Beauty And The Beast
: THE OLD FAIRY TALES
: Boys And Girls Bookshelf
There was once a merchant who was extremely rich. He had six
children--three boys and three girls; and as he was a very sensible
man, he spared nothing on their education, but gave them all kinds of
masters. His daughters were beautiful, but the youngest had such a
peculiar charm about her that even from her birth she had been called
Beauty; and this name caused her sisters to feel jealous and envious of
her. The reaso
she was so much more admired than they were, was that
she was much more amiable. Her sweet face beamed with good temper and
cheerfulness. No frown ever spoiled her fair brow, or bowed the corners
of her mouth. She possessed the charm of good temper, which is in
The merchant's elder daughters were idle, ill-tempered, and proud;
therefore people soon forgot that they were beautiful, and only
remembered them as very disagreeable.
The pride of these young ladies was so great that they did not care to
visit the daughters of men in their father's own rank of life, but
wished to be the friends of great ladies and princesses.
They were always busy trying to get great acquaintances, and met with
many mortifications in the effort; however, it pleased them to go out
and endeavor to be people of fashion. Every day they drove in the
parks, and went in the evening to balls, operas, and plays.
Meantime, Beauty spent almost all her days in studying. Her recreation
was to do good. She was to be found in every poor cottage where there
was trouble or sickness, and the poor loved her as much as the rich
admired her. As it was known that their father was very rich, many
merchants asked the girls in marriage; but all these offers were
refused, because the two eldest thought they ought at least to be
wives of a rich nobleman or a prince.
As for Beauty, she thanked those who asked her to share their fortunes,
but told them that she was too young; that she wished to be her
father's companion, and cheer his old age by her loving care.
One unhappy day the merchant returned home in the evening, and told
them that he was ruined; that his ships had gone down at sea, and that
the firms with which he had been dealing were bankrupt.
Beauty wept for grief, because her father was unhappy and unfortunate,
and asked him what was to be done.
"Alas! my child," he replied, "we must give up our house, and go into
the country. There I can get a cottage to shelter us; and we must live
by the work of our own hands."
"Ah!" said Beauty eagerly, "I can spin and knit, and sew very well. I
dare say I shall be able to help you, my dear father."
But the elder daughters did not speak. They had made up their minds to
marry one or the other of their rejected lovers, and did not intend to
share their father's fallen fortunes.
They found themselves, however, greatly mistaken. The merchants who had
wished to marry them when rich cared nothing for them when poor, and
never came to see them again. But those who had loved Beauty crowded to
the house, and begged and besought her to marry them and share their
fortunes. Beauty was grateful, but she told them that she could not
leave her father in his sorrow; she must go with him to console him and
work for him. The poor girl was very sorry to lose her fortune, because
she could not do so much good without it; but she knew that her place
was ordered for her, and that she might be quite as happy poor as rich.
Very soon the merchant's family had to leave their noble mansion, to
sell off all their costly furniture, and to go into the country, where
the father and his sons got work; the former as a bailiff, the latter
as farm laborers. And now Beauty had to think and work for all.
She rose at four o'clock every morning. She cleaned the house; prepared
the breakfast; spread it neatly, and decked the board with the sweetest
flowers. Then she cooked the dinner, and when evening came and brought
the laborers home, Beauty had always a cheerful welcome for them, a
clean home, and a savory supper. During the hours of the afternoon she
used to read and keep up her knowledge of languages; and all the time
she worked she sang like a bird. Her taste made their poor home look
nice, even elegant.
She was happy in doing her duty. Her early rising revealed to her a
thousand beauties in nature of which she had never before dreamed.
Beauty acknowledged to herself that sunrise was finer than any picture
she had ever seen; that no perfumes equalled those of the flowers; that
no opera gave her so much enjoyment as the song of the lark and the
serenade of the nightingale.
Her sleep was as happy and peaceful as that of a child; her awakening,
cheerful, contented, and blest by heaven.
