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Little Briar Rose
Grimms Fairy Tales and German Folklore
A long time ago there were a king and queen who said every
day, ah, if only we had a child, but they never had one. But
it happened that once when the queen was bathing, a frog
crept out of the water on to the land, and said to her, your
wish shall be fulfilled, before a year has gone by, you shall
have a daughter.
What the frog had said came true, and the queen had a little
girl who was so pretty that the king could not contain himself
for joy, and ordered a great feast. He invited not only his
kindred, friends and acquaintances, but also the wise women, in
order that they might be kind and well-disposed towards the
child. There were thirteen of them in his kingdom, but, as
he had only twelve golden plates for them to eat out of, one
of them had to be left at home.
The feast was held with all manner of splendor and when it
came to an end the wise women bestowed their magic gifts
upon the baby - one gave virtue, another beauty, a third
riches, and so on with everything in the world that one can
When eleven of them had made their promises, suddenly the
thirteenth came in. She wished to avenge herself for not
having been invited, and without greeting, or even looking
at anyone, she cried with a loud voice, the king's daughter
shall in her fifteenth year prick herself with a spindle, and fall
down dead. And, without saying a word more, she turned round
and left the room.
They were all shocked, but the twelfth, whose good wish still
remained unspoken, came forward, and as she could not undo
the evil sentence, but only soften it, she said, it shall
not be death, but a deep sleep of a hundred years, into which
the princess shall fall.
The king, who would fain keep his dear child from the misfortune,
gave orders that every spindle in the whole kingdom should
be burnt. Meanwhile the gifts of the wise women were plenteously
fulfilled on the young girl, for she was so beautiful, modest,
good-natured, and wise, that everyone who saw her was bound
to love her.
It happened that on the very day when she was fifteen years
old, the king and queen were not at home, and the maiden
was left in the palace quite alone. So she went round into
all sorts of places, looked into rooms and bed-chambers just
as she liked, and at last came to an old tower. She climbed
up the narrow winding-staircase, and reached a little door.
A rusty key was in the lock, and when she turned it the door
sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with
a spindle, busily spinning her flax.
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, said the girl, and she took the spindle and wanted
to spin too. But scarcely had she touched the spindle when the
magic decree was fulfilled, and she pricked her finger with it.
And, in the very moment when she felt the prick, she fell
down upon the bed that stood there, and lay in a deep sleep.
And this sleep extended over the whole palace, the king and
queen who had just come home, and had entered the great hall,
began to go to sleep, and the whole of the court with them.
The horses, too, went to sleep in the stable, the dogs in
the yard, the pigeons upon the roof, the flies on the wall,
even the fire that was flaming on the hearth became quiet
and slept, the roast meat left off frizzling, and the
cook, who was just going to pull the hair of the scullery boy,
because he had forgotten something, let him go, and went to
sleep. And the wind fell, and on the trees before the
castle not a leaf moved again.
But round about the castle there began to grow a hedge of
thorns, which every year became higher, and at last grew
close up round the castle and all over it, so that there
was nothing of it to be seen, not even the flag upon the
roof. But the story of the beautiful sleeping briar-rose,
for so the princess was named, went about the country,
so that from time to time kings' sons came and tried to
get through the thorny hedge into the castle.
But they found it impossible, for the thorns held fast
together, as if they had hands, and the youths were caught
in them, could not get loose again, and died a miserable
After long, long years a king's son came again to that
country, and heard an old man talking about the thorn-hedge,
and that a castle was said to stand behind it in which a
wonderfully beautiful princess, named briar-rose, had been
asleep for a hundred years, and that the king and queen and
the whole court were asleep likewise. He had heard, too,
from his grandfather, that many kings, sons had already come,
and had tried to get through the thorny hedge, but they had
remained sticking fast in it, and had died a pitiful death.
Then the youth said, I am not afraid, I will go and see
the beautiful briar-rose. The good old man might dissuade him
as he would, he did not listen to his words.
But by this time the hundred years had just passed, and the
day had come when briar-rose was to awake again. When the
king's son came near to the thorn-hedge, it was nothing but
large and beautiful flowers, which parted from each other of
their own accord, 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. And 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, and the maid was sitting by the black hen which she
was going to pluck.
He went on farther, and in the great hall he saw the whole of
the court lying asleep, and up by the throne lay the king and
Then he went on still farther, and all was so quiet that a breath
could be heard, and 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 that he could not turn his eyes away,
and he stooped down and gave her a kiss. But as soon as he
kissed her, briar-rose opened her eyes and awoke, and looked
at him quite sweetly.
Then they went down together, and the king awoke, and the
queen, and the whole court, and looked at each other in
great astonishment. And the horses in the courtyard stood
up and shook themselves, the hounds jumped up and wagged their
tails, the pigeons upon the roof pulled out their heads from
under their wings, looked round, and flew into the open
country, the flies on the wall crept again, the fire in the
kitchen burned up and flickered and cooked the meat, the joint
began to turn and sizzle again, and the cook gave the boy such
a box on the ear that he screamed, and the maid finished
plucking the fowl.
And then the marriage of the king's son with briar-rose was
celebrated with all splendor, and they lived contented to the
end of their days.