|The Book of Fables and Folk Stories|
|by Horace Elisha Scudder|
|A choice collection of old folk tales and fables, attractively arranged and illustrated. Between each of the longer tales appear several short fables, offering a varied reading experience for the young reader for whom it is intended. Ages 6-9 |
THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD
THE BEAUTY GOES TO SLEEP
ONCE upon a time there lived a king and queen who grieved
that they had no child. But at last a daughter was
born, and the king was very happy. He gave a great
feast, and asked to it all the fairies in the land,
seven in all. He hoped that each would give the child
In front of each fairy at the table was set a heavy
gold plate, and by each plate a gold knife and fork.
Just as they sat down to the feast, in came an old
fairy who had not been invited. No
 one knew she was living. Fifty years before she had
shut herself up in a tower, and had not been seen
The king hurried off to find a gold plate and knife and
fork for her also. But nothing could be found so fine
as the seven plates which had been made for the seven
fairies. The old fairy thought herself ill-used and
grumbled in a low voice. At that, one of the young
fairies feared she meant mischief to the child, and so,
when the feast was over, hid herself behind the
hangings in the hall. We shall soon see why she did
The fairies now began to give gifts to the child,
beginning with the youngest. She gave her beauty; the
next gave her wit; the third gave her grace; the fourth
said she should dance perfectly; the fifth gave her a
voice to sing; the sixth said she should play
beautifully on the harp.
The turn of the old fairy had now come. She shook her
head wickedly and said the child would grow up, but
when she was grown, she would pierce her hand, when
spinning, and die of the wound. At this, all the
company began to weep. But the fairy who had hidden
came forward and said:—
 "Be of good cheer, king and queen. Your daughter shall
not so die. I cannot entirely undo what my elder has
done. The princess must pierce her hand when spinning,
but instead of dying she shall fall into a deep sleep.
The sleep shall last a hundred years. At the end of
that time a king's son will come to wake her."
The king was very sad, but he hoped he might prevent
the evil. So he made a law that no one in the kingdom
should spin or have a spinning-wheel in the house,
under pain of instant death.
All went well for fifteen years. Then it chanced that
the princess was with the king and queen in one of
their castles, and was spying about for herself. She
came to a little chamber at the top of a tower, and
there sat an honest old woman spinning. She was very
old and deaf, and had never heard of the king's
"What are you doing?" asked the princess.
"I am spinning, my pretty child."
"How charming it is!" said the princess. "How do you
do it? Let me try if I can spin." She seized the
spindle, but she was hasty and careless, and pierced
her hand with its point. She fainted, and the old
woman, in great alarm,
 ran for help. People came running from all sides, but
they could not rouse her.
The king heard the noise and came also. Then he saw
that the cruel fairy had had her wish. His daughter
would not wake for a hundred years.. He laid her on the
bed in the best room, and stood sadly looking upon her.
She was asleep. He could hear her breathe. Her cheeks
were full of color, but her eyes were closed.
Now the good fairy, who had said the princess should
wake in a hundred years, was thousands of miles away
at the time. But she knew of it, and came at once in a
chariot of fire drawn by dragons. The king came to
meet her, his eyes red with weeping.
 The good fairy was very wise and saw that the princess
would not know what to do if she awoke all alone in the
castle, in a hundred years. So this is what she did.
She touched with her wand every one in the castle
except the king and the queen. She touched the maids
of honor, the gentlemen, the officers, the stewards,
cooks, boys, guards, porters, pages, footmen. She
touched the horses in the stable, the grooms, the great
mastiff in the court-yard, and the tiny lapdog of the
princess that was on the bed beside her.
The moment she touched them, they all fell asleep just
as they were, not to wake again until the time came for
their mistress to do so. Then they all would be ready
to wait on her. Even the fire went to sleep, and the
roasting-spit before the fire with its fowls ready for
It was the work of a moment. The king and queen kissed
their daughter good-by and left the castle. The king
sent forth a command that no one was to go near the
castle. That was needless. In a quarter of an hour, a
wood had grown about it so thick and thorny that
nothing could get through it. The castle-top itself
could only be seen from afar.
THE BEAUTY WAKES
 AFTER a few years the king and the queen died. They had no
other child, and the kingdom passed into the hands of a
distant family. A hundred years went by. The son of
the king who was then reigning was out hunting one day,
when he noticed the tower of a castle in the distance.
He asked what castle it was.
All manner of answers were given to him. One said it
was a fairy castle; another said that a great monster
lived there. At last an old man said:—
"Prince, more than fifty years ago I heard my father
say that there was in that castle the most beautiful
princess ever seen. She was to sleep for a hundred
years, and was to be waked at last by the king's son,
who was to marry her."
The young prince at these words felt himself on fire.
He had not a doubt that he was the one to awaken the
princess. He set out at once for the wood, and when he
drew near, the trees and thorns opened to offer him a
He was on a long, straight road, and at the end was the
castle in full view. He turned to
 look for his comrades. Not one was to be seen. The
wood had closed again behind him. He was alone, and
all was still about him. Forward he went and came to
the castle-gate. He entered the court-yard, and stood
still in amazement.
On every side were the bodies of men and animals. But
the faces of the men were rosy; it was plain that they
were asleep. His steps sounded on the marble floor.
He entered the guard-room. There the guards stood
drawn up in line, with their spears in their hands, but
they did not move. They were fast asleep.
He passed through one room after another; people were
asleep in chairs, on benches, standing, sitting, lying
down. He entered a beautiful room covered with gold,
and saw the most wonderful sight of all.
There lay a maiden so fair that she seemed to belong to
another world. He drew near and knelt beside her.
She did not stir. Her hand lay on her breast, and he
touched his lips to it.
As he did this, her eyes opened and looked at the young
man. She smiled, and said:—
"Have you come, my prince? I have waited long for
The prince hardly knew how to answer. But he soon
found his voice, and they talked for
 hours, and then had not said half that was in their
heads to say.
The moment that the princess waked, her little lapdog
waked also. The great mastiff in the court-yard awoke;
the horses in the stable and the grooms awoke; the
footmen, the pages, the porters, the guards, the boys,
the cooks, the stewards, the officers, the gentlemen,
and the maids of honor, all awoke. The fire began to
burn again, the spits turned round, and the fowls began
So while the prince and the princess forgot the hours
in talk, these people began to be hungry. The maids of
honor went to the princess
 to tell her that they all waited for her. Then the
prince took the princess by the hand and led her into
She was dressed in great splendor. But the prince did
not hint that she looked as the picture of his
great-grandmother looked. He thought her all the more
charming for that, but he did not tell her so. The
musicians played excellent but old music at supper.
After supper the prince and princess were married in
the chapel of the castle.
The next day they left the castle. All the people
followed them down the long path. The wood opened
again to let them through. Outside they met the
prince's men, and glad they were to see the prince once
more. He turned to show them the castle, but there was
no castle to be seen, and no wood.
The prince and princess rode gayly away, and when the
old king and queen died, they reigned in their stead.
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