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Beauty And The Beast

from The Blue Fairy Book





Once upon a time, in a very far-off country, there
lived a merchant who had been so fortunate in all his
undertakings that he was enormously rich. As he had,
however, six sons and six daughters, he found that his
money was not too much to let them all have everything
they fancied, as they were accustomed to do.

But one day a most unexpected misfortune befell them.
Their house caught fire and was speedily burnt to the
ground, with all the splendid furniture, the books,
pictures, gold, silver, and precious goods it contained;
and this was only the beginning of their troubles. Their
father, who had until this moment prospered in all ways,
suddenly lost every ship he had upon the sea, either by
dint of pirates, shipwreck, or fire. Then he heard that his
clerks in distant countries, whom he trusted entirely, had
proved unfaithful; and at last from great wealth he fell
into the direst poverty.

All that he had left was a little house in a desolate place
at least a hundred leagues from the town in which he had
lived, and to this he was forced to retreat with his
children, who were in despair at the idea of leading such a
different life. Indeed, the daughters at first hoped that
their friends, who had been so numerous while they were
rich, would insist on their staying in their houses now they
no longer possessed one. But they soon found that they
were left alone, and that their former friends even attributed
their misfortunes to their own extravagance, and
showed no intention of offering them any help. So nothing
was left for them but to take their departure to the
cottage, which stood in the midst of a dark forest, and
seemed to be the most dismal place upon the face of the
earth. As they were too poor to have any servants, the
girls had to work hard, like peasants, and the sons, for
their part, cultivated the fields to earn their living.
Roughly clothed, and living in the simplest way, the girls
regretted unceasingly the luxuries and amusements of
their former life; only the youngest tried to be brave and
cheerful. She had been as sad as anyone when misfortune
overtook her father, but, soon recovering her natural
gaiety, she set to work to make the best of things, to
amuse her father and brothers as well as she could, and
to try to persuade her sisters to join her in dancing and
singing. But they would do nothing of the sort, and,
because she was not as doleful as themselves, they declared
that this miserable life was all she was fit for. But she
was really far prettier and cleverer than they were; indeed,
she was so lovely that she was always called Beauty.
After two years, when they were all beginning to get used
to their new life, something happened to disturb their
tranquillity. Their father received the news that one of
his ships, which he had believed to be lost, had come
safely into port with a rich cargo. All the sons and daughters
at once thought that their poverty was at an end, and
wanted to set out directly for the town; but their father,
who was more prudent, begged them to wait a little, and,
though it was harvest time, and he could ill be spared,
determined to go himself first, to make inquiries. Only the
youngest daughter had any doubt but that they would
soon again be as rich as they were before, or at least rich
enough to live comfortably in some town where they
would find amusement and gay companions once more.
So they all loaded their father with commissions for
jewels and dresses which it would have taken a fortune
to buy; only Beauty, feeling sure that it was of no use, did
not ask for anything. Her father, noticing her silence,
said: "And what shall I bring for you, Beauty?"

"The only thing I wish for is to see you come home
safely," she answered.

But this only vexed her sisters, who fancied she was
blaming them for having asked for such costly things.
Her father, however, was pleased, but as he thought that
at her age she certainly ought to like pretty presents, he
told her to choose something.

"Well, dear father," she said, "as you insist upon it, I
beg that you will bring me a rose. I have not seen one
since we came here, and I love them so much."

So the merchant set out and reached the town as
quickly as possible, but only to find that his former
companions, believing him to be dead, had divided between
them the goods which the ship had brought; and after six
months of trouble and expense he found himself as poor
as when he started, having been able to recover only just
enough to pay the cost of his journey. To make matters
worse, he was obliged to leave the town in the most
terrible weather, so that by the time he was within a few
leagues of his home he was almost exhausted with cold
and fatigue. Though he knew it would take some hours
to get through the forest, he was so anxious to be at his
journey's end that he resolved to go on; but night overtook
him, and the deep snow and bitter frost made it
impossible for his horse to carry him any further. Not a
house was to be seen; the only shelter he could get was
the hollow trunk of a great tree, and there he crouched all
the night which seemed to him the longest he had ever
known. In spite of his weariness the howling of the
wolves kept him awake, and even when at last the day
broke he was not much better off, for the falling snow had
covered up every path, and he did not know which way
to turn.

