Sleeping Beauty


6 min

Charles Perrault

Long, long ago, there was a king and a queen, who said to each other every day:

- Imagine if we had had a child anyway! But they had not yet received anything.

So one day, when the queen was bathing, a frog crawled out of the water and said to her:

- Your longing shall be fulfilled. Within a year you will have a daughter.

Just as the frog had said, the queen had a daughter. She was so beautiful that the king was overjoyed and threw a big party. He invited not only his relatives, friends and acquaintances but also the fairies to be kind and gracious to the child. There were thirteen fairies in his kingdom. But he only had twelve gold plates on which they could eat, so the thirteenth had to stay at home.

The party was celebrated with pomp and circumstance and when it was over, the fairies bestowed wonderful gifts on the princess. One gave her virtue, another beauty, the third wealth, and so on. The little princess got everything that one could wish for in this world.

When eleven of the fairies had announced their good wishes, suddenly the thirteenth entered. She wanted revenge for not being invited and without greeting or even looking at anyone, she shouted in a loud voice:

- The king's daughter will stab herself on a dragonfly when she turns fifteen, and she will fall dead. Without another word, she turned and left the hall.

Everyone was horrified. Then the twelfth fairy came forward, she who had not yet announced her wish. Since she could not wipe out the evil prophecy but only soften it, she said:

- The princess will not die but just sleep deeply for a hundred years.

The king wanted to preserve his beloved child and therefore he sent out an order that all the dragonflies in the whole kingdom should be set on fire. The wishes of the fairies suited the girl perfectly. She became beautiful and good, kind and wise, and everyone who saw her loved her.

On the day she turned fifteen, the king and queen were not at home and the girl was alone in the castle. There she roamed everywhere, peering into halls and chambers as she pleased, and at last she came to an old tower. A narrow spiral staircase led up to a small door. A rusty key was in the lock. As the girl turned, the door opened, and in the little chamber within sat an old woman by a dragonfly, busily stringing her line.

- Good day, aunt, said the princess, what are you doing?

- I purr, answered the old woman and nodded her head.

- What is spinning and buzzing so funny? asked the girl and she took the dragonfly and wanted to spin, she too. But she had hardly touched the spinner's robe before the prediction came true and she stuck her finger on the dragonfly.

The moment she stabbed herself, she sank down onto the bed that was standing there and fell into a deep sleep. The whole castle fell asleep at the same time as she. The king and queen who had just come home and entered the hall fell asleep and the whole court with them. The horses in the stable, the dogs in the yard, the pigeons on the roof, the flies on the wall, yes, everyone was asleep, even the fire that was blazing in the stove became still and fell asleep. The roast stopped sizzling and the cook, who was just about to give the kitchen boy an ear file, didn't hit him but both fell asleep. The wind died down and the trees outside the castle stopped rustling.

A thorn hedge grew up around the castle. Every year it got higher and higher. Finally it surrounded the whole castle and grew taller than the towers so that even the flags were not visible.

In the kingdom they told the story of the beautiful sleeping Sleeping Beauty - that's what the princess was called - and sometimes princes and young knights came who wanted to break through the hedge to enter the castle. But it was impossible because the thorn was so dense. Several young people were left hanging there without being able to get free and they died a horrible death.

After many long years, a prince finally came to the kingdom and he heard an old man tell about the thorn hedge. Inside it was a castle, said the old man, where a wonderful princess had been sleeping for a hundred years and with her the king, the queen and the whole court. The old man had also heard his grandfather say that many princes had come there and tried to penetrate the hedge, but they had gotten stuck and died a sad death. Then the youth said:

- I'm not afraid, I want to ride there and see the beautiful Sleeping Beauty. However eagerly the old man advised him, the prince would not listen to his words.

Now, in fact, the hundred years had just passed. The day had come when Sleeping Beauty would wake up again. When the king's son approached the hedge, it turned out that it consisted of very large, beautiful roses. They ducked out of their own accord and let him through completely unharmed. Behind him they rejoined a hedge.

In the castle yard he saw the horses and the motley hunting dogs lying down and sleeping. On the roof sat the pigeons with their heads under their wings. When he entered the castle, he saw the flies sleeping on the wall. The cook in the kitchen still held his hand raised over the kitchen boy. The maid sat with the black cock that was to be plucked.

As the prince went on, he saw the whole castle lying asleep in the great hall, and on the throne slumbering the king and queen. He walked on and everything was so quiet that every breath could be heard. At last he came to the tower and opened the door to the little chamber where Sleeping Beauty lay sleeping.

There she lay and was so beautiful that he could not take his eyes off her. He bent down and gave her a kiss. As soon as his mouth had touched the girl's mouth, she opened her eyes, woke up and looked at him kindly. Then they went out together and the king, queen and the whole court woke up. Everyone looked at each other with wide eyes. The horses on the farm stood up, the hounds jumped and wagged their tails. The pigeons on the roof pulled their heads out of their wings and looked around and flew out over the fields. The flies on the wall crawled on. The fire in the kitchen took off, the roast began to sizzle, the cook gave the kitchen boy an ear file, so that he screamed and the maid finished plucking the rooster.

So the prince and Sleeping Beauty celebrated their wedding with pomp and circumstance and then they lived happily ever after.

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