Perrault's Fairy Tales
Perrault's Fairy Tales
by Charles Perrault
Illustrated By Gustave Dore
The good woman had never heard of the king's proclamation
Once upon a time
there lived a king and queen who were grieved, more grieved
than words can tell, because they had no children. They tried
the waters of every country, made vows and pilgrimages, and
did everything that could be done, but without result. At last,
however, the queen found that her wishes were fulfilled, and
in due course she gave birth to a daughter.
A grand christening was held, and all the fairies that could
be found in the realm (they numbered seven in all) were invited
to be godmothers to the little princess. This was done so
that by means of the gifts which each in turn would bestow
upon her (in accordance with the fairy custom of those days)
the princess might be endowed with every imaginable perfection.
When the christening ceremony was over, all the company
returned to the king's palace, where a great banquet was held
in honor of the fairies. Places were laid for them in magnificent
style, and before each was placed a solid gold casket containing
a spoon, fork, and knife of fine gold, set with diamonds and
rubies. But just as all were sitting down to table an aged fairy
was seen to enter, whom no one had thought to invite-the
reason being that for more than fifty years she had never
quitted the tower in which she lived, and people had supposed
her to be dead or bewitched.
By the king's orders a place was laid for her, but it was
impossible to give her a golden casket like the others, for only
seven had been made for the seven fairies. The old creature
believed that she was intentionally slighted, and muttered
threats between her teeth.
She was overheard by one of the young fairies, who was
seated nearby. The latter, guessing that some mischievous
gift might be bestowed upon the little princess, hid behind the
tapestry as soon as the company left the table. Her intention
was to be the last to speak, and so to have the power of
counteracting, as far as possible, any evil which the old fairy
Presently the fairies began to bestow their gifts upon the
princess. The youngest ordained that she should be the most
beautiful person in the world; the next, that she should have
the temper of an angel; the third, that she should do everything
with wonderful grace; the fourth, that she should dance to
perfection; the fifth, that she should sing like a nightingale;
and the sixth, that she should play every kind of music with
the utmost skill.
It was now the turn of the aged fairy. Shaking her head, in
token of spite rather than of infirmity, she declared that the
princess should prick her hand with a spindle, and die of it.
A shudder ran through the company at this terrible gift. All
eyes were filled with tears.
But at this moment the young fairy stepped forth from
behind the tapestry.
"Take comfort, your Majesties," she cried in a loud voice;
"your daughter shall not die. My power, it is true, is not
enough to undo all that my aged kinswoman has decreed: the
princess will indeed prick her hand with a spindle. But instead
of dying she shall merely fall into a profound slumber that will
last a hundred years. At the end of that time a king's son shall
come to awaken her."
The king, in an attempt to avert the unhappy doom
pronounced by the old fairy, at once published an edict forbidding
all persons, under pain of death, to use a spinning wheel or keep
a spindle in the house.
At the end of fifteen or sixteen years the king and queen
happened one day to be away, on pleasure bent. The princess
was running about the castle, and going upstairs from room to
room she came at length to a garret at the top of a tower,
where an old serving woman sat alone with her dista spinning.
This good woman had never heard speak of the king's proclamation
forbidding the use of spinning wheels.
"What are you doing, my good woman?" asked the
"I am spinning, my pretty child," replied the dame, not
knowing who she was.
"Oh, what fun!" rejoined the princess; "how do you do it?
Let me try and see if I can do it equally well."
Seeing the towers, the king's son asked what they were
Partly because she was too hasty, partly because she was a
little heedless, but also because the fairy decree had ordained
it, no sooner had she seized the spindle than she pricked her
hand and fell down in a swoon.
In great alarm the good dame cried out for help. People
came running from every quarter to the princess. They threw
water on her face, chafed her with their hands, and rubbed her
temples with the royal essence of Hungary. But nothing would
Then the king, who had been brought upstairs by the commotion,
remembered the fairy prophecy. Feeling certain that
what had happened was inevitable, since the fairies had
decreed it, he gave orders that the princess should be placed
in the finest apartment in the palace, upon a bed embroidered
in gold and silver.
