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THE SLEEPING PRINCESSOnce upon a time there was a Queen who had a beautiful baby daughter. She asked all the fairies in the kingdom to the christeningbut unfortunately forgot to invite one of themwho was a bit of a witch as well. She came anywaybut as she passed the baby's cradleshe said:

"When you are sixteenyou will injure yourself with a spindle and die!"

"Ohno!" screamed the Queen in horror. A good fairy quickly chanted a magic spell to change the curse. When she hurt herselfthe girl would fall into a very deep sleep instead of dying.

The years went bythe little Princess grew and became the most beautiful girl in the whole kingdom. Her mother was always very careful to keep her away from spindlesbut the Princesson her sixteenth birthdayas she wandered through the castlecame 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 sighdropped to the floor.

The terrified old woman hurried to tell the Queen. Beside herself with anguishthe Queen did her best to awaken her daughter but in vain. The court doctors and wizards were calledbut 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 tooand the Queen said to her

"When will my daughter waken?"

"I don't know" the fairy admitted sadly.

"In a year's timeten 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 herthat would bring her back to life!"

"How can a man fall in love with a sleeping girl?" sobbed the Queenand so heart-broken was she thata few days latershe died. The sleeping Princess was taken to her room and laid on the bed surrounded by garlands of flowers. She was so beautifulwith a sweet facenot like those of the deadbut pink like those who are sleeping peacefully. The good fairy said to herself

"When she wakenswho 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 - soldiersministersguardsservantsladiespagescooksmaids and knights - all fell into a deep sleepwherever they were at that very moment.

"Now" thought the fairy"when the Princess wakes upthey too will awakenand life will go on from there." And she left the castlenow wrapped in silence. Not a sound was to be heardnothing moved except for the clocksbut when they too ran downthey stoppedand time stopped with them. Not even the faintest rustle was to be heardonly the wind whistling round the turretsnot a single voiceonly the cry of birds.

The years sped past. In the castle groundsthe trees grew tall. The bushes became thick and stragglingthe grass invaded the courtyards and the creepers spread up the walls. In a hundred yearsa dense forest grew up.

Nowit so happened that a Prince arrived in these parts. He was the son of a king in a country close by. Younghandsome and melancholyhe sought in solitude everything he could not find in the company of other men: serenitysincerity and purity. Wandering on his trusty steed he arrivedone dayat the dark forest. Being adventuroushe decided to explore it. He made his way through slowly and with a strugglefor the trees and bushes grew in a thick tangle. A few hours laternow losing hearthe 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 stood stock still in amazement

"I wonder who this castle belongs to?" he thought.

The young Prince rode on towards the castle. The drawbridge was down andholding his horse by the reinshe crossed over it. Immediately he saw the inhabitants draped all over the stepsthe halls and courtyardsand said to himself

"Good heavens! They're dead!" But in a momenthe realised that they were sound asleep. "Wake up! Wake up!" he shoutedbut nobody moved. Still thoroughly astonishedhe went into the castle and again discovered more peoplelying fast asleep on the floor. As though led by a hand in the complete silencethe Prince finally reached the room where the beautiful Princess lay fast asleep. For a long time he stood gazing at her faceso full of serenityso peacefullovely and pureand he felt spring to his heart that love he had always been searching for and never found. Overcome by emotionhe went closelifted the girl's little white hand and gently kissed it . . .

At that kissthe prlncess qulckly opened her eyesand wakening from her long long sleepseeing the Prince beside hermurmured:

"Ohyou have come at last! I was waiting for you in my dream. I've waited so long!"

Just thenthe spell was broken. The Princess rose to her feetholding out her hand to the Prince. And the whole castle woke up too. Everybody rose to their feet and they all stared round in amazementwondering what had happened. When they finally realisedthey rushed to the Princessmore beautiful and happier then ever.

A few days laterthe castle that only a short time before had lain in silencenow rang with the sound of singingmusic and happy laughter at the great party given in honour of the Prince and Princesswho were getting married. They lived happily ever afteras they always do in fairy talesnot quite so oftenhoweverin real life.




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