It is to Perrault that we owe our acquaintance with the greater number of good old-fashioned fairy-tales, but an edition of these, although it includes such intimate friends of our childhood as Blue Beard, the Sleeping Beauty, and Little Red Riding-Hood, is hardly complete without "Beauty and the Beast"; a version of this tale, by Mme. Le Prince de Beaumont, has, therefore, been added to this collection. It has also been increased, space permitting it, by the insertion of two tales by Mme. la Comtesse d'Aulnoy; her writings, of a less robust class than those of Perrault, possess in their atmosphere of hidden magic, the charm which resides in that special feature of fairyland, and the addition of "The Benevolent Frog" and "Princess Rosette" will not, we think, be unwelcome to the youthful reader.
THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD
There were once a King and Queen, who were very unhappy at not having any children, more unhappy than words can tell. Vows, pilgrimages, everything was tried, but nothing was of any avail; at length, however, a little daughter was born to them.
There was a splendid christening. For godmothers, they gave the young Princess all the fairies they could find in the country-they were seven in number-in order that each making her a gift, according to the custom of fairies in those days, the Princess might, by these means, become possessed of all imaginable perfections. When the ceremony was over, all the company returned to the King's palace, where a great banquet had been prepared for the fairies. The table was magnificently laid for them, and each had placed for her a massive gold case, containing a spoon, a fork, and a knife of fine gold, set with diamonds and rubies.
But as they were all taking their seats, there was seen to enter an old fairy, who had not been invited, for everyone thought that she was either dead or enchanted, as she had not been outside the tower in which she lived for upwards of fifty years. The King ordered a cover to be laid for her, but there was no possibility of giving her a massive gold case, such as the others had, because there had been only seven made expressly for the seven fairies. The old fairy thought she was treated with contempt, and muttered some threats between her teeth. One of the young fairies, who chanced to be near her, overheard her grumblings, and was afraid she might bestow some evil gift on the young Princess. Accordingly, as soon as they rose from table, she went and hid herself behind the hangings, in order to be the last to speak, and so enable herself to repair, as far as possible, any harm the old fairy might have done. Meanwhile the fairies began bestowing their gifts on the Princess. The youngest, as her gift, promised that she should be the most beautiful person in the world; the next fairy, that she should have the mind of an angel; the third, that every movement of hers should be full of grace; the fourth, that she should dance to perfection; the fifth, that she should sing like a nightingale; the sixth, that she should play on every kind of instrument in the most exquisite manner possible. It was now the turn of the old fairy, and she said, while her head shook more with malice than with age, that the Princess should pierce her hand with a spindle, and die of the wound.
The whole company trembled when they heard this terrible prediction, and there was not one among them who did not shed tears. At this moment the young fairy advanced from behind the tapestry, and said, speaking that all might hear,-
"Comfort yourselves, King and Queen; your daughter shall not die of the wound. It is true that I have not sufficient power to undo entirely what my elder has done. The Princess will pierce her hand with a spindle, but, instead of dying, she will only fall into a deep sleep, which will last a hundred years, at the end of which time a king's son will come and wake her."
The King, in the hope of preventing the misfortune foretold by the old fairy, immediately sent forth a proclamation forbidding everyone, on pain of death, either to spin with a spindle, or to have spindles in their possession.
Fifteen or sixteen years had passed, when, the King and Queen being absent at one of their country houses, it happened that the Princess, while running about the castle one day, and up the stairs from one room to the other, came to a little garret at the top of a turret, where an old woman sat alone spinning with distaff and spindle, for this good woman had never heard the King's proclamation forbidding the use of the spindle.
"What are you doing there?" asked the Princess.
"I am spinning, my pretty child," answered the old woman, who did not know who she was.
"Oh, how pretty it is!" exclaimed the Princess. "How do you do it? Give it to me, that I may see if I can do it as well."
