By Charles Perrault, 1696
Translated (via AltaVista's Babel
Fish), edited, and revised by Judith Bronte from the original 1696 French
version of "La Belle au bois dormant."
"Thine eyes shall see the King in His
beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off."
~ Isaiah 33:17 ~
nce upon a time, there was a King and a Queen who wanted
to have a child very much. After every possibility was exhausted, they prayed. Soon,
the Queen gave birth to a girl. A joyous celebration was declared. Now, it was the
custom in the land, for Angels to descend from the throne of God, and bestow blessings
and gifts upon the newborn infants of the throne, not only ensuring a righteous monarchy,
but also bestowing an outward perfection of beauty, mirroring the beauty that was
within. Now it happened that seven Angels descended from the throne of God, to the
throne of the King and Queen, and stood before the royal princess.
But as each Angel was about to present their gift, there appeared an eighth angel.
This eighth Angel was not dressed in garments of lights, as were the other seven,
but instead, was cloaked with a garment of darkness. Since all the eyes of the court
were upon the royal princess, no one seemed to notice as the eighth Angel took its
place in the line. However, one Angel did notice, and feigning some excuse, slipped
behind a tapestry, in order to speak lastly, and repair, as much as God would give
the good Angel power, the evil which the eighth angel would make.
One by one, the Angels presented their gifts to the baby princess. One gave her a
gift that would make her the most beautiful person in the world; another, a helpful
spirit like an Angel's; a gift of grace in all that the princess would do; a gift
of dance, to make the heart merry; a gift that would make her sing like a nightingale;
a gift of talent, so she could play any musical instrument to perfection.
The eighth Angel took its place before the infant princess. It stretched out its
dark hand over the baby and pronounced its curse. The princess would prick her hand
on the spindle of a spinning wheel, and die. This terrible gift made the entire court
quiver, there was not a single person who did not cry.
At this moment, the good Angel who had concealed itself behind the tapestry, stepped
forward. The light from the good Angels waxed so bright and so pure, that the eighth
Angel promptly fled. In a loud voice, the good Angel declared the gift that God had
"Where sin abounded, grace
did much more abound."
~ Romans 5:20 ~
"Be assured, King, and be assured Queen, your daughter will not die. However,
the princess will fall into a deep sleep. Her sleep will last a hundred years, at
the end of which the son of a King will come to awaken her."
The King, to try to avoid the curse pronounced on his daughter by the eighth Angel,
made at once an edict, declaring that all spindles on spinning wheels, whether in
work or home, should be destroyed, under penalty of death.
As the years slipped by, the kingdom slowly forgot the curse of the eighth Angel.
At the end of fifteen or sixteen years, the King and Queen left the palace and departed
to one of their country cottages, to be alone with each other for a few days. Now
it happened on this day, that the young princess ran about from one room of the castle
to the next, until she found herself in a small forgotten room with a good old woman
who was alone, spinning with a spindle.
Now it happened that this good old woman did not hear of the King's decree to never
again use spindles on spinning wheels, and if she did, her old mind had quite forgotten
about it years since.
"What do you do there, good woman?" asked the princess.
"I spin, my beautiful child," answered the old woman.
"Ah! how pretty it looks!" said the princess. "How do you make it
work? Give me a try, so I can see whether I could do it as well."
Since the spindle was extremely sharp, her hand was soon pricked, and the princess
lay prostrate on the floor. The good old woman shouted for help, and servants came
running from every direction. One threw a bucket of water on the princess, endeavoring
to awaken her; another struck her face with the palm of his hand; another rubbed
her temples, but to no avail.
Then the King, who was immediately called, remembered the gift of the good Angel,
and, judging well that it was necessary that what was said would come to pass, would
happen, since it was an Angel from heaven that had said it, prepared his daughter
for the hundred years of sleep.
He commanded that the princess be put in a beautiful apartment of the palace, and
that a bed of gold and embroidery be fashioned. When the princess was placed in the
apartment, everyone was astonished at her beauty, saying she had the countenance
of an angel- she was that beautiful. For her beauty had not faded, her colors were
still as sharp as dye: her cheeks were like carnations, and her lips like bright
Her eyes were closed, and if you listened carefully, you could hear her breathing
gently, signifying to everyone that she was indeed asleep, and not dead. The King
ordered that everyone let her sleep in rest, until her hour to awake had come.
The good Angel who had given her the gift of sleep instead of death, was in the kingdom
of Mataquin, which was twelve thousand miles from there, when the accident had befallen
the princess, was notified of it immediately from another Angel who had orders from
the throne of God to go to the stricken kingdom. In a second, the good Angel arrived
at the castle.
With a merciful heart, the good Angel stretched forth its hand and brought a deep
slumber to everyone it touched; Girls of honor, chambermaids, gentlemen, officers,
Masters of hotel, cooks, kitchen boys, urchins, guards, Swiss, pages, footmen; the
good Angel also touched all the horses which were in the stables, and the stablemen,
the caretakers of the farmyard, and small Pouffe, the small dog of the princess,
who refused to leave the side of his master. As soon as the good Angel had touched
them, they fell asleep. Everyone would awaken at the same time as their mistress,
in order to be ready to serve her when the need arose.
The fireplace and the kitchen, which was full of partridge and pheasants, fell asleep,
and the fire too. All that was done in one moment: the good Angel was not long with
Then the King and the Queen, after having kissed their dear child without her waking
up, came out of the castle, and made a decree that no one should molest or disturb
the rest of the sleeping kingdom.