Meantime her sisters grew peevish, cross, and miserable. They would not
work, and as they had nothing else to amuse them, the days dragged
along, and seemed as if they would never end. They did nothing but
regret the past and bewail the present. As they had no one to admire
them, they did not care how they looked, and were as dirty and
neglected in appearance as Beauty was neat and fresh and charming.
Perhaps they had some consciousness of the contrast between her and
themselves, for they disliked the poor girl more than ever, and were
always mocking her, and jesting about her wonderful fitness for being
"It is quite plain," they would say, "that you are just where you ought
to be: We are ladies; but you are a low-minded girl, who have found
your right place in the world."
Beauty only answered her sisters' unkind words with soft and tender
ones, so there was no quarrelling, and by-and-by they became ashamed
to speak to her harshly.
At the expiration of a year the merchant received intelligence of the
arrival of one of his richest ships, which had escaped the storm. He
prepared to set off to a distant port to claim his property; but before
he went he asked each daughter what gift he should bring back for her.
The eldest wished for pearls; the second for diamonds; but the third
said, "Dear father, bring me a white rose."
Now it is no easy task to find a white rose in that country, yet, as
Beauty was his kindest daughter, and was very fond of flowers, her
father said he would try what he could do. So he kissed all three,
and bade them good-by. And when the time came for him to go home, he
had bought pearls and jewels for the two eldest, but he had sought
everywhere in vain for the white rose; and when he went into any garden
and asked for such a thing, the people laughed at him, and asked him
who had ever heard of a white rose. This grieved him very much, for his
third daughter was his dearest child; and as he was journeying home,
thinking what he should bring her, he lost his way in a wood. The night
was closing in, and as the merchant was aware that there were many
bears in that country, he became very anxious to find a shelter for
By-and-by he perceived afar off a light, which appeared to come from a
human dwelling, and he urged on his tired horse till he gained the
spot. Instead of the woodman's hut on a hill which he had expected to
see, he found himself in front of a magnificent castle, built of white
marble. Approaching the door, he blew a golden horn which hung from a
chain by the side of it, and as the blast echoed through the wood, the
door slowly unclosed, and revealed to him a wide and noble hall,
illuminated by myriads of golden lamps.
He looked to see who had admitted him, but perceiving no one, he said:
"Sir porter, a weary traveler craves shelter for the night."
To his amazement, two hands, without any body, moved from behind the
door, and taking hold of his arm drew him gently into the hall.
He perceived that he was in a fairy palace, and putting his own hands
in a friendly pressure on one of the ghostly hands, said:
"You are very kind, but I cannot leave my horse out in the cold."
The hand beckoned, and another pair of shadowy hands crossed the hall,
and went outside and led away the horse to the stable.
Then the merchant's first friends led him gently onwards till he stood
in a large and splendid dining-room, where a costly banquet was spread,
evidently intended for him, for the hands placed a chair for him and
handed him the dishes, and poured out a refreshing drink for him, and
waited on him while he supped.
When his repast was over, they touched him, and beckoned to him; and
following them, he found himself in a bedroom furnished with great
elegance; the curtains were made of butterflies' wings sewn together.
The hands undressed the stranger, prepared him a bath of rose-water,
lifted him into bed and put out the light.
Then the merchant fell asleep. He did not awake till late the
next morning. The sun was streaming in through the beautiful
window-curtains, and the birds were uttering their shrill cries in
the woods. In that country a singing bird is as rare as a white rose.
As he sprang out of bed some bells rang a silvery chime, and he
perceived that he had shaken them by his own movements, for they were
attached to the golden bed-rail, and tinkled as he shook it.
At the sound the bedroom door opened, and the hands entered bearing a
costly suit of clothes, all embroidered with gold and jewels. Again
they prepared a bath of rose-water, and attended on and dressed the
merchant. And when his toilette was completed, they led him out of his
room and downstairs to a pretty little room, where breakfast awaited
When he had quite finished eating he thought that it was time to resume
his journey; therefore, laying a costly diamond ring on the table, he
"Kind fairy, whoever you may be to whom I owe this hospitality, accept
my thanks and this small token of my gratitude."
