Short Stories » The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood

The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood - Page 4 of 5

In the mean time all the palace had awakened with the princess and every body had returned to his duty ; but as they were not all in love, they were dying with hunger. The lady in waiting, as hungry as the rest, grew impatient, and told the princess loudly that supper was on the table. The prince assisted the princess to rise ; she was full dressed, and very magnificently : but the prince took care not to remark to her that she was dressed more like his grand- mother than after the fashion of the time, wearing a stand-up collar ; however, she was not the less beautiful for that. They entered a saloon of mirrors, and there supped, attended by the princess's servants. Violins and haut-boys played pieces of excellent music, although they were rather old, as it was nearly a century since they had been played before ; and after supper, not to lose time, the chaplain married them in the castle-chapel, and the lady in waiting did the honours and drew their curtains. They slept but little : the princess as may be supposed did not want to sleep much ; and the prince left her in the morning, to return to town where his father was anxiously enquiring for him. The prince told the king, his father, as an excuse for being out all night, that, as he was hunting, he had lost himself in the forest, and had slept in a collier's hut ; where he had only had black-bread and cheese to eat. His father, who was a good easy man, believed him : b * her was not entirely persuaded of the truth 01 iik- story ; and, observing that he afterwards went hunting nearly every day, and that he always had an excuse ready, when he had slept two or three nights away, she no longer doubted that he had some intrigue in hand. He lived thus with the princess for more than two years, during which they had two children ; of whom the first, a a son, was named Apollo, and the second a daughter, who being born" at the break of day, was called Aurora. The queen spoke to her son several times, in order to make him explain, about his settling in life ; but he never had the courage to intrust her with his secret : he feared her though he loved her ; for she was of the ogress race, and the king had only married her for the sake of her large fortune. It was even whispered at the court that she was an ogress at heart ; and that, when she saw little children playing, she had the greatest difficulty in the world to conquer her inclination to eat them : of course therefore the prince said very little on the subject to her. But on the king's death, which happened about two years after his marriage, on becoming his own master, he publicly declared his marriage, and went in great pomp to bring the queen, his wife, to his castle. She entered the capital city, attended by Aurora and Apollo, through a magnificent triumphal arch raised for the occasion. Some time afterwards, the king going to war with the emperor Charlemagne, his neighbour, he left the regency of the kingdom in the hands of the queen his mother ; strongly recommending to her care, his wife and children. As the campaign was likely to last all the summer, as soon as he had set out, the queen-mother sent her son's wife and children to a chateau in the midst of a large wood ; in order to enable herself, the more easily, to glut her horrible desires. She followed them a few days afterwards ; and one evening, desiring her steward to come to her, said : "I should like for my dinner, to-morrow, the little Aurora." " Oh ! my lady," exclaimed the steward. "I desire it," said the queen (with all the energy of an ogress who has a longing for a favourite meal), " and you will serve her up with sauce Robert." The poor man, who knew well that it would not do to trifle with an ogress, took his large knife, and ascended to the little Aurora's chamber. She was then about three years old ; and ran, skipping and laughing, to throw her arms round his neck and ask him for some sweet-meat. He began to cry, and the knife fell from his hand. He left her and went to the fold, where he cut the throat of a little lamb ; and, making a good sauce to it, served it up so well, that his mistress assured him, she had never eaten any thing so good. He had the precaution to remove the little Aurora, giving her to his wife to conceal in a room which she had in a distant part of the chateau. A week afterwards, the wicked queen said to her steward : " I desire for my supper, to night the little Apollo." He did not reply as he expected the order ; and had resolved to deceive her this time, as he had done before. He went therefore to seek the child, and found him fencing with a large ape : he was but four years old. The steward took him to his wife, who concealed him with the little Aurora, and he then served up, instead of the little Apollo, a very tender little kid, which the ogress declared to be admirably good.

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