She had no sooner taken hold of the spindle, than, being very hasty, and rather thoughtless, and moreover, the fairies having ordained that it should be so, she pierced her hand with the point of it, and fainted away. The poor old woman was in great distress, and called for help. People came running from all quarters; they threw water in the Princess's face, they unlaced her dress, they slapped her hands, they rubbed her temples with Queen of Hungary's water, but nothing would bring her to. The King, who had run upstairs at the noise, then remembered the prediction of the fairies, and wisely concluded that this accident must have happened as the fairies had said it would. He ordered the Princess to be carried into a beautiful room of the palace, and laid on a bed embroidered with silver and gold. One might have thought it was an angel lying there, so lovely did she look, for the rich colours of her complexion had not faded in her swoon; her cheeks were still rosy, and her lips like coral. Only, her eyes were closed, but they could hear her breathing softly, which showed that she was not dead.
The King gave orders that she was to be left to sleep there in quiet, until the hour of her awaking should arrive. The good fairy who had saved her life, by condemning her to sleep for a hundred years, was in the Kingdom of Mataquin, twelve thousand leagues away, when the Princess met with her accident, but she was informed of it instantly by a little dwarf, who had a pair of seven-league boots, that is, boots which enabled the wearer to take seven leagues at a stride.
"She fell into a swoon."
The Sleeping Beauty The fairy set out immediately, and an hour afterwards she was seen arriving in a chariot of fire, drawn by dragons.
The King advanced to hand her out of the chariot. She approved of all he had done, but being gifted with great foresight, she bethought her that the Princess would feel very lost and bewildered on awaking and finding herself all alone in the old castle; so this is what the fairy did. With her wand she touched everybody who was in the castle, except the King and Queen: governesses, maids of honour, women of the bed-chamber, gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, scullions, boys, guards, porters, pages, footmen; she also touched the horses that were in the stables with their grooms, the great mastiffs in the courtyard, and little Fluff, the pet dog of the Princess, that was on the bed beside her. As soon as she had touched them, they all fell asleep, not to wake again until the hour arrived for their mistress to do so, in order that they should all be ready to attend upon her as soon as she should want them. Even the spits before the fire, hung with partridges and pheasants, and the very fire itself, went to sleep. All this was done in a moment, for fairies never lost much time over their work.
The King and Queen now kissed their dear daughter, who still slept on, quitted the castle, and issued a proclamation forbidding any person, whosoever, to approach it. These orders were unnecessary, for in a quarter of an hour there grew up around the park such a number of trees, large and small, of brambles and thorns interlacing each other, that neither man nor beast could have got through them, and nothing could be now seen of the castle but the tops of the turrets, and they only from a considerable distance. Nobody doubted that this also was some of the fairy's handiwork, in order that the Princess might be protected from the curiosity of strangers during her long slumber.
When the hundred years had passed away, the son of the King at that time upon the throne, and who was of a different family to that of the sleeping Princess, having been hunting in the neighbourhood, inquired what towers they were that he saw above the trees of a very thick wood. Each person answered him according to the story he had heard. Some said it was an old castle, haunted by ghosts; others, that all the witches of the country held their midnight revels there. The more general opinion, however, was that it was the abode of an ogre, and that he carried thither all the children he could catch, in order to eat them at his leisure, and without being pursued, he alone having the power of making his way through the wood.
The Prince did not know what to believe of all this, when an old peasant spoke in his turn, and said to him, "Prince, it is more than fifty years ago since I heard my father say, that there was in that castle the most beautiful Princess that was ever seen; that she was to sleep for a hundred years, and would be awakened by a king's son, for whom she was intended and was waiting."
The young Prince, at these words, felt himself all on fire. He had not a moment's doubt that he was the one chosen to accomplish this famous adventure, and urged to the deed by love and glory, he resolved, without delay, to see what would come of it.
Scarcely had he approached the wood, when all those great trees, all those brambles and thorns, made way for him to pass of their own accord. He walked towards the castle, which he saw at the end of a long avenue he had entered, and he was somewhat surprised to find that none of his people had been able to follow him, the trees having closed up again as soon as he had passed. Nevertheless, he continued to advance; a young prince, inspired by love, is always courageous. He came to a large fore-court, where everything he saw might well have...
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