The following is an annotated version
of the fairy tale. I recommend reading the entire story before
exploring the annotations, especially if you have not read the tale recently.
THERE were formerly a king and a queen,
who were so sorry that they had no
children;1 so sorry that it cannot be expressed. They
went to all the waters in the world; vows, pilgrimages, all ways were
tried, and all to no purpose.
After the ceremonies of the christening were
over, all the company returned to the King's palace, where was prepared
a great feast for the fairies. There was placed before every one of them
a magnificent cover with a case of massive gold, wherein were a spoon,
knife, and fork, all of pure gold set
with diamonds and rubies.7 But as they were all sitting
down at table they saw come into the hall a very old fairy, whom they
had not invited, because it was above fifty years since she had been out
of a certain tower, and she was believed to be either dead or enchanted.
The King ordered her a cover, but could not
furnish her with a case of gold as the others, because they had only seven
made for the seven fairies. The old Fairy fancied she was slighted, and
muttered some threats between her teeth. One of the young fairies who
sat by her overheard how she grumbled; and, judging that she might give
the little Princess some unlucky gift, went, as soon as they rose from
table, and hid herself behind the hangings, that she might speak last,
and repair, as much as she could, the evil which the old Fairy might intend.
The old Fairy's turn coming next, with a
head shaking more with spite than age, she said that the Princess should
have her hand pierced with a spindle14and die of the wound.15 This terrible gift made the whole company tremble, and everybody fell
At this very instant the young Fairy came
out from behind the hangings, and spake these words aloud:
"Assure yourselves, O 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 profound sleep,16 which shall last a hundred
years,17 at the expiration of which a king's son18 shall come
and awake her."
The King, to avoid the misfortune foretold
by the old Fairy, caused immediately proclamation to be made, whereby
everybody was forbidden, on pain of death, to spin with a distaff and
spindle, or to have so much as any spindle in their houses. About
fifteen or sixteen years19 after, the King and Queen being gone to one of their houses of pleasure,
the young Princess happened one day to divert herself in running up and
down the palace; when going up from one apartment to another, she came
into a little room on the top of the tower, where
a good old woman,20 alone,
was spinning with her spindle. This good woman had never heard of the King's proclamation
"What are you doing there, goody?" said the
"I am spinning, my pretty child," said the
old woman, who did not know who she was.
"Ha!" said the Princess, "this is very pretty;
how do you do it? Give it to me, that I may see if I can do so."
She had no sooner taken it into her hand
than, whether being very hasty at it, somewhat unhandy, or that the decree
of the Fairy had so ordained it, it ran into her hand, and she
fell down in a swoon.22
The good old woman, not knowing very well
what to do in this affair, cried out for help. People came in from every
quarter in great numbers; they threw water upon the Princess's
face, unlaced her,23 struck
her on the palms of her hands, and rubbed her temples
with Hungary-water;24 but
nothing would bring her to herself.
And now the King, who came up at the noise,
bethought himself of the prediction of the fairies, and, judging very
well that this must necessarily come to pass, since the fairies had said
it, caused the Princess to be carried into the finest apartment 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 very beautiful; for her swooning away had not diminished one
bit of her complexion; her
cheeks were carnation,25 and her lips
were coral;26 indeed, her eyes were shut, but she was heard
to breathe softly, which satisfied those about her that she was not dead.
The King commanded that they should not disturb her, but let her sleep
quietly till her hour of awaking was come.
The King handed her out of the chariot, and
she approved everything he had done, but as she had very great foresight,
she thought when the Princess should awake she might not know what to
do with herself, being all alone in this old palace; and this was what
she did: she touched with her wand32 everything in the palace (except the King and Queen) -- governesses, maids
of honor, ladies of the bedchamber, gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks,
undercooks, scullions, guards, with their beefeaters, pages, footmen;
she likewise touched all the horses which were in the stables, pads as
well as others, the great dogs in the outward court and pretty little
Mopsey too, the Princess's little spaniel, which lay by her on the bed.
Immediately upon her touching them they all
fell asleep, that they might not awake before their mistress and that
they might be ready to wait upon her when she wanted them. The
very spits33 at the fire,
as full as they could hold of partridges and pheasants, did fall asleep
also. All this was done in a moment. Fairies are not long in doing their
And now the King and the Queen, having kissed
their dear child without waking her, went out of the palace and put forth
a proclamation that nobody should dare to come near it.
This, however, was 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,34 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, not unless
it was a good way off. Nobody doubted but the Fairy gave herein a very
extraordinary sample of her art, that the Princess, while she continued
sleeping, might have nothing to fear from any curious people.
When a hundred years were gone and passed
the son of the King then reigning, and who was of another family35 from that
of the sleeping Princess, being gone a-hunting on that side of the country,
What those towers were which he saw in the
middle of a great thick wood?
