The twelfth fairy could not take away the bad wish, she could only soften it. “The princess shall not die,” she said, “but she shall fall into a deep sleep that shall last for a hundred years.”
The jealous old fairy was driven far, far away. The king ordered that every spindle in the whole land be burned. Then every one was happy once more, for now all thought that no harm could come near the little Briar Rose.
Day by day the princess grew more gentle and more beautiful and all who saw her loved her. Years flew by, the bad wish of the jealous old fairy was forgotten. All the people thought that some day the little princess would be their queen. She was a big girl now, almost a woman. At last her fifteenth birthday came and, to amuse herself upon that very morning, she went wandering about the old palace all alone. She peeped into unused rooms; she took curious old treasures into her hands; she walked through long halls; she ran up and down dark corridors.
At last the princess reached the topmost tower of the great palace. Here a flight of wooden steps led up to a little door that she had never before seen. The door was close shut, but a rusty key stood in the lock. She sprang upon the stairs. She turned the rusty key. The door swung slowly open and the princess saw that, in a far corner of a dimly lighted room, sat a little, bent old woman. She was spinning. It was really the jealous old fairy, who had uttered the bad wish so many years ago, but the princess did not know this.
“Good morrow, good mother,” she said. But the old woman kept on spinning.
“Who are you and where did you come from?” cried the princess. But the old woman kept on spinning.
“Why do you sit by yourself in this dark room? Have you no home? Have you no friends? Have you no fire to warm you, or light to cheer you?” But the old woman kept on spinning.
At last, getting no answer to her questions, the little Briar Rose stepped across the threshold. She stood beside the old woman’s chair, and, bending over it, called out in her sweet tones, “What is that I see in your hand, good mother, which whirls about so merrily?” But the old woman only kept on spinning.
“Let me take that curious thing,” said the princess, reaching out her hand for the spindle.
Then for the first time the old woman lifted her ugly face. She rose quickly from her chair. She thrust the spindle into the girl’s hand. She opened her wicked old lips. “Take it,” she croaked, “and may death go with it!”