At length he made out some sort of track, and though
at the beginning it was so rough and slippery that he fell
down more than once, it presently became easier, and led
him into an avenue of trees which ended in a splendid
castle. It seemed to the merchant very strange that no
snow had fallen in the avenue, which was entirely
composed of orange trees, covered with flowers and fruit.
When he reached the first court of the castle he saw before
him a flight of agate steps, and went up them, and passed
through several splendidly furnished rooms. The pleasant
warmth of the air revived him, and he felt very hungry;
but there seemed to be nobody in all this vast and splendid
palace whom he could ask to give him something to
eat. Deep silence reigned everywhere, and at last, tired
of roaming through empty rooms and galleries, he stopped
in a room smaller than the rest, where a clear fire was
burning and a couch was drawn up closely to it. Thinking
that this must be prepared for someone who was
expected, he sat down to wait till he should come, and
very soon fell into a sweet sleep.

When his extreme hunger wakened him after several
hours, he was still alone; but a little table, upon which
was a good dinner, had been drawn up close to him, and,
as he had eaten nothing for twenty-four hours, he lost no
time in beginning his meal, hoping that he might soon
have an opportunity of thanking his considerate entertainer,
whoever it might be. But no one appeared, and
even after another long sleep, from which he awoke
completely refreshed, there was no sign of anybody, though
a fresh meal of dainty cakes and fruit was prepared upon
the little table at his elbow. Being naturally timid, the
silence began to terrify him, and he resolved to search
once more through all the rooms; but it was of no use.
Not even a servant was to be seen; there was no sign of
life in the palace! He began to wonder what he should do,
and to amuse himself by pretending that all the treasures
he saw were his own, and considering how he would
divide them among his children. Then he went down into
the garden, and though it was winter everywhere else,
here the sun shone, and the birds sang, and the flowers
bloomed, and the air was soft and sweet. The merchant,
in ecstacies with all he saw and heard, said to himself:

"All this must be meant for me. I will go this minute
and bring my children to share all these delights."

In spite of being so cold and weary when he reached the
castle, he had taken his horse to the stable and fed it.
Now he thought he would saddle it for his homeward
journey, and he turned down the path which led to the
stable. This path had a hedge of roses on each side of it,
and the merchant thought he had never seen or smelt
such exquisite flowers. They reminded him of his promise
to Beauty, and he stopped and had just gathered one to
take to her when he was startled by a strange noise behind
him. Turning round, he saw a frightful Beast, which
seemed to be very angry and said, in a terrible voice:

"Who told you that you might gather my roses? Was
it not enough that I allowed you to be in my palace and
was kind to you? This is the way you show your gratitude,
by stealing my flowers! But your insolence shall
not go unpunished." The merchant, terrified by these
furious words, dropped the fatal rose, and, throwing
himself on his knees, cried: "Pardon me, noble sir. I am
truly grateful to you for your hospitality, which was so
magnificent that I could not imagine that you would be
offended by my taking such a little thing as a rose." But
the Beast's anger was not lessened by this speech.

"You are very ready with excuses and flattery," he
cried; "but that will not save you from the death you
deserve."

"Alas!" thought the merchant, "if my daughter
could only know what danger her rose has brought me
into!"

And in despair he began to tell the Beast all his
misfortunes, and the reason of his journey, not forgetting to
mention Beauty's request.

"A king's ransom would hardly have procured all that
my other daughters asked." he said: "but I thought that
I might at least take Beauty her rose. I beg you to forgive
me, for you see I meant no harm."

The Beast considered for a moment, and then he said,
in a less furious tone:

"I will forgive you on one condition--that is, that you
will give me one of your daughters."

