The Sleeping Beauty
: Favorite Fairy Tales.
Once upon a time there lived a King and Queen who had no children. They
longed very much for a child; and when at last they had a little
daughter they were both delighted, and great rejoicings took place.
When the time came for the little Princess to be christened, the King
made a grand feast and invited all but one of the fairies in his kingdom
to be godmothers. There happened to be thirteen fairies in the kingdom;
but as the King had only twelve gold plates, he had to leave one of
The twelve fairies that were invited came to the christening, and
presented the little Princess with the best gifts in their possession.
One gave her beauty, one gave her wisdom, another grace, another
goodness, until all but one had presented their offerings. Just as the
last fairy was about to step forward and offer her gift, there came a
tremendous knocking at the door, and before anybody could get there to
open it, it was burst open, and in came the thirteenth fairy, in a
furious rage at not having been invited to the feast.
When she saw all the gifts which the other fairies had presented the
child, she laughed and exclaimed:
"A lot of good all this beauty and virtue and wealth will do to you, my
pretty Princess! You shall pay for the slight your Royal Father has put
upon me!" Then, turning to the terrified King and Queen, she said, in a
"When the Princess is fifteen years old she shall prick her finger with
a spindle and die!" Having said this she flew away as noisily as she
The King and Queen were in despair, and the courtiers stood aghast at
the terrible disaster; while the little Princess began to cry piteously,
as if she knew the fate in store for her. Then the twelfth fairy stepped
"Do not be afraid," she said, "I have not yet given my gift. I cannot
undo the wicked spell, but I can soften the evil. The Princess, on her
fifteenth birthday, shall prick her finger with a spindle, but she shall
not die. Instead, she shall fall asleep for a hundred years."
"Alas!" cried the Queen, "what comfort will that be to us? Long before
the hundred years are past we shall be dead, and our darling child will
be as lost to us as if she were indeed to die!"
"I can make that right," said the fairy. "When the Princess falls
asleep, you shall sleep, too; and awaken with her when the hundred
years are passed."
But the King still hoped to save his daughter from such a terrible
misfortune. So he ordered all the spinning-wheels in his kingdom to be
burnt or destroyed, and made a law that no one was to use one on pain of
instant death. But all his care was useless. On her fifteenth birthday
the Princess slipped away from her attendants, and wandered all through
the Palace. At last she came to a tower which she had never seen before,
and, wondering what it contained, she climbed the stairs. From a room at
the top came a curious humming noise, and the Princess, wondering what
it could be, pushed open the door and stepped inside.
There sat an old woman, bent with age, working at a strangely shaped
wheel. The Princess was full of curiosity.
"What is that funny-looking thing?" she asked.
"It is a spinning-wheel, Princess," answered the old woman, who was no
other than the wicked fairy in disguise.
"A spinning-wheel--what is that? I have never heard of such a thing,"
said the Princess. She stood watching for a few minutes, then she added:
"It looks quite easy. May I try to do it?"
"Certainly, gracious lady," said the wicked fairy, and the Princess sat
down and tried to turn the wheel. But no sooner did she lay her hand
upon it than the spindle, which was enchanted, pricked her finger, and
the Princess fell back against a silk-covered couch--fast asleep.
In a moment a deep silence fell upon all who were in the castle. The
King fell asleep in the midst of his councillors, the Queen with her
ladies-in-waiting. The horses in the stable, the pigeons on the roof,
the flies upon the walls, even the very fire upon the hearth fell
asleep, too. The meat which was cooking in the kitchen ceased to
frizzle; and the cook, who was just about to box the kitchen boy's
ears, fell asleep with her hand outstretched, and began to snore
aloud. The butler who was tasting the ale, fell asleep with the
jug at his lips.
A great hedge sprang up around the castle, which, as the years passed
on, grew and grew until it formed an impenetrable barrier around the
sleeping Palace. The old people of the country died, and their children
grew up and died also, and their children, and their children, and the
story of the sleeping Princess became a legend, handed down from one
generation to another; and a cloud of mystery, as thick and impenetrable
as the hedge of thorns, lay over the old castle. Many brave and gallant
Princes tried to force their way through the magic hedge, in order to
solve the mystery and to see for themselves the beautiful maiden who lay
in an enchanted sleep behind that thorny barrier. But the thorns caught
them, and held them from going forward or back, and the gallant youths
perished miserably in the thickets.
After many, many years there came a King's son into that country, who
heard the story of the Princess and the hedge of briers; and he made up
his mind to try and force his way to the castle to awake the sleeping
Princess. People told him of the fate of the other Princes, who had also
attempted this difficult task; but the Prince would not be warned.
"I have made up my mind to see this maiden of whose beauty I have heard
so many wonderful tales," he cried. "I will force a way through the
hedge of thorns and awake this Sleeping Beauty, or die in the attempt!"
Now, it happened that this day was the last day of the hundred years;
and when the Prince came to the thicket that surrounded the castle and
began to push his way through, he found that the briers yielded readily
to his touch. The thorns had all blossomed into roses that scented the
air with fragrance as he went by. Primroses sprang up before his feet
and made a pathway to lead him straight to the castle gates; and the
birds suddenly broke forth into singing, as if to tell the world that
the hundred years of enchantment were over, and the Princess about to
be awakened from her long sleep.
The Prince passed through the council chamber, where the King and his
councillors were sleeping; through the room where the Queen and her
ladies slept. He passed on from hall to hall, climbed from stair to
stair, until at last he reached the tower chamber where the sleeping
Princess lay. For a moment he stood and gazed in wonder at her lovely
face; then he sank on his knees beside her, and kissed her as she lay
Instantly the spell was broken. The King and Queen awoke, and all the
courtiers with them; the horses neighed in the stables, and shook their
glossy manes; the pigeons cooed upon the roof; the flies on the wall
moved again; the fire burnt up brightly; and the meat in the kitchen
began to frizzle once more as the spit turned round. The cook gave the
kitchen boy the tremendous box on the ear that she had started to give
him a hundred years ago, and everything and everybody went on just as
usual, as if nothing at all out of the common had occurred.
And up in the tower chamber the Princess opened her eyes to meet the
gaze of the Prince, who had dared to risk his life for her sake. What
they said to each other nobody quite knows, for nobody was there to
hear or see. But whatever it was, it must have been something very
satisfactory; for very soon after they were married, and lived happily