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Children's Stories - Beauty and the Beast


A few centuries ago lived a very wealthy merchant, who had three sons and three daughters. The education he gave them was of the most superior kind. The girls were all handsome: but the youngest was styled the Little Beauty, and hence she was, when grown up, called by the name of Beauty, which made her sisters jealous,--who were proud of their riches, kept only the grandest company, and laughed at their youngest sister, whose study was to improve her mind. They would only marry to a duke or an earl, while Beauty declined every offer, thinking herself too young to be removed from her father's house.

All at once the merchant lost his whole fortune, excepting a small country house at a great distance from town. and told his children, with tears in his eyes, they must go there and work for their living. The two eldest answered that they had lovers, who, they were sure, would be glad to have then, though they had no fortune; but in this they were mistaken, for their lovers slighted and forsook them in their-poverty. As they were not beloved, on account of their pride, everybody said, "They do not deserve to be pitied; we are glad to see their pride humbled; let them go and give themselves quality airs in milking the cows and minding the dairy. But." added they, "we are extremely concerned for Beauty; she was such a charming, sweet-tempered creature, spoke so kindly to our people. and was of such an affable, obliging disposition.'' Nay, several gentlemen would have married her, though they knew she had not a penny, but she told them she could not think of leaving her poor father in his misfortunes. but was determined to go along with him into the country to comfort and attend him. Poor Beauty at first was sadly grieved at the loss of her fortune; "But,'' said she to herself, "were I to cry ever so much, as that would not make things better, I must try to make myself happy without a fortune."

When they came to their country house, the merchant and his three sons applied themselves to husbandry and tillage, and Beauty rose at four in the mornning, and made haste to have the house cleaned and breakfast ready for the family. In the beginning she found it very difficult, for she had not been used to work as a servant, but in less than two months she grew stronger and healthier than ever. After she had done her work, she read, played on the harpsichord, or else sang whilst she spun. On the contrary, her two sisters did not know how to spend their time; they got up at ten, and did nothing but saunter about the whole time, lamenting the loss of their fine clothes and acquaintance.

"Do but see our younger sister," said one to, the other, "what a poor, stupid, mean-spirited creature she is, to be contented with such an unhappy situation.''

The good merchant was of quite a different opinion, he knew very well that Beauty outshone her sisters in her person as well as her mind, and admired her humility, industry, and patience, for her sisters not only left her all the work of the house to do, but insulted her every moment.

The family had lived about a year in this retirement, when the merchant received a letter with an account that a vessel, on board of which he had effects, had safely arrived. This news had liked to have turned the heads of the two eldest daughters, who immediately flattered themselves with the hope of returning to town, for they were quite weary of a country life, and when they saw their father ready to set out, they begged of him to buy them new gowns, caps, rings, and all manner of trifles; but Beauty asked for nothing. for she thought to herself that all the money her father was going to receive would scarce be sufficient to purchase everything her sisters wanted.

"What. will you have, Beauty?" said her father.

"Since you are so good as to think of me," answered Beauty, "be so kind as to bring me a rose; for as none grow hereabouts, they are it kind of rarity."

Not that Beauty cared for a rose, but she asked for something lest she should seem by her example to condemn her sisters' conduct, who would have said she did it only to look particular. The good man went on his .journey; but when he arrived there they went to law with him about the merchandise, and after a great deal of trouble and pains to no purpose, he came back as poor as before.

