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The young Prince

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The young Prince

All this was done in a moment; the fairies never lost much time over their work. After which, the King and Queen, having kissed their dear daughter without waking her, quitted the Castle, and issued a proclamation forbidding any person, whosoever, to approach it. These orders were unnecessary, for in a quarter of an hour there grew up around the Park so great a quantity of trees, large and small, of brambles and thorns, interlacing each other, that neither man nor beast could get through them, so that nothing more was to be seen than the tops of the Castle turrets, and they only at a considerable distance. Nobody doubted but that was also some of the Fairy's handiwork, in order that the Princess might have nothing to fear from the curiosity of strangers during her slumber.

At the expiration of an hundred years, the son of the King at that time upon the throne, and who was of a different family to that of the sleeping Princess, having been hunting in that neighbourhood, inquired what towers they were that he saw above the trees of a very thick wood. Each person answered him according to the story he had heard. Some said that it was an old castle, haunted by ghosts. Others, that all the witches of those parts held their Sabbath in it. The more general opinion was, that it was the abode of an ogre; and that he carried thither all the children he could catch, in order to eat them at his leisure, and without being pursued, having alone the power of making his way through the wood. The Prince did not know what to believe about it, when an old peasant spoke in his turn, and said to him, "Prince, it is more than fifty years ago since I heard my father say that there was in that Castle the most beautiful [Pg 12] Princess that was ever seen. That she was to sleep for a hundred years, and would be awakened by a King's son for whom she was reserved."

The young Prince, at these words, felt himself all on fire. He believed, without hesitation, that he was destined to accomplish this famous adventure; and, impelled by love and glory, resolved to see what would come of it, upon the spot. Scarcely had he approached the wood, when all those great trees, all those brambles and thorns made way for him to pass of their own accord. He walked towards the Castle, which he saw at the end of a long avenue he had entered, and what rather surprised him was, that he found none of his people had been able to follow him, the trees having closed up again as soon as he had passed. He continued, nevertheless, to advance; a young and amorous prince is always courageous. He entered a large fore-court, where everything he saw was calculated to freeze his blood with terror. A frightful silence reigned around. Death seemed everywhere present. Nothing was to be seen but the bodies of men and animals stretched out apparently lifeless. He soon discovered, however, by the shining noses and red faces of the porters, that they were only asleep; and their goblets, in which still remained a few drops of wine, sufficiently proved that they had dosed off whilst drinking. He passed through a large court-yard paved with marble; he ascended the staircase. He entered the guard-room, where the guards stood drawn up in line, their carbines shouldered, and snoring their loudest. He traversed several apartments, with ladies and gentlemen all asleep; some standing, others seated. He entered a chamber covered with gold, and saw on a bed, the curtains of which were open on each side, the most lovely sight he had ever looked upon—a Princess, who seemed to be about fifteen or sixteen, the lustre of whose charms gave her an appearance that was luminous and supernatural. He approached, trembling and admiring, and knelt down beside her. At that moment, the enchantment being ended, the Princess awoke, and gazing upon the Prince with more tenderness than a first sight of him seemed to authorize, "Is it you, Prince?" said she; "you have been long awaited." The Prince, delighted at these words, and still more by the tone in which they were uttered, knew not how to express to her his joy and gratitude Polar .

He assured her he loved her better than himself. His language was not very coherent, but it pleased the more. There was little eloquence, but a great deal of love. He was much more embarrassed than she was, and one ought not to be astonished at that. The Princess had had time enough to consider what she should say to him, for there is reason to believe (though history makes no mention of it) that, during her long nap, the good Fairy had procured her the pleasure of very agreeable dreams. In short, they talked for four hours without having said half what they had to say to each other dermes .

In the meanwhile, all the Palace had been roused at the same time as the Princess. Everybody remembered their duty, and, as they were not all in love, they were dying with hunger. The lady-in-waiting, as hungry as any of them, became impatient, and announced loudly to the Princess that the meat was on the table. The Prince assisted the Princess to rise; she was full dressed, and most magnificently, but he took good care not to hint to her that she was attired like his grandmother, and wore a stand-up collar.[5] She looked, however, not a morsel the less lovely in it. They passed into a hall of mirrors, in which they supped, attended by the officers of the Princess. The violins and hautbois played old but excellent pieces of music, notwithstanding it was a hundred years since they had been performed by anybody; and after supper, to lose no time, the grand Almoner married the royal lovers in the chapel of the Castle 。
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