Beauty and the Beast

Chapter 1: Beauty

THERE WAS ONCE a very rich merchant who had three daughters.  Being a man of sense, he spared no cost for their education. His daughters grew to be very beautiful but the first two daughters cared little about their learning.  The youngest was called Beauty, a special name that made her sisters very jealous of her, but this she hardly noticed as she was forever absorbed in one good book or another. 

The two elder sisters had a great deal of pride because they were rich. They gave themselves ridiculous airs, and would not visit other merchants' daughters, nor keep company with any persons but those of the highest standing. They went out every day to parties, balls, plays, concerts, and so forth, and they laughed at their youngest sister who spent so much of her time with a book in front of her face.

Beauty and the Beast

One day the merchant learned terrible news - his ship that had on board hundreds of bolts of cloth and silks he had purchased, was lost at sea.  Overnight, his entire fortune vanished!  

The family had no choice but to move to a small country house at a great distance from town.  The merchant told his children with tears in his eyes that they must live there and work for their living. The two older daughters answered that they would never have to leave the town, for they had several prominent merchants who they were sure would be glad to marry them, though they no longer had a fortune. But the good ladies were mistaken, for their lovers slighted and forsook them in their poverty. As they were not liked on account of their pride, everybody said: They do not deserve to be pitied, we are very glad to see their pride humbled.  Let them go and give themselves quality airs in milking the cows and minding their chickens, like the rest of us. But, added they, we are extremely concerned for Beauty.  She is such a sweet-tempered creature who speaks kindly to everyone rich or poor, and has such a friendly, gracious nature.

The family had no choice but to move to a small country house at a great distance from town.

When the family moved to their country house, the merchant applied himself to farming. Beauty rose at four in the morning before the others awoke and made haste to light the fire, clean the house, and prepare breakfast for the family. In the beginning she found the work very difficult for she was not used to this sort of hard labor.  But in less than two months, she grew stronger and healthier than ever. After she had done her chores, Beauty read a book, played the harpsichord, or sung while she spun yarn.

Her two sisters, on the other hand, did not know how to spend their time. They got up at ten and did nothing but saunter about the whole day, lamenting the loss of their fine clothes and acquaintances. "Look at our youngest sister," they snickered to each other. "See how well-suited she is to a life of menial labor."


Chapter 2: The Letter

The family had lived about a year in the country house when the merchant received stunning news in a letter. The ship that the merchant was sure had been lost at sea had, in fact, safely arrived at port! The family rejoiced in this sudden turn of fortune. When the two older daughters saw their father ready to set out to claim his lost ship, one begged him to bring back for her a necklace of gems, the other demanded a thick golden chain, and Beauty asked only for a rose.

Beauty and the Beast

The good man set off on his journey. When he came to where the ship was docked, oh such problems there were over who properly owned the ship and the merchandise on board.  After a great deal of trouble and pains to no purpose, he came back as poor as before, especially after he bought the fine new necklace and the gold chain he had promised to his two older daughters. Thinking he might come upon a rosebush to satisfy the wish of his youngest daughter, he led his horse deep into the woods.

As the sun set and the wind began to howl, the poor man realized that he was hopelessly lost. Worse, a sudden rain storm drenched him and then a snow storm struck.  He knew he might well starve to death from the cold or hunger, or be devoured by the wolves, whom he heard howling all round him. Then, looking far off into the distance, he saw a small light blinking. Going on a little farther, he noticed it came from a palace lit with candles from top to bottom.

Beauty and the Beast

The merchant hastened to the palace and was greatly surprised at not meeting anyone in the outer courts. Seeing a large stable open, he led his horse inside.  Finding both hay and oats, the poor beast, who was almost famished, fell to eating very heartily. The merchant tied him safely to a post and walked towards the house, where he still saw no one. Entering a large hall, he found a good fire and a table set out with plenty of steaming food. Someone must live here in the house, he thought, but who? And where were they? He drew near the fire to dry his soaked  clothes. "I hope," he thought, "the master of this house or his servants will excuse the liberty I take. I am sure it will not be long before some of them appear."

Someone must live in the house, he thought, but who? And where were they?

