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Children's Rhymes. Children's Games, Children's Songs, Children's Stories
Children's Stories - The Sleeping Beauty

There was formerly. in a distant country, a king and queen, the most beautiful and happy in the world having nothing but the want of children to participate in the pleasures they enjoyed. This was their whole concern, physicians, waters, vows, and offerings were tried, but all to no purpose. At last, however, the queen proved with child, and in due time was brought to bed of a daughter. At the christening, the princess had seven fairies for her god-mothers, who were all they could find in the whole kingdom, that every one might give her a gift.

The christening being over, a grand feast was prepared to entertain and thank the fairies. Before each of them was placed a magnificent cover, with a spoon, a knife, and a fork, of pure gold and excellent workmanship, set with divers precious stones; but, as they were all sitting down at the table, they saw come into the hall a very old fairy, whom they had not invited, because it was near fifty years since she had been out of a certain tower, and was thought to have been either dead or enchanted.

The king ordered her a cover, but could not furnish her with a case of gold as the others had, because he had only seven made for the seven fairies. The old fairy, thinking she was slighted by not being treated in the same manner as the rest, murmured out some threats between her teeth.

One of the young fairies who sat by her, overheard how she grumbled, and judging that she might give the little princess some unlucky gift, she went, as soon as she rose from the table, and hid herself behind the hangings, that she might speak last, and repair, as much as possibly she could, the evil which the old fury might intend.

In the meantime, all the fairies began to give their gifts to the princess in the following manner:-

The youngest gave her a gift that she should he the most beautiful person in the world.

The third, that she would have a wonderful grace in everything that she did.

The fourth, that she would sing perfectly well.

And the sixth, that she would play on all kinds of musical instruments to the utmost degree of perfection.

The old fairy's turn coming next, she advanced forward, and, with a shaking head which seemed to show more spite than age. she said, "That the princess would have her hands pierced with a spindle, and die of the wound."

This terrible gift made the whole company tremble, and every one of them fell a-crying.

At this very instant, the young fairy came out from behind the curtains, and spoke these words aloud: "Assure. yourselves, O king and queen, that your daughter shall not die of this disaster. It is true. I have not power to undo what my elder has done. The princess shall indeed pierce her hand with a spindle; but instead of dying, she shall only fall into a profound sleep. She shall last a hundred years, at the expiration of which a king's son shall come, and awake her from it."

The king, to avoid this misfortune told by the old splenetic and malicious fairy, caused immediately his royal proclamation to be issued forth, whereby every person was forbidden, upon pain of death, to spin with a distaff or spindle; nay, even so much as to have a spindle in any of their houses.

About fifteen or sixteen years after, the king and queen being gone to one of their houses of pleasure, the young princess happened to divert herself by going up and down the palace, when, going up from one apartment to another, she at length came into a little room at the top of the tower, where an old woman was sitting all alone, and spinning with her spindle.

This good woman had not heard of the king's proclamation against spindles.

"What are you doing there Goody?" said the princess.

"I am spinning, my pretty child," said the old woman, who did not know who she was.

"Ha '' said the princess, "that is very pretty; how do you do it? Give it to me, that I may see if I can do so."

The old woman, to satisfy the child's curiosity, granted her request. She had no sooner taken it into her hand, than, whether being very hasty at it and somewhat unhandy, or that the decree of the spiteful fairy had ordained it, is not to be certainly ascertained, bt, however, it immediately ran into her hand, and she directly fell down upon the ground in a swoon.

The good old woman, not knowing what to do in this affair, cried out for help. People came in from every quarter in great numbers. Some threw water upon the princess's face, unlaced her, struck her on the palms of her hands, and rubbed her temples with Hungary water; but all they could do did not bring her to herself.

