There were formerly a king and a queen, who were so sorry that they had no
children; 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.
At last, however, the Queen had a daughter. There was a very fine
christening; and the Princess had for her god- mothers all the fairies they
could find in the whole kingdom (they found seven), that every one of them might
give her a gift, as was the custom of fairies in those days. By this means the
Princess had all the perfections imaginable.
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. 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.
In the meanwhile all the fairies began to give their gifts to the Princess.
The youngest gave her for gift that she should be the most beautiful person in
the world; the next, that she should have the wit of an angel; the third, that
she should have a wonderful grace in everything she did; the fourth, that she
should dance perfectly well; the fifth, that she should sing like a nightingale;
and the sixth, that she should play all kinds of music to the utmost
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 spindle and
die of the wound. This terrible gift made the whole company tremble, and
everybody fell a-crying.
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, which shall last a hundred
years, at the expiration of which a king's son 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 years 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, alone, was spinning with her spindle. This good woman had
never heard of the King's proclamation against spindles.
"What are you doing there, goody?" said the Princess.
"I am spinning, my pretty child," said the old woman, who did not know who
"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.
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, struck her on the palms of her
hands, and rubbed her temples with Hungary-water; but nothing would bring her
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, and her lips were coral; 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 good Fairy who had saved her life by condemning her to sleep a hundred
years was in the kingdom of Matakin, twelve thousand leagues off, when this
accident befell the Princess; but she was instantly informed of it by a little
dwarf, who had boots of seven leagues, that is, boots with which he could tread
over seven leagues of ground in one stride. The Fairy came away immediately, and
she arrived, about an hour after, in a fiery chariot drawn by dragons.
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 wand everything in the
palace (except the King and Queen)--governesses, maids of honour, 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
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 spits 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 business.
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, 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
When a hundred years were gone and passed the son of the King then reigning,
and who was of another family from that of the sleeping Princess, being gone
a-hunting on that side of the country, asked:
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 ogre 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
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 honour, 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 pass 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
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
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. 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, 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 hours 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 honour, 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 them
in the chapel of the castle, and the chief lady of honor drew the curtains. They
had but very little sleep--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:
That he lost his way in the forest as he was hunting, and that he had lain in
the cottage of a charcoal-burner, who gave him cheese and brown bread.
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, and
the youngest, who was a son, they called Day, 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, 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
"I have a mind to eat little Morning for my dinner to- morrow."
"Ah! madam," cried the clerk of the kitchen.
"I will have it so," replied the Queen (and this she spoke in the tone of an
Ogress who had a strong desire to eat fresh meat), "and will eat her with a
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, 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, very tender, which the Ogress found to be wonderfully
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
"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
For she thought them dead ever since they had been taken away without her
"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,
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 brother.
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, 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
himself with his beautiful wife and his pretty
Adapted by Andrew Lang for The Blue Fairy Book, 1889.