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Beauty and the Beast
             2634     2006-10-23
 A long time ago and far away, there lived a merchant and his three daughters. The older girls were proud, while the youngest girl was generous and kind.

One day, the merchant heard that all his ships had been lost in a storm. He was penniless and would have to move to a tiny cottage on the edge of the woods.

"Everything will be alright," said the youngest daughter, Beauty,. "We can all help. We don't need any servants as the house is so small."

The merchant was very grateful to Beauty. The older girls were very upset, and were no help at all.

In no time at all, Beauty had the little cottage spick and span.

One day, a messenger arrived.

"I have good news," he said to the merchant. "One of your ships has made harbour. You are needed to oversee matters in the unloading."

"Oh, good news indeed!" said the merchant. He called his daughters around him. they were delighted when they heard the news.

"Does this mean that we can move back home?" asked the oldest daughter.

"First things first," said her father. "If there is a profit, I'll bring you all back a present. You must tell me what you would like."

"Oh, a beautiful dress, father," cried the first.

"A new hat, father," said the second.

"What about you, Beauty?" asked the merchant.

Beauty simply said," A red rose please, father."

The merchant set out that very day for the town with the messenger. He completed his business, and found that he had indeed made a profit. There was enough to buy his daughters' presents and some to invest. The dress and hat were soon bought, but there were no roses to be had in the town.

It was evening when he set out for home.

"Maybe I'll be able to find one on the way home," he said to himself.

He was still far from home when it started to grow dark. He was in an unfamiliar part of the forest, and knew that he would soon be lost if he did not find somewhere for the night. He suddenly saw some lights and soon found himself outside a vast mansion.

"I did not know that this was here," said the merchant. "I must really be lost!"

The merchant went into the house as the front door was open. He looked around, but there was nobody to be seen. He suddenly sniffed the air. He could smell delicious food. A table in the dining room was laid for one, so he sat and ate a hearty supper.

He suddenly remembered his horse, and went to stable it for the night, but it had already been done, and the horse was tucking into a bag of oats.

'How strange,' thought the merchant, returning to the house. There, a bedroom had been prepared for him. He slept well, and in the morning, found all his clothes had been cleaned, breakfast was ready and his horse was saddled.

At the front door, he turned to thank his unseen host, but then he saw the garden. I was full of roses - roses of every different colour.

"Now I can get Beauty's present," said the merchant, and he picked a red rose.

The merchant nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard a furious roar.

"Have I not been a good host? roared the voice. "I fed you, gave you a bed for the night and stabled your horse, and you repay me by stealing from me."

The owner of the voice then came into sight. The merchant shuddered. It was the ugliest creature he had ever seen.

"I am very sorry, " said the merchant. "I picked it for my daughter."

"If you wish to live, you must send the first living thing you see when you arrive home, " said the Beast.

"Very well," said the merchant. He knew that his dog usually greeted him first.

He then set off for home. But to his dismay, it was Beauty who ran out of the house to greet him. The dog was lying asleep in the sun.

The other girls came out to empty the saddle bags and to see their presents. He went quietly into the house. Beauty was worried and followed him in.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"I must send you to the Beast's house," he said sadly, and then told Beauty what had happened.

"I will go," said Beauty. "We must keep your promise."

"But you have not seen him," said her father. "I will still go," said Beauty. "He surely cannot be as ugly as you say."

But Beauty did shudder the first time she saw the Beast at the house in the middle of the forest. The Beast pretended not to notice her shudder, and showed her around the house and gardens. She had a beautiful room and lovely clothes, and he gave her a magic mirror so that she could see her family whenever she wanted to.

The Beast spent every afternoon with her, and gradually she became used to his ugly face and looked forward to seeing him.

One afternoon the Beast said, "Beauty, do you love me?"

"Love you?" repeated Beauty. "No, But I do like you, I like you a lot."

"Never mind," said the Beast and he left her, much earlier than usual.

Beauty looked in her mirror and saw that her sister was getting ready to be married.

Beauty asked the Beast if she could go to the wedding.

The Beast agreed, and he sent her in a beautiful carriage with a lovely present.

"Don't go back to him," said her father, after the wedding.

"I must," said Beauty. "I have promised to stay."

On her return, the Beast seemed very pleased to see her, and gave her all sorts of gifts, and spent a great deal of time with her.

The next time that Beauty looked in the mirror, her other sister was preparing for her wedding.

"Please may I go?" Beauty asked the Beast. "I promise I shall return again."

Again, Beauty went with gifts for her sister's wedding.

She returned soon after the wedding, and again the Beast seemed delighted to have her back.

Beauty did not look in her mirror for a long time after that, but suddenly remembered it one afternoon when the Beast could not join her.

What she saw made her feel quite weak. Her father was ill in bed, and there were doctors and her sisters standing around him shaking their heads.

As soon as the Beast returned, Beauty ran to him. "Please, I must go home," she said. " My father is very ill and I must be with him."

"Very well," said the Beast. "But please take this ring with you. If the stone is bright then I am well, but if it turns dull, I am dying."

Beauty arrived home to find her father as she had seen him.

"He's been asking for you," said her sisters.

As soon as he saw his daughter, the merchant began to improve. Autumn came and went, and the merchant begged Beauty to stay.

"I am still a little weak," he said. " And it will be winter soon. Return to the Beast in spring."

Beauty agreed, and Christmas and winter were spent at the cottage.

One day, in early spring, Beauty was sorting through some drawers and found the ring that the Beast had given her.

The stone was dull and lifeless.

"I must go back!" she cried.

She left the cottage, the carriage speeding to take her back to the Beast's mansion.

"Please, don't let me be too late," she wept. She had grown very fond of the Beast, and was very upset that she hadn't looked at the ring for so long.

The carriage swept into the drive and went up to the house. She leapt out and ran into the house, but the Beast was nowhere to be found. She called and called, but there was no answer.

" He must be in the garden," she said, and she ran out, calling his name.

"Beauty," she heard his voice gently whisper. She found him by a great bush of red roses.

Beauty ran to him and sat down to cradle his ugly head in her arms. She was crying and telling him how sorry she was. He was very weak.

"Oh, Beast, " she wept. "Please don't die. I do love you."

There was a sudden flash of light, and Beauty no longer held the Beast in her arms! She looked up and saw a handsome man standing by the rose bush.

"Where is the Beast?" she asked, looking round.

"Here," said the man, " I was the Beast and I was dying. I needed you to say that you love me. Now my stepmother's spell has been lifted."

Beauty was delighted, and she and the young man were soon married. They lived happily in the beautiful mansion with the rose garden.

  • kitty     kitty 
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