THE SLEEPING BEAUTY
 Once upon a time there lived a King and Queen who had no
children, and who longed for a little daughter more than
anything in the world. The Queen grew sadder and sadder, and
could think of nothing else, until one day she went to bathe
in the cool water of the palace fountain, when a frog
suddenly jumped out and sat at the edge gazing at her.
"You shall have your wish," he croaked. "This very time next
year, when the briar-rose begins to flower, a living rosebud
shall blossom for you."
And the next year, just at the time of the roses, the Queen
had a little baby-daughter, just as the frog had promised.
No words can describe the delight of the King and Queen. Joy
bells were rung, and bonfires were lighted, and the whole
land rejoiced. Of course, they had the grandest christening
possible, to which all the fairies
 were invited. At least
they were all invited except one, because it happened that
unfortunately there were thirteen fairies, and the King had
only twelve gold plates for the feast. So he was obliged to
pretend he had forgotten the thirteenth fairy.
The twelve fairies came to the christening in their very
best dresses made of woven moonbeams
edged with rose-leaves,
and they each brought a magic gift to the infant Princess.
One gave her beauty, another health and happiness, another
cleverness, another sweet temper and a kind heart, and so on
until it came to the twelfth fairy.
But before she could speak the door flew open and in there
swept the thirteenth fairy, who had not been invited. She
had an ugly frown on her face, and looked so angry that
every one drew back to let her pass. Straight up to the
baby's cradle she went, and pulling back the rose-coloured
curtains, she looked crossly at the little sleeping face.
"You shall have my gift, though I was not invited to the
christening," she said with a
 spiteful smile. "When you are fifteen years old, you shall
prick your finger with a spindle and fall down dead."
Then she cast an evil look all round, and flew out of the
Every one stood quite silent with grief and horror, until
the twelfth fairy stepped forward and waved her wand.
"I have still a gift to bestow," she said, "and though I may
not change the wicked fairy's prophecy, I can at least make
it less evil. The Princess shall not die when she pricks her
finger with the spindle, but she shall fall into a deep
sleep, which will last a hundred years."
Then all the fairies left the palace, and the King and Queen
began to think that perhaps the wicked fairy had been only a
bad dream. But in case any harm should really come to the
little Princess Briar-Rose, it was ordered that every
spinning-wheel in the kingdom should be destroyed. And very
soon not a spindle was to be found throughout all the length
and breadth of the land.
Now the fairy gifts which had been given
 to the Princess
when she was in her cradle were seen more and more clearly
by mortal eyes as she grew older. She was as beautiful as a
flower, and as clever as she was good, and as happy as the
day was long. The King and Queen thought no more of the evil
prophecy, and so the years slipped by until Briar-Rose was
It happened that on her fifteenth birthday the King and
Queen went out together, and the Princess was left all alone
in the palace and began to feel very dull. She played
battledoor and shuttlecock and all the one-person games she
could think of, and when she grew tired of them she
thought she would go through all the rooms in the palace and
look for adventures.
After a while she came to a little turret-stair which she
never remembered having seen before, and when she climbed to
the top she came to a curious little door. The Princess
knocked, for she had always been taught to be polite, and an
old cracked voice cried out "Come in."
And when Briar-Rose opened the door she
 saw a little old
woman sitting there with a spinning-wheel, spinning soft
"Oh, what a funny thing that is!" said Briar-Rose, looking
at the spinning-wheel, for she had never seen such a thing
before. "How I should love to make it go whirling round and
And she put out her hand to touch the soft wool, but the
spindle pricked her finger and a tiny drop of blood sprang
out. Before she had even time to cry out, part of the
fairy's evil prophecy came true, for she sank down on the
stone bench and fell fast asleep.
At that very moment everybody and everything in the palace
stopped what they were doing, and fell fast asleep too.
