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Title: Beauty and the Beast
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Beauty and the Beast" ***

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Beauty and the Beast


by Anonymous



Edition 1, (November 30, 2006)



                              [Illustration]



                              [Illustration]



BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.


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 first 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 reply 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.

                              [Illustration]

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 cosily close
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:

                              [Illustration]

"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 Beauty 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-bye 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 would 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 the 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. But 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-bye 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 horror, 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-bye, Beauty; good-bye, 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 was 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."

                              [Illustration]

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 even to 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.

                              [Illustration]

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 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-bye 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.

But 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 a 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-bye 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-bye
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 supper-time would never come.

                              [Illustration]

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 afterwards 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.





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