The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty :

The Sleeping Beauty

Once upon a time, in a very far, far kingdom lived a King who had a very brave son. The prince once set out for hunting. Everyday he used to go for hunting in the direction of west. He decided that day that he would go in the direction of east to explore and find out what was there. No sooner had he gone a distance he saw a dense forest ahead of him.

He stopped an old man walking close by and asked him, “Dear old man, which forest is this? I have neither heard of it nor seen it before?"

The old man said, “Oh My dear Prince, this forest has a legendary story behind it. We have been hearing this story since our childhood. It is the story of a great king and his queen.”

“Dear old man, would you mind telling that story to me now?" asked the prince.

“Certainly not child” replied the old man and started the story thus.

“There once lived a great King and his queen here. The king was the mightiest at that time and his queen the kindest. They were loved and adored by their subjects. The king understood the problems of all his people and was always was ready to protect them. That palace was a beautiful one designed and built by many architects. And all round the palace, for miles and miles, there were lovely gardens and pleasure-grounds with terraces and green lawns and ancient trees where the birds would sit and sing all day and all night long and more flowers than you could ever think of if you were to think a whole summer through. There were peacocks and birds of paradise on the broad lawns and pretty slender brown deer in the shady glades and gold and silver fishes in the ponds and fountains and great red and yellow fruits ripened in the orchards.

They had all the pleasures but for one. And that was that they did not have a child to share their happiness with. When the queen used to feel sad about it, the king used to console her by saying that their subjects were their children. The queen used to agree after thinking for a while. They knew that they were just consoling themselves for within they were always hoping to get a child of their own. After offering their prayers to Gods, they finally were granted their wish and a daughter was born to them. They were delighted to have a daughter. She was a tiny child with a face like a blush rose bud eyes like violets and a little red mouth like the pimpernel flowers that grow in the cornfields by the wayside in summer-time. They were overjoyed to see such a pretty child. The Queen couldn’t stop thanking God for giving such a beautiful daughter to them. The King and the Queen celebrated the wonderful day by distributing gifts to each and every kid in their country. Bonfires as big as haystacks were kept burning all night, fat oxen were roasted whole in the market-place of every town, the church-bells were rung and rung again until the ringers were out of breath and their arms were aching and all the people of the country sang and danced merrily. There was an endless sense of happiness and joy in the country.

The maids were busy decorating the palace and the chefs were busy cooking delicious food for the most significant guests were arriving tonight. The king had invited seven fairies to bless his gorgeous daughter. All the seven fairies were good and had known the King all through their life. The King and the Queen had requested the seven fairies to be their daughter’s God Mothers. The seven fairies had gladly agreed and had come to bless the pretty girl. The King and the Queen were trying their best to impress the fairies. They knew that the fairies were used to having delicate and tasty dishes and were most impressed when they saw the beauty around them.

Soon, it was evening and all the people arrived to see the pretty girl one after the other. The seven fairies also arrived and they were amazed at how much care the King had taken to please them. Soon, the feast began. Just when everybody were about to start the dinner there was a huge thunder and a frightful roar. Everybody fell silent and it seemed like the whole world came to a stand still.

Then there was a huge crash. People turned to look at the broken windows. There came an old fairy in a long trailing black gown with her face almost hidden in a black hood, jumped out of a black chariot drawn by fierce griffins and stalked up to the table. The king’s face dropped and the Queen’s smile faded for they knew that this fairy was not a good one and they had forgotten to invite her for the dinner. However, they all tried to make the best of it and another chair was brought and another place laid for Tormentilla and both the King and Queen told her over and over again how very, very sorry they were not to have asked her. It was all in vain. Nothing could please her. She would eat and drink nothing and she sat, scowling and looking angrily at the other fairies’ jeweled cups and dishes until the feast was over and it was time to give the presents.

Everyone went near the little princess. She was a darling. Everyone kissed her and gave her a gift. It was the turn of the fairies.

The first one came forward and said, “May you have a long happy life.”

The second one said, “You would have the sweetest voice ever heard.”

The third one said, “You would be the cleverest of all.”

The fourth said, “You would be the most beautiful.”

The fifth said, “You shall succeed in anything you do.”

The sixth one said, “You would be as good as gold.”

Soon it was the turn of the Tormentilla. Everyone held their breath tight as the fairy approached them. There was a hush of silence and the bad fairy reached the cradle of pearls.

She said with a hoarse voice, “And I say that she shall prick her hand with a spindle and die of the wound!”

The Queen fainted listening to this and all the people started to cry. The king walked up to the fairy and said. “Please do take mercy and take back your words”.

Everybody pleaded her but she was heartless. Suddenly, the seventh fairy that was the youngest of all the fairies came from behind a wall where she was hiding. She had known Tormenlilta very well. She knew Tormenlilla would do this and therefore kept her turn for the end. She said, “I cannot quite undo my cousin’s wicked enchantment. But I can promise you that your daughter shall not die…but only fall asleep for a hundred years. And when these are past and gone, a Prince shall come and awaken her with a kiss.”