The King and Queen, who had just returned and were walking
through the hall, sank down in two royal chairs; the cook in
the kitchen, who was just going to box the scullion's ears,
went fast asleep with her hand still in the air. The
scullion, with his mouth wide open, ready to roar with the
pain, left it open and went fast asleep too. The
 horses in the stable went to sleep in the middle of eating
their corn; the pigeons on the stable roof hadn't even time
to tuck their heads under their wings, but fell asleep as
they were strutting around with their tails still spread
out. The flies slept on the ceiling; the canary did not want
to have the green cover put over its cage, but slept in
broad daylight. The only person to whom the fairy's prophecy
made no difference was the cat, but then she was already
fast asleep, as usual, by the kitchen fire. But the fire
stopped crackling and burning, the pots stopped boiling,
nothing stirred, nothing moved, not a sound was heard. Only
round the palace there sprung up a hedge of briar-roses
which grew taller and taller, as time went on, until the
palace was quite hidden, and not even the top of the
flagstaff could be seen.
And as the years went by people began to forget about the
palace. Only the old people would tell the children
sometimes about the beautiful Princess who once lived in a
palace where the briar-roses grew. But the children
it was a make-believe story, for the hedge was so thick and
so high that no one could see what was inside.
Sometimes a Prince would come riding by and listen to the
tale, and then try and cut his way through the thick hedge,
to see if there was really a beautiful Princess on the other
side. But the thorns tore every one who tried to force his
way through, and sometimes put out his eyes, so the Princes
grew tired of trying, and each year the hedge grew taller
Now it happened that on the very day when the Princess had
been asleep for a hundred years, there chanced to come to
that country a Prince who was braver and handsomer than any
of the Princes who had come before. He had never known what
it meant to be beaten or to give in, and when he heard the
story of the Princess Briar-Rose he made up his mind to find
"The thorns in the hedge will tear you to pieces," all the
"The last Prince came back quite blind," added some one
"I shall never come back at all, unless I can win my way
through," answered the Prince, and set off bravely.
But when he got to the great hedge, he found it covered with
pale pink roses, and the branches parted in front of him to
make a passage, and all the thorns looked the other way. On
he walked through the cool, green path, while the roses
nodded and smiled on him all the way. And when he came to
the other side he saw a stately palace, just as the old
people had described it. Not a sound broke the solemn
stillness, not a leaf whispered in the breeze. He saw the
pigeons fast asleep on the stable roof, and the watch-dog
lying in front of his kennel.
Then, when he entered the great hall, he saw the King and
Queen fast asleep on their royal chairs, and everything and
everybody were exactly the same as when they had fallen
asleep a hundred years ago.
Presently the Prince noticed the turret steps that led to
the tower, and he climbed them, just as the Princess had
 when he opened the door and stepped on to the
balcony, he stood still in wonder and delight.
He stood still in wonder and delight
The Princess lay there fast asleep, her fair face turned
towards him, just as she had sunk down to rest a hundred
years ago. Everything was unchanged except that now around
the couch was a canopy of briar-roses protecting her as she
slept. The flowers breathed their beauty around her, and the
sharp thorns guarded her from all harm.
So beautiful did the Princess look lying there, like a pale
rose herself, that the Prince was drawn to her side, and
bending over her he kissed her cheek.
The Princess's eyelids quivered, and the next moment her
eyes opened. She looked up and saw the Prince bending over
her, and when their eyes met she gave a little cry of joy.
"Oh," she cried, "you have come at last. I have been
dreaming and dreaming of you, and I thought you were never
coming to wake me."
Now the moment the Princess opened her
 eyes every one and
everything in the palace began to awake too. The King and
Queen walked with stately tread through the hall, the cook
gave the scullion a sounding box on his ear. The scullion
roared with his mouth wide open, the horses went on eating
their corn, the pigeons strutted about on the roof, the
flies walked busily up and down the ceiling, and the canary
piped the end of his song and said to himself, "Dear me, I
dreamed I went to sleep without my covering."
And the great hedge of briar-roses sank down and down till
it vanished in the earth, and not even a bud was left.
"But what does it matter if the roses are gone?" said the
Prince, "since I have got my own Briar-Rose, who is fairest
of them all."
And so they were married and lived happily ever after.
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