You would have thought her an angel, so fair was she to
behold. The trance had not taken away the lovely color of her
complexion. Her cheeks were delicately flushed, her lips like
coral. Her eyes, indeed, were closed, but her gentle breathing
could be heard, and it was therefore plain that she was not
dead. The king commanded that she should be left to sleep in
peace until the hour of her awakening should come.
When the accident happened to the princess, the good fairy
who had saved her life by condemning her to sleep a hundred
years was in the kingdom of Mataquin, twelve thousand
leagues away. She was instantly warned of it, however, by a
little dwarf who had a pair of seven-league boots, which are
boots that enable one to cover seven leagues at a single step.
The fairy set off at once, and within an hour her chariot of
fire, drawn by dragons, was seen approaching.
He turned in the direction of the castle
The king handed her down from her chariot, and she
approved of all that he had done. But being gifted with great
powers of foresight, she bethought herself that when the
princess came to be awakened, she would be much distressed to
find herself all alone in the old castle. And this is what she did.
She touched with her wand everybody (except the king and
queen) who was in the castle--governesses, maids of honor,
ladies-in-waiting, gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, scullions,
errand boys, guards, porters, pages, footmen. She touched
likewise all the horses in the stables, with their grooms, the big
mastiffs in the courtyard, and little Puff, the pet dog of the
princess, who was lying on the bed beside his mistress. The
moment she had touched them they all fell asleep, to awaken
only at the same moment as their mistress. Thus they would
always be ready with their service whenever she should require
it. The very spits before the fire, loaded with partridges and
pheasants, subsided into slumber, and the fire as well. All was
done in a moment, for the fairies do not take long over their
Then the king and queen kissed their dear child, without
waking her, and left the castle. Proclamations were issued,
forbidding any approach to it, but these warnings were not
needed, for within a quarter of an hour there grew up all
round the park so vast a quantity of trees big and small, with
interlacing brambles and thorns, that neither man nor beast
could penetrate them. The tops alone of the castle towers
could be seen, and these only from a distance. Thus did the
fairy's magic contrive that the princess, during all the time of
her slumber, should have nought whatever to fear from
At the end of a hundred years the throne had passed to
another family from that of the sleeping princess. One day the
king's son chanced to go a-hunting that way, and seeing in the
distance some towers in the midst of a large and dense forest,
he asked what they were. His attendants told him in reply
the various stories which they had heard. Some said there was
an old castle haunted by ghosts, others that all the witches of
the neighborhood held their revels there. The favorite tale
was that in the castle lived an ogre, who carried thither all the
children whom he could catch. There he devoured them at his
leisure, and since he was the only person who could force a
passage through the wood nobody had been able to pursue him.
While the prince was wondering what to believe, an old
peasant took up the tale.
"Your Highness," said he, "more than fifty years ago I
heard my father say that in this castle lies a princess, the most
beautiful that has ever been seen. It is her doom to sleep there
for a hundred years, and then to be awakened by a king's son,
for whose coming she waits."
This story fired the young prince. He jumped immediately
to the conclusion that it was for him to see so gay an adventure
through, and impelled alike by the wish for love and glory, he
resolved to set about it on the spot.
The figures of men and animals appeared lifeless
Hardly had he taken a step towards the wood when the tall
trees, the brambles and the thorns, separated of themselves
and made a path for him. He turned in the direction of the
castle, and espied it at the end of a long avenue. This avenue
he entered, and was surprised to notice that the trees closed up
again as soon as he had passed, so that none of his retinue
were able to follow him. A young and gallant prince is always
brave, however; so he continued on his way, and presently
reached a large forecourt.
The sight that now met his gaze was enough to fill him with
an icy fear. The silence of the place was dreadful, and death
seemed all about him. The recumbent figures of men and
animals had all the appearance of being lifeless, until he
perceived by the pimply noses and ruddy faces of the porters, that
they merely slept. It was plain, too, from their glasses, in
which were still some dregs of wine, that they had fallen asleep
Mounting the staircase, he entered the guardroom
The prince made his way into a great courtyard, paved with
marble, and mounting the staircase entered the guardroom.
