Short Stories » The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood

The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood - Page 3 of 5

At the expiration of a hundred years, a son of the king who was then reigning, and who was of a different family from that of the sleeping princess, being one day hunting thereabout, asked to what castle those towers belonged which he saw above the large thick wood. Every one answered him, according to report : some said that it was an old castle which was haunted by spirits ; others that all the sorcerers of that country held their sabbath there. The best received opinion was, that an ogre dwelt there, who carried off all the children he could lay his hands on, and ate them there at his ease, without any one's being able to follow him, he alone having the power of making a passage through the wood. The prince knew not what to think of all this, when an old peasant said to him : " Your Highness, it is more than fifty years ago that I heard my father say, there was in that castle a princess, the most beautiful ever seen ; that she must sleep there one hundred years, and that she would be awakened by a king's son, whom she was destined to marry." The young prince, at these words, felt himself quite inflamed with love ; and he believed, without consideration, that he must be the one destined to put an end to so fine an adventure. Impelled by love and glory, he resolved immediately to gain the castle. He had hardly advanced towards the wood, when all the large trees, the briars and the thorns parted as he approached. He walked towards the castle which he saw at the end of a large avenue ; but he was rather surprised to see that none of his people had been able to follow him, the trees having closed themselves again as soon as he had passed. He did not hesitate however to advance ; a young and amorous prince is always courageous. He entered a large court-yard, in which all that he saw was at first enough to freeze him with fear. It was truly a frightful silence ; the image of death was to be seen on all sides, in the extended bodies of men and animals. He soon perceived, however, very easily, by thepimpled noses and red faces of the porters, that they were only asleep ; and their tankards, in which some dregs of wine still remained, sufficiently manifested that they had fallen asleep over their cups. He crossed a large yard paved with marble : he ascended the stair-case ; he entered the guard-room, where the guards were all in ranks with their carbines on their shoulders, snoring away most lustily. He passed through several rows of gentlemen and ladies, some sitting, some standing, but all asleep. At last he entered a chamber covered with gold and saw on a bed, the curtains of which were opened all round, the most beautiful sight he had ever beheld : there lay a princess who appeared to be fifteen or sixteen years of age, the splendour of whose charms was almost divine. Drawing near, trembling with admiration, he threw himself on his knees beside her, when immediately, the end of the enchantment being come, the princess awakened; and, looking at him more tenderly than a first interview would appear to sanction : "Is it you my prince ? " said she to him, "for whom I have so long been waiting?" The prince, charmed with these words, and still more with the manner hi which they were spoken, knew not how to express his joy and gratitude ; he assured her that he loved her better than his life. His discourse was perhaps badly arranged, but it pleased all the more : the less of eloquence the more of love. He was more embarrassed than she was, and it is not to be wondered at ; for she had had time to dream on what she should say to him : for it would appear (although the history does not mention the circumstance) that the good fairy, during her long sleep, had provided her with the pleasure of agreeable dreams. However, they talked together for four hours, during which they had not time to say half the things which they had to communicate to each other.

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