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Sleeping beauty in the wood.

From Fairy tales every child should know
by Hamilton Wright Mabie.
Age Rating 6 to 8.

Start of Story

Once upon a time there was a king and a queen who grieved sorely that they had no children. When at last the queen gave birth to a daughter the king was so overjoyed that he gave a great christening feast, the like of which had never before been known. He asked all the fairies in the land--there were seven all told--to stand godmothers to the little princess, hoping that each might give her a gift, and so she should have all imaginable perfections. After the christening, all the company returned to the palace, where a great feast had been spread for the fairy godmothers. Before each was set a magnificent plate, with a gold knife and a gold fork studded with diamonds and rubies. Just as they were seating themselves, however, there entered an old fairy who had not been invited because more than fifty years ago she had shut herself up in a tower and it was supposed that she was either dead or enchanted. The king ordered a cover to be laid for her, but it could not be a massive gold one like the others, for only seven had been ordered made. The old fairy thought herself ill-used and muttered between her teeth. One of the young fairies, overhearing her, and fancying she might work some mischief to the little baby, went and hid herself behind the hangings in the hall, so as to be able to have the last word and undo any harm the old fairy might wish to work.

The fairies now began to endow the princess. The youngest, for her gift, decreed that she should be the most beautiful person in the world; the next that she should have the mind of an angel; the third that she should be perfectly graceful; the fourth that she should dance admirably well; the fifth, that she should sing like a nightingale; the sixth, that she should play charmingly upon every musical instrument. The turn of the old fairy had now come, and she declared, while her head shook with malice, that the princess should pierce her hand with a spindle and die of the wound. This dreadful fate threw all the company into tears of dismay, when the young fairy who had hidden herself came forward and said: "Be of good cheer, king and queen; your daughter shall not so die. It is true I cannot entirely undo what my elder has done. The princess will pierce her hand with a spindle, but, instead of dying, she will only fall into a deep sleep. The sleep will last a hundred years, and at the end of that time a king's son will come to wake her." The king, in hopes of preventing what the old fairy had foretold, immediately issued an edict by which he forbade all persons in his dominion from spinning or even having spindles in their houses under pain of instant death.

Now fifteen years after the princess was born she was with the king and queen at one of their castles, and as she was running about by herself she came to a little chamber at the top of a tower, and there sat an honest old woman spinning, for she had never heard of the king's edict. "What are you doing?" asked the princess. "I am spinning, my fair child," said the old woman, who did not know her. "How pretty it is!" exclaimed the princess. "How do you do it? Give it to me that I may see if I can do it." She had no sooner taken up the spindle, than, being hasty and careless, she pierced her hand with the point of it, and fainted away. The old woman, in great alarm, called for help. People came running in from all sides; they threw water in the princess's face and did all they could to restore her, but nothing would bring her to. The king, who had heard the noise and confusion, came up also, and remembering what the fairy had said, he had the princess carried to the finest apartment and laid upon a richly embroidered bed. She lay there in all her loveliness, for the swoon had not made her pale; her lips were cherry-ripe and her cheeks ruddy and fair; her eyes were closed, but they could hear her breathing quietly; she could not be dead. The king looked sorrowfully upon her. He knew that she would not awake for a hundred years.

The good fairy who had saved her life and turned her death into sleep was in the kingdom of Mataquin, twelve thousand leagues away, when this happened, but she learned of it from a dwarf who had a pair of seven-league boots, and instantly set out for the castle, where she arrived in an hour, drawn by dragons in a fiery chariot. The king came forward to receive her and showed his grief. The good fairy was very wise and saw that the princess when she woke would find herself all alone in that great castle and everything about her would be strange. So this is what she did. She touched with her wand everybody that was in the castle, except the king and queen. She touched the governesses, maids of honour, women of the bedchamber, gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, scullions, boys, guards, porters, pages, footmen; she touched the horses in the stable with their grooms, the great mastiffs in the court-yard, and even little Pouste, the tiny lap-dog of the princess that was on the bed beside her. As soon as she had touched them they all fell asleep, not to wake again until the time arrived for their mistress to do so, when they would be ready to wait upon her. Even the spits before the fire, laden with partridges and pheasants, went to sleep, and the fire itself went to sleep also.


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