here was once a very rich merchant, who had six children, three boys
and three girls. As he was himself a man of great sense, he spared no
expense for their education. The three daughters were all handsome,
but particularly the youngest; indeed, she was so very beautiful, that
in her childhood every one called her the Little Beauty; and being
equally lovely when she was grown up, nobody called her by any other
name, which made her sisters very jealous of her. This youngest
daughter was not only more handsome than her sisters, but also was
better tempered. The two eldest were vain of their wealth and
position. They gave themselves a thousand airs, and refused to visit
other merchants' daughters; nor would they condescend to be seen
except with persons of quality. They went every day to balls, plays,
and public walks, and always made game of their youngest sister for
spending her time in reading or other useful employments. As it was
well known that these young ladies would have large fortunes, many
great merchants wished to get them for wives; but the two eldest
always answered, that, for their parts, they had no thoughts of
marrying any one below a duke or an earl at least. Beauty had quite as
many offers as her sisters, but she always answered, with the
greatest civility, that though she was much obliged to her lovers, she
would rather live some years longer with her father, as she thought
herself too young to marry.
It happened that, by some unlucky accident, the merchant suddenly lost
all his fortune, and had nothing left but a small cottage in the
country. Upon this he said to his daughters, while the tears ran down
his cheeks, "My children, we must now go and dwell in the cottage, and
try to get a living by labour, for we have no other means of support."
The two eldest replied that they did not know how to work, and would
not leave town; for they had lovers enough who would be glad to marry
them, though they had no longer any fortune. But in this they were
mistaken; for when the lovers heard what had happened, they said, "The
girls were so proud and ill-tempered, that all we wanted was their
fortune: we are not sorry at all to see their pride brought down: let
them show off their airs to their cows and sheep." But everybody
pitied poor Beauty, because she was so sweet-tempered and kind to all,
and several gentlemen offered to marry her, though she had not a
penny; but Beauty still refused, and said she could not think of
leaving her poor father in this trouble. At first Beauty could not
help sometimes crying in secret for the hardships she was now obliged
to suffer; but in a very short time she said to herself, "All the
crying in the world will do me no good, so I will try to be happy
without a fortune."
When they had removed to their cottage, the merchant and his three
sons employed themselves in ploughing and sowing the fields, and
working in the garden. Beauty also did her part, for she rose by four
o'clock every morning, lighted the fires, cleaned the house, and got
ready the breakfast for the whole family. At first she found all this
very hard; but she soon grew quite used to it, and thought it no
hardship; indeed, the work greatly benefited her health. When she had
done, she used to amuse herself with reading, playing her music, or
singing while she spun. But her two sisters were at a loss what to do
to pass the time away: they had their breakfast in bed, and did not
rise till ten o'clock. Then they commonly walked out, but always found
themselves very soon tired; when they would often sit down under a
shady tree, and grieve for the loss of their carriage and fine
clothes, and say to each other, "What a mean-spirited poor stupid
creature our young sister is, to be so content with this low way of
life!" But their father thought differently: and loved and admired his
youngest child more than ever.
After they had lived in this manner about a year, the merchant
received a letter, which informed him that one of his richest ships,
which he thought was lost, had just come into port. This news made the
two eldest sisters almost mad with joy; for they thought they should
now leave the cottage, and have all their finery again. When they
found that their father must take a journey to the ship, the two
eldest begged he would not fail to bring them back some new gowns,
caps, rings, and all sorts of trinkets. But Beauty asked for nothing;
for she thought in herself that all the ship was worth would hardly
buy everything her sisters wished for. "Beauty," said the merchant,
"how comes it that you ask for nothing: what can I bring you, my
"Since you are so kind as to think of me, dear father," she answered,
"I should be glad if you would bring me a rose, for we have none in
our garden." Now Beauty did not indeed wish for a rose, nor anything
else, but she only said this that she might not affront her sisters;
otherwise they would have said she wanted her father to praise her for
desiring nothing. The merchant took his leave of them, and set out on
his journey; but when he got to the ship, some persons went to law
with him about the cargo, and after a deal of trouble he came back to
his cottage as poor as he had left it. When he was within thirty miles
of his home, and thinking of the joy of again meeting his children, he
lost his way in the midst of a dense forest. It rained and snowed very
hard, and, besides, the wind was so high as to throw him twice from
his horse. Night came on, and he feared he should die of cold and
hunger, or be torn to pieces by the wolves that he heard howling round
him. All at once, he cast his eyes towards a long avenue, and saw at
the end a light, but it seemed a great way off. He made the best of
his way towards it, and found that it came from a splendid palace, the
windows of which were all blazing with light. It had great bronze
gates, standing wide open, and fine court-yards, through which the
merchant passed; but not a living soul was to be seen. There were
stables too, which his poor, starved horse, less scrupulous than
himself, entered at once, and took a good meal of oats and hay. His
master then tied him up, and walked towards the entrance hall, but
still without seeing a single creature. He went on to a large
dining-parlour, where he found a good fire, and a table covered with
some very nice dishes, but only one plate with a knife and fork. As
the snow and rain had wetted him to the skin, he went up to the fire
to dry himself. "I hope," said he, "the master of the house or his
servants will excuse me, for it surely will not be long now before I
see them." He waited some time, but still nobody came: at last the
clock struck eleven, and the merchant, being quite faint for the want
of food, helped himself to a chicken, and to a few glasses of wine,
yet all the time trembling with fear. He sat till the clock struck
twelve, and then, taking courage, began to think he might as well look
about him: so he opened a door at the end of the hall, and went
through it into a very grand room, in which there was a fine bed; and
as he was feeling very weary, he shut the door, took off his clothes,
and got into it.
