The story of Sleeping Beauty has always kind of upset me. The age difference between the love interests (in the original Grimm tale) makes the whole story a little awkward. Yeah, time was suspended and whatnot but still. Anyway, here’s my version. A little different, but sort of the same.
And if you haven’t figured it out yet, yes, I love fairy tales.
Once there was a Princess born to an elated King and Queen. She was as perfect a child as anyone could ask for, and the proud King and Queen invited all of the fairies in the kingdom to bestow blessings upon her. That is, all of the fairies except one.
The fairy they excluded was always causing mischief in the kingdom and the King and Queen did not wish to have her mischief bestowed upon their precious daughter, so they tried to keep her birth a secret to the ornery fairy. They sent her on an official royal vacation which she was enjoying very much when she heard the news of the Princess. Now, this fairy may have been cruel, but she wasn’t dull and she discerned straight away that the King and Queen had sent her away from the child.
Angrily, she magicked herself to the palace and marched up to the Princess’s cradle. She peered in and saw the perfect little child, which only angered her more. She placed a spell on the young Princess so that, when she was grown, she would prick her finger on the needle of a spinning wheel and die. One of the kindhearted fairies watched as the curse was laid. Quickly, she rushed to the child’s side and tried to lift the curse. But, alas, the curse was too strong for the kind fairy to eradicate. Determined to help the little Princess, the fairy changed the curse so that the Princess would only fall into a deep sleep when her finger was pricked. A sleep that could only be awakened by true love.
The years went by and the little Princess grew into a beautiful young maiden. There was no prince near or far who did not come to ask for her hand. But with every prince who came, the Princess became more and more withdrawn. Each prince was lacking something, be it intelligence or good looks or personality.
Frustrated, the spirited Princess escaped the confines of the castle to the forest cottage where the kind fairy who had saved her life lived. The Princess thought that she had run away unnoticed, but the fairy sent word to her mother not to worry. The fairy was very wise and knew that the maiden would be farther than ever from any spinning wheels out in the forest.
For weeks, the Princess lived happily with the fairy and she grew in beauty every day. The fairy taught the Princess to bake and to do chores, but she never let the girl know how to sew. Every time the Princess asked, “Please godmother, teach me to sew.” the fairy replied only with “You do not know the magic it involves dear child.”
One day, while the Princess was pruning the rose bush in front of the cottage, a man rode up to the cottage on a bony old horse. The Princess looked up to see who it was and saw, to her amazement, an extraordinarily handsome young farmer. He was bringing flour for the fairy so that she could bake an extravagant cake for the Princess’s upcoming birthday.
The farmer, like all of the young princes before her, was instantly smitten with the Princess. However, it was not her wealth that drew his eye initially, for he knew not of it, but her kindness as she invited him into the house and offered him some tea. She quickly washed up and changed into a dress more suitable for hosting guests than working in the garden and hurried to help him as he fed and watered his horse. When the young farmer saw the Princess in her true beauty, he fell at once in love with her.
“You are beautiful, both in body and in heart.” He told her, “And you have captured my own heart. Might you consider taking my hand in marriage?”
The young girl was shocked, but she had fallen in love with him just as quickly. She promised him that, when the time was right, they could indeed wed. She thought to seek out her parents and ask for their permission and then reveal herself to him as a princess and marry him in the palace.
However, the fairy knew that the Princess would soon need to return to the palace to take up her responsibilities as the future queen. On the Princess’s birthday, the fairy gave her the extravagant cake and then took her to the palace. The princess thought this the perfect time to speak to her parents of her new found love, so she went happily.
When the pair arrived at the castle, the Princess became rather bored hearing her parents drone on and on about the impossibilities of a Princess marrying a farmer, so she slipped away to pout. As she was roaming the corridors, she came across a staircase that she had never seen before. Curious, the Princess climbed the stairs, only to find a spinning wheel before her. Eagerly, she approached it, certain that it couldn’t be very difficult. In her enthusiasm, she indeed pricked her finger on the needle and fell instantly into a deep sleep. Within hours, the fairy had discovered what happened and put the rest of the kingdom in an enchanted sleep as well.
Meanwhile, unaware of the events transpiring in town, the young farmer rode his horse to the fairy’s cottage, intent on seeing the Princess again. When he arrived, he found it empty, with no trace of where she had gone. He was heartbroken, but he vowed that he would find her again one day. Far and wide he looked for the Princess, but he always came up empty handed. Nonetheless, he continued to search for her for the next one hundred years.
During this time, rumors began to spread of a most strange kingdom which had once been mighty, but now seemed to be cursed. A tall and thorny hedge grew up around the palace, but not before travelers managed to see the entire kingdom fast asleep. It was rumored that a beautiful princess was asleep there as well and if one could only find a way to wake her, they would be allowed to marry her.
Many brave young men tried to enter the town, but every one was stopped by the hedge or the dragon who had taken up residence beneath it. After a hundred years of intrigue over the Sleeping Beauty, the rumors reached the farmer, who was now very old. He recognized the description of this beautiful maiden, and so he set off to conquer what the young men could not in a final attempt to find his long lost love.
When he arrived at the kingdom, he walked through the hedge without difficulty, for his many years as a farmer had made his skin nearly impervious to mere thorns. The dragon was extremely surprised to see such an old man emerge unscathed by the great hedge that he questioned the old man.
“Why are you here, old man? ” The dragon asked, “Surely there is nothing in this kingdom for you.”
“I have come to wake the princess.” The farmer replied calmly.
“That, I cannot allow you to do, old man.” said the Dragon, “In fact, I must devour you.’
“For that, I pity you.” Came the farmer’s reply, “For I am old and would taste of nothing more than leathery skin and brittle bones.” The dragon, who had rather an elite sense of taste, was repulsed by the idea, and therefore let the farmer pass unharmed.
Every step that the farmer took toward the princess, he felt a little younger and his love for her burned ever brighter in his heart. At last, he reached the tower where the princess slept. Slowly, cautiously, he climbed the staircase, feeling as though it would never end.
Finally, the farmer reached the top and beheld his princess, as beautiful then as she had been when he first met her. The farmer wept with joy and was overcome by the urge to kiss her. As he did so, something magical happened. His skin became soft and his bones became strong. The wrinkles in his weathered face smoothed themselves and returned to the handsome visage of his youth.
As he marveled at this transformation, the princess awoke. Upon seeing him, she too was overcome with joy. The pair descended the tower to find the entire kingdom waking from its sleep. After the farmer’s story had been recounted, the king and the queen happily declared him the only match for their daughter.
And so it became that the farmer married the princess that very afternoon and there was feasting and rejoicing in the land.