by Lisa Ruping Cheng
As an iconic and beloved fairytale, Sleeping Beauty has so ingrained in our culture that it represents an enchanting tale coming from a remote country full of imaginations, magics, wonders and charm. In the new year, what story will be more exciting for Wowospot to tell than Sleeping Beauty? Let me share with you this fascinating tale about a young princess who had been cursed before falling down in a swoon and sleeping for a hundred years, after accidentally touching a spindle.
“Once upon a time there was a king and a queen, who were very sorry that they had no children, so sorry that it cannot be told.
At last, however, the queen had a daughter. There was a very fine christening and the Princess had for her godmothers all the fairies they could find in the world of the kingdom (there were seven of them), so that everyone of them might give a gift to her, as was the custom of fairies in those days.
After the christening was over, the company returned to the King’s palace, where was prepared a great feast for the fairies. They were placed before everyone of them a magnificent cover with a case of massive gold, wherein were a spoon, and a knife and fork, all of pure gold set with diamonds and rubies. But as they were all sitting down at table they saw a very old fairy come into the hall. She had not been invited, because for more than fifty years she had not been out of a certain tower, and she was believed to be either dead or enchanted.
The King ordered her a cover, but he could not give her a case of gold as the others had, because seven only had been made for the seven fairies. The old fairy fancied she was slighted, and muttered threats between her teeth. One of the young fairies who sat near heard her, and judging that she might give the little Princess some unlucky gift, hid herself behind the curtains. She hoped that she might speak last and undo as much as she could the evil which the old fairy might do.
In the meanwhile all the fairies began to give their gifts to the Princess. The youngest gave her for her gift that she should be the most beautiful person in the world; the next, that she should have the wit of an angel; the third, that she should be able to do everything she did gracefully; the fourth, that she should dance perfectly; the fifth, that she should sing like a nightingale; and the sixth, that she should play all kinds of musical instruments to the fullest perfection.
The old fairy’s turn was coming next. She said that the Princess should pierce her hand with a spindle and die of the wound. This terrible gift made the whole company tremble, and everybody fell like crying.
At this very instant the young fairy came from behind the curtains and said these words in a loud voice: “Assure yourselves, King and Queen, that your daughter shall not die of this disaster. It is true, I have no power to undo entirely 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 deep sleep, which shall last a hundred years, at the end of which a king’s son shall come and awake her.”
The King, to avoid the misfortune foretold by the old fairy, issued orders forbidding anyone, on pain of death, to have a spindle in his house. About fifteen or sixteen years after, the King and Queen being absent at one of their country villas, the young Princess was one day running up and down the palace; she went from room to toom, and at last she came into a little garret on the top of the tower, where a good old woman, alone, was spinning with her spindle. This good woman had never heard of the King’s orders against spindles.
“What are you doing there, my good woman?” said the Princess.
“I am spinning, my pretty child,” said the old woman, who did not know who the Princess was.
“Ha!”said the Princess, “this is very pretty; how do you do it? Give it to me. Let me see if I can do it.”
She had no sooner taken it into her hand then, either because she was too quick and heedless, or because the decree of the fairy had so ordained, it ran into her hand, and she fell down in a swoon.
The good old woman, not knowing what to do, cried out for help. People came in from every quarter; they threw water upon the face of the Princess, unlaced her, struck her on the palms of her hands, and rubbed her temples with cologne water; but nothing would bring her to herself. Then the King, who came up at hearing the noise, remembered what the fairies had foretold. He knew very well that this must come to pass, since the fairies had foretold it; and he caused the Princess to be carried into the finest room in his palace, and to be laid upon a bed all embroidered with gold and silver. One would have taken her for a little angel, she was so beautiful; for her swooning had not dimmed the brightness of her complexion; her cheeks were carnation, and her lips coral. It is true her eyes were shut, but she was heard to breathe softly, which satisfied those about her that she was not dead.
The King gave orders that they should let her sleep quietly till the time came for her to awake. The good fairy who had saved her life by condemning her to sleep a hundred years was in the kingdom of Matakin, twelve thousand leagues off, when this accident befell the Princess; but she was instantly informed of it by a little dwarf, who had seven-leagued boots, that is, boots with which he could stride over seven leagues of ground at once. The fairy started off at once, and arrived, about an hour later, in a fairy chariot drawn by dragons.
The King handed her out of the chariot, and she approved everything he had done; but as she had very great foresight, she thought that when the Princess would awake she might not know what to do with herself, if she was all alone in this old palace. This was what she did: she touched with her wand everything in the palace (except the King and Queen), governesses, maids of honor, ladies of the bedchamber, gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, undercooks, kitchen maids, guards with their porters, pages, and footmen; she likewise touched all the horses which were in the stables, the cart horses, the hunters and the saddle horses, the grooms, the great bells in the outward court, and little Mopsey, too, the Princess’s spaniel dog, which was lying on the bed.
As soon as she touched them they all fell asleep, not to awake again until their mistress did, that they might be ready to wait upon her when she wanted them. All this was done in a moment. Fairies are not long in doing their work.
And now the King and Queen, having kissed their dear child without waking her, went out of the palace and sent forth orders that nobody should come near it.
There orders were not necessary; for in a quarter of an hour’s time there grew up all round about the park such a vast number of trees, great and small, bushes and brambles, twining one within another, that neither man nor beast could pass through; so that nothing could be seen but the very top of the towers of the palace; and that, too, only from afar off. Every one knew that this also was the work of the fairy in order that while the Princess slept she should have nothing to fear from curious people.
After a hundred years the son of the King then reigning, who was of another family from that of the sleeping Princess, was hunting on that side of the country, and he asked what those towers were which he saw in the middle of a great thick wood. Some said that it was an old haunted castle, others that the witches of the country held their midnight revels there, but the common opinion was that it was an ogre’s dwelling, and that he carried to it all the little children he could catch, so as to eat them up at his leisure, without anyone being able to follow him, for he alone had the power to make his way through the wood.
The Prince did not know what to believe, and presently a very aged countryman spoke to him,
“May it please your royal Highness, more than fifty years since I heard from my father that there was then in this castle the most beautiful princess that was ever seen; that she must sleep there a hundred years, and that she should be waked by a king’s son, for whom she was reserved.”
The young Prince on hearing this was all on fire. He thougt, without weighing the matter, that he could put an end to this rare adventure; and, pushed on by love and the desire of glory, resolved at once to look into it.”
What would the Prince do to approach the castle? We will continue to tell you this tale in the next post! Don’t forget to listen to WowoSpot Kids Podcast for this episode. I look forward to meeting you there very soon!
(References: The texts of the story are excerpts from The Tales of Mother Goose, first collected by Charles Perrault in 1696 and translated by Charles Welsh and published in 1901, the U.S. Now a public domain publication. )