It was ten o'clock in the morning before he awoke, when he was amazed
to see a handsome new suit of clothes laid ready for him, instead of
his own, which were all torn and spoiled. "To be sure," said he to
himself, "this place belongs to some good fairy, who has taken pity on
my ill luck." He looked out of the window, and instead of the
snow-covered wood, where he had lost himself the previous night, he
saw the most charming arbours covered with all kinds of flowers.
Returning to the hall where he had supped, he found a breakfast table,
ready prepared. "Indeed, my good fairy," said the merchant aloud, "I
am vastly obliged to you for your kind care of me." He then made a
hearty breakfast, took his hat, and was going to the stable to pay his
horse a visit; but as he passed under one of the arbours, which was
loaded with roses, he thought of what Beauty had asked him to bring
back to her, and so he took a bunch of roses to carry home. At the
same moment he heard a loud noise, and saw coming towards him a beast,
so frightful to look at that he was ready to faint with fear.
"Ungrateful man!" said the beast in a terrible voice, "I have saved
your life by admitting you into my palace, and in return you steal my
roses, which I value more than anything I possess. But you shall atone
for your fault: you shall die in a quarter of an hour."
The merchant fell on his knees, and clasping his hands, said, "Sir, I
humbly beg your pardon: I did not think it would offend you to gather
a rose for one of my daughters, who had entreated me to bring her one
home. Do not kill me, my lord!"
"I am not a lord, but a beast," replied the monster; "I hate false
compliments: so do not fancy that you can coax me by any such ways.
You tell me that you have daughters; now I suffer you to escape, if
one of them will come and die in your stead. If not, promise that you
will yourself return in three months, to be dealt with as I may
The tender-hearted merchant had no thoughts of letting any one of his
daughters die for his sake; but he knew that if he seemed to accept
the beast's terms, he should at least have the pleasure of seeing them
once again. So he gave his promise, and was told he might then set off
as soon as he liked. "But," said the beast, "I do not wish you to go
back empty-handed. Go to the room you slept in, and you will find a
chest there; fill it with whatsoever you like best, and I will have it
taken to your own house for you."
When the beast had said this, he went away. The good merchant, left to
himself, began to consider that as he must die; for he had no thought
of breaking a promise, made even to a beast; he might as well have the
comfort of leaving his children provided for. He returned to the room
he had slept in, and found there heaps of gold pieces lying about. He
filled the chest with them to the very brim, locked it, and, mounting
his horse, left the palace as sorrowful as he had been glad when he
first beheld it. The horse took a path across the forest of his own
accord, and in a few hours they reached the merchant's house. His
children came running round him, but, instead of kissing them with
joy, he could not help weeping as he looked at them. He held in his
hand the bunch of roses, which he gave to Beauty saying, "Take these
roses, Beauty; but little do you think how dear they have cost your
poor father;" and then he gave them an account of all that he had seen
or heard in the palace of the beast.
The two eldest sisters now began to shed tears, and to lay the blame
upon Beauty, who, they said, would be the cause of her father's death.
"See," said they, "what happens from the pride of the little wretch;
why did not she ask for such things as we did? But, to be sure, Miss
must not be like other people; and though she will be the cause of her
father's death, yet she does not shed a tear."
"It would be useless," replied Beauty, "for my father shall not die.
As the beast will accept of one of his daughters, I will give myself
up, and be only too happy to prove my love for the best of fathers."
"No, sister," said the three brothers with one voice, "that cannot be;
we will go in search of this monster, and either he or we will
"Do not hope to kill him," said the merchant, "his power is far too
great. But Beauty's young life shall not be sacrificed: I am old, and
cannot expect to live much longer; so I shall but give up a few years
of my life, and shall only grieve for the sake of my children."
