Once upon a time there was a Queen who had a beautiful baby daughter. She asked all the fairies in the kingdom to the christening, but unfortunately forgot to invite one of them, who was a bit of a witch as well. She came anyway, but as she passed the baby's cradle, she said:
"When you are sixteen, you will injure yourself with a spindle and die!"
"Oh, no!" screamed the Queenin horror. A good fairy quickly chanted a magic spell to change the curse. When she hurt herself, the girl would fall into a very deep sleep instead of dying.
The years went by, the little Princess grew and became the most beautiful girl in the whole kingdom. Her mother was always very careful to keep her away from spindles, but the Princess, on her sixteenth birthday, as she wandered through thecastle, came into a room where an old servant was spinning.
"What are you doing?" she asked the servant.
"I'm spinning. Haven't you seen a spindle before?"
"No. Let me see it!" The servant handed the girl the spindle ... and she pricked herself with it and. with a sigh, dropped to the floor.
The terrified old woman hurried to tell the Queen. Beside herself with anguish, the Queen did her bestto awaken her daughter but in vain. The court doctors and wizards were called, but there was nothing they could do. The girl could not be wakened from her deep sleep. The good fairy who managed to avoid the worst of the curse came too, and the Queen said to her,
"When will my daughter waken?"
"I don't know," the fairy admitted sadly.
"In a year's time, ten years or twenty?" the Queen went on."Maybe in a hundred years' time. Who knows?" said the fairy.
"Oh! What would make her waken?" asked the Queen weeplng.
"Love," replied the fairy. "If a man of pure heart were to fall in love with her, that would bring her back to life!"
"How can a man fall in love with a sleeping girl?" sobbed the Queen, and so heart-broken was she that, a few days later, she died. The sleeping Princess wastaken to her room and laid on the bed surrounded by garlands of flowers. She was so beautiful, with a sweet face, not like those of the dead, but pink like those who are sleeping peacefully. The good fairy said to herself,
"When she wakens, who is she going to see around her? Strange faces and people she doesn't know? I can never let that happen. It would be too painful for this unfortunate girl."So the fairy cast a spell; and everyone that lived in the castle - soldiers, ministers, guards, servants, ladies, pages, cooks, maids and knights - all fell into a deep sleep, wherever they were at that very moment.
"Now," thought the fairy, "when the Princess wakes up, they too will awaken, and life will go on from there." And she left the castle, now wrapped in silence. Not a sound was to beheard, nothing moved except for the clocks, but when they too ran down, they stopped, and time stopped with them. Not even the faintest rustle was to be heard, only the wind whistling round the turrets, not a single voice, only the cry of birds.
The years sped past. In the castle grounds, the trees grew tall. The bushes became thick and straggling, the grass invaded the courtyards and the creepersspread up the walls. In a hundred years, a dense forest grew up.
Now, it so happened that a Prince arrived in these parts. He was the son of a king in a country close by. Young, handsome and melancholy, he sought in solitude everything he could not find in the company of other men: serenity, sincerity and purity. Wandering on his trusty steed he arrived, one day, at the dark forest. Beingadventurous, he decided to explore it. He made his way through slowly and with a struggle, for the trees and bushes grew in a thick tangle. A few hours later, now losing heart, he was about to turn his horse and go back when he thought he could see something through the trees . . . He pushed back the branches . . . Wonder of wonders! There in front of him stood a castle with high towers. The young man...