"Ah!" cried the merchant, "if I were cruel enough to
buy my own life at the expense of one of my children's,
what excuse could I invent to bring her here?"

"No excuse would be necessary," answered the Beast.
"If she comes at all she must come willingly. On no other
condition will I have her. See if any one of them is
courageous enough, and loves you well enough to come
and save your life. You seem to be an honest man, so I
will trust you to go home. I give you a month to see if
either of your daughters will come back with you and stay
here, to let you go free. If neither of them is willing, you
must come alone, after bidding them good-by for ever,
for then you will belong to me. And do not imagine that
you can hide from me, for if you fail to keep your word
I will come and fetch you!" added the Beast grimly.

The merchant accepted this proposal, though he did
not really think any of his daughters could be persuaded
to come. He promised to return at the time appointed,
and then, anxious to escape from the presence of the
Beast, he asked permission to set off at once. But the
Beast answered that he could not go until next day.

"Then you will find a horse ready for you," he said.
"Now go and eat your supper, and await my orders."

The poor merchant, more dead than alive, went back
to his room, where the most delicious supper was already
served on the little table which was drawn up before a
blazing fire. But he was too terrified to eat, and only
tasted a few of the dishes, for fear the Beast should be
angry if he did not obey his orders. When he had finished
he heard a great noise in the next room, which he knew
meant that the Beast was coming. As he could do nothing
to escape his visit, the only thing that remained was to
seem as little afraid as possible; so when the Beast
appeared and asked roughly if he had supped well, the
merchant answered humbly that he had, thanks to his
host's kindness. Then the Beast warned him to remember
their agreement, and to prepare his daughter exactly for
what she had to expect.

"Do not get up to-morrow," he added, "until you see
the sun and hear a golden bell ring. Then you will find
your breakfast waiting for you here, and the horse you
are to ride will be ready in the courtyard. He will also
bring you back again when you come with your daughter
a month hence. Farewell. Take a rose to Beauty, and
remember your promise!"

The merchant was only too glad when the Beast went
away, and though he could not sleep for sadness, he lay
down until the sun rose. Then, after a hasty breakfast,
he went to gather Beauty's rose, and mounted his horse,
which carried him off so swiftly that in an instant he had
lost sight of the palace, and he was still wrapped in
gloomy thoughts when it stopped before the door of the
cottage.

His sons and daughters, who had been very uneasy at
his long absence, rushed to meet him, eager to know the
result of his journey, which, seeing him mounted upon a
splendid horse and wrapped in a rich mantle, they
supposed to be favorable. He hid the truth from them at
first, only saying sadly to Beauty as he gave her the rose:

"Here is what you asked me to bring you; you little
know what it has cost."

But this excited their curiosity so greatly that presently
he told them his adventures from beginning to end, and
then they were all very unhappy. The girls lamented
loudly over their lost hopes, and the sons declared that
their father should not return to this terrible castle, and
began to make plans for killing the Beast if it should
come to fetch him. But he reminded them that he had
promised to go back. Then the girls were very angry
with Beauty, and said it was all her fault, and that if she
had asked for something sensible this would never have
happened, and complained bitterly that they should have
to suffer for her folly.

Poor Beauty, much distressed, said to them:

"I have, indeed, caused this misfortune, but I assure
you I did it innocently. Who could have guessed that to
ask for a rose in the middle of summer would cause so
much misery? But as I did the mischief it is only just
that I should suffer for it. I will therefore go back with
my father to keep his promise."