He waited a considerable time until the clock struck eleven, and still nobody came.  At last the merchant was so hungry that he could stand it no longer.  Trembling, he took a leg of chicken and ate it in two mouthfuls. After this he drank a few glasses of wine. Growing more courageous, he went out of the hall and crossed through several grand rooms with magnificent furniture, until he came to a bedroom. In the middle of the room was a four-poster bed covered by a red velvet canopy draped with fringes.  As he was very tired and it was past midnight, he concluded it was best to shut the door and go to sleep.


Chapter 3: The Beast

It was ten the next morning before the merchant awoke. As he rose, he was astonished to see a good suit of clothes laid out on the bed that would fit him perfectly. This palace must belong to some kind fairy, he thought, who has seen and pitied my distress. He then returned to the great hall where he had supped the night before, and found a mug of hot chocolate ready made on a little table. "Thank you, good Madam Fairy," said he aloud, "for being so careful as to provide me a breakfast. I am extremely obliged to you for all your favors."

The good man drank his chocolate and then went to look for his horse.  Passing through an arbor of roses he remembered Beauty's request to him, and gathered one from a branch on which were several. Immediately he heard a great crash like thunder.  Spinning around, there loomed a huge monster!  With two tusks in his mouth, fiery red eyes surrounded by bristles, and horns coming out of its head and spreading over its back, the beast roared: "Mortal! Who said you can pluck my rose?"

"Mortal!  Who said you can pluck my rose?"

"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.  Then I saw your beautiful garden and thought you would not miss a single rose, or else I would have asked your permission."

"You are a thief!" boomed the beast. "You must give your life for this crime!"

The merchant fell on his knees and begged for his life for the sake of his three daughters who had none but he to support them. "My lord," said he, "I beseech you to forgive me!  Indeed, I had no intention to offend in gathering a rose for one of my daughters, who asked only for that from my travels."

Beauty and the Beast

"You say you have daughters," replied the monster. "I will forgive you, on one condition.  That one of them comes willingly to suffer in your place. Swear that if any of your daughters refuses to come, you will return here in three months yourself and face your fate."

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

As soon as he got into his house, his daughters came rushing round to greet him, clapping their hands and showing their joy in every way. He gave the necklace to his eldest daughter, the gold chain to his second daughter, and then the rose to his youngest.  As he gave it, he sighed.

Taking his rose, he mounted his horse and rode home.

"Oh, thank you, father!" they all cried.  But the youngest added, "Father, why did you sigh so deeply when you gave me my rose?"

"Oh, it is nothing," said the merchant.  But Beauty wondered.

For several days they lived happily together.  Only Beauty noticed that her father would often stare out the window,  gloomy and sad.  When she approached him and asked what was the matter, he would refuse to say.  Nothing she could do would cheer him up. After begging him over and over to share what was on his mind, at last he gathered together his three daughters and relayed to them his fatal adventure. 

Immediately the two eldest set up lamentable outcries, blaming poor Beauty, and said all manner of ill-natured things to her.

He gathered together his three daughters and relayed to them his fatal adventure.

Beauty spoke: "Since the monster will accept one of his daughters," said she, "I will deliver myself up to all his fury. I am happy in knowing that my death will save my father's life, and be a proof of my tender love for him."

"Beauty, I am charmed with your kind and generous offer," said the merchant. "But I cannot let you do this. I am old and have not long to live.  I will lose only a few years at the most."

"It was the rose I asked for that was the cause of your undoing," said Beauty. "You will not go to the palace without me!  And you cannot stop me from following you." Indeed, she made all the necessary preparations for herself.  Her sisters were secretly delighted at the prospect of getting rid of her once and for all.


Chapter 4:  Beauty Meets The Beast

The next day, the merchant took Beauty behind him on his horse, as was the custom in those days, and rode off to the palace of the beast. 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 into the dining room.  There they saw a table spread with all manner of beautiful glasses and plates and dishes and silk napkins, with plenty of food steaming and hot. They waited and waited, thinking the owner of the house must soon appear.  At last the merchant said, "Let's sit down and see what happens then." When they sat down, invisible hands passed them things to eat and drink.  And so they ate and drank to their heart's content. When they arose from the table it arose too, and disappeared through the door as if it were being carried by invisible servants.

