There was once a merchant who had been very rich at one time, but who,
having had heavy losses, was compelled to retire to a little cottage in
the country; where he lived with his three daughters. The two elder ones
were very much discontented at their poverty, and were always grumbling
and making complaints. But the youngest one, who was called Beauty, and
who was as amiable as she was handsome, tried all she could to comfort
her father and make his home happy.
Once, when he was going on a journey to try and mend his affairs, he
called them around him, and asked them what he should bring them when he
returned. The two elder ones wanted each a number of nice presents; but
Beauty, kissing him sweetly, said she would be content with a rose. So
when the merchant was on his way back, he came to an elegant garden, of
which the gate stood open;
thinking of Beauty's rose, he went in,
and plucking a beautiful one, prepared to proceed on his journey.
As he turned to go, he saw a hideous Beast coming towards him, armed
with a sword! This terrible creature reproached him for stealing his
flowers, of which he was very choice; and threatened to kill him on the
spot! The merchant begged for his life, and said, that he had only taken
"a single one to please his daughter Beauty." On this, the beast said
gruffly, "well, I will let you off, if you will bring one of your
daughters here in your place. But she must come here _willingly_, and
meanwhile you may stay and rest in my palace until to-morrow." But, as
you may well believe, the poor father did not feel much like eating or
sleeping; although everything was done for his comfort,and, in the
morning, the Beast sent him home upon a beautiful horse.
But though the birds sang around him, and the sun shone brightly, and all nature was
smiling on his path, the heart of the poor merchant was heavy, when he
thought of his beloved daughters.
When he came near his home, his children came forth to meet him; but,
seeing the sadness of his face, and his eyes filled with tears, they
asked him the cause of his trouble. Giving the rose to Beauty, he told
her all. The two elder sisters laid all the blame upon Beauty; who cried
bitterly, and said that as _she_ was the cause of her father's
misfortune, she alone must suffer for it, and was quite willing to go.
So Beauty got ready for the journey at once. The father (who meant to
return to the Beast _himself_, after embracing his children) tried to
dissuade her, but in vain; and so the two set out together for the
Beast's palace, much to the secret joy of the envious sisters.
When they arrived at the palace, the doors opened of themselves, sweet
music was heard, and they found an elegant supper prepared. As soon as
they had refreshed themselves, the Beast entered, and said in a mild
tone, "Beauty, did you come here willingly to take the place of your
father?" "Yes, sir," she answered in a sweet but trembling voice. "So
much the better for you," replied the Beast. "Your father can stay here
to-night, but he must go home in the morning." The Beast then retired,
giving Beauty so kind a look as he went out, that she felt quite
encouraged. The next morning, when her father left her, she cheered his
heart by telling him that she thought she could soften the Beast's
heart, and induce him to spare her life. After he was gone, she entered
an elegant room, on the door of which was written, in letters of gold,
Lying on the table was a portrait of herself, set in gold and diamonds,
and on the wall, these words: "_Beauty is Queen here; all things will
obey her._" Her meals were served to the sound of music; and at
supper-time, the Beast after knocking timidly, would walk in and talk so
amiably, that she soon lost all fear of him; and once when he failed to
come, felt quite disappointed! At last, one night, he said to her, "Am I
so _very_ ugly?" "Yes, indeed, you are," said Beauty, "but you are so
kind and generous, that I do not mind your looks." "Will you marry me,
then, dear Beauty?" said the poor Beast, with a look of such eager
entreaty in his eyes, that Beauty's heart melted within her, and she was
upon the point of saying "Yes!"
But happening to look towards him, at that moment her courage failed
her, and, turning away her head, she replied softly, "Oh! do not ask
The Beast then bade her good-night, with a sad voice, and went away
sighing as if his heart would break. The palace was full of rooms,
containing the most beautiful objects. In one room she saw a numerous
troupe of monkeys, of all sizes and colors. They came to meet her,
making her very low bows, and treating her with the greatest respect.
Beauty was much pleased with them, and asked them to show her about the
palace. Instantly, two tall and graceful apes, in rich dresses, placed
themselves, with great gravity, one on each side of her, while two
sprightly little monkeys held up her train as pages. And from this time
forth they waited upon her wherever she went, with all the attention and
respect, that officers of a royal palace are accustomed to pay to the
greatest Queens and Princesses.
