Beauty And The Beast





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.





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