When they sat down, invisible hands passed them things to eat and to drink.

Suddenly the Beast filled the doorway. "Is this your youngest daughter?" he roared.

When the merchant said that it was, the Beast said, "Is she willing to stay here with me?"

He stared at Beauty, who said in a trembling voice, "Yes, sir."

Beauty and the Beast

"Well then, no harm shall befall you," said the Beast.  With that he led the merchant to his horse and said to him, "Honest man, go your ways and never think of coming here again."  Her father gone, the Beast returned to Beauty and said to her, "This house with everything inside of it is yours.  If you desire anything, all you need to do is to clap your hands and say the word, and it will be brought to you." With that he made a sort of bow and went away.

So Beauty lived in the home of the Beast and was waited on by invisible servants.  Whenever she wanted, she had only to clap her hands and whatever food or drink she desired would appear.  If there was a book she wanted to read, she need only to clap and say the title, and the book would appear in her hands.  As you can imagine, this was rather a lovely life.  Yet after awhile, she became tired of the solitude.

One day, the Beast came to her to see how she was getting on.  He looked as scary as ever, but she had been so well treated that she had lost a great deal of her terror of him. They spoke about the garden and the house and her father's business and all manner of things.  Soon her fear of the beast was completely gone.

He looked as scary as ever, but she had been so well treated that she had lost a great deal of her terror of him.

"Beauty," said the Beast, "if my presence is troubles you, I will end our conversation and leave you. I imagine you must find me very ugly."

"I suppose a bit," said Beauty, "for I cannot tell a lie.  But your presence doesn't trouble me at all.  For I believe you are very good natured."

"Yes, yes," said the Beast.  "My heart is good, but still I am a monster."

"Yes, yes," said the Beast. "My heart is good, but still I am a monster."

"Among people," says Beauty, "there are many that deserve the name of monster more than you do.  Men and women may often seem good by how they look, but hidden within them lies a treacherous and ungrateful heart."

Beauty ate a hearty supper with the monster she had once feared and they enjoyed each other's company a great deal.  But she nearly fainted away when he said to her, "Beauty, will you be my wife?"

It was some time before she dared answer, for she was afraid to make him angry if she refused. At last, however, she said trembling, "No, Beast." Immediately the poor monster sighed, and then hissed so frightfully that the whole palace echoed. But Beauty soon recovered her fright, for Beast said in a mournful voice, "I understand.  So it must be.  Then farewell, Beauty," and left the room.


Chapter 5: Growing Fondness

Beauty spent the next three months, for the most part, very contentedly in the palace. Seeing the Beast so often had accustomed her to his deformity, and far from dreading the time of his visit, she would often look on her watch to see when it would be nine, for the Beast never missed coming at that hour. The one moment that was hard was the time before she went to bed when the monster would ask her if she would be his wife. One day she said to him, "Beast, you make me very uneasy to ask this of me every night.  I wish I could consent to marry you, but I am too sincere to make you believe that will ever happen. I will always value you as a friend, please try to be satisfied with this."

Beauty and the Beast

"Alas, this I must do," said the Beast. "I will stop asking. At least you are here, and that makes me glad. Promise never to leave me."

Beauty blushed at these words. "I could," answered she, "indeed, promise never to leave you, but I have so great a desire to see my father that I'm afraid I will fret to death if you refuse me that satisfaction."

"Perhaps this will help," said the Beast. He handed her a gold-rimmed looking glass.  In the mirror was an image of Beauty's father, pining himself sick for the loss of her.

Beauty and the Beast

"Oh!" she cried.  And all the color rushed from her face.

"I would rather die myself," said the monster, "than see you so aggrieved. Go to your father's house. Stay with him for one week.  But if you do not return before the week is past, poor Beast will die with grief."

"I promise," said Beauty, "to return in a week.  But how will I get there?"

"Take this magic looking-glass and this ring," said the Beast.  "Tonight before you go to bed, lay the ring upon the looking glass.  When you wake up tomorrow morning, you will be at your father's house.  When you are ready to come back, do the same thing before you go to sleep and you will be back here when you awake.  Farewell, Beauty."