However, these defenses were not necessary; because a vast distance of interlaced
brambles and spines grew up around the castle, so that no one saw anything more but
the top of the turns of the castle, making it impossible for animal nor man to go
At the end of the hundred years, the son of the King who reigned then, and who was
of another family than that of the sleeping princess, went hunting near the thick
wall of brambles. He noticed the turns that peered above the wall of spines and brambles,
and inquired of the peasantry what it meant. Each one answered from their own well
of knowledge, which consisted almost entirely of gossip and hearsay. One said that
he had rather not speak of it; another replied that ghosts lived in the old castle;
one told stories of evil ones who had turned it into their own kingdom. The most
common opinion was that an old giant lived there and that it kidnapped children and
kept them in it's dungeon, for a giant would have the ability to make a passage through
a thick wall of spines and brambles. This, they thought, made perfect sense. The
prince was close to believing it himself, when an old peasant spoke forth.
"My prince, for more than fifty years I have kept the story which my father
passed on to me. There is in that castle a princess, the most beautiful in the world;
it is there that she is to sleep a hundred years, and that she would be awakened
by the son of a King, for whom she was reserved."
This speech awoke a fire in the heart of the young prince; he believed without wavering,
that the sleeping princess in the castle behind the wall of spines and brambles was
reserved for him, and for him alone. With this determination, he resolved at once
He had hardly begun to think of how to pass through the spines and brambles, when
these spines and brambles parted, and separated from each other, as if to acknowledge
the prince's royal right to pass through. The passage opened up before him, leading
up towards the castle, which was at the end of the large avenue of spines and brambles.
The prince was surprised to see that the avenue of brambles closed up behind him,
making it impossible for the amazed peasantry to follow him. He did not run away
as a frightened boy, but stood his ground: a young prince in love is always valiant.
"He also... is valiant, whose
heart is as the heart of a lion."
~ 2 Samuel 17:10 ~
He entered a large courtyard, and what he saw initially froze him with fear. It was
a dreadful silence: the image of death was everywhere, but they were only bodies
of men and animals which appeared to be dead. The prince remembered the words of
the old peasant, and passed through the slumbering ones, unafraid. He noticed the
healthy vermilion faces of the men, and the cups which still had some drops of wine
at the bottom, indicating that they had fallen asleep while drinking.
The prince passed a large yard paved with marble; he entered the room of the guards,
all of whom were still at their posts, their rifles on their shoulders, silent sentinels
rigid with sleep. He passed through several rooms, full of gentlemen and ladies,
all asleep- some standing upright, others sitting down.
Ahead of him, hung a soft, pink curtain, made of very fine cloth, and woven with
intricate roses which climbed in brocades of green and red. The prince gently pushed
the curtain aside. A lavish apartment, gilded with gold, dazzled his eyes. A bed
fashioned of gold and embroidery stood in the center of the apartment. Long curtains
flowed down around the bed and slowly opened as the prince drew closer. On the bed
he saw the most beautiful spectacle which he had ever seen: a princess who appeared
to be fifteen or sixteen years old, lay before him, fast asleep. She had the countenance
of an angel, and it seemed to the prince that she fairly glowed with beauty.
He approached the bed even closer, all the while trembling and admiring, and knelt
down. Then, like the end of the sleep was come, and a new day had begun, the sleeping
beauty woke up, and, looking upon the prince with eyes more tender than a first look
did not seem to allow, she spoke:
"Is it truly you, my prince?" she asked softly, her eyes searching him.
"You were worth the wait," she added, after seeing the look on his face,
and understanding it well. The prince was charmed with these words, and even more
of the way in which they were said. She did not know how to testify of her joy and
her recognition of him; she assured him that she liked him even more than he liked
her, of which the prince did not deem possible, but smiled just the same. Her words
were very badly arranged, but the prince liked her all the more for it: little eloquence,
much love. She was more embarrassed than he, and one should not be astonished by
this fact: he had time to think of what he was going to say, and she did not. They
spoke with each other for four hours and had not said half the things which they
had to say, when they noticed that the whole palace was waking up.
The silent sentinels whose rigid forms had dotted the castle, slowly yawned, and
looked about in wonder. Gentlemen and ladies in fancy attire, resumed their conversations
with more vigor than before, fearing they had put the others to sleep. Horses in
the stables, whinnied for their food; chicken clucked, and pecked the ground, waking
the worms from their hundred year nap; birds once more filled the air with their
music: new life was breathed into the kingdom. The cook started preparing the next
meal, for though the prince and princess had declined any food, the others were not
in love, and would die of hunger.
The prince helped the princess to rise. The music of the violins and oboes filled
the air, or it should be said that they tried to fill the air, for it had been one
hundred years since any of the instruments had been played or tuned, but everyone
was so happy, that they neither cared or noticed.
Without wasting time, a wedding was held, and such was their thanksgiving to God,
and the abundance of happiness that poured from the groom and bride, that it was
said that no one had ever seen a more perfect couple than that of the prince and
his princess. In the years to come, a daughter was born to them, and they called
her name Aurora, or in the English, Dawn. Soon after Dawn's birth, a son followed,
and they called him Day, for his face was as fair as the sun.
And they lived happily ever after.
"I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the
voice of my beloved."
~ Song of Solomon 5:2 ~