "Sleep." Immediately not one sound
or stir was in that gorgeous castle.

Now, you must forget for a bit all about the Sleeping Beauty, and hear
about a noble Prince who was born many years later in a kingdom not far
from this one. Not only was this Prince handsome and brave, but he was
so kind and good that people called him "Prince Winsome."

All his life he had heard terrible stories about an enchanted castle,
whose towers could be seen on a clear day far off above a dense forest.
It was said that the trees grew so close together in this forest that
when a knight attempted to force his way through, he always became
entangled in the branches and perished. Many young men were said to
have met this fate; so little by little people stopped trying to reach
the castle.

But the little Prince was courageous. "When I am sixteen, I shall start
out for the magic forest and rescue the beautiful maiden, whom, I am
sure, I shall find in the castle," he said.



True to his word, on his sixteenth birthday our Prince set off
eagerly on his adventure. His courtiers urged him not to go, and his
subjects pleaded with him, for they did not wish to lose their Prince.
They were afraid he would die in the forest they so dreaded. They did
not realize how difficulties and dangers give way before a brave,
true-hearted youth.

When Prince Winsome reached the edge of the dense forest it looked as
if no man could ever enter. Great trees grew close together with their
branches intertwined. So thick were they that the place looked as dark
as night. When Winsome came near, a marvelous thing happened. The
branches slowly untwined and the trees seemed to bend apart and make a
narrow pathway for his entrance. They closed immediately after him, so
that his followers were closed out and he went on alone. After a long
time he found himself in the courtyard of a great castle. There was not
a sound or a stir; the watchman stood sleeping at the gate, and the
guards were standing as if playing a game of dice, but all were sound
asleep.

Prince Winsome entered the castle hall and found it full of noble
ladies and knights, servants, waiting maids, flower girls, all
motionless and yet the flush of life on their cheeks. The dancers
seemed about to whirl away in the waltz; the musicians bent over
their violins; and a servant was in the act of passing cakes to the
guests--yet they all held the same fixed position, and had since that
day years before when sleep overcame them.

Advancing from room to room the same sight everywhere met our hero's
eyes, but his heart began to beat faster and faster, and he knew that
the object of his search was near. At last he entered the throne room
and there on an ivory throne, her head resting against a satin pillow,
was his longed-for Princess. She was so much more beautiful than he had
even imagined that he paused in rapture; then, crossing to her, he
knelt by her side and kissed her tenderly on the brow.

Then what do you think happened? The Princess smiled, drew a long
breath, opened her eyes slowly, and said: "Oh, my Prince! I knew you
would come." At the same moment the musicians went on just where they
had stopped playing so many years before; the dancers finished their
waltz; the servant offered the cakes; and no one but the Prince seemed
to think the proceeding strange at all.

The Sleeping Beauty and Prince Winsome were married at once, and lived
long and happily.





Next: Beauty And The Beast

Previous: Cinderella



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