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Briar Rose

A king and queen once upon a time reigned in a country a great wayoff, where there were in those days fairies. Now this ...

Briar Rose

A king and queen once upon a time reigned in a country a great wayoff, where there were in those days fairies. Now this king and queen hadplenty of money, and plenty of fine clothes to wear, and plenty of goodthings to eat and drink, and a coach to ride out in every day: butthough they had been married many years they had no children, and thisgrieved them very much indeed. But one day as the queen was walkingby the side of the river, at the bottom of the garden, she saw a poorlittle fish, that had thrown itself out of the water, and lay gaspingand nearly dead on the bank. Then the queen took pity on the littlefish, and threw it back again into the river; and before it swam awayit lifted its head out of the water and said, «I know what your wishis, and it shall be fulfilled, in return for your kindness to me—youwill soon have a daughter.» What the little fish had foretold sooncame to pass; and the queen had a little girl, so very beautiful thatthe king could not cease looking on it for joy, and said he wouldhold a great feast and make merry, and show the child to all theland. So he asked his kinsmen, and nobles, and friends, andneighbours. But the queen said, «I will have the fairies also, thatthey might be kind and good to our little daughter.» Now therewere thirteen fairies in the kingdom; but as the king and queen had onlytwelve golden dishes for them to eat out of, they were forced to leaveone of the fairies without asking her. So twelve fairies came, eachwith a high red cap on her head, and red shoes with high heels on herfeet, and a long white wand in her hand: and after the feast was overthey gathered round in a ring and gave all their best gifts to thelittle princess. One gave her goodness, another beauty, another riches,and so on till she had all that was good in the world.

Just as eleven of them had done blessing her, a great noise was heardin the courtyard, and word was brought that the thirteenth fairy wascome, with a black cap on her head, and black shoes on her feet,and a broomstick in her hand: and presently up she came into thedining-hall. Now, as she had not been asked to the feast she wasvery angry, and scolded the king and queen very much, and set to workto take her revenge. So she cried out, «The king’s daughter shall, inher fifteenth year, be wounded by a spindle, and fall down dead.’Then the twelfth of the friendly fairies, who had not yet given hergift, came forward, and said that the evil wish must be fulfilled,but that she could soften its mischief; so her gift was, that theking’s daughter, when the spindle wounded her, should not reallydie, but should only fall asleep for a hundred years.

However, the king hoped still to save his dear child altogether fromthe threatened evil; so he ordered that all the spindles in the kingdomshould be bought up and burnt. But all the gifts of the first elevenfairies were in the meantime fulfilled; for the princess was sobeautiful, and well behaved, and good, and wise, that everyone who knewher loved her.

It happened that, on the very day she was fifteen years old, the kingand queen were not at home, and she was left alone in the palace. So sheroved about by herself, and looked at all the rooms and chambers, tillat last she came to an old tower, to which there was a narrowstaircase ending with a little door. In the door there was a goldenkey, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there sat anold lady spinning away very busily. «Why, how now, good mother,» saidthe princess; «what are you doing there?» «Spinning,» said the old lady,and nodded her head, humming a tune, while buzz! went the wheel. «Howprettily that little thing turns round!» said the princess, and tookthe spindle and began to try and spin. But scarcely had she touchedit, before the fairy’s prophecy was fulfilled; the spindle woundedher, and she fell down lifeless on the ground.

However, she was not dead, but had only fallen into a deep sleep; andthe king and the queen, who had just come home, and all their court,fell asleep too; and the horses slept in the stables, and the dogsin the court, the pigeons on the house-top, and the very flies sleptupon the walls. Even the fire on the hearth left off blazing, andwent to sleep; the jack stopped, and the spit that was turning aboutwith a goose upon it for the king’s dinner stood still; and the cook,who was at that moment pulling the kitchen-boy by the hair to givehim a box on the ear for something he had done amiss, let him go, andboth fell asleep; the butler, who was slyly tasting the ale, fellasleep with the jug at his lips: and thus everything stood still, andslept soundly.

A large hedge of thorns soon grew round the palace, and every yearit became higher and thicker; till at last the old palace was surroundedand hidden, so that not even the roof or the chimneys could be seen. Butthere went a report through all the land of the beautiful sleepingBriar Rose (for so the king’s daughter was called): so that, fromtime to time, several kings» sons came, and tried to break through thethicket into the palace. This, however, none of them could ever do;for the thorns and bushes laid hold of them, as it were with hands;and there they stuck fast, and died wretchedly.

After many, many years there came a king’s son into that land: and anold man told him the story of the thicket of thorns; and how abeautiful palace stood behind it, and how a wonderful princess, calledBriar Rose, lay in it asleep, with all her court. He told, too, how hehad heard from his grandfather that many, many princes had come, andhad tried to break through the thicket, but that they had all stuckfast in it, and died. Then the young prince said, «All this shall notfrighten me; I will go and see this Briar Rose.» The old man tried tohinder him, but he was bent upon going.

Now that very day the hundred years were ended; and as the prince cameto the thicket he saw nothing but beautiful flowering shrubs, throughwhich he went with ease, and they shut in after him as thick as ever.Then he came at last to the palace, and there in the court lay thedogs asleep; and the horses were standing in the stables; and onthe roof sat the pigeons fast asleep, with their heads under theirwings. And when he came into the palace, the flies were sleeping onthe walls; the spit was standing still; the butler had the jug of aleat his lips, going to drink a draught; the maid sat with a fowl in herlap ready to be plucked; and the cook in the kitchen was still holdingup her hand, as if she was going to beat the boy.

Then he went on still farther, and all was so still that he couldhear every breath he drew; till at last he came to the old tower, andopened the door of the little room in which Briar Rose was; and thereshe lay, fast asleep on a couch by the window. She looked sobeautiful that he could not take his eyes off her, so he stooped downand gave her a kiss. But the moment he kissed her she opened her eyesand awoke, and smiled upon him; and they went out together; and soonthe king and queen also awoke, and all the court, and gazed on eachother with great wonder. And the horses shook themselves, and thedogs jumped up and barked; the pigeons took their heads from undertheir wings, and looked about and flew into the fields; the flies onthe walls buzzed again; the fire in the kitchen blazed up; round wentthe jack, and round went the spit, with the goose for the king’sdinner upon it; the butler finished his draught of ale; the maid wenton plucking the fowl; and the cook gave the boy the box on his ear.

And then the prince and Briar Rose were married, and the wedding feastwas given; and they lived happily together all their lives long.

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