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Beauty And The Beast

from Europa's Fairy Book





There was once a merchant that had three daughters, and he loved them
better than himself. Now it happened that he had to go a long journey
to buy some goods, and when he was just starting he said to them,
"What shall I bring you back, my dears?" And the eldest daughter asked
to have a necklace; and the second daughter wished to have a gold
chain; but the youngest daughter said, "Bring back yourself, Papa, and
that is what I want the most." "Nonsense, child," said her father,
"you must say something that I may remember to bring back for you."
"So," she said, "then bring me back a rose, father."

Well, the merchant went on his journey and did his business and bought
a pearl necklace for his eldest daughter, and a gold chain for his
second daughter; but he knew it was no use getting a rose for the
youngest while he was so far away because it would fade before he got
home. So he made up his mind he would get a rose for her the day he
got near his house.

When all his merchanting was done he rode off home and forgot all
about the rose till he was near his house; then he suddenly remembered
what he had promised his youngest daughter, and looked about to see if
he could find a rose. Near where he had stopped he saw a great garden,
and getting off his horse he wandered about in it till he found a
lovely rose-bush; and he plucked the most beautiful rose he could see
on it. At that moment he heard a crash like thunder, and looking
around he saw a huge monster--two tusks in his mouth and fiery eyes
surrounded by bristles, and horns coming out of its head and spreading
over its back.

"Mortal," said the Beast, "who told thee thou mightest pluck my
roses?"

"Please, sir," said the merchant in fear and terror for his life, "I
promised my daughter to bring her home a rose and forgot about it till
the last moment, and then I saw your beautiful garden and thought you
would not miss a single rose, or else I would have asked your
permission."

"Thieving is thieving," said the Beast, "whether it be a rose or a
diamond; thy life is forfeit."

The merchant fell on his knees and begged for his life for the sake of
his three daughters who had none but him to support them.

"Well, mortal, well," said the Beast, "I grant thy life on one
condition: Seven days from now thou must bring this youngest daughter
of thine, for whose sake thou hast broken into my garden, and leave
her here in thy stead. Otherwise swear that thou wilt return and
place thyself at my disposal."

So the merchant swore, and taking his rose mounted his horse and rode
home.

As soon as he got into his house his daughters came rushing round him,
clapping their hands and showing their joy in every way, and soon he
gave the necklace to his eldest daughter, the chain to his second
daughter, and then he gave the rose to his youngest, and as he gave it
he sighed. "Oh, thank you, Father," they all cried. But the youngest
said, "Why did you sigh so deeply when you gave me my rose?"

"Later on I will tell you," said the merchant.

So for several days they lived happily together, though the merchant
wandered about gloomy and sad, and nothing his daughters could do
would cheer him up till at last he took his youngest daughter aside
and said to her, "Bella, do you love your father?"

"Of course I do, Father, of course I do."

"Well, now you have a chance of showing it"; and then he told her of
all that had occurred with the Beast when he got the rose for her.
Bella was very sad, as you can well think, and then she said, "Oh,
Father, it was all on account of me that you fell into the power of
this Beast; so I will go with you to him; perhaps he will do me no
harm; but even if he does better harm to me than evil to my dear
father."

So next day the merchant took Bella behind him on his horse, as was
the custom in those days, and rode off to the dwelling of the Beast.
And when he got there and they alighted from his horse the doors of
the house opened, and what do you think they saw there! Nothing. So
they went up the steps and went through the hall, and went into the
dining-room and there they saw a table spread with all manner of
beautiful glasses and plates and dishes and napery, with plenty to eat
upon it. So they waited and they waited, thinking that the owner of
the house would appear, till at last the merchant said, "Let's sit
down and see what will happen then." And when they sat down invisible
hands passed them things to eat and to drink, and they ate and drank
to their heart's content. And when they arose from the table it arose
too and disappeared through the door as if it were being carried by
invisible servants.

Suddenly there appeared before them the Beast who said to the
merchant, "Is this thy youngest daughter?" And when he had said that
it was, he said, "Is she willing to stop here with me?" And then he
looked at Bella who said, in a trembling voice, "Yes, sir."

"Well, no harm shall befall thee." With that he led the merchant down
to his horse and told him he might come that day week to visit his
daughter. Then the Beast returned to Bella and said to her, "This
house with all that therein is thine; if thou desirest aught clap
thine hands and say the word and it shall be brought unto thee." And
with that he made a sort of bow and went away.

So Bella lived on in the home with the Beast and was waited on by
invisible servants and had whatever she liked to eat and to drink; but
she soon got tired of the solitude and, next day, when the Beast came
to her, though he looked so terrible, she had been so well treated
that she had lost a great deal of her terror of him. So they spoke
together about the garden and about the house and about her father's
business and about all manner of things, so that Bella lost altogether
her fear of the Beast. Shortly afterwards her father came to see her
and found her quite happy, and he felt much less dread of her fate at
the hands of the Beast. So it went on for many days, Bella seeing and
talking to the Beast every day, till she got quite to like him, until
one day the Beast did not come at his usual time, just after the
midday meal, and Bella quite missed him. So she wandered about the
garden trying to find him, calling out his name, but received no
reply. At last she came to the rose-bush from which her father had
plucked the rose, and there, under it, what do you think she saw!
There was the Beast lying huddled up without any life or motion. Then
Bella was sorry indeed and remembered all the kindness that the Beast
had shown her; and she threw herself down by it and said, "Oh,
Beast, Beast, why did you die? I was getting to love you so much."



No sooner had she said this than the hide of the Beast split in two
and out came the most handsome young prince who told her that he had
been enchanted by a magician and that he could not recover his natural
form unless a maiden should, of her own accord, declare that she loved
him.

Thereupon the prince sent for the merchant and his daughters, and he
was married to Bella, and they all lived happy together ever
afterwards.





Next: Reynard And Bruin

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