Mother’s Nursery Tales
Category: Children
Genres: Fairytale
Level 3.48 7:52 h
Mother's Nursery Tales is a collection of classic fairytales retold by Katharine Pyle. Pyle was a children's writer, artist, and poet who wrote and illustrated the collection published in 1918. According to Pyle, the tales are all familiar and taken from various countries long ago. She stated even everyone's grandmothers would know the beautiful stories she was once again telling.

Mother’s Nursery Tales

Katharine Pyle

Mother’s Nursery Tales


These are not new fairy-tales, the ones in this book that has been newly made for you and placed in your hands. They are old fairy-tales gathered together, some from one country, and some from another. They are old, old, old. As old as the hills or the human race, — as old as truth itself. Long ago, even so long ago as when your grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother was a little rosy-cheeked girl, and your grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather was a noisy shouting little boy, these stories were old.

No one knows who first told them, nor where nor when. Perhaps none of them was told by any one particular person. Perhaps they just grew upon the Tree of Wisdom when the world was young, like shining fruit, and our wise and simple first parents plucked them, and gave them to their children to play with, and to taste. They could not harm the children, these fruits from the tree of wisdom, for each one was a lovely globe of truth, rich and wholesome to the taste. Magic fruit, for one could eat and eat, and still the fruit was there as perfect as ever to be handed down through generations, until at last it comes to you, as beautiful as in those days of long ago.

Perhaps you did not know that fairy tales were ever truths, but they are — the best and oldest of them. That does not mean they are facts like the things you see around you or learn from history books. Facts and truths are as different as the body and the spirit. Facts are like the body that we can see and touch and measure; we cannot see or measure the Spirit, but it is there.

We can think of these truths as of different shapes and colors, like pears and apples, and plums and other fruits, each with a different taste and color. But there is one great truth that flows through them all, and you know very well what it is: — evil in the end must always defeat itself, and in the end good always triumphs. The bad magician is tripped up by his own tricks, and the true prince marries the princess and inherits the kingdom. If any one of these stories had told it otherwise, that story would have died and withered away.

So take this book and read, being very sure that only good will come to you however often you read them over and over and over again.

Katharine Pyle.

The Sleeping Beauty

There were once a King and Queen who had no children, though they had been married for many years. At last, however, a little daughter was born to them, and this was a matter of great rejoicing through all the kingdom.

When the time came for the little Princess to be christened, a grand feast was prepared, and six powerful fairies were asked to stand as her godmothers. Unfortunately the Queen forgot to invite the seventh fairy, who was the most powerful of them all, and was also very wicked and malicious.

On the day of the christening the six good fairies came early, in chariots drawn by butterflies, or by doves or wrens or other birds. They were made welcome by the King and Queen, and after some talk they were led to the hall where the feast had been set out. Everything there was very magnificent. There were delicious fruits and meats and pastries and game and everything that could be thought of. The dishes were all of gold, and for each fairy there was a goblet cut from a single precious stone. One was a diamond, one a sapphire, one a ruby, one an emerald, one an amethyst, and one a topaz. The fairies were delighted with the beauty of everything. Even in their own fairy palaces they had no such goblets as those the King had had made for them.

They were just about to take their places at the table when a great noise was heard outside on the terrace. The Queen looked from the window and almost fainted at the sight she saw. The bad fairy had arrived. She had come uninvited, and the Queen guessed that it was for no good that she came. Her chariot was of black iron, and was drawn by four dragons with flaming eyes and brass scales. The fairy sprang from her chariot in haste, and came tapping into the hall with her staff in her hand.

“How is this? How is this?” she cried to the Queen. “Here all my sisters have been invited to come and bring their gifts to the Princess, and I alone have been forgotten.”

The Queen did not know what to answer. She was frightened. However, she tried to hide her fear, and made the seventh fairy as welcome as the others. A place was set for her at the King’s right hand, and he and the Queen tried to pretend they had expected her to come. But for her there was no precious goblet, and when she saw the ones that had been given to the six other fairies her face grew green with envy, and her eyes flashed fire. She ate and drank, but she said never a word.

After the feast the little Princess was brought into the room, and she smiled so sweetly and looked so innocent that only a wicked heart could have planned evil against her.

The first fairy took the child in her arms and said, “My gift to the Princess shall be that of contentment, for contentment is better than gold.”

“Yet gold is good,” said the second fairy, “and I will give her the gift of wealth.”

“Health shall be hers,” said the third, “for wealth is of little use without it.”

“And I,” said the fourth, “will gift her with beauty to win all hearts.”

“And wit to charm all ears,” said the fifth. “That is my gift to her.”

The sixth fairy hesitated, and in that moment the wicked one stepped forward. While the others had spoken she had been swelling with spite like a toad. “And I say,” cried she, “that in her seventeenth year she shall prick her finger with a spindle and fall dead.”

When the Queen heard this she shrieked aloud, and the King grew as pale as death. But the sixth fairy stepped forward.

“Wait a bit,” said she. “I have not spoken yet. I cannot undo what our sister has done, but I say that the Princess shall not really die. She shall fall into a deep sleep that shall last a hundred years, and all in the castle shall sleep with her. At the end of that time she shall be awakened by a kiss.”

When the wicked fairy heard this she was filled with rage, but she had already spoken; she could do no more. She rushed out of the castle and jumped into her chariot, and the dragons carried her away, and where she went no one either knew nor cared.

The other fairies also went away, and they were sad because of what was to happen to the Princess.

But at once the King gave orders that every spinning-wheel and spindle in the land should be destroyed, and when this was done he felt quite happy again. For if all the spindles were gone the Princess could not prick her finger with one; and if she did not prick her finger she would not fall into the enchanted sleep.

So the King and Queen were at peace, and all went well in the castle for seventeen years. All that the fairies had promised to the Princess came true. She was so beautiful that she was the wonder of all who saw her, and so witty and gentle-hearted that everyone loved her. Beside this she had health, wealth, and contentment, and was smiling and joyous from morn till night.

One day the King and Queen went away on a journey, and the Princess took it into her head to mount to a high tower where she had never been before, and to watch for their return from there.

She found the stairs that led to the tower, and then she mounted them, up and up and up, until she was high above the roofs of the castle. At last she reached the very top of the tower, and there was an iron door with a rusty key in it.

The Princess turned the key and the door swung open. Beyond she saw a room, and an old, old, wrinkled woman sat there at a wheel spinning.

The Princess had never seen a spinning-wheel before. It seemed a curious thing to her. She went in and stood close to the old woman so as to see it better.

“What is that you are doing?” she asked.

“I am spinning,” answered the old woman.

“And what is that little thing that flies around so fast?”

“That is a spindle.”

“It is a curious little thing,” said the Princess, and she reached out her hand to touch it. Then the point of the spindle pricked her finger, and at once the Princess sighed, and her eyes closed, and she sank back on a couch in a deep sleep.

Immediately a silence fell also upon all in the castle. The King and Queen had just returned from their journey; they had alighted from their horses and had entered the castle, and just then sleep fell upon them. The courtiers who followed them also fell asleep. The dogs and horses in the courtyard slept, and the pigeons on the eaves. The boy who turned the spit in the kitchen slept and the cook did not scold him, for she too was asleep. The meat did not burn, for the fire was sleeping. Even the flies in the castle and the bees among the flowers hung motionless. All slept.

Then all about the castle sprang up an enchanted forest that shut it in like a wall. The forest grew so dark and high that at last not even the top-most tower of the castle could be seen.

But though the Princess slept she was not forgotten. Many brave princes and heroes came and tried to cut their way through the forest to rescue her, but the boughs and branches were as hard as iron, and moreover as fast as they were cut away they grew again; also they were twisted so closely together that no one could creep between them. Then as years passed by, the brave heroes who had sought the Princess grew old and had children of their own. These, too, grew to be men and married, and at last the Princess was forgotten by all, or was remembered only as an old tale.

At last a hundred years had slipped away, and then a young and handsome Prince came by that way. He had been hunting, and he had ridden so fast and eagerly that he had left his huntsmen far behind. Now he was hot and weary, and seeing a hut he stopped and asked for a drink of water.

The man who lived in the hut was very old. He brought the water the Prince asked for, and after the Prince had drank, he sat awhile and looked about him. “What is that darkness, like a cloud, that I see over yonder?” he asked.

“I cannot tell you for sure,” said the old man, “for it is a long distance away and I have never gone to see. But my grandfather told me once that it was an enchanted forest. He said there was a castle hidden deep in the midst of it, and that in that castle lay a Princess asleep. That Princess, so he said, was the most beautiful Princess in all the world, but a spell had been laid on her, and she was to sleep a hundred years. At the end of that time a Prince was to come and waken her with a kiss.”

“And how long has she slept now?” asked the Prince, and his heart beat in his breast like a bird.

“That I cannot say,” answered the old man, “but a long, long time. My grandfather was an old man when he told me, and he could not remember her.”

The Prince thanked the old man for what he had told him, and then he rode away toward the enchanted forest, and he could not go fast enough, he was in such haste.

When he was at a distance from the forest, it looked like a dark cloud, but as he came nearer it began to grow rosy. All the boughs and briers had begun to bud. By the time he was close to them they were in full flower, and when he reached the edge of the forest the branches divided, leaving an open path before him. Along this path the Prince rode and before long he came to the palace. He entered the courtyard and looked about him wondering. The dogs lay sleeping in the sunshine and never wakened at his coming. The horses stood like statues. The guards slept leaning on their arms.

The Prince dismounted and went on into the palace; on he went through one room after another, and no one woke to stop nor stay him. At last he came to the stairway that led to the tower and he went on up it, — up and up, as the Princess had done before him. He reached the tower-room, and then he stopped, and stood amazed. There on the couch lay a maiden more beautiful than he had ever dreamed of. He could scarcely believe there was such beauty in the world. He looked and looked and then he stooped and kissed her.


At once — on the moment — all through the castle sounded the hum of waking life. The King and Queen, down in the throne-room stirred and rubbed their eyes. The guards started from sleep. The horses stamped, the dogs sprang up barking. The meat in the kitchen began to burn, and the cook boxed the boy’s ears. The courtiers smiled and bowed and simpered.

Up in the tower the Princess opened her eyes, and as soon as she saw the Prince she loved him. He took her hand and raised her from the couch. “Will you be my own dear bride?” said he. And the Princess answered yes.

And so they were married with great rejoicings, and the six fairies came to the wedding and brought with them gifts more beautiful than ever were seen before. As for the seventh fairy, if she did not burst with spite she may be living still. But the Prince and Princess lived happily forever after.

Mother’s Nursery Tales

Jack and the Bean-Stalk

Jack and his mother lived all alone in a little hut with a garden in front of it, and they had nothing else in the world but a cow named Blackey.

One time Blackey went dry; not a drop of milk would she give. “See there now!” said the mother. “If Blackey doesn’t give us milk we can’t afford to keep her. You’ll have to take her off to market, Jack, and sell her for what you can get.”

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