At first nobody would hear of this arrangement, and
her father and brothers, who loved her dearly, declared
that nothing should make them let her go; but Beauty
was firm. As the time drew near she divided all her little
possessions between her sisters, and said good-by to
everything she loved, and when the fatal day came she
encouraged and cheered her father as they mounted
together the horse which had brought him back. It seemed
to fly rather than gallop, but so smoothly that Beauty was
not frightened; indeed, she would have enjoyed the journey
if she had not feared what might happen to her at the
end of it. Her father still tried to persuade her to go back,
but in vain. While they were talking the night fell, and
then, to their great surprise, wonderful colored lights
began to shine in all directions, and splendid fireworks
blazed out before them; all the forest was illuminated by
them, and even felt pleasantly warm, though it had been
bitterly cold before. This lasted until they reached the
avenue of orange trees, where were statues holding flaming
torches, and when they got nearer to the palace they
saw that it was illuminated from the roof to the ground,
and music sounded softly from the courtyard. "The
Beast must be very hungry," said Beauty, trying to
laugh, "if he makes all this rejoicing over the arrival of
his prey."

But, in spite of her anxiety, she could not help admiring
all the wonderful things she saw.

The horse stopped at the foot of the flight of steps
leading to the terrace, and when they had dismounted her
father led her to the little room he had been in before,
where they found a splendid fire burning, and the table
daintily spread with a delicious supper.

The merchant knew that this was meant for them, and
Beauty, who was rather less frightened now that she had
passed through so many rooms and seen nothing of the
Beast, was quite willing to begin, for her long ride had
made her very hungry. But they had hardly finished
their meal when the noise of the Beast's footsteps was
heard approaching, and Beauty clung to her father in
terror, which became all the greater when she saw how
frightened he was. But when the Beast really appeared,
though she trembled at the sight of him, she made a great
effort to hide her terror, and saluted him respectfully.

This evidently pleased the Beast. After looking at her
he said, in a tone that might have struck terror into the
boldest heart, though he did not seem to be angry:

"Good-evening, old man. Good-evening, Beauty."

The merchant was too terrified to reply, but Beauty
answered sweetly: "Good-evening, Beast."

"Have you come willingly?" asked the Beast. "Will
you be content to stay here when your father goes away?"

Beauty answered bravely that she was quite prepared
to stay.

"I am pleased with you," said the Beast. "As you have
come of your own accord, you may stay. As for you, old
man," he added, turning to the merchant, "at sunrise
to-morrow you will take your departure. When the bell
rings get up quickly and eat your breakfast, and you will
find the same horse waiting to take you home; but remember
that you must never expect to see my palace again."

Then turning to Beauty, he said:

"Take your father into the next room, and help him to
choose everything you think your brothers and sisters
would like to have. You will find two traveling-trunks
there; fill them as full as you can. It is only just that you
should send them something very precious as a remembrance
of yourself."

Then he went away, after saying, "Good-by, Beauty;
good-by, old man"; and though Beauty was beginning to
think with great dismay of her father's departure, she was
afraid to disobey the Beast's orders; and they went into
the next room, which had shelves and cupboards all round
it. They were greatly surprised at the riches it contained.
There were splendid dresses fit for a queen, with all the
ornaments that were to be worn with them; and when
Beauty opened the cupboards she was quite dazzled by
the gorgeous jewels that lay in heaps upon every shelf.
After choosing a vast quantity, which she divided between
her sisters--for she had made a heap of the wonderful
dresses for each of them--she opened the last chest,
which was full of gold.

"I think, father," she said, "that, as the gold will be
more useful to you, we had better take out the other
things again, and fill the trunks with it." So they did
this; but the more they put in the more room there seemed
to be, and at last they put back all the jewels and dresses
they had taken out, and Beauty even added as many
more of the jewels as she could carry at once; and then
the trunks were not too full, but they were so heavy that
an elephant could not have carried them!

"The Beast was mocking us," cried the merchant; "he
must have pretended to give us all these things, knowing
that I could not carry them away."

"Let us wait and see," answered Beauty. "I cannot
believe that he meant to deceive us. All we can do is to
fasten them up and leave them ready."