The king was quite relieved after he heard this. The queen felt better too after listening to the seventh fairy's blessing.

The king made a law that every spindle in the country must be destroyed and that anyone who had a spindle should be heavily punished. All the spindles in the town were burnt and no one ever dared to get one more. The princess however grew beautiful and clever. The blessings of all the fairies became true and the King and the Queen were very happy. The princess was now about eighteen years old.

Now, one day, the King and the Queen left the palace for an important work. They had to leave the princess alone in the palace for two days. The King was quite worried about that. But the Queen convinced him saying nothing would go wrong and took him along with her. The princess spent the first day singing and wandering about in the garden. But the second day, she missed her father and mother so much that to pass the time till they came back, she began exploring all the old lumber-rooms and out-of-the-way attics in the palace and laughing at the dusty furniture and queer curiosities she found there.

Eventually, she started to climb an old staircase which was far beyond the palace. She climbed and climbed until she reached a very very old looking place where an old lady was sitting in a high white cap, spinning at a wheel. That old lady had been living on the top there since many years. She had not heard the king’s command as she was born deaf and she had no contact with the outside world. The princess stood there wondering what that strange thing could be because she had never seen a spinning wheel before. She stood there for a very long time, watching the old lady and then slowly walked towards her. The old lady lifted up her head to find a pretty girl standing beside her and watching her spin.

She asked her, “What are you amused at my little darling?”

The princess said, “What pretty work you are doing there. Goody? And why does that wheel go whirr, whirr and whirr?”

The old woman stared at her blankly. The princess tried again, “Can I try working on that strange thing granny?”

The old woman said, “I am sorry my dear child. I am hard at hearing. You would better make an action and let me know what you want?”

Then the Princess pointed to the spindle and made the old woman understand that she wanted to try if she could work it. So Goody nodded and laughed and got up from her seat and the Princess sat down and took the spindle in her hand. But no sooner did she touch it than she pricked the palm of her hand with the point and sank down in a swoon.

Immediately a deep silence fell on all around. The little bird that only a moment before had been singing so sweetly upon the window-sill hushed his song. Everything stood still. Everybody stepped working. The distant hum of voices from the courtyard beneath ceased. Even Goody stopped short in a distance with the directions she was giving the Princess and neither moved hand nor foot towards the poor little maid and all because she had fallen fast asleep as she stood. Below in the castle it was just the same. The King and Queen who had that moment returned from their journey and were inquiring for their daughter, fell asleep before the lady-in-waiting could answer them and as to the lady herself she had begun to snore in a ladylike manner, of course - before you could have winked your eye. The soldiers and men-at-arms slumbered as they stood. All the men, women, children, birds, animals, everybody fell asleep and everybody started to snore. A fly which was just about to settle on the nose of a woman fell asleep too! At that moment darkness spill everywhere in that kingdom and a huge forest around the kingdom grew-by itself. The good fairy blessed everyone to rest in peace for the next hundred years and left the place. That story has been thus forgotten by everyone. Many kings tried to enter into that forest. Everybody’s efforts were in vain. Looks like no body can ever go there my dear boy!” ended the old man and walked away.

The prince silently took one look at the forest and decided to enter it. He slowly started riding into it. After riding a little distance he knew that he couldn't take his horse inside anymore. He left his horse there, instructed not to move out of there and started to walk instead. He took out his sword and cut the tough branches and pushed his way through. After walking a while he saw to his surprise that the way behind him was getting closed. Without fearing he walked further and further and further until he came to the place where there was the sleeping soldiers, sleeping birds, sleeping maids and sleeping flies. Laughing to himself he went in search of the princess and finally found her lying on the staircase beside the sleeping old lady in her glistening white robes. She was so beautiful that to see her almost took away his breath and falling on his knees, he bent to kiss her cheek.

And as he kissed her, she opened her lovely blue yes and said, smiling, “Oh! Prince, have you come at last? I have had such pleasant dreams.” Then she sat up laughing and rubbing her eyes and gave him her hand and they went hand in hand together down the stairs and along the corridors, till they came to the throne-room. And there were the King and Queen rubbing their eyes too and they kissed their daughter and welcomed the Prince most gladly.

And, all at the same time, the whole palace was awake. Cocks crowed, dogs barked, the cats began to mew, the spits to turn, the clocks to strike, the soldiers presented arms, the heralds blew their trumpets, the butler went on drinking his half-finished tankard of wine and the first lady-in-waiting finished winding her skein of silk. The forest vanished and the sunlight spread everywhere.

The king and the Queen arranged for the grand wedding with a huge feast and to be sure. Princess’ pretty white dress was just such a one as Prince's great-grandmother might have worn. But that gave them something to laugh at. And all the seven fairies danced for their wedding and they lived happily ever after.

The Sleeping Beauty

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