Short Stories » The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood

The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood - Page 5 of 5

All had gone very well so far ; but one evening the wicked queen said to the steward : "I should like to eat the queen, with the same sauce which you have given me with her children." The poor steward was dreadfully afraid that he would not be able to deceive her this time ; as the young queen was upwards of twenty, without reckoning the hundred years that she had slept away, and her skin was a little hard, although clear and white. How therefore to find in the farm- yard something, to pass for her, puzzled him exceedingly. He consequently resolved, hi order to save his own life, to cut her throat ; and ascended to her room, with the intention of doing so at once. He worked himself into a fury ; and entered, dagger hi hand, into the young queen's chamber. He did not, however, wish to surprise her ; so related to her, with much respect, the order he had received from the queen-mother. " Proceed, proceed," said she, holding out her neck to him ; " execute the cruel order you have received; I go to rejoin my children, my poor children, of whom I was so fond :" for she thought that they were dead, since they had been taken away, without her being told any- thing about them. "No, no, madam," answered the poor steward much affected, " you shall not die : you shall even re- join your children ; but it shall be in this world, and in my wife's room, where I have concealed them ; and I will deceive the queen, once more, by making her eat a young dog instead of you." He then led her to his room, and, leaving her there to embrace her children and to weep with them for joy, he went and cooked the dog, of which the queen made her supper, eating with as much relish as though it had been the young queen herself. She was very well satisfied with her cruelty ; and prepared herself to tell the king, on his return, that the wolves had eaten up his wife and children.

One evening, as she was roaming about, according to her usual custom, in the court and inner-yards of the castle, to get scent of some fresh meat, she heard, in one of the lower rooms, the little Apollo, who was crying because his mamma was about to whip him for being naughty ; and she heard, also, the little Aurora, who was begging pardon for her brother. The ogress knew the queen's voice, as well as those of her children. Furious at having been deceived, she gave orders in a terrible voice which made every body tremble, that, on the next morning, a large tub should be brought into the middle of the court yard. This tub she caused to be filled with toads, vipers, snakes and serpents, intending to cast therein the queen and her children, the steward, his wife and his servant : she gave orders, also, to have them brought with their hands tied behind their backs. They were already there, and the executioners were getting ready to throw them into the tub, when the king, who was not expected back so soon, entered the court-yard on horseback. Thunderstruck with astonishment, he demanded the meaning of this horrible spectacle. No one dared to answer him, when the ogress, enraged at the turn affairs had taken, threw herself headlong into the tub, and was instantly devoured by the ugly beasts which she had assembled for the execution of her horrible revenge. The king could not help being sorry for her crimes, for she was his mother ; but he soon consoled himself in the society of his beautiful wife and children, whom his coming had so providentially saved from destruction.

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