In fact, Beauty was the Queen of this splendid palace. She had only to
wish for anything to have it; and she would have been _quite_ contented
if she could have had some company; for, except at supper-time, she was
always alone! Then the Beast would come in and behave so agreeably, that
she liked him more and more. And when he would say to her "dear Beauty
will you marry me?" in his soft and tender way, she could hardly find it
in her heart to refuse him.
Now, although Beauty had everything that heart could wish, she could not
forget her father and sisters. At last, one evening she begged so hard
to go home for a visit, that the Beast consented to her wish, on her
promising not to stay more than two months. He then gave her a ring,
telling her to place it on her dressing-table, when she wished either to
go or return; and showed her a wardrobe filled with the most elegant
clothes, as well as a quantity of splendid presents for her father and
The poor Beast was more sad than ever, after he had given his consent to
her absence. It seemed to him as if he could not look at her enough, nor
muster courage to leave her. She tried to cheer him, saying, "Be of good
heart, Beauty will soon return," but nothing seemed to comfort him, and
he went sadly away.
Beauty felt very badly when she saw how much the poor Beast suffered.
She tried, however, to dismiss him from her thoughts, and to think only
of the joy of seeing her dear father and sisters on the morrow. Before
retiring to rest, she took good care to place the ring upon the table,
and great was her joy, on awaking the next morning, to find herself in
her father's house, with the clothes and gifts from the palace at her
At first she hardly knew where she was, for everything looked strange
to her; but soon she heard the voice of her father, and, rushing out of
the room, threw her loving arms around his neck.
Beauty then related all
the kindness and delicacy of the Beast toward her, and in return
discovered that _he_ had been as liberal to her father and sisters. He
had given them the large and handsome house in which they now lived,
with an income sufficient to keep them in comfort.
For a long time Beauty was happy with her father and sisters; but she
soon discovered that her sisters were jealous of her, and envied her the
fine dresses and jewels the Beast had given her. She often thought
tenderly of the poor Beast, alone in his palace; and as the two months
were now over, she resolved to return to him as she had promised. But
her father could not bear to lose her again, and coaxed her to stay with
him a few days longer; which she at last consented to do, with many
misgivings, when she thought of her broken promise to the lonely beast.
At last, on the night before she intended to return, she dreamed that
she saw the unhappy beast lying dead on the ground in the palace garden!
She awoke, all trembling with terror and remorse, and, leaving a note on
the table for her dear father; placed the ring within her bosom, and
wished herself back again in the palace. As soon as daylight appeared,
she called her attendants, and searched the palace from top to bottom.
But the Beast was nowhere to be found! She then ran to the garden, and
_there_, in the very spot that she had seen in her dream, lay the poor
Beast, gasping and senseless upon the ground; and seeming to be in the
agonies of death! At this pitiful sight, Beauty clasped her hands, fell
upon her knees, and reproached herself bitterly for having caused his
"Alas! poor Beast!" she said, "_I_ am the cause of this. How can I ever
forgive myself for my unkindness to _you_, who were so good and
generous to me, and mine, and never even reproached me for my cruelty?"
She then ran to a fountain for cold water, which she sprinkled over him,
her tears meanwhile falling fast upon his hideous face. In a few moments
the Beast opened his eyes, and said, "now, that I see _you_ once more, I
shall die contented." "No, no,!" she cried, "you shall not die; you
shall live, and Beauty will be your faithful wife!" The moment she
uttered these words, a dazzling light shone around--the palace was
brilliantly lighted up, and the air was filled with delicious music.
In place of the terrible and dying Beast, she saw a young and handsome
Prince, who knelt at her feet, and told her that he had been condemned
to wear the form of a frightful Beast, until a beautiful girl should
love him in spite of his ugliness! At the same moment, the Apes, and the
Monkeys, who had been in attendance upon her, were transformed into
elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen, who ranged themselves at a
respectful distance, and performed their duties, as Gentlemen, and Maids
of Honor. The grateful Prince now claimed Beauty for his wife; and _she_
who had loved him, even under the form of the Beast, was now tenfold
more in love with him, as he appeared in his rightful form. So the very
next day, Beauty and the Prince were married with great splendor, and
lived happily together for ever after.