The hands took the gift up, and the merchant therefore considered that
it was accepted. Then he left the castle and proceeded to the stables
to find and saddle his horse.
The path led through a most enchanting garden full of the fairest
flowers, and as the merchant proceeded, he paused occasionally to
glance at the wonderful plants and choice flowers around him. Suddenly
his eyes rested on a white rose-tree, which was quite weighed down by
its wealth of blossoms.
He remembered his promise to his youngest daughter.
"Ah!" he thought, "at last I have found a white rose. The fairy who
has been so generous to me already will not grudge me a single flower
from amongst so many."
And bending down, he gathered a white rose.
At that moment he was startled by a loud and terrific roar, and a
fierce lion sprang on him and exclaimed in tones of thunder:
"Whoever dares to steal my roses shall be eaten up alive."
Then the merchant said: "I knew not that the garden belonged to you; I
plucked only a rose as a present for my daughter; can nothing save my
"No!" said the Lion, "nothing, unless you undertake to come back in a
month, and bring me whatever meets you first on your return home. If
you agree to this, I will give you your life; and the rose, too, for
But the man was unwilling to do so, and said, "It may be my youngest
daughter, who loves me most, and always runs to meet me when I go
home." But then he thought again, "It may, perhaps, be only a cat or a
dog." And at last he yielded with a heavy heart, and took the rose, and
said he would give the Lion whatever should meet him first on his
As he came near home, it was his youngest and dearest daughter that met
him; she came running out and kissed him, and welcomed him home; and
when she saw that he had brought her the rose, she was still more glad.
But her father began to be very sorrowful, and to weep, saying, "Alas!
my dearest child! I have bought this flower at a high price, for I have
said I would give you to a wild lion, and when he has you, he will,
perhaps, tear you in pieces and eat you."
And he told her all that had happened, and said she should not go, let
what would come of it.
But she comforted him, and said, "Dear father, the word you have given
must be kept; I will go with you to the Lion and coax him; perhaps he
will let us both return safe home again."
The time now arrived for the merchant to return to the Lion's palace,
and he made preparations for his dreadful journey. Beauty had so fully
made up her mind to accompany him, that nothing could turn her from
her purpose. Her father, seeing this, determined to take her, and they
accordingly set out on their journey. The horses galloped swiftly
across the forest, and speedily reached the palace. As they entered
they were greeted with the most enchanting music; but no living
creature was to be seen. On entering the salon, the furniture of which
was of the most costly kind, they found a rich repast prepared for
them, consisting of every delicacy. Beauty's heart failed her, for she
feared something strange would soon happen. They, however, sat down,
and partook freely of the various delicacies. As soon as they had
finished, the table was cleared by the hands. Shortly afterward there
was a knock at the door.
"Enter," replied the merchant; and immediately the door flew open, and
the same monster that had seized the merchant entered the room.
The sight of his form terrified both the merchant and his daughter; as
for Beauty, she almost fainted with fright.
But the Lion, having a handsome mantle thrown over him, advanced toward
them, and seating himself opposite Beauty, said: "Well, merchant, I
admire your fidelity in keeping your promise; is this the daughter for
whom you gathered the rose?"
"Yes," replied the merchant; "so great is my daughter's love to me that
she met me first on my return home, and she is now come here in
fulfillment of my promise."
"She shall have no reason to repent it," said the Lion, "for everything
in this palace shall be at her command. As for yourself, you must
depart on the morrow, and leave Beauty with me. I will take care that
no harm shall happen to her. You will find an apartment prepared for
her." Having said this, he arose, wished them good-night, and departed.