So they did this and returned to the little room, where,
to their astonishment, they found breakfast ready. The
merchant ate his with a good appetite, as the Beast's
generosity made him believe that he might perhaps venture
to come back soon and see Beauty. But she felt sure
that her father was leaving her for ever, so she was very
sad when the bell rang sharply for the second time, and
warned them that the time had come for them to part.
They went down into the courtyard, where two horses
were waiting, one loaded with the two trunks, the other
for him to ride. They were pawing the ground in their
impatience to start, and the merchant was forced to bid
Beauty a hasty farewell; and as soon as he was mounted
he went off at such a pace that she lost sight of him in an
instant. Then Beauty began to cry, and wandered sadly
back to her own room. But she soon found that she was
very sleepy, and as she had nothing better to do she lay
down and instantly fell asleep. And then she dreamed
that she was walking by a brook bordered with trees, and
lamenting her sad fate, when a young prince, handsomer
than anyone she had ever seen, and with a voice that
went straight to her heart, came and said to her, "Ah,
Beauty! you are not so unfortunate as you suppose. Here
you will be rewarded for all you have suffered elsewhere.
Your every wish shall be gratified. Only try to find me
out, no matter how I may be disguised, as I love you
dearly, and in making me happy you will find your own
happiness. Be as true-hearted as you are beautiful, and
we shall have nothing left to wish for."

"What can I do, Prince, to make you happy?" said
Beauty.

"Only be grateful," he answered, "and do not trust too
much to your eyes. And, above all, do not desert me
until you have saved me from my cruel misery."

After this she thought she found herself in a room with
a stately and beautiful lady, who said to her:

"Dear Beauty, try not to regret all you have left
behind you, for you are destined to a better fate. Only do
not let yourself be deceived by appearances."

Beauty found her dreams so interesting that she was in
no hurry to awake, but presently the clock roused her by
calling her name softly twelve times, and then she got up
and found her dressing-table set out with everything she
could possibly want; and when her toilet was finished she
found dinner was waiting in the room next to hers. But
dinner does not take very long when you are all by yourself,
and very soon she sat down cosily in the corner of a
sofa, and began to think about the charming Prince she
had seen in her dream.

"He said I could make him happy," said Beauty to
herself.

"It seems, then, that this horrible Beast keeps him a
prisoner. How can I set him free? I wonder why they
both told me not to trust to appearances? I don't understand
it. But, after all, it was only a dream, so why
should I trouble myself about it? I had better go and
find something to do to amuse myself."

So she got up and began to explore some of the many
rooms of the palace.

The first she entered was lined with mirrors, and Beauty
saw herself reflected on every side, and thought she had
never seen such a charming room. Then a bracelet which
was hanging from a chandelier caught her eye, and on
taking it down she was greatly surprised to find that it
held a portrait of her unknown admirer, just as she had
seen him in her dream. With great delight she slipped
the bracelet on her arm, and went on into a gallery of
pictures, where she soon found a portrait of the same
handsome Prince, as large as life, and so well painted that
as she studied it he seemed to smile kindly at her. Tearing
herself away from the portrait at last, she passed through
into a room which contained every musical instrument
under the sun, and here she amused herself for a long
while in trying some of them, and singing until she was
tired. The next room was a library, and she saw everything
she had ever wanted to read, as well as everything
she had read, and it seemed to her that a whole lifetime
would not be enough to even read the names of the books,
there were so many. By this time it was growing dusk,
and wax candles in diamond and ruby candlesticks were
beginning to light themselves in every room.

Beauty found her supper served just at the time she
preferred to have it, but she did not see anyone or hear
a sound, and, though her father had warned her that she
would be alone, she began to find it rather dull.

But presently she heard the Beast coming, and wondered
tremblingly if he meant to eat her up now.

However, as he did not seem at all ferocious, and only
said gruffly:

"Good-evening, Beauty," she answered cheerfully and
managed to conceal her terror. Then the Beast asked her
how she had been amusing herself, and she told him all
the rooms she had seen.

Then he asked if she thought she could be happy in his
palace; and Beauty answered that everything was so
beautiful that she would be very hard to please if she
could not be happy. And after about an hour's talk
Beauty began to think that the Beast was not nearly so
terrible as she had supposed at first. Then he got up to
leave her, and said in his gruff voice:

"Do you love me, Beauty? Will you marry me?"

"Oh! what shall I say?" cried Beauty, for she was
afraid to make the Beast angry by refusing.

"Say 'yes' or 'no' without fear," he replied.

"Oh! no, Beast," said Beauty hastily.

"Since you will not, good-night, Beauty," he said.

And she answered, "Good-night, Beast," very glad to
find that her refusal had not provoked him. And after
he was gone she was very soon in bed and asleep, and
dreaming of her unknown Prince. She thought he came
and said to her:

"Ah, Beauty! why are you so unkind to me? I fear I
am fated to be unhappy for many a long day still."

And then her dreams changed, but the charming Prince
figured in them all; and when morning came her first
thought was to look at the portrait, and see if it was really
like him, and she found that it certainly was.

This morning she decided to amuse herself in the garden,
for the sun shone, and all the fountains were playing;
but she was astonished to find that every place was
familiar to her, and presently she came to the brook where
the myrtle trees were growing where she had first met the
Prince in her dream, and that made her think more than
ever that he must be kept a prisoner by the Beast. When
she was tired she went back to the palace, and found a
new room full of materials for every kind of work--ribbons
to make into bows, and silks to work into flowers.
Then there was an aviary full of rare birds, which were so
tame that they flew to Beauty as soon as they saw her,
and perched upon her shoulders and her head.

"Pretty little creatures," she said, "how I wish that
your cage was nearer to my room, that I might often hear
you sing!"

So saying she opened a door, and found, to her delight,
that it led into her own room, though she had thought it
was quite the other side of the palace.

There were more birds in a room farther on, parrots
and cockatoos that could talk, and they greeted Beauty
by name; indeed, she found them so entertaining that she
took one or two back to her room, and they talked to her
while she was at supper; after which the Beast paid her
his usual visit, and asked her the same questions as before,
and then with a gruff "good-night" he took his departure,
and Beauty went to bed to dream of her mysterious
Prince. The days passed swiftly in different
amusements, and after a while Beauty found out another
strange thing in the palace, which often pleased her when
she was tired of being alone. There was one room which
she had not noticed particularly; it was empty, except
that under each of the windows stood a very comfortable
chair; and the first time she had looked out of the window
it had seemed to her that a black curtain prevented her
from seeing anything outside. But the second time she
went into the room, happening to be tired, she sat down
in one of the chairs, when instantly the curtain was rolled
aside, and a most amusing pantomime was acted before
her; there were dances, and colored lights, and music, and
pretty dresses, and it was all so gay that Beauty was in
ecstacies. After that she tried the other seven windows
in turn, and there was some new and surprising entertainment
to be seen from each of them, so that Beauty never
could feel lonely any more. Every evening after supper
the Beast came to see her, and always before saying
good-night asked her in his terrible voice:

"Beauty, will you marry me?"

And it seemed to Beauty, now she understood him
better, that when she said, "No, Beast," he went away
quite sad. But her happy dreams of the handsome young
Prince soon made her forget the poor Beast, and the only
thing that at all disturbed her was to be constantly told
to distrust appearances, to let her heart guide her, and
not her eyes, and many other equally perplexing things,
which, consider as she would, she could not understand.

So everything went on for a long time, until at last,
happy as she was, Beauty began to long for the sight of
her father and her brothers and sisters; and one night,
seeing her look very sad, the Beast asked her what was
the matter. Beauty had quite ceased to be afraid of him.
Now she knew that he was really gentle in spite of his
ferocious looks and his dreadful voice. So she answered
that she was longing to see her home once more. Upon
hearing this the Beast seemed sadly distressed, and cried
miserably.

"Ah! Beauty, have you the heart to desert an unhappy
Beast like this? What more do you want to make you
happy? Is it because you hate me that you want to
escape?"