The good fairy who had saved her life, by condemning her to sleep one hundred years, was in the. kingdom of Matakin, twelve thousand leagues off, when this accident befel the princess; but she was instantly informed of it by a little dwarf, who had boots of seven leagues: that is, boots with which he could tread over seven leagues of ground at one stride. The fairy left the kingdom immediately, and arrived at the palace in about an hour after, in a fiery chariot drawn by dragons.

The king handed her out of the chariot, and she aproved of everything he had done: but, as she had a very great foresight, she thought that when the princess should awake, she might not know what to do with herself, being all alone in this old palace; therefore, she touched with her wand everything in the palace, except the king and queen, governesses, maids of honour, ladies of the bed-chamber. gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, under-cooks, scullions, guards, with their beef-eaters, pages, and footmen. She likewise touched all the horses that were in the stables, as well pads as others, the great dog in the outer court, and the little spaniel bitch which lay by her on the bed.

Immediately on her touching them they all fell asleep, that they might not wake before their mistress, and that they might be ready to wait upon her when she wanted them. The very spits at the fire, as full as they could be of partridges and pheasants, and everything in the palace, whether animate or inanimate, fell asleep also.

All this was done in a moment, for fairies are not long in doing their business.

And now the king and queen, having kissed their child without waking her, went out of the palace, and put forth a proclamation that nobody should come near it. This, however, was unnecessary, for in less than a quarter of an hour there got up all around the park such a vast number of trees, great and small bushes, and brambles, twined one within the other, that neither man nor beast could pass through, so that nothing could be seen but the very tops of the towers of the palace, and not that even, unless it was a good way off. Nobody doubted but the fairy gave therein a very extraordinary sample of her art, that the princess, while she remained sleeping, might leave nothing to fear from any curious people.

When a hundred years had gone, the son of a king then reigning, and who was of another country from that of the sleeping princess, being out a-hunting on that side of the country, asked what these towers were which he saw in the midst of a great thick wood. Every one answered accordigly as they had heard; some said it was all old ruinous castle, haunted by spirits; others, that all the sorcerers and witches kept their sabbath, or weekly meeting, in that place.

The most common opinion was that an ogre lived there, and that he carried thither all the little children he could catch, that he might eat them up at his leisure, without anybody being able to follow him, as having himself only power to pass through the wood.

The prince was at a stand, not knowing what to believe, when an aged man spoke to him thus:-

"May it please your highness, it is about fifty years since I heard from my father, who heard from his grandfather say that there was then in this castle a princess, the most beautiful that was ever seen, that she must sleep there for a hundred years, and would be wakened by a king's son, for whom she was reserved."

The young prince was all on fire at these words, believing, without considering the matter, that he could put an end to this rare adventure, and, pushed on by love and honour, resolved that moment to look into it.

Scarce had he advanced towards the wood, when all the great trees, the bushes, and brambles, gave way of their own accord, and let him pass through. He went up to the castle, which he saw at the end of a large avenue, which he went into; and what not a little surprised him was he saw none of his people could follow him, because the trees closed again as soon as he passed through them.

However, he did not cease from valiantly continuing his way. He carne into a spacious outward court, where everything he saw might have frozen up the most hardy person with horror. There reigned all over a most frightful silence; the image of death everywhere showed itself, and there was nothing to be seen but stretched-out bodies of men and animals, all seeming to be dead.

He, however, very well knew, by the rosy races and the pimpled noses of the beef-eaters, that they were merely asleep; and their goblets, wherein still remained some few drops of wine, plainly showing that they all had fallen asleep in their cups.

He then, crossing a court paved with marble, went upstairs, and came into the guard-chamber, where the guards were standing in their ranks, with their muskets upon their shoulders, and snoring as loud as they could. After that, he went through several rooms full of gentlemen and ladies all asleep, some standing and others sitting.

At last he came into a chamber all gilt with gold; here he saw upon a bed, the curtains of which were all open, the finest sight that ever he beheld—a princess, who appeared to be about fifteen or sixteen years of age, and whose resplendent beauty had in it something divine. He approached with trembling and admiration, and fell down before her on his knees. And now the enchantment was at an end; the princess awaked, and looked on him with eyes more tender than the first view might seem to admit of.

"Is it you, my prince?" she said to him; you have waited a long time."

Thge prince, charmed with these words, and much more with the manner in which they were spoke, assured her that he loved her better than himself.

Their discourse was so well conducted that they did weep more that talk; there was very little eloquence, but a great deal of love. He was more at a loss than she was, and no wonder, as she had time to think on what to say to him; for it is very probable, though the history mentions nothing of it, that the good fairy, during so long a sleep, had given her agreeable dreams. In short, they talked four hours together, and yet said not half of what they had got to say.

In the meantime, all in the palace awaked, every one thinking on his particular business; and as all of them were not in love, they were ready to die with hunger. The chief lady of honour, being as sharp set as the others, grew very impatient, and told the princess aloud that the supper was served up. The prince helped the princess to rise, she being entirely dressed, and very magnificent, though his royal highness did not forget to tell her that she was dressed like his grandmother, and had a point-band over a high collar; but. however, she looked no less beautiful and charming for all that.

They went into the great hall of looking glasses, where they supped, and were served by the officers of the princess; the violins and hautboys played all old tunes, but very excellent, though it was now, about a hundred years since they had lived. And after supper without any loss of time, the lord almoner married them in the chapel of' the castle, and the chief lady of honour drew the curtains.

They had but very little sleep that night, the princess had no occasion; and the prince left her the next morning to return into the city, where his father had peril in great pain anxious for his return.

The prince told him he had lost his way in the forest as he was hunting, and had lain at the cottage of a collier, who had given him some brown bread and cheese.

The king, his father, who was a very good man, readily believed him; but his mother, the queen, could not be persuaded that this was altogether true; and seeing that he went almost every day a-hunting, and that he had always found some excuse for so doing. though he had lain out three or four nights together, she begin to suspect (and very justly too) his having some little private amour, which he then endeavoured that she should remain ignorant of.

Now these frequent excursions, which he then made from the palace, were the times that he retired to the princess. with whom he lived in this manner for about two years, and for whom he had two fine children, the eldest of whom was a girl, whom they named Morning, and the youngest a boy, whom they named Day, because he was a great deal handsomer and much more beautiful and comely than the sister.

The queen's jealousy increasing, she several times spoke to her son, desiring him to inform her after what manner he spent his time, alleging that, as he saw her so very uneasy, he ought in duty to satisfy her. But he never dared to trust her with his secret, for she was of the race of ogres, and the king would certainly not have married her had it not been for her vast riches.

It was whispered among the court that she had an ogrish inclination, and that whenever she saw some children going by, she had all the difficulty in the world to refrain from falling upon them; so the prince would never tell her one word.

But when the king was dead, which happened years afterwards, and he saw himself lord and master, he then openly declared his marriage, and went in great ceremony to conduct his queen to the palace. They made a very magnificent entry into the city, with their two children beside them.

Some time after, the king went to make war with the Emperor Cantalabute, his neighbour.

He left the government of the kingdom to the queen, his mother, and earnestly recommended to her the care of his wife and children.

As soon as he was departed, the queen sent for her daughter-in-law to come to her, and then sent her to a country house among the woods, that she might with more ease and secrecy gratify her inclinations.

Some day's after she went to this country house herself, and calling for the clerk of the kitchen, she said to him, "I have a mind to eat little Morning for my dinner to-morrow."

"Ah, madam," cried the clerk of the kitchen in a very great surprise.

"No excuse," replied she, interrupting him; "I will have it so,"—and this she spoke in the tone of all ogress, seeming to have a strong desire to taste fresh meat. "And to make the dish more delicious," added she, "I will eat her with sauce made of Robert."