Everyone answered according as they had heard.
Some said that it was a ruinous old castle, haunted by spirits.
Others, That all the sorcerers and witches
of the country kept there their sabbath or night's meeting.
The common opinion was: That
an ogre36 lived there,
and that he carried thither all the little children he could catch, that
he might eat them up at his leisure, without anybody being able to follow
him, as having himself only the power to pass through the wood.
The Prince was at a stand, not knowing what
to believe, when a very good countryman spake to him thus:
"May it please your royal highness, it is
now about fifty years since I heard from my father, who heard my grandfather
say, that there was then in this castle a princess, the most beautiful
was ever seen; that she must sleep there a hundred years, and should be
waked by a king's son, for whom she was reserved."
The young Prince was all on fire at these
words, believing, without weighing the matter, that he could put an end
to this rare adventure; and, pushed on by love and honor, resolved that
moment to look into it.
Scarce had he advanced toward the wood when
all the great trees, the bushes, and brambles gave way of themselves
to let him pass37 through;
he walked up to the castle which he saw at the end of a large avenue which
he went into; and what a little surprised him was that he saw none of
his people could follow him, because the trees closed again as soon as
he had passed through them. However, he did not cease from continuing
his way; a young and amorous prince is always valiant.
He came into a spacious outward court, where
everything he saw might have frozen the most fearless person with horror.
There reigned all over a most frightful silence; the image of death everywhere
showed itself, and there was nothing to be seen but stretched-out bodies
of men and animals, all seeming to be dead. He, however, very well knew,
by the ruby faces and pimpled noses of the beefeaters, that they were
only asleep; and their goblets, wherein still remained some drops of wine,
showed plainly that they fell asleep in their cups.
He then crossed a court paved with marble,
went up the stairs and came into the guard chamber, where guards were
standing in their ranks, with their muskets upon their shoulders, and
snoring as loud as they could. After that he went through several rooms
full of gentlemen and ladies, all asleep, some
standing, others sitting.38 At last he came into a chamber
all gilded with gold, where he saw upon a bed, the curtains of which were
all open, the finest sight was ever beheld -- a princess, who appeared
to be about fifteen or sixteen years of age, and whose bright and, in
a manner, resplendent beauty, had somewhat in it divine. He approached
with trembling and admiration, and fell down before her upon his knees.
And now, as the enchantment was at an end,
the Princess awaked,39 and looking on him with eyes more tender than the first view might seem
to admit of:
"Is it you, my Prince?" said she to him.
"You have waited a long while."
The Prince, charmed with these words, and
much more with the manner in which they were spoken, knew not how to show
his joy and gratitude; he assured her that he loved her better than he
did himself; their discourse was not well connected, they did weep more
than talk -- little eloquence, a great deal of love. He
was more at a loss than she, and we need not wonder at it; she had time
to think on what to say to him; for it is very probable (though history
mentions nothing of it) that the good Fairy, during so long a sleep, had
given her very agreeable dreams. In short, they talked
four hours40 together, and yet they said not half what
they had to say.
In the meanwhile all the palace awaked; everyone
thought upon their particular business, and as all of them were not in
love they were ready to die for hunger. The chief lady of honor, being
as sharp set as other folks, grew very impatient, and told the Princess
aloud that supper was served up. The Prince helped the Princess to rise;
she was entirely dressed, and very magnificently, but his royal highness
took care not to tell her that she was dressed like his great-grandmother,
and had a point band peeping over a high collar; she looked not a bit
less charming and beautiful for all that.
They went into the great hall of looking-glasses,
where they supped, and were served by the Princess's officers, the violins
and hautboys played old tunes, but very excellent, though it was now above
a hundred years since they had played; and after supper, without losing
any time, the lord almoner married
them41 in the chapel of the castle, and the chief lady
of honor drew the curtains. They had but very
little sleep42 -- the Princess had no occasion; and the
Prince left her next morning to return to the city, where his father must
needs have been in pain for him. The Prince told him:
The King, his father, who was a good man,
believed him; but his mother could not be persuaded it was true; and seeing
that he went almost every day a-hunting, and that he always had some excuse
ready for so doing, though he had lain out three or four nights together,
she began to suspect that he was married, for he lived with the Princess
above two whole years, and had by her two children, the eldest of which,
who was a daughter, was named Morning,44 and the youngest, who was a son, they called Day,45 because he was a great deal handsomer and more beautiful than his sister.
The Queen spoke several times to her son,
to inform herself after what manner he did pass his time, and that in
this he ought in duty to satisfy her. But he never dared to trust her
with his secret; he feared her, though he loved her, for she was of the race of the Ogres,46 and the King would never have married her had it not been for her vast
riches; it was even whispered about the Court that she had Ogreish inclinations,
and that, whenever she saw little children passing by, she had all the
difficulty in the world to avoid falling upon them. And so the Prince
would never tell her one word.
But when the King was dead, which happened
about two years afterward, and he saw himself lord and
master, he openly declared his marriage; and he went in great ceremony
to conduct his Queen to the palace. They made a magnificent entry into
the capital city, she riding between her two children.
Soon after the King went to make war with
the Emperor Contalabutte, his neighbor. He left the government of the
kingdom to the Queen his mother, and earnestly recommended to her care
his wife and children. He was obliged to continue his expedition all the
summer, and as soon as he departed the Queen-mother sent her daughter-in-law
to a country house among the woods, that she might with the more ease
gratify her horrible longing.
Some few days afterward she went thither
herself, and said to her clerk of the kitchen:
"I have a mind to eat little Morning for
my dinner to- morrow."
The poor man, knowing very well that he must
not play tricks with Ogresses, took his great knife and went up into little
Morning's chamber. She was then four years old, and came up to him jumping
and laughing, to take him about the neck, and ask him for some sugar-candy.
Upon which he began to weep, the great knife fell out of his hand, and
he went into the back yard, and killed a little lamb,48 and dressed it with such good sauce that his mistress assured him that
she had never eaten anything so good in her life. He had at the same time
taken up little Morning, and carried her to his wife, to conceal her in
the lodging he had at the bottom of the courtyard.
About eight days afterward the wicked Queen
said to the clerk of the kitchen, "I will sup on little Day."
He answered not a word, being resolved to
cheat her as he had done before. He went to find out little Day, and saw
him with a little foil in his hand, with which he was fencing with a great
monkey, the child being then only three years of age. He took him up in
his arms and carried him to his wife, that she might conceal him in her
chamber along with his sister, and in the room of little Day cooked up
a young kid,49 very tender, which the Ogress found to be wonderfully good.
This was hitherto all mighty well; but one
evening this wicked Queen said to her clerk of the kitchen:
"I will eat the Queen with the same sauce
I had with her children."
It was now that the poor clerk of the kitchen
despaired of being able to deceive her. The young Queen was turned of
twenty, not reckoning the hundred years she had been asleep; and how to
find in the yard a beast so firm was what puzzled him. He took then a
resolution, that he might save his own life, to cut the Queen's throat;
and going up into her chamber, with intent to do it at once, he put himself
into as great fury as he could possibly, and came into the young Queen's
room with his dagger in his hand. He would not, however, surprise her,
but told her, with a great deal of respect, the orders he had received
from the Queen-mother.
"Do it; do it" (said she, stretching out
her neck). "Execute your orders, and then I shall go and see my children,
my poor children, whom I so much and so tenderly loved."
For she thought them dead ever since they
had been taken away without her knowledge.
"No, no, madam" (cried the poor clerk of
the kitchen, all in tears); "you shall not die, and yet you shall see
your children again; but then you must go home with me to my lodgings,
where I have concealed them, and I shall deceive the Queen once more,
by giving her in your stead a young hind."
Upon this he forthwith conducted her to his
chamber, where, leaving her to embrace her children, and cry along with
them, he went and dressed a young hind,50 which the Queen had for her supper, and devoured it with the same appetite
as if it had been the young Queen. Exceedingly was she delighted with
her cruelty, and she had invented a story to tell the King, at his return,
how the mad wolves had eaten up the Queen his wife and her two children.
One evening, as she was, according to her
custom, rambling round about the courts and yards of the palace to see
if she could smell any fresh meat, she heard, in a ground room, little
Day crying, for his mamma was going to whip him, because he had been naughty;
and she heard, at the same time, little Morning begging pardon for her
The Ogress presently knew the voice of the
Queen and her children, and being quite mad that she had been thus deceived,
she commanded next morning, by break of day (with a most horrible voice,
which made everybody tremble), that they should bring into the middle
of the great court a large tub, which she caused to
be filled with toads, vipers, snakes, and
all sorts of serpents,51 in order to have thrown into it
the Queen and her children, the clerk of the kitchen, his wife and maid;
all whom she had given orders should be brought thither with their hands
tied behind them.
They were brought out accordingly, and the
executioners were just going to throw them into the tub, when the King
(who was not so soon expected) entered the court on horseback (for he
came post) and asked, with the utmost astonishment, what was the meaning
of that horrible spectacle.
No one dared to tell him, when the Ogress,
all enraged to see what had happened, threw herself head foremost into
the tub, and was instantly devoured by the ugly creatures she had ordered
to be thrown into it for others. The King could not but be very sorry,
for she was his mother; but he soon comforted
himself52 with his beautiful wife and his pretty children.