"No, dear Beast," answered Beauty softly, "I do not
hate you, and I should be very sorry never to see you any
more, but I long to see my father again. Only let me go
for two months, and I promise to come back to you and
stay for the rest of my life."

The Beast, who had been sighing dolefully while she
spoke, now replied:

"I cannot refuse you anything you ask, even though it
should cost me my life. Take the four boxes you will find
in the room next to your own, and fill them with everything
you wish to take with you. But remember your
promise and come back when the two months are over,
or you may have cause to repent it, for if you do not
come in good time you will find your faithful Beast dead.
You will not need any chariot to bring you back. Only
say good-by to all your brothers and sisters the night
before you come away, and when you have gone to bed
turn this ring round upon your finger and say firmly: 'I
wish to go back to my palace and see my Beast again.'
Good-night, Beauty. Fear nothing, sleep peacefully, and
before long you shall see your father once more."

As soon as Beauty was alone she hastened to fill the
boxes with all the rare and precious things she saw about
her, and only when she was tired of heaping things into
them did they seem to be full.

Then she went to bed, but could hardly sleep for joy.
And when at last she did begin to dream of her beloved
Prince she was grieved to see him stretched upon a grassy
bank, sad and weary, and hardly like himself.

"What is the matter?" she cried.

He looked at her reproachfully, and said:

"How can you ask me, cruel one? Are you not leaving
me to my death perhaps?"

"Ah! don't be so sorrowful," cried Beauty; "I am only
going to assure my father that I am safe and happy. I
have promised the Beast faithfully that I will come back,
and he would die of grief if I did not keep my word!"

"What would that matter to you?" said the Prince
"Surely you would not care?"

"Indeed, I should be ungrateful if I did not care for
such a kind Beast," cried Beauty indignantly. "I would
die to save him from pain. I assure you it is not his fault
that he is so ugly."

Just then a strange sound woke her--someone was
speaking not very far away; and opening her eyes she
found herself in a room she had never seen before, which
was certainly not nearly so splendid as those she was
used to in the Beast's palace. Where could she be? She
got up and dressed hastily, and then saw that the boxes
she had packed the night before were all in the room.
While she was wondering by what magic the Beast had
transported them and herself to this strange place she
suddenly heard her father's voice, and rushed out and
greeted him joyfully. Her brothers and sisters were all
astonished at her appearance, as they had never expected
to see her again, and there was no end to the questions
they asked her. She had also much to hear about what
had happened to them while she was away, and of her
father's journey home. But when they heard that she had
only come to be with them for a short time, and then
must go back to the Beast's palace for ever, they lamented
loudly. Then Beauty asked her father what he thought
could be the meaning of her strange dreams, and why the
Prince constantly begged her not to trust to appearances.
After much consideration, he answered: "You tell me
yourself that the Beast, frightful as he is, loves you dearly,
and deserves your love and gratitude for his gentleness
and kindness; I think the Prince must mean you to understand
that you ought to reward him by doing as he wishes
you to, in spite of his ugliness."

Beauty could not help seeing that this seemed very
probable; still, when she thought of her dear Prince who
was so handsome, she did not feel at all inclined to marry
the Beast. At any rate, for two months she need not
decide, but could enjoy herself with her sisters. But
though they were rich now, and lived in town again, and
had plenty of acquaintances, Beauty found that nothing
amused her very much; and she often thought of the
palace, where she was so happy, especially as at home she
never once dreamed of her dear Prince, and she felt quite
sad without him.

Then her sisters seemed to have got quite used to being
without her, and even found her rather in the way, so
she would not have been sorry when the two months
were over but for her father and brothers, who begged her
to stay, and seemed so grieved at the thought of her
departure that she had not the courage to say good-by to
them. Every day when she got up she meant to say it at
night, and when night came she put it off again, until at
last she had a dismal dream which helped her to make
up her mind. She thought she was wandering in a lonely
path in the palace gardens, when she heard groans which
seemed to come from some bushes hiding the entrance of
a cave, and running quickly to see what could be the
matter, she found the Beast stretched out upon his side,
apparently dying. He reproached her faintly with being
the cause of his distress, and at the same moment a
stately lady appeared, and said very gravely:

"Ah! Beauty, you are only just in time to save his life.
See what happens when people do not keep their promises!
If you had delayed one day more, you would have
found him dead."