"Never, father!" cried Beauty: "If you go back to the palace, you
cannot hinder my going after you; though young, I am not over-fond of
life; and I would much rather be eaten up by the monster, than die of
grief for your loss."
The merchant in vain tried to reason with Beauty, who still
obstinately kept to her purpose; which, in truth, made her two sisters
glad, for they were jealous of her, because everybody loved her.
The merchant was so grieved at the thoughts of losing his child, that
he never once thought of the chest filled with gold, but at night, to
his great surprise, he found it standing by his bedside. He said
nothing about his riches to his eldest daughters, for he knew very
well it would at once make them want to return to town; but he told
Beauty his secret, and she then said, that while he was away, two
gentlemen had been on a visit at their cottage, who had fallen in love
with her two sisters. She entreated her father to marry them without
delay, for she was so sweet-natured, she only wished them to be happy.
Three months went by, only too fast, and then the merchant and Beauty
got ready to set out for the palace of the beast. Upon this, the two
sisters rubbed their eyes with an onion, to make believe they were
crying; both the merchant and his sons cried in earnest. Only Beauty
shed no tears. They reached the palace in a very few hours, and the
horse, without bidding, went into the same stable as before. The
merchant and Beauty walked towards the large hall, where they found a
table covered with every dainty, and two plates laid ready. The
merchant had very little appetite; but Beauty, that she might the
better hide her grief, placed herself at the table, and helped her
father; she then began to eat herself, and thought all the time that,
to be sure, the beast had a mind to fatten her before he ate her up,
since he had provided such good cheer for her. When they had done
their supper, they heard a great noise, and the good old man began to
bid his poor child farewell, for he knew it was the beast coming to
them. When Beauty first saw that frightful form, she was very much
terrified, but tried to hide her fear. The creature walked up to her,
and eyed her all over; then asked her in a dreadful voice if she had
come quite of her own accord.
"Yes," said Beauty.
"Then you are a good girl, and I am very much obliged to you."
This was such an astonishingly civil answer that Beauty's courage
rose: but it sank again when the beast, addressing the merchant,
desired him to leave the palace next morning, and never return to it
again. "And so good night, merchant. And good night, Beauty."
"Good night, beast," she answered, as the monster shuffled out of the
"Ah! my dear child," said the merchant, kissing his daughter, "I am
half dead already, at the thought of leaving you with this dreadful
beast; you shall go back and let me stay in your place."
"No," said Beauty, boldly, "I will never agree to that; you must go
home to-morrow morning."
They then wished each other good night, and went to bed, both of them
thinking they should not be able to close their eyes; but as soon as
ever they had lain down, they fell into a deep sleep, and did not
awake till morning. Beauty dreamed that a lady came up to her, who
said, "I am very much pleased, Beauty, with the goodness you have
shown, in being willing to give your life to save that of your father.
Do not be afraid of anything; you shall not go without a reward."
As soon as Beauty awoke, she told her father this dream; but though it
gave him some comfort, he was a long time before he could be persuaded
to leave the palace. At last Beauty succeeded in getting him safely
When her father was out of sight, poor Beauty began to weep sorely;
still, having naturally a courageous spirit, she soon resolved not to
make her sad case still worse by sorrow, which she knew was vain, but
to wait and be patient. She walked about to take a view of all the
palace, and the elegance of every part of it much charmed her.
But what was her surprise, when she came to a door on which was
written, Beauty's room! She opened it in haste, and her eyes were
dazzled by the splendour and taste of the apartment. What made her
wonder more than all the rest, was a large library filled with books,
a harpsichord, and many pieces of music. "The beast surely does not
mean to eat me up immediately," said she, "since he takes care I shall
not be at a loss how to amuse myself." She opened the library and saw
these verses written in letters of gold on the back of one of the
"Beauteous lady, dry your tears,
Here's no cause for sighs or fears.
Command as freely as you may,
For you command and I obey."
"Alas!" said she, sighing; "I wish I could only command a sight of my
poor father, and to know what he is doing at this moment." Just then,
by chance, she cast her eyes on a looking-glass that stood near her,
and in it she saw a picture of her old home, and her father riding
mournfully up to the door. Her sisters came out to meet him, and
although they tried to look sorry, it was easy to see that in their
hearts they were very glad. In a short time all this picture
disappeared, but it caused Beauty to think that the beast, besides
being very powerful, was also very kind. About the middle of the day
she found a table laid ready for her, and a sweet concert of music
played all the time she was dining, without her seeing anybody. But at
supper, when she was going to seat herself at table, she heard the
noise of the beast, and could not help trembling with fear.
