There once lived a king and queen who had no children, which made them very sad. Then one clay, to the queen's delight, she found she was going to have a baby. She and the king looked forward with great excitement to the day of the baby's birth.
       When the time came, a lovely daughter was born and they arranged a large party for her Christening. As well as lots of other guests, they invited twelve fairies, knowing they would make wishes for their little daughter, the princess.
       At the Christening party, the guests and the fairies all agreed that the princess was a beautiful baby. One fairy wished on her the gift of Happiness, another Beauty, others Health, Contentment, Wisdom, Goodness . . . Eleven fairies had made their wishes when suddenly the doors of the castle flew open and in swept a thirteenth fairy. She was furious that she had not been invited to the Christening party, and as she looked around a shiver ran down everyone's spine. They could feel she was evil. She waved her wand over the baby's cradle and cast a spell, not a wish.
       "On her sixteenth birthday," she hissed, "the princess will prick herself with a spindle. And she will die." With that a terrible hush fell over the crowd. The twelfth fairy had still to make her wish and she hesitated. She had been going to wish the gift of joy on the baby but now she wanted to stop the princess dying on her sixteenth birthday. Her magic was not strong enough to Sleeping Beauty break the wicked spell but she tried to weaken the evil. She wished that the princess would fall asleep for a hundred years instead of dying.
       Over the years the princess grew into the happiest, kindest and most beautiful child anyone had ever seen. It seemed as though all the wishes of the first eleven fairies had come true. The king and queen decided they could prevent the wicked fairy's spell from working by making sure that the princess never saw a spindle.
       So they banned all spinning from the land. All the flax and wool in their country had to be sent elsewhere to be spun. On their daughter's sixteenth birthday they held a party for the princess in their castle. They felt sure this would protect her from the danger of finding a spindle on her sixteenth birthday.
People came from far and wide to the grand birthday ball for the princess and a magnificent feast was laid out. After all the guests had eaten and drunk as much as they wanted and danced in the great hall, the princess asked if they could all play hide-and-seek, which was a favourite game from her childhood. It was agreed the princess should be the first to hide, and she quickly sped away.
       The princess ran to a far corner of the castle and found herself climbing a spiral staircase in a turret she did not remember ever visiting before. "They will never find me here," she thought as she crept into a little room at the top. 'there to her surprise she found an old woman dressed in black, sitting on a chair spinning.
       "What are you doing?" questioned the princess as she saw the spindle twirling, for she had never seen anything like it in her whole life. "Come and see, pretty girl," replied the old lady. The princess watched fascinated as she pulled the strands of wool from the sheep's fleece on the floor, and twirling it deftly with her fingers fed it on to the spindle.
       "Would you like to try?" she asked cunningly.
With all thoughts of hide-and-seek gone, the princess sat down and took the spindle. In a flash she pricked her thumb and even as she cried out, she fell clown as though dead. The wicked fairy's spell had worked. So did the twelfth good fairy's wish. The princess did not die, but fell into a deep deep sleep. The spell worked upon everyone else in the castle too. The king and queen slept in their chairs in the great hall. The guests dropped off to sleep as they went through the castle looking for the princess.
       In the kitchen the cook fell asleep as she was about to box the pot boy's ears and the scullery maid nodded off as she was plucking a chicken. All over the castle a great silence descended. As the years went by a thorn hedge grew up around the castle. Passers-by asked what was behind the hedge, but few people remembered the castle where the king and queen had lived with their lovely daughter. Sometimes curious travellers tried to force their way through, but the hedge grew so thickly that they soon gave up.
       One clay, many many years later, a prince came by. He asked, like other travellers, what was behind the thorn hedge, which was very tall and thick by now. An old man told him a story he had heard about a castle behind the thorns, and the prince became curious. He decided to cut his way through the thorns. This time the hedge seemed to open out before his sword and in a short while the prince was inside the grounds. He ran across the gardens and through an open door into the lovely old castle.
       Everywhere he looked — in the great hall, in the kitchens, in the corridors and on the staircases — he saw people asleep. He passed through many rooms until he found himself climbing a winding staircase in an old turret. There in a small room at the top he found himself staring in wonder at the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. She was so lovely that without thinking he leaned forward and gently kissed her.
       As his lips touched her, the princess began to stir and she opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was a handsome young. man. She thought she must be dreaming, but she looked again and saw he was really there. As she gazed at him she fell in love.
       They came down the turret stairs together and found the whole castle coming back to life. In the great hall the king and queen were stretching and yawning, puzzled over how they could have dropped off to sleep during their daughter's party. Their guests too were shaking their heads, rubbing their eyes, and wondering why they felt so sleepy. In the kitchen, the cook boxed the ears of the pot boy, and the scullery maid continued to pluck the chicken.      Outside horses stamped and neighed in their stables, dogs barked in the yards, while in the trees birds who had stayed silent for so long burst into song. The hundred-year spell had been broken. The princess told her parents how much she loved the handsome young man who had kissed her, and they were delighted to find he was a prince from a neighbouring country. The king gave them his blessing and a grand wedding was arranged.
       At the wedding party the princess looked more beautiful than ever, and the prince loved her more every moment. The twelve good fairies who had come to her Christening were invited once again and were delighted to see the happiness of the prince and princess. Towards evening the newly married pair rode off together to their new home in the prince's country, where they lived happily ever after.