Beauty was so terrified by this dream that the next
morning she announced her intention of going back at
once, and that very night she said good-by to her father
and all her brothers and sisters, and as soon as she was in
bed she turned her ring round upon her finger, and said
firmly, "I wish to go back to my palace and see my Beast
again," as she had been told to do.

Then she fell asleep instantly, and only woke up to hear
the clock saying "Beauty, Beauty" twelve times in its
musical voice, which told her at once that she was really
in the palace once more. Everything was just as before,
and her birds were so glad to see her! But Beauty thought
she had never known such a long day, for she was so
anxious to see the Beast again that she felt as if suppertime
would never come.

But when it did come and no Beast appeared she was
really frightened; so, after listening and waiting for a long
time, she ran down into the garden to search for him. Up
and down the paths and avenues ran poor Beauty, calling
him in vain, for no one answered, and not a trace of him
could she find; until at last, quite tired, she stopped for a
minute's rest, and saw that she was standing opposite the
shady path she had seen in her dream. She rushed down
it, and, sure enough, there was the cave, and in it lay the
Beast--asleep, as Beauty thought. Quite glad to have
found him, she ran up and stroked his head, but, to her
horror, he did not move or open his eyes.

"Oh! he is dead; and it is all my fault," said Beauty,
crying bitterly.

But then, looking at him again, she fancied he still
breathed, and, hastily fetching some water from the
nearest fountain, she sprinkled it over his face, and,
to her great delight, he began to revive.

"Oh! Beast, how you frightened me!" she cried. "I
never knew how much I loved you until just now, when
I feared I was too late to save your life."

"Can you really love such an ugly creature as I am?"
said the Beast faintly. "Ah! Beauty, you only came just
in time. I was dying because I thought you had forgotten
your promise. But go back now and rest, I shall see you
again by and by."

Beauty, who had half expected that he would be angry
with her, was reassured by his gentle voice, and went
back to the palace, where supper was awaiting her; and
afterward the Beast came in as usual, and talked about
the time she had spent with her father, asking if she had
enjoyed herself, and if they had all been very glad to see
her.

Beauty answered politely, and quite enjoyed telling
him all that had happened to her. And when at last the
time came for him to go, and he asked, as he had so often
asked before, "Beauty, will you marry me?"

She answered softly, "Yes, dear Beast."

As she spoke a blaze of light sprang up before the
windows of the palace; fireworks crackled and guns
banged, and across the avenue of orange trees, in letters
all made of fire-flies, was written: "Long live the Prince
and his Bride."

Turning to ask the Beast what it could all mean,
Beauty found that he had disappeared, and in his place
stood her long-loved Prince! At the same moment the
wheels of a chariot were heard upon the terrace, and two
ladies entered the room. One of them Beauty recognized
as the stately lady she had seen in her dreams; the other
was also so grand and queenly that Beauty hardly knew
which to greet first.

But the one she already knew said to her companion:

"Well, Queen, this is Beauty, who has had the courage
to rescue your son from the terrible enchantment. They
love one another, and only your consent to their marriage
is wanting to make them perfectly happy."

"I consent with all my heart," cried the Queen. "How
can I ever thank you enough, charming girl, for having
restored my dear son to his natural form?"

And then she tenderly embraced Beauty and the
Prince, who had meanwhile been greeting the Fairy and
receiving her congratulations.

"Now," said the Fairy to Beauty, "I suppose you would
like me to send for all your brothers and sisters to dance
at your wedding?"

And so she did, and the marriage was celebrated the
very next day with the utmost splendor, and Beauty and
the Prince lived happily ever after.[1]





Next: The Master-maid

Previous: Rumpelstiltzkin



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