Here the guards were lined up on either side in two ranks, their
muskets on their shoulders, snoring their hardest. Through
several apartments crowded with ladies and gentlemen in
waiting, some seated, some standing, but all asleep, he pushed
on, and so came at last to a chamber which was decked all over
with gold. There he encountered the most beautiful sight he
had ever seen. Reclining upon a bed, the curtains of which on
every side were drawn back, was a princess of seemingly some
fifteen or sixteen summers, whose radiant beauty had an almost
Trembling in his admiration he drew near and went on his
knees beside her. At the same moment, the hour of disenchantment
having come, the princess awoke, and bestowed
upon him a look more tender than a first glance might seem
"Is it you, dear prince?" she said; "you have been long in
Charmed by these words, and especially by the manner in
which they were said, the prince scarcely knew how to express
his delight and gratification. He declared that he loved her
better than he loved himself. His words were faltering, but
they pleased the more for that. The less there is of eloquence,
the more there is of love.
Her embarrassment was less than his, and that is not to be
wondered at, since she had had time to think of what she
would say to him. It seems (although the story says nothing
about it) that the good fairy had beguiled her long slumber
with pleasant dreams. To be brief after four hours of talking
they had not succeeded in uttering one half of the things they
had to say to each other.
Now the whole palace had awakened with the princess.
Every one went about his business, and since they were not all
in love they presently began to feel mortally hungry. The
lady-in-waiting, who was suffering like the rest, at length lost
patience, and in a loud voice called out to the princess that
supper was served.
Reclining upon a bed was a princess of radiant beauty
The princess was already fully dressed, and in most magnificent
style. As he helped her to rise, the prince refrained from
telling her that her clothes, with the straight collar which she
wore, were like those to which his grandmother had been
accustomed. And in truth, they in no way detracted from her
They passed into an apartment hung with mirrors, and
were there served with supper by the stewards of the household,
while the fiddles and oboes played some old music and played
it remarkably well, considering they had not played at all for
just upon a hundred years. A little later, when supper was
over, the chaplain married them in the castle chapel, and in
due course, attended by the courtiers in waiting, they retired
They slept but little, however. The princess, indeed, had
not much need of sleep, and as soon as morning came the
prince took his leave of her. He returned to the city, and told
his father, who was awaiting him with some anxiety, that he
had lost himself while hunting in the forest, but had obtained
some black bread and cheese from a charcoal burner, in whose
hovel he had passed the night. His royal father, being of an
easygoing nature, believed the tale, but his mother was not so
easily hoodwinked. She noticed that he now went hunting
every day, and that he always had an excuse handy when he
had slept two or three nights from home. She felt certain,
therefore, that he had some love affair.
Two whole years passed since the marriage of the prince
and princess, and during that time they had two children.
The first, a daughter, was called "Dawn," while the second,
a boy, was named "Day," because he seemed even more
beautiful than his sister.
Many a time the queen told her son that he ought to settle
down in life. She tried in this way to make him confide in her,
but he did not dare to trust her with his secret. Despite the
affection which he bore her, he was afraid of his mother, for
she came of a race of ogres, and the king had only married her
for her wealth.
It was whispered at the Court that she had ogrish instincts,
and that when little children were near her she had the greatest
difficulty in the world to keep herself from pouncing on them.
No wonder the prince was reluctant to say a word.
But at the end of two years the king died, and the prince
found himself on the throne. He then made public announcement
of his marriage, and went in state to fetch his royal
consort from her castle. With her two children beside her she
made a triumphal entry into the capital of her husband's
Some time afterwards the king declared war on his neighbor,
the Emperor Cantalabutte. He appointed the queen
mother as regent in his absence, and entrusted his wife and
children to her care.
He expected to be away at the war for the whole of the
summer, and as soon as he was gone the queen mother sent
her daughter-in-law and the two children to a country mansion
in the forest. This she did that she might be able the
more easily to gratify her horrible longings. A few days later
she went there and in the evening summoned the chief
"For my dinner tomorrow," she told him, "I will eat little
"Oh, Madam!" exclaimed the steward.
"That is my will," said the queen; and she spoke in the
tones of an ogre who longs for raw meat.
"You will serve her with piquant sauce," she added.
The poor man, seeing plainly that it was useless to trifle with
an ogress, took his big knife and went up to little Dawn's
chamber. She was at that time four years old, and when she
came running with a smile to greet him, flinging her arms
round his neck and coaxing him to give her some sweets, he
burst into tears, and let the knife fall from his hand.
