Short Stories » The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood

The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood - Page 1 of 5

THERE was once upon a time a king and queen who were so very, very sorry at not having children, that it is impossible to express how sorry they were. They went to all the mineral springs in the world : vows, pilgrimages, every thing was tried, and nothing had the desired effect, At last, however, the queen was confined, and presented her husband with a daughter. There was, as you may suppose, a merry christening, the princes? had for god-mothers all the fames that could be found in the country, seven in number, in order that each of them making her a gift, as was customary with the fairies in those days, the princess might have all imaginable accomplishments. After the baptismal ceremony, the company returned to the king's palace, where there was a grand banquet for the fairies. Before each of them was put a magnificent dish, and a massive golden case, in which was a knife, fork and spoon of fine gold, set with diamonds and rubies. But, as they were taking their places at table, an old fairy was seen to enter the room who had not been asked to the wedding, because it was more than fifty years since she had quitted her tower, and she was believed to be dead or enchanted. The king had a dish like the others placed before her, but there was no massive gold case for her, as there was for each of the other fairies, because there were seven only made for the seven. The old woman thought that she was despised, and grumbled some threatening words between her teeth. One of the young fairies, who was near her, overheard her ; and judging that she would endow the young princess with some evil gift, she went, on their rising from table, and conceal ?cl herself behind the tapestry, with the design of speaking last, and repairing, as much as should be possible, the evil that the old fairy should have done. Meanwhile the fairies began to make- their gifts to the princess. The youngest ordained, as her gift, that she should be the most beautiful person in the world ; the next, that she should have a mind like an angel ; the third, that she should act, in all things, with an admirable grace ; the fourth, that she should dance to perfection ; the fifth, that she should sing like a nightingale ; and the sixth, that she should be a perfect mistress of the art of playing on all kinds of musical instruments. It now being the old fairy's turn, she said, shaking her head more with malice than with old age, that the princess should wound her hand with a spindle, and thereby cause her own death. This terrible decree made all the company shudder, and there was no one who did not weep. But at that moment the young fairy appeared from behind the tapestry, and pronounced these words : "Cheer up king and queen, "you shall not lose your daughter, it is true that I have not power enough entirely to prevent what my senior has determined : the princess must wound her hand with a spindle, but, instead of its causing her death, she shall only be seized with a deep sleep, which shall last for a hundred years, at the end of which time a king's son shall awaken her." The king, endeavouring to evade the misfortune announced by the old fairy, published an edict, forbiddding every body to spin with spindles, or to have spindles in their houses, on pain of death. At the end of fifteen or sixteen years however, while the king and queen were gone to their country-house, it happened one day that the young princess, running about the castle, and mounting from room to room, reached a turret, in a little gallery of which she saw a good old woman spinning with her distaff. This good woman had never heard of the prohibition which the king had issued against this mode of spinning. "What are you doing, there, my good woman ? " said the princess. " I am spinning my pretty child," replied the old woman, who did not know her. " Oh ! how pretty that is ? " said the princess. " How do you do it ? lend it me, that I may try if I can do it as well." She had scarcely taken the spindle, than, as she was rather lively and a little giddy, besides that the fairy's decree had so ordained it, she wounded her hand and fainted away. The good old woman, in great perplexity , cried out loudly for help : people arrived from all sides ; water was thrown on the princess's face ; her stays were unlaced ; her hands were shaken, and her temples bathed with Hungary water : but nothing would recover her.

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