This poor man, knowing very well how dangerous it was to play tricks with ogresses, took his great knife and went up into little Morning's chamber. She was then four years of age, and came up to him leaping and laughing, to take him about the neck, and asked him for some sugar-candy, on which he began to weep, and the knife fell out of his hand; and he went into the back yard and killed a lamb, which he dressed with such good sauce that his mistress assured him she had never eaten anything so good in all her life.

He had at the same time taken up little Morning, and carried her to his wife, in order that she might be concealed in a lodging which he had at the bottom of the courtyard.

The queen's lascivious appetite (according to her own apprehensions) being once humoured, she again began to long for another dainty bit. Accordingly, a few days after, she called for the clerk of the kitchen, and told him that she intended that night to sup out of little Day. He answered never a word, being resolved to cheat her as he had done before. He went to find little Day, and saw him with a foil in his hand, with which he was fencing with a monkey, the child being; but three years old. He took him up in his arms and carried him to his wife, that she might conceal him in her chamber, along with his sister; and, in the room of little Day, cooked up a young kid very tender, which the ogress praised as much as the former, saving it was wonderfully good.

All hitherto was mighty well; but a few evenings after this craving, the ogress said to the clerk of the kitchen, "1 will also eat the young queen with the same sauce that I had with the. children."

Now was the critical time, for the poor clerk despaired of being able to deceive her.

The young queen was turned of twenty years of age, not counting; the hundred years she had been asleep. Though her skin was somewhat tough, yet she was fair and beautiful: and how to find a beast in the yard so firm that he might kill and cook to appease her canine appetite, was what puzzled him greatly, and made him totally at a loss what to do.

He then took a resolution that he must save his own life, and cut the queen's throat; and going into her chamber with an intent to do it at once, he put himself into as great a fury as he could, went into the queen's room with his dagger in his hand. However, his humanity would not allow him to surprise her, but he told her, with a great deal of respect, the orders he had received from the queen her mother.

"Do it," said she, stretching out her neck; execute your orders, and I shall go and see my children, whom I so dearly love." For she thought them dead ever since they had been taken from her.

"No, fair princess! " cried the human clerk of the kitchen, all in tears; "you shall see your children again. But then you shall go with me to my lodgings, where I have concealed them; and I shall deceive the queen once more by giving her another young kid in your stead."

Upon this he forthwith conducted her to her chamber, where he left her to embrace her children, and cry aloud with them; and he then went and dressed a young kid, which the queen had for supper, and devoured it with the same appetite as though it had been the young queen.

Now was she exceedingly delighted with this unheard of cruelty; and she had invented a story to tell the king; at his return how the mad wolves had eaten up the queen, his wife, with her two children.

One evening some time after, as she was, according to her usual custom, rambling about the court and yards of the palace to see if she could smell any fresh meat, she heard, in a ground room, little Day crying, for his mother was going to whip him because he had been guilty of some fault, and she heard at the same time little Morning soliciting pardon for her brother.

The ogress presently knew the voice of the queen and her children, and being quite in a rage to think she had been thus deceived, she commanded the next morning, by break of day, in a most terrible voice, which made every one tremble, that they should bring into the middle of the court a very large tub, which she caused to be filled with toads, vipers, snakes, and all sorts of serpents, in order to throw into it the queen and her children, the clerk of the kitchen, his wife and maid; all of whom she had given orders to have brought thither, with their hands tied behind them, to suffer the vengeance of the incensed ogress.

They were brought out accordingly, and the executioners were going to throw them into the tub, when the king fortunately entered the court in his carriage, and asked with the utmost astonishment, what was meant by this horrid spectacle, no one daring to tell him.

When the ogress saw what had happened, she fell into a violent passion, and threw herself head foremost into the tub, and was instantly devoured by the ugly creatures she had ordered to be thrown into in by others.

The king could not but grieve, being very sorry, for she was his mother; but he soon comforted himself with his beautiful wife, and his two pretty children.

And after all things were settled, he well rewarded the clerk of the kitchen for his wisdom, humanity and compassion.

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