"Beauty," said he, "will you give me leave to see you sup?"
"That is as you please," answered she, very much afraid.
"Not in the least," said the beast; "you alone command in this place.
If you should not like my company, you need only say so, and I will
leave you that moment. But tell me, Beauty, do you not think me very
"Why, yes," said she, "for I cannot tell a falsehood; but then I think
you are very good."
"Am I?" sadly replied the beast; "yet, besides being ugly, I am also
very stupid: I know well enough that I am but a beast."
"Very stupid people," said Beauty, "are never aware of it themselves."
At which kindly speech the beast looked pleased, and replied, not
without an awkward sort of politeness, "Pray do not let me detain you
from supper, and be sure that you are well served. All you see is your
own, and I should be deeply grieved if you wanted for any thing."
"You are very kind; so kind that I almost forgot you are so ugly,"
said Beauty, earnestly.
"Ah! yes," answered the beast, with a great sigh; "I hope I am
good-tempered, but still I am only a monster."
"There is many a monster who wears the form of a man; it is better of
the two to have the heart of a man and the form of a monster."
"I would thank you, Beauty, for this speech, but I am too senseless to
say anything that would please you," returned the beast in a
melancholy voice; and altogether he seemed so gentle and so unhappy,
that Beauty, who had the tenderest heart in the world, felt her fear
of him gradually vanish.
She ate her supper with a good appetite, and conversed in her own
sensible and charming way, till at last, when the beast rose to
depart, he terrified her more than ever by saying abruptly, in his
gruff voice, "Beauty, will you marry me!"
Now Beauty, frightened as she was, would speak only the exact truth;
besides, her father had told her that the beast liked only to have
the truth spoken to him. So she answered, in a very firm tone, "No,
He did not go into a passion, or do anything but sigh deeply, and
When Beauty found herself alone, she began to feel pity for the poor
beast. "Oh!" said she, "what a sad thing it is that he should be so
very frightful, since he is so good-tempered!"
Beauty lived three months in this palace very well pleased. The beast
came to see her every night, and talked with her while she supped; and
though what he said was not very clever, yet, as she saw in him every
day some new goodness, instead of dreading the time of his coming, she
soon began continually looking at her watch, to see if it were nine
o'clock; for that was the hour when he never failed to visit her. One
thing only vexed her, which was that every night before he went away,
he always made it a rule to ask her if she would be his wife, and
seemed very much grieved at her steadfastly replying "No." At last,
one night, she said to him, "You wound me greatly, beast, by forcing
me to refuse you so often; I wish I could take such a liking to you as
to agree to marry you: but I must tell you plainly, that I do not
think it will ever happen. I shall always be your friend; so try to
let that content you."
"I must," sighed the beast, "for I know well enough how frightful I
am; but I love you better than myself. Yet I think I am very lucky in
your being pleased to stay with me: now promise me, Beauty, that you
will never leave me."
Beauty would almost have agreed to this, so sorry was she for him, but
she had that day seen in her magic glass, which she looked at
constantly, that her father was dying of grief for her sake.
"Alas!" she said, "I long so much to see my father, that if you do not
give me leave to visit him, I shall break my heart."
"I would rather break mine, Beauty," answered the beast; "I will send
you to your father's cottage: you shall stay there, and your poor
beast shall die of sorrow."
"No," said Beauty, crying, "I love you too well to be the cause of
your death; I promise to return in a week. You have shown me that my
sisters are married, and my brothers are gone for soldiers, so that my
father is left all alone. Let me stay a week with him."
"You shall find yourself with him to-morrow morning," replied the
beast; "but mind, do not forget your promise. When you wish to return,
you have nothing to do but to put your ring on a table when you go to
bed. Good-bye, Beauty!" The beast sighed as he said these words, and
Beauty went to bed very sorry to see him so much grieved. When she
awoke in the morning, she found herself in her father's cottage. She
rang a bell that was at her bedside, and a servant entered; but as
soon as she saw Beauty, the woman gave a loud shriek; upon which the
merchant ran upstairs, and when he beheld his daughter he ran to her,
and kissed her a hundred times. At last Beauty began to remember that
she had brought no clothes with her to put on; but the servant told
her she had just found in the next room a large chest full of dresses,
trimmed all over with gold, and adorned with pearls and diamonds.
Beauty, in her own mind, thanked the beast for his kindness, and put
on the plainest gown she could find among them all. She then desired
the servant to lay the rest aside, for she intended to give them to
her sisters; but, as soon as she had spoken these words, the chest was
gone out of sight in a moment. Her father then suggested, perhaps the
beast chose for her to keep them all for herself: and as soon as he
had said this, they saw the chest standing again in the same place.
While Beauty was dressