Little Briar-Rose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Long ago there was a king and a queen. They said every day, “Oh, if we only had a child!” and still they never got one. Then it happened, when once the queen was bathing, that a frog crept ashore out of the water, and said to her, “Your wish shall be fulfilled. Before a year passes you shall bring a daughter into the world.”

What the frog said, happened, and the queen had a little girl that was so beautiful that the king could not contain himself for joy, and made a great feast. He invited not only his relatives, friends, and acquaintances, but also the wise women, that they might be gracious and kind to the child. Now, there were thirteen of them in his kingdom; but because he had only twelve gold plates for them to eat from, one of them had to stay at home. The feast was splendidly celebrated, and when it was over the wise women gave the child their wonderful gifts. One gave her virtue, another beauty, another wealth, and so with everything that people want in the world. But when eleven had spoken, suddenly the thirteenth came in. She wished to avenge herself, because she had not been asked; and without greeting or looking at anyone, she cried out, “In her fifteenth year the king’s daughter shall wound herself on a spindle, and fall down dead.” And without saying another word, she turned around and left the hall. All were frightened. When the twelfth came up, who had her wish still to give, since she could not remove the sentence, but only soften it, she said, “Yet it shall not be a real death, but only a hundred years’ deep sleep, into which the king’s daughter shall fall.”

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good-day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; “what are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded. “What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily?” said the girl. She took the spindle and wanted to spin, too. But she had hardly touched the spindle before the spell was fulfilled, and she pricked her finger with it.

At the instant she felt the prick she fell down on the bed that stood there, and lay in a deep sleep. And this sleep spread over all the castle. The king and queen, who had just come home and entered the hall, began to go to sleep, and all the courtiers with them. The horses went to sleep in the stalls, the dogs in the yard, the doves on the roof, the flies on the wall, yes, the fire that was flickering on the hearth grew still and went to sleep. And the roast meat stopped sputtering, and the cook, who was going to take the cook-boy by the hair because he had forgotten something, let him go and slept. And the wind was still, and no leaf stirred in the trees by the castle.

But all around the castle a hedge of briars grew, that got higher every year and at last surrounded the whole castle and grew up over it, so that nothing more could be seen of it, not even the flag on the roof. But the story went about in the country of the beautiful sleeping Briar-Rose (for so the king’s daughter was called); so that from time to time kings’ sons came and tried to get through the hedge into the castle. But they could not; for the briars, as though they had hands, clung fast together, and the young men stuck fast in them, could not get out again, and died a wretched death. After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar-Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then the young man said, “I am not afraid. I

  By PanEris using Melati.

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