Poor Beauty heard all that passed, and she trembled from head to
foot with fear. As the night was far advanced the merchant led Beauty
to the apartment prepared for her, and she retired to rest. This room
was furnished in the richest manner. The chairs and sofas were
magnificently adorned with jewels. The hangings were of the finest silk
and gold, and on all sides were mirrors reaching from the floor to the
ceiling; it contained, in fact, everything that was rich and splendid.
Beauty and her father slept soundly, notwithstanding their sorrow at
the thought of so soon parting. In the morning they met in the salon,
where a handsome breakfast was ready prepared, of which they partook.
When they had concluded, the merchant prepared for his departure; but
Beauty threw herself on his neck and wept. He also wept at the thought
of leaving her in this forlorn state, but he could not delay his return
forever, so at length he rushed into the courtyard, mounted his horse,
and soon disappeared.
Poor Beauty, now left to herself, resolved to be as happy as she could.
She amused herself by walking in the gardens and gathering the white
roses, and when tired of that she read and played on the harp which she
found in her room. On her dressing-table she found these lines, which
greatly comforted her:
"Welcome, Beauty! dry your tears,
Banish all your sighs and fears;
You are queen and mistress here,
Whate'er you ask for shall appear."
After amusing herself thus for some time she returned to the salon,
where she found dinner ready prepared. The most delightful music was
played during the whole of dinner. When Beauty had finished, the table
was cleared, and the most delicious fruits were produced. At the same
hour as on the preceding day the Lion rapped at the door, and asked
permission to enter. Beauty was terrified, and with a trembling voice
she said: "Come in." He then entered, and advancing toward Beauty, who
dared not look up, he said: "Will you permit me to sit with you?" "That
is as you please," replied she. "Not so," said the Lion, "for you are
mistress here; and if my company is disagreeable I will at once
Beauty, struck with the courtesy of the Lion, and with the friendly
tone of his voice, began to feel more courageous; and she desired him
to be seated. He then entered into the most agreeable conversation,
which so charmed Beauty that she ventured to look up; but when she saw
his terrible face she could scarcely avoid screaming aloud. The Lion,
seeing this, got up, and making a respectful bow, wished her
good-night. Soon after, Beauty herself retired to rest.
On the following day she amused herself as before, and began to
feel more reconciled to her condition; for she had everything at her
command which could promote her happiness. As evening approached she
anticipated the visit of the Lion; for, notwithstanding his terrible
looks, his conversation and manners were very pleasing. He continued to
visit her every day, till at length she began to think he was not so
terrible as she once thought him. One day when they were seated
together the Lion took hold of her hand, and said in a gentle voice:
"Beauty, will you marry me?" She hastily withdrew her hand, but made no
reply; at which the Lion sighed deeply and withdrew. On his next visit
he appeared sorrowful and dejected, but said nothing. Some weeks after
he repeated the question, when Beauty replied: "No, Lion, I cannot
marry you, but I will do all in my power to make you happy." "This you
cannot do," replied he, "for unless you marry me I shall die." "Oh, say
not so," said Beauty, "for it is impossible that I can ever marry you."
The Lion then departed, more unhappy than ever.
Amidst all this, Beauty did not forget her father. One day she felt
a strong desire to know how he was, and what he was doing; at that
instant she cast her eyes on a mirror and saw her father lying on a
sick-bed, in the greatest pain, whilst her sisters were trying on some
fine dresses in another room. At this sad sight poor Beauty wept
When the Lion came as usual he perceived her sorrow, and inquired the
cause. She told him what she had seen, and how much she wished to go
and nurse her father. He asked her if she would promise to return at
a certain time if she went. Beauty gave him her promise, and he
immediately presented her with a rose, like that which her father
had plucked, saying: "Take this rose, and you may be transported to
whatever place you choose; but, remember, I rely on your promise to
return." He then withdrew.
Beauty felt very grateful for his kindness. She wished herself in her
father's cottage, and immediately she was at the door.
