A long time ago there were a king and queen who said every day, “If only we had a child!” They did not have one. But once when the queen was swimming, a frog crept out of the water on to the land. It said to her, “Your wish shall be fulfi lled. You shall have a daughter before a year has gone.”
What the frog said came true. The queen had a pretty little girl. The king could not contain his joy and ordered a great feast.
He invited not only his kin and friends, but also the Wise Women. He hoped they might be kind and generous toward the child. There were thirteen of the Wise Women in his kingdom. But as he only had twelve golden plates for them, one of them had to be left at home.
The feast was splendid. The Wise Women bestowed their magic gifts upon the baby. One gave virtue, another beauty, a third riches, and so on. The princess soon had everything one can wish for.
When eleven of the Wise Women had made their promises, the thirteenth entered. She wished to avenge herself for not being invited. She cried out, “The king’s daughter shall prick herself with a spindle in her fi fteenth year and fall dead.” Without saying a word more, she left the room.
The guests were all shocked. The twelfth Wise Woman came forward. She could not undo the evil sentence, but only soften it. She said, “The princess shall not fall into death, but a deep sleep of a hundred years.”
The king ordered that every spindle in the whole kingdom be burned.
The gifts of the Wise Women were amply fulfi lled in the young girl. She was so beautiful, modest, good-natured, and wise that everyone who saw her loved her.
On the very day she turned fi fteen years old, the king and queen were not at home. The maiden was left in the palace alone. She went around to all sorts of places and looked into rooms as she pleased. At last she came to an old tower.
She climbed up the narrow, winding staircase and reached a little door. A rusty key was in the lock. When she turned it, the door sprang open. There in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, busily spinning her yarn.
“Good day, old mother,” said the king’s daughter. “What are you doing there?”
“I am spinning,” said the old woman and nodded her head.
“What sort of thing is that, that rattles round so merrily?” The girl took the spindle and wanted to spin, too. But the magic was fulfi lled and she pricked her fi nger with it. That very moment, she fell down upon the bed there in the room and lay in a deep sleep.
This sleep spread over the whole palace. The king and queen, who had just come home, began to sleep. The whole court slept with them. The horses went to sleep in the stable, the dogs in the yard, the pigeons upon the roof, even the fi re on the hearth became quiet and slept.
The cook was just going to pull the hair of the kitchen boy because he had forgotten something. The cook let go and went to sleep. The wind blew but not a leaf on the trees fell.
Round about the castle a hedge of thorns began to grow. Every year it became higher. At last it grew so that nothing of the castle could be seen, not even the fl ag upon the roof. But the story of the beautiful sleeping Briarrose went about the country.
From time to time, kings’ sons came and tried to get through the thorny hedge into the castle. But they found it impossible. The thorns held fast together, as if they had hands. The youths were caught in them, could not get loose, and died a miserable death.
After long, long years, a king’s son came again to that country. He heard an old man talking about the thorn-hedge and the castle behind it. He heard, too, of the beautiful Briarrose and the many kings’ sons who had already come.
The youth said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar-rose.” The good old man tried to change his mind, but he would not listen.
By this time, the hundred years had just passed. The day had come when Briar-rose was to wake again. When the king’s son came near the thorn-hedge, it was nothing but large, beautiful fl owers. They parted from each other and let him pass unhurt. Then they closed again behind him like a hedge.
In the castle yard, he saw the horses and the spotted hounds lying asleep. On the roof sat the pigeons with their heads under their wings. When he entered the house, the flies were asleep upon the wall. The cook in the kitchen was still holding out his hand to seize the boy.
He went on farther. In the great hall he saw the whole of the court lying asleep. Up by the throne lay the king and queen. All was so quiet a breath could be heard.
At last he came to the tower and opened the door into the little room where Briar-rose was sleeping. There she lay, so beautiful he could not turn his eyes away. He stooped down and gave her a kiss. As soon as he kissed her, Briarrose opened her eyes and looked at him sweetly.
Then they went down together. The king, queen, and court awoke and looked at each other in amazement. The horses in the courtyard stood up and shook themselves. The hounds jumped up and wagged their tails. The pigeons pulled their heads from under their wings and fl ew into the open country.
The flies on the wall crept again. The fire in the kitchen burned up and flickered. The cook gave the boy a box on the ear and the maid fi nished plucking the fowl. Then the marriage of the king’s son and Briar-rose was celebrated with splendor. And they lived contented to the end of their days.