Short Stories » The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood

The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood - Page 2 of 5

The king, who had ascended on hearing the noise, at once remembered the fairy's prediction, and rightly judged that what had occurred was its unavoidable fulfilment ; so he caused the princess to be placed in the finest apartment of the palace, on a bed embroidered with gold and silver. She was so beautiful that she looked like a sleeping angel : her swoon had not dimmed the brilliancy of her complexion, her cheeks were of the delicate pink of the sweet carnation, her lips like coral ; her eyes were closed indeed, but her bosom, as she still breathed, moved gently as the summer's wave and witnessed that she was not dead. The king gave orders that she should be allowed to sleep in quietness, until the time for her awaking should arrive. The good fairy who had saved her life, by ordaining her to sleep for a hundred years, was in the kingdom of Mataquin, thirty -six thousand miles off, when the accident happened to the princess ; but she was immediately informed of it by a little dwarf, who had a pair of seven-league boots : these were boots with which one could stride seven leagues at a single step. The fairy immediately set out, for the princess's resting place, and arrived there in an hour's time hi a fiery chariot drawn by dragons. The king hastened to present his hand to assist her in alighting from her chariot. She approved of all that he had done ; but, as she was exceedingly provident, she thought that when the princess should awaken, she might be greatly embarrassed at finding herself alone hi the old castle. So she touched with her wand all that was therein (except the king and queen) ; governesses, maids of honour, chamber-maids, gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, scullions, errand-boys, guards, porters, pages, and foot- men : she touched also all the horses which were in the stables, the grooms, the mastiffs, and little Carlo, a small dog belonging to the princess, who was near her on the bed. On her so touching them they all went into a sleep, from which they were not to awaken until their mistress awakened also ; that they might be ready to attend on her when the hundred years were completed. The spits at the fire even, which were loaded with partridges and pheasants, went to sleep, as did the fire also. All this took place in a moment : fairies were never long at their work. Then the king and queen having kissed their dear child, quitted the castle, and published decrees prohibiting any person whatever from going near it. These decrees were unnecessary ; for in a quarter of an hour there grew, all over the park, such an immense quantity of large and small trees, briars and thorns, interlacing themselves with each other, that neither man nor beast could have penetrated it : so that nothing more than the high keep of the castle was to be seen, and that from a good distance only. It was not doubted that the fairy had, in this instance, again exercised her vocation, in order that while the princess was sleeping, she might have nothing to fear from the curious.

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