“Take this magic looking-glass and this ring," said the Beast.

She did as he described, and when Beauty awoke the next morning she found herself at her father's house. With joy, she quickly dressed and came to the kitchen, where her father gave a loud shriek of glee.  He thought he would die of happiness to see his dear daughter again. He held her fast locked in his arms for over a quarter of an hour. As soon as the first transports were over, the father shared with Beauty the good news - both her sisters were married.

Beauty sent for her sisters who hastened with their husbands.  When she had a chance to talk to her sisters alone, she learned that they were both very unhappy.

When she had a chance to talk to them alone, she learned that they were both very unhappy.

The eldest had married a gentleman, extremely handsome indeed, but so fond of himself that he was full of nothing but his own dear self, and neglected his wife. The second had married a man of wit, but he made use of it only to plague and torment everybody, and his wife most of all. Beauty's sisters sickened with envy when they saw her dressed like a princess, and more beautiful than ever.  All of her affectionate behavior did nothing but to raise their jealousy, which was ready to burst when she told them how she could but clap her hands and have at once anything she wanted to eat or drink, or anything else at all for that matter.

The two elder sisters went to the garden to vent about this distressing turn of events.  Said one to the other, in what way is this little creature better than us, that she should be so much happier and living such a better life? "Sister," said the eldest. "A thought strikes my mind. She told us of the promise to stay only for one week. Let us try to keep her beyond the week. Perhaps the monster will be so angry for breaking her word that he will devour her."

“Sister," said the eldest.  "A thought strikes my mind."

"Right, sister," answered the other. They went back to the house and behaved so affectionately to their sister that poor Beauty wept for joy. When the week was past, they cried and tore their hair, and seemed so sorry to part with her that she promised to stay a week longer.

In the meantime, Beauty could not help feeling uneasy that she was likely causing pain for poor Beast, whom she sincerely loved, and really longed to see again. The tenth night she spent at her father's, she dreamed of the Beast in the palace garden suffering, maybe even dying, for loneliness for her. Beauty sat up straight in bed and burst into tears. "Am I not very wicked," said she, "to act so unkindly to Beast, who has tried so hard to please me in everything? Is it his fault if he is so ugly?  He is kind and good, and I love spending time with him, and that is more than enough. Why did I refuse to marry him? I would be happier with the monster than my sisters are with their husbands.  It is not wit or a fine face in a husband that makes a woman happy, but virtue, sweetness of temper, and thoughtfulness, and Beast has all these qualities." Having said this, Beauty rose, put the ring on the looking-glass, and laid down again to sleep.  When she awoke the next morning, she was overjoyed to find herself back in the Beast's palace.


Chapter 6: The Prince

Beauty and the Beast

She put on one of her richest suits, and waited for evening with the utmost impatience.  At last the wished-for hour came, the clock struck nine, yet no Beast appeared. Beauty then feared she had been the cause of his death.  She ran crying and wringing her hands all about the palace, like one in despair.  After having searched for him everywhere, she remembered her dream and flew to the garden, where she had dreamed she saw him.

There she found poor Beast stretched out quite senseless, and, as she imagined, dead. She threw herself upon him.  Finding his heart beating still, she fetched some water from the creek and poured it on his head. Beast opened his eyes and said to Beauty, "You forgot your promise. I was so afflicted for having lost you that I resolved to starve myself.  Now that I have the happiness of seeing you once more, I can die satisfied."

Beauty and the Beast

"No, dear Beast," said Beauty, "you must not die. Live to be my husband! From this moment I give you my hand and swear to be none but yours. I thought I had only a friendship for you, but the grief I now feel convinces me that I cannot live without you."

No sooner had she said this than the hide of the beast split in two.  Out came a most handsome young prince! The Prince told her that he had been enchanted by a magician and could not recover his natural form until a maiden would, of her own free will, declare that she loved him.

Beauty and the Beast

Thereupon the Prince sent for the merchant and his two daughters.  He was married to Beauty and they all lived happily ever after.



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