A LONG time ago there lived a king and a queen,
who said every day, "If only we had a child";
but for a long time they had none.
It fell out once, as the Queen was bathing, that a frog crept
out of the water on to the land and said to her: "Your wish
shall be fulfilled; before a year has passed you shall bring a
daughter into the world."
The frog's words came true. The Queen had a little girl
who was so beautiful that the King could not contain himself
for joy, and prepared a great feast. He invited not only his
relations, friends, and acquaintances, but the fairies, in order
that they might be favorably and kindly disposed toward the
child. There were thirteen of them in the kingdom, but as
the King had only twelve golden plates for them to eat off,
one of the fairies had to stay at home.
The feast was held with all splendor, and when it came to
an end the fairies all presented the child with a magic gift.
One gave her virtue, another beauty, a third riches, and so
on, with everything in the world that she could wish for.
When eleven of the fairies had said their say, the thirteenth
suddenly appeared. She wanted to revenge herself for not
having been invited. Without greeting anyone, or even glancing
at the company, she called out in a loud voice, "The Princess
shall prick herself with a distaff in her fifteenth year and
shall fall down dead"; and without another word she turned
and left the hall.
Everyone was terror-stricken, but the twelfth fairy, whose
wish was still unspoken, stepped forward. She could not
cancel the curse, but could only soften it, so she said: "It
shall not be death, but a deep sleep lasting a hundred years,
into which your daughter shall fall."
The King was so anxious to guard his dear child from the
misfortune that he sent out a command that all the distaffs
in the whole kingdom should be burned.
All the promises of the fairies came true.
The Princess grew up so beautiful, modest, kind, and clever
that everyone who saw her could not but love her. Now it
happened that on the very day when she was fifteen years old
the King and Queen were away from home, and the Princess
was left quite alone in the castle. She wandered about over
the whole place, looking at rooms and halls as she pleased, and
at last she came to an old tower. She ascended a narrow,
winding staircase and reached a little door. A rusty key was
sticking in the lock, and when she turned it the door flew open.
In a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, busily spinning
"Good day, Granny," said the Princess; "what are you
"I am spinning," said the old woman, and nodded her head.
"What is the thing that whirls round so merrily?" asked
the Princess; and she took the spindle and tried to spin too.
But she had scarcely touched it before the curse was fulfilled,
and she pricked her finger with the spindle. The instant
she felt the prick she fell upon the bed which was standing
near, and lay still in a deep sleep which spread over the
The King and Queen, who had just come home and had
stepped into the hall, went to sleep, and all their courtiers with
them. The horses went to sleep in the stable, the dogs in the
yard, the doves on the roof, the flies on the wall; yes, even
the fire flickering on the hearth grew still and went to sleep,
and the roast meat stopped crackling; and the cook, who was
pulling the scullion's hair because he had made some mistake,
let him go and went to sleep. And the wind dropped, and on
the trees in front of the castle not a leaf stirred.
But round the castle a hedge of brier roses began to grow
up; every year it grew higher, till at last it surrounded the
whole castle so that nothing could be seen of it, not even the
flags on the roof.
But there was a legend in the land about the lovely sleeping
Brier Rose, as the King's daughter was called, and from
time to time princes came and tried to force a way through
the hedge into the castle. But they found it impossible, for
the thorns, as though they had hands, held them fast, and the
princes remained caught in them without being able to free
themselves, and so died a miserable death.
After many, many years a prince came again to the country
and heard an old man tell of the castle which stood behind
the brier hedge, in which a most beautiful maiden called Brier
Rose had been asleep for the last hundred years, and with
her slept the King, Queen, and all her courtiers. He knew
also, from his grandfather, that many princes had already
come and sought to pierce through the brier hedge, and had
remained caught in it and died a sad death.
Then the young Prince said: "I am not afraid; I am determined
to go and look upon the lovely Brier Rose."
The good old man did all in his power to dissuade him, but
the Prince would not listen to his words.
Now, however, the hundred years were just ended, and the
day had come when Brier Rose was to wake up again. When
the Prince approached the brier hedge it was in blossom, and
was covered with beautiful large flowers which made way for
him of their own accord and let him pass unharmed, and then
closed up again into a hedge behind him.
"AT LAST HE REACHED THE TOWER . . . WHERE BRIER ROSE WAS ASLEEP"
In the courtyard he saw the horses and dappled hounds
lying asleep, on the roof sat the doves with their heads under
their wings, and when he went into the house the flies were
asleep on the walls, and near the throne lay the King and
Queen; in the kitchen was the cook, with his hand raised as
though about to strike the scullion, and the maid sat with the
black fowl before her which she was about to pluck.
He went on farther, and all was so still that he could hear
his own breathing. At last he reached the tower, and opened
the door into the little room where Brier Rose was asleep.
There she lay, looking so beautiful that he could not take his
eyes off her; he bent down and gave her a kiss. As he
touched her, Brier Rose opened her eyes and looked quite
sweetly at him. Then they went down together; and the
King and the Queen and all the courtiers woke up, and looked
at each other with astonished eyes. The horses in the stable
stood up and shook themselves, the hounds leaped about and
wagged their tails, the doves on the roof lifted their heads
from under their wings, looked around, and flew into the fields;
the flies on the walls began to crawl again, the fire in the
kitchen roused itself and blazed up and cooked the food, the
meat began to crackle, and the cook boxed the scullion's ears
so soundly that he screamed aloud, while the maid finished
plucking the fowl. Then the wedding of the Prince and Brier
Rose was celebrated with all splendor, and they lived happily
till they died.