He was within thirty miles of his own house, thinking of the pleasure he should have in seeing his children again, when, going through a large forest, he lost himself. It rained and snowed terribly; besides, the wind was so high that it threw him twice off his horse; and night coming on, he began to apprehend being either starved to death with cold and hunger, or else devoured by the wolves, whom he heard howling all around him, when, on a sudden, looking through a long walk of trees, he saw a light at some distance, and going on a little farther, perceived it came from a palace illuminated from top to bottom. The merchant returned God thanks for this happy discovery, and hastened to the palace, but was greatly surprised at not meeting with any one in the out-courts. His horse followed him, and seeing a large stable open went in, and finding both hay and oats, the boor beast, who was almost famished, fell to eating very heartily. The merchant tied him up to the manger and walked towards the house, where he saw no one; but entering into a large hall he found a good fire, and a table plentifully set out, but with one cover laid. As he was quite wet through with the rain and the snow, he drew near the fire to dry himself. "I hope," said he, ''the master of the house, or his servants, will excuse the liberty I take. I suppose it will not be long before some of them appear.

He waited a considerable time, till it struck eleven o'clock, and still nobody came; at last he was so hungry that he could stay no longer, but took a chicken and ate it in two mouthfuls, trembling all the while. After this he drank a few glasses of wine, and growing more courageous, he went out of the hall, and crossed through several grand apartments, with magnificent furniture, till he came into a chamber, which had an exceeding good bed in it, and, as he was very much fatigued, and it was past midnight, he concluded it was best to shut the door and go to bed. It was ten the next morning before the merchant waked, and as he was going to rise, he was astonished to see a good suit of clothes in the room of his own, winch were quite spoiled. "Certainly,'' said he, "this palace belongs to some kind fairy, who has seen and pitied my distresses." He looked through a window, but instead of snow, saw the most delightful arbours, interwoven with the most beautiful flowers that ever were beheld. He then returned to the great hall, where he had supped the night before, and found some 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 favours."

The good man drank his chocolate, and then went to look for his horse; but passing through an arbour of roses, he remembered Beauty's request to him, and gathered a branch on which were several; Immediately he heard a great noise, and saw such a frightful beast coming towards him that he was ready to faint away.

"You are very ungrateful," said the Beast to him in a terrible voice. "I have saved your life by receiving you into my castle, and in return you steal my roses, which I value beyond anything in the universe; but you shall die for it. I give you but a quarter of an hour to prepare yourself, and to say your prayers."

The merchant fell on his knees, and lifted up both his hands. "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 desired ate to bring her one."

"My name is not My Lord," replied the monster, "but Beast. I don't like compliments, not I : I like people to speak as they think: and so do not imagine I'll be moved by any of your flattering speeches. But you say you have got daughters. I will forgive you on condition that one of them come willingly and suffer for you. Let me have no words, but go about your business, and swear that, if your daughters refuse to die in your stead, you will return within three months.''

The merchant had no mind to sacrifice his daughters to the ugly monster, but he thought, in obtaining this respite, he should have the satisfaction of seeing them once more; so he promised upon oath he would return, and the Beast told him he might set out when he pleased. "But," added he, "you shall not depart empty handed. Go back to the room where you lay, and you will see a great empty chest; fill it with whatever you like best, and I will send it to your home," and at the same time the Beast withdrew.

"Well,'' said the good man to himself, "If I must die, I shall have the comfort, at least, of leaving something to my poor children."

He returned to the bed-chamber, and finding a quantity of broad pieces of gold, he filled the great chest the Beast had mentioned, packed it, and afterwards took his horse out of the stable, leaving the palace with as much grief as he had entered it with joy. The horse, of his own accord, took one of the roads of the forest. and in a few hours the good man was at home. His children came around him, but instead of receiving their embraces with pleasure, he looked on them, and holding up the branch he had in his hands, he burst into tears.

"Here, Beauty," said he, "take those roses; but little do you think how dear they are likely to cost your unhappy father."

He then related his fatal adventure. Immediately the two eldest set up lamentable outcries, and in a reproachful and malignant tone said all manner of ill-natured things to Beauty, who did not cry at all.

"Do but see the pride of the little wretch," said they. "She would not ask for fine clothes, as we did but no, truly, Miss wanted to distinguish herself; so now she will be the death of our poor father, and yet she does not so much as shed a tear."