Presently he went down to the yard behind the house, and
slaughtered a young lamb. For this he made so delicious a
sauce that his mistress declared she had never eaten anything
At the same time the steward carried little Dawn to his wife,
and bade the latter hide her in the quarters which they had
below the yard.
Eight days later the wicked queen summoned her steward
"For my supper," she announced, "I will eat little Day."
The steward made no answer, being determined to trick her
as he had done previously. He went in search of little Day,
whom he found with a tiny foil in his hand, making brave
passes-though he was but three years old-at a big monkey.
He carried him off to his wife, who stowed him away in hiding
with little Dawn. To the ogress the steward served up, in place
of Day, a young kid so tender that she found it surpassingly
So far, so good. But there came an evening when this evil
queen again addressed the steward.
"I have a mind," she said, "to eat the queen with the same
sauce as you served with her children."
This time the poor steward despaired of being able to
practice another deception. The young queen was twenty
years old, without counting the hundred years she had been
asleep. Her skin, though white and beautiful, had become a
little tough, and what animal could he possibly find that would
correspond to her? He made up his mind that if he would save
his own life he must kill the queen, and went upstairs to her
apartment determined to do the deed once and for all.
Goading himself into a rage he drew his knife and entered the
young queen's chamber, but a reluctance to give her no
moment of grace made him repeat respectfully the command
which he had received from the queen mother.
"Do it! do it!" she cried, baring her neck to him; "carry
out the order you have been given! Then once more I shall
see my children, my poor children that I loved so much!"
Nothing had been said to her when the children were
stolen away, and she believed them to be dead.
The poor steward was overcome by compassion. "No, no,
Madam," he declared; "you shall not die, but you shall
certainly see your children again. That will be in my quarters,
where I have hidden them. I shall make the queen eat a young
hind in place of you, and thus trick her once more."
Without more ado he led her to his quarters, and leaving her
there to embrace and weep over her children, proceeded to
cook a hind with such art that the queen mother ate it for her
supper with as much appetite as if it had indeed been the
The queen mother felt well satisfied with her, cruel deeds,
and planned to tell the king, on his return, that savage wolves
had devoured his consort and his children. It was her habit,
however, to prowl often about the courts and alleys of the
mansion, in the hope of scenting raw meat, and one evening
she heard the little boy Day crying in a basement cellar. The
child was weeping because his mother had threatened to whip
him for some naughtiness, and she heard at the same time the
voice of Dawn begging forgiveness for her brother.
The ogress recognized the voices of the queen and her
children, and was enraged to find she had been tricked. The
next morning, in tones so affrighting that all trembled, she
ordered a huge vat to be brought into the middle of the courtyard.
This she filled with vipers and toads, with snakes and
serpents of every kind, intending to cast into it the queen and
her children, and the steward with his wife and serving girl.
By her command these were brought forward, with their hands
tied behind their backs.
There they were, and her minions were making ready to
cast them into the vat, when into the courtyard rode the king!
Nobody had expected him so soon, but he had traveled post-
haste. Filled with amazement, he demanded to know what
this horrible spectacle meant. None dared tell him, and at that
moment the ogress, enraged at what confronted her, threw
herself head foremost into the vat, and was devoured on the
instant by the hideous creatures she had placed in it.
The king could not but be sorry, for after all she was his
mother; but it was not long before he found ample consolation
in his beautiful wife and children.
Many a girl has waited long
For a husband brave or strong;
But I'm sure I never met
Any sort of woman yet
who could wait a hundred years,
Free from fretting, free from fears.
Now, our story seems to show
That a century or so,
Late or early, matters not;
True love comes by fairy-lot.
Some old folk will even say
It grows better by delay.
Yet this good advice, I fear,
Helps us neither there nor here.
Though philosophers may prate
How much wiser'tis to wait,
Maids will be a-sighing still--
Young blood must when young blood will!
This Book is for sale
If you are interested in purchasing this book or just have some questions
please send me a E-mail Send an Email to firstname.lastname@example.org or click on this link
The text for "Perrault's Fairy Tales", by Charles Perrault (1628-1703) were first published in France in 1687.
The illustrations are by Gustave Dore(1832-1883) which where first published in 1862 by Hetzel in Paris.