Full of joy, she entered the house, ran to her father's room, and fell
on her knees by his bedside and kissed him. His illness had been much
increased by fretting for poor Beauty, who he thought had long since
died, either from fear or by the cruel monster. He was overcome with
joy on finding her still alive. He now soon began to recover under the
affectionate nursing of Beauty. The two sisters were very much annoyed
at Beauty's return, for they had hoped that the Lion would have
destroyed her. They were greatly annoyed to see her so superbly
dressed, and felt extremely vexed to think that Beauty should have
clothes as splendid as a queen's, whilst they could not get anything
half so fine.
Beauty related all that had passed in the Beast's palace, and told them
of her promise to return on such a day. The two sisters were so very
jealous that they determined to ruin her prospects if possible. The
eldest said to the other: "Why should this minx be better off than we
are? Let us try to keep her here beyond the time; the monster will then
be so enraged with her for breaking her promise, that he will destroy
her at once when she returns." "That is well thought of," replied the
sister. "We will keep her."
In order to succeed, they treated Beauty with the greatest affection,
and the day before her intended departure they stole the rose which she
had told them was the means of conveying her in an instant wherever she
might wish. Beauty was so much affected by their kindness that she was
easily persuaded to remain a few days. In the meantime the envious
sisters thought of enriching themselves by means of the rose, and they
accordingly wished themselves in some grand place. Instead of being
carried away as they expected, the rose withered, and they heard a most
terrible noise, which so alarmed them that they threw down the flower
and hid themselves.
Beauty was greatly troubled at the loss of her rose, and sought
everywhere for it, but in vain. She happened, however, to enter her
sisters' room, and, to her great joy, saw it lying withered on the
floor; but as soon as she picked it up, it at once recovered all its
freshness and beauty. She then remembered her broken promise, and,
after taking leave of her father, she wished herself in the Beast's
palace, and in an instant she was transported thither. Everything was
just as she had left it; but the sweet sounds of music which used to
greet her were now hushed, and there was an air of apparent gloom
hanging over everything. She herself felt very melancholy, but she
knew not why.
At the usual time she expected a visit from the Lion, but no Lion
appeared. Beauty, wondering what all this could mean, now reproached
herself for her ingratitude in not having returned as she promised. She
feared the poor Beast had died of grief, and she thought that she could
have married him rather than suffer him to die. She resolved to seek
him in the morning in every part of the palace. After a miserable and
sleepless night, she arose early and ran through every apartment, but
no Lion could be seen. With a sorrowful heart she went into the garden,
saying, "Oh that I had married the poor Lion who has been so kind to
me; for, terrible though he is, I might have saved his life. I wish I
could once more see him."
At that moment she arrived at a plot of grass where the poor Lion lay
as if dead. Beauty ran toward him, and knelt by his side, and seized
He opened his eyes and said: "Beauty, you forgot your promise, in
consequence of which I must die."
"No, dear Lion," exclaimed Beauty, weeping, "no, you shall not die.
What can I do to save you?"
"Will you marry me?" asked he.
"Yes," replied Beauty, "to save your life."
No sooner had these words passed her lips than the lion-form
disappeared, and she saw at her feet a handsome Prince, who thanked her
for having broken his enchantment. He told her that a wicked magician
had condemned him to wear the form of a lion until a beautiful lady
should consent to marry him; a kind fairy had, however, given him the
magic rose to help him.
At the same instant that the Prince was changed the whole palace became
full of courtiers, all of whom had been rendered invisible when the
Prince was enchanted.
The Prince now led Beauty into the palace, where she found her father.
The Prince related all to him, and asked him to allow Beauty to become
his wife, to which he cheerfully assented, and the nuptials were
solemnized with great rejoicing.
The good fairy appeared to congratulate the Prince on his deliverance
and on his marriage with Beauty. As for the two sisters, she punished
them severely for their jealous and unkind behavior. But the Prince and
his wife Beauty lived happily together in the royal palace for many,