"Why should I" answered Beauty; ''it would be very needless, for my father shall not suffer upon my account. Since the monster will accept of one of his daughters, I will deliver myself up to all his fury, and I am very happy in thinking that my death will save any father's life, and be a proof of my tender love for him."

"No, sister." said her three brothers, "that shall not be, we will go and find the monster, and either kill him or perish in the attempt."

"Do not imagine any such thing, my sons," said the merchant; Beast's power is so great that I have no hopes of your overcoming him. I am charmed with Beauty's kind and generous offer, but I cannot yield to
it. I am old, and have not long to live, so can only use a few years, which I regret for your sakes, my poor children."

"Indeed, father," said Beauty, "you shall not go to the palace without me; you cannot hinder me from following you."

It was to no purpose all they could say, Beauty still insisted on setting out for the fine palace; and her sisters were delighted at it, for her virtue and amiable qualities made them envious and jealous.

The merchant was so afflicted at the thought of losing his daughter, that he had quite forgot the chest full of gold; but at night, when he retired to rest, no sooner had he shut his chamber door, than to his great astonishment, he found it by his bedside. He was determined, however, not to tell his children that he was grown rich, because they would have wanted to return to town, and he was resolved not to leave the country; but he trusted Beauty with the secret, who informed him that two gentleman came in his absence and courted her sisters. She begged her father to consent to their marriage, and give them fortunes: for she was so good that she loved them, and forgave them heartily for all their ill-usage. These wicked creatures rubbed their eyes with an onion to force some tears when they parted with their sister, but her brothers were really concerned. Beauty was the only one who did not shed tears at parting, because she would not increase their uneasiness.

The horse took the direct road to the palace, and towards evening they perceived it, illuminated as at first. The horse went of himself into the stable, and the good man and his daughter came into the great hall, where they found a table splendidly served up, and two covers. The merchant had no heart to eat, but Beauty endeavoured to appear cheerful, sat down to table, and helped him. Afterwards, thought she to herself, "Beast surely has a mind to fatten me before he eats me, since he provides such a plentiful entertainment." When they had supped, they heard a great noise, and the merchant. in tears, bid his poor daughter farewell, for he thought Beast was coming. Beauty was sadly terrified at his horrid form, but she took courage as well as she could, and the monster having asked her if she came willingly, "Y-e-s," said she, tremblingly.

"You are very good, and I am greatly obliged to you. Honest man, go your ways to-morrow morning, but never think of returning here again. Farewell, Beauty."

"Farewell, Beast," answered she sighing. and immediately the monster withdrew.

"O, daughter," said the merchant, embracing Beauty. I am almost frightened to death; believe me, you had better go back, and let me stay here."

"No, father," said Beauty, in a resolute tone; "you shall set out to-morrow morning, and leave me to the care and protection of Providence."

They went to bed, and thought they should not close their eyes all night; but scarce had they laid down than they fell fast asleep, and Beauty dreamed a fine lady came and said to her, "I am content, Beauty, with your good will; this good action of yours in giving up your own life to save your father's shall not go unrewarded." Beauty waked and told her father her dream, and though it helped to comfort him a little, vet he could not help crying bitterly when he took leave of his dear child from the uncertainty of again beholding her.

As soon as he was gone, Beauty sat down in the great hall, and fell a-crying; likewise; but as she was mistress of a great deal of resolution, she recommended herself to God. and resolved not to be uneasy the little time she had to live, for she firmly believed Beast would eat her up that night.

However, she thought she might as well walk about till then, and view this fine castle, which she could not help admiring. It was a delightful, pleasant place, and she was extremely surprised at seeing a door, over which was written "Beauty's Apartment." She opened it hastily, and was quite dazzled with the magnificence that reigned throughout; but what chiefly took up her attention was a large library, a harpsichord, and several music books. "Well,'' said she to herself, "I see they will not let my time hang heavily on my hands for want of amusement." Then she reflected, "Were I but to stay here a day, there would not have been all these preparations." This consideration inspired her with fresh courage, and opening the library, she took a book and read these words in letters of gold:-

"Welcome, Beauty; banish fear,
You are queen and mistress here
Speak your wishes, speak your will,
Swift obedience meets them still."

"Alas,'' said she, with a sigh, "there. is nothing I desire so much as to see my poor father, and to know what he is doing." She had no sooner said this than, to her great amazemewnt, she saw her own home, where her father had arrived with a very dejected countenance; her sisters went to meet him and notwithstanding their endeavours to appear sorrowful, their joy, felt for having got rid of their sister, was visible in every feature. A moment after, everything disappeared, with Beauty's apprehensions at this proof of Beast's complaisance.

At noon she found dinner ready, and while at table was entertained with an excellent concert of music, though without seeing anybody; but at night, as she was going to sit down to supper, she heard the noise Beast made, and could not help but being sadly terrified.

"Beauty," said the monster, "will you give me leave to see you sup?"

"That is as you please," answered Beauty, trembling.

"No," replied the Beast; "you alone are mistress here; you need only bid me begone, if my presence is troublesome, and I will immediately withdraw. Everything here is yours, and I should be very uneasy if you were not happy. My heart is good, though I am a monster."

"Among mankind," said Beauty, '`there are many that deserve that name more than you, and I prefer you, just as you are, to those who, under a human form, hide a treacherous, corrupt, and ungrateful heart."

Beauty ate a hearty supper, and had almost conquered her dread of the monster; but she had like to have fainted away when he said to her, "Beauty, will You be my Wife "

It was some time before she durst answer, for she was afraid of making him angry if she refused. At last, however, she said, trembling, "No, Beast."

Immediately the poor monster began to sigh, and howl so frightfully. that the whole palace echoed. But Beauty soon recovered her fright, for Beast, having said in a mournful voice, "Then farewell, Beauty," left the room, and only turned back now and then to look at her as he went out.

When Beauty was alone, she felt a great deal of compassion for poor Beast. "Alas! " said she, "'tis a thousand pities anything so good-natured should be so ugly."

Beauty spent three months very contentedly in the place. Every evening Beast paid her a visit, and talked to her during supper very rationally, with plain, good common-sense, but never with what the world calls wit: and Beauty daily discovered some valuable qualifications in the monster, till seeing him often had so accustomed her to his deformity, that, 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, There was but one thing that gave Beauty any concern, which was that every night, before she went to bed, the monster always asked her if she would be his wife. One day, she said to him, ''Beast, you make me very unhappy. I Wish I could consent to marry you; but I am too sincere to make you believe that will ever happen. I shall always esteem you as a friend; endeavour to be satisfied with this."

"I must," said the Beast, "for alas! I know too well my own misfortune; but their I love you with the tenderest affection. However, I ought to think myself happy that you will stay here. Promise me never to leave me?"

Beauty blushed at these words. She had seen in her glass that her father had pined himself sick for the loss of her, and she longed to see him again.

"I could", answered she, "indeed promise never to leave you entirely, but I have so great a desire to see my father, that I shall fret to death if you refuse me that satisfaction."

"I had rather die myself,'' said the monster, "than give you the least uneasiness. I will send you to your father; you will remain with him, and poor Beast shall die of grief."

"No", said Beauty, weeping, "I love you too well to be the cause of your death. I give you promise to return in a week, for I indeed feel a kind of liking for you. You have shown me that my sisters are married, and my brothers gone to the army; only let me stay a week with my father, as he is alone."

"You shall be there to-morrow morning," said the Beast; "but remember your promise. You need only lay your ring on the table before you go to bed, when you have a mind to come back. Farewell, Beautv."

Beast sighed as usual, bidding her good-night; and Beauty went to bed very sad at seeing him so afflicted. When she waked the next morning, she found herself at her father's, and having rung a. little bell that was by her bed-side, she saw the maid come, who, the moment she saw her, gave a loud shriek, at which the good man ran upstairs, and thought he should have died with joy to see his dear daughter again. He held her fast locked in his arms above a quarter of an hour. As soon as the first transports were over, Beauty began to think of rising, and was afraid she had no clothes to put on; but the maid told her that she had just found, in the next room. a large trunk full of growns, covered with gold and diamonds. Beauty thanked good Beast for his kind care, and taking one of the plainest of them, she intended to make a present of the others to her sisters. She scarcely had said so, when the trunk disappeared. Her father told her that Beast insisted on her keeping them herself, and immediately both gowns and trunk came back again.

Beauty dressed herself; and in the meantime they sent to her sisters, who hastened thither with their husbands. They were both of them very unhappy. The eldest had married a gentleman, extremely handsome. indeed, but so fond of his own person that he neglected his wife. The second had married a man of wit, but he only made use of it to plague and torment every one. Beauty's sisters sickened with envy when they saw her dressed like a Princess, and look more beautiful than ever. They went down into the garden to rent their spleen, and agreed to persuade her to stay a week longer with them, which probably might so enrage the Beast as to make him devour her. After they had taken this resolution, they went up and behaved so affectionately to their sister that poor Beauty wept for joy, and, at their request, promised to stay seven nights longer.

In the meantime, Beauty was unhappy. The tenth night she dreamed she was in the palace garden, and that she saw Beast extended on the grass plot, who seemed just expiring, and, in a dying voice, reproached her with her ingratitude. Beauty started out of her sleep, and bursting into tears, reproached herself for her ingratitude, and her insensibility of his many kind and agreeable qualifications. Having said much on this, she rose, put her ring on the table, and lay down again. Scarcely was she in bed she fell asleep; and when she wakened next mornin, she was overjoyed to final herself in the Beast's palace. She put on one of her richest suits to please him, and waited for evening with the utmost impatience; at last the wished for hour came; the clock struck nine, yet no Beast appeared. After having sought for him everywhere, she recollected her dream, and flew to the canal in the garden. There she found poor Beast stretched out quite senseless, and, as she imagined, dead. She threw herself upon him without any dread, and finding his heart beat still, she fetched some water from the canal, and poured it on his head.
Beast Opened his eves, and said to Beauty, "You forgot your promise, and I was so afflicted at having lost you that I resolved to starve myself. But since I have the happiness of seeing you once more, I die satisfied."

"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."

Beauty scarcely had pronounced these words, when the palace sparkled with lights and fireworks, instruments of music—everything seemed to portend some great event; but nothing could fix her attention. She turned to her dear Beast, for whole she trembled with fear; but how great was her surprise! Beast had disappeared, and she saw at her feet one of the loveliest Princes that ever eye beheld, who returned her thanks for having put all end to the charm under which he had so long; resembled a beast. Though this Prince was worthy of all her attention, she could not forbear asking where Beast was.

"You see him at your feet," said the Prince; "a wicked fairy had condemned me to remain under that shape till a beautiful virgin should consent to marry me. In offering you my crown, I can't discharge the obligations I have to you."

Beauty, agreeably surprised, gave the charming Prince her hand to rise, they went together into the castle, and Beauty was overjoyed to find, in the great hall, her father and his whole family, whom the beautiful lady that appeared to her in her dream, had conveyed thither.

"Beauty," said this lady, "come and receive the reward of your judicious choice; you are going to be a great Queen. I hope the throne will not lessen your virtue, nor make you forget yourself. As for you, ladies," said the fairy to Beauty's two sisters, "I know your heart, and all the malice they contain. Become two statues: but under this transformation, still retain your reason. You shall stand before your sister's palace gate, and be it your punishment to behold her happiness."

Immediately the fairy gave a stroke with her wand, and, in a moment, all that were in the hall were transported into the Prince's palace. His subjects received him with joy. He married Beauty, and lived with her many years; and their happiness, as it was founded on virtue, was complete.


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