Once upon a time there lived a King and Queen. Together they reigned over a peaceful Kingdom, and their people were devoted to them, yet still they were not entirely happy. There was only one thing which they desperately wanted and that was a child. They tried everything from vows and praying to pilgrimages but to no avail.
At last, however, the Queen did give birth to a daughter. As soon as the Palace announced the event, the whole nation joined in the celebrations. Flags waved, crowds tossed up their hats and cheered and the bells were set pealing until the steeples rocked.
The King and Queen now had to decide on a name for the new Princess. This proved to be quite tricky as they wanted the name to be perfect. After discussing at length they finally came to a decision. They would call their daughter... Willow.
The next business was to hold a christening. They both agreed that it must be a magnificent one and invited all the Fairies in the land to be Godmothers to the Princess Willow. After making long enquiries and scouring high and low, they managed to find seven Fairies - for all this happened but a few hundred years ago when Fairies were already becoming scarce - and they were all more then happy to be Godmothers and each offered to bestow a gift on the young child.
After the ceremony, while the trumpets sounded and the guns boomed out from the great tower, all company returned to the Royal Palace to find a great feast awaiting them.
Just as the guests were seating themselves at the table, a door flew open and there stood an old crone, dressed in black and leaning on a crutched stick. At first everyone thought she was but a harmless old woman until before their very eyes, she changed.
"I am the Fairy Glorificus!" she growled in a terrible voice. "Why was I not invited on this special day?"
The King began to apologise profusely although it was through no fault of his that she had been overlooked. Glorificus lived at the far end of the country, in a lonely tower and no one had seen her for near 50 years. In fact, everyone believed her to be dead
It soon became obvious to everyone present that the powerful Fairy had taken deep offence at being forgotten. One of the younger Fairies, Dawnie by name, overheard Glorificus mumbling threats between her teeth. Fearing she might bestow an unlucky gift upon the Princess, Dawnie decided to make herself unseen and hid behind the tapestry close to the baby's cradle so she might undo - as far as she could - whatever the crone should bestow on the chid.
Barely had she concealed herself, when the other Fairies arose and proceeded to bestow their gifts on the Princess. One promised that she should be one of the most beautiful creatures in the world; the next that she should have the vocabulary of a scholar; the third, that she should have the wit of an angel; the forth that she should have the intelligence of a mathematician; the fifth that she should dance to perfection; the sixth that she should play exquisitely on all musical instruments.
Next came the turn of Glorificus.
"This is my gift to you, Princess Willow," she announced. "I promise that one day you shall pierce your hand with a spindle and on that day you shall surely die!"
At these words the Queen fainted, falling back into her husband's arms. The room was silent but for the tears of the ladies. It was then that the young fairy stepped out from her hiding place.
"Your Royal Highnesses, your daughter shall not die thus. I do not have the power to undo wholly what this Fairy has done, but I can ease the suffering somewhat. The Princess will indeed pierce her hand with a spindle, but instead of dying, she shall only fall into a deep sleep that shall last for many, many years until her true love shall come and awake her."
The King thanked the good Fairy Dawnie for doing what she could and gave orders to close the christening festivities at once. He then ordered the Palace fireworks to be let off so as not to worry his faithful subjects who were unaware as to what had transpired inside.
After bowing from the balcony amid the banging of rockets, his Majesty retired to a private room with his Chamberlain, where he drew up the first harsh proclamation of his reign. It forbade everyone to use a spindle in spinning or even to have a spindle in their house, on pain of death. The message was marched through the land being read in every market place. The women folk were famous for their linen and this news greatly puzzled and distressed them, for how would they spin without a spindle?
The women did however, burn their spindles, or sell them to neighbouring kingdoms, for they loved their monarch so. For sixteen years all spinning wheels were silent throughout the land and the little Princess Willow grew up without ever having seen one.