Scarcely had the spindle touched the hand of the poor princess when a tiny stream of blood flowed from her little finger and she fell into a deep, deep sleep.
At that moment every one in the great palace fell fast asleep also. The king slept upon his golden throne; the queen slept in her royal parlor; the judges slept on the council benches. Fast asleep fell lords and ladies of the court. Even the flies slept on the walls, and the fires died down upon the palace hearths. The dogs slept in their kennels, and the horses in their stalls. Outside the birds slept on the branches, and the drowsy bees slept in the drooping flowers. Not even a leaf stirred upon a single tree within the castle yard, but all was quiet and as still as death. A hedge of thorn trees shot up around the palace and, in a single night, the hedge grew so thick that not a chink of light shone through it, and so tall that not even the tallest palace spire could be seen above it.
Years went by and Briar Rose was forgotten. No one living knew what was hidden behind the great hedge. Old tales were sometimes told of a beautiful princess who lay there asleep and, every now and then, a bold young prince would try to force his way through the hedge; but the thorns were so sharp that no one had ever caught so much as a glimpse even of the old castle, in which this beautiful princess slept.
At last there came a handsome prince, bolder than all the others, who cried, “I will break down this hedge! I will set this princess free!” Now it happened that that very day ended the long sleep of the Briar Rose. All the hundred summers had just passed by. The wish had come true and it was now time for the beautiful princess to awake, but the bold prince did not know this. He drew his sword. He rushed upon the hedge, when, lo! the sharp thorns turned aside; the branches opened and there before him stood the sleeping palace.
He burst the gates. Not even a leaf stirred upon a single tree within the castle yard. Not a dog bayed in the kennels. Not a horse whinnied in the stalls. Not a bird sang in the branches. Not a bee droned in the flowers. All was as still as death. He burst the palace doors. There slept the king upon his golden throne. There slept the queen within her royal parlor. There slept the judges on the council benches. There slept the lords and ladies of the court; but the princess, the beautiful princess, where was she? He looked in all the splendid rooms. He searched the halls and corridors but no princess could he find. He climbed the winding stairway,—higher and higher up he went, higher and yet higher still. At last he reached the little chamber. Would he find her here? He turned the rusty key. The low door opened. He entered. There before him lay—could it be she, the sleeping beauty? Her eyes were closed, but her cheeks were pink like the wild roses at the gate. Her lips were red like the scarlet ribbon that she wore. Her black hair had grown to her very feet and lay about her like a splendid dress. “Would she waken?” thought the prince. He stooped! He caught his breath! He kissed her! The charm was broken! Her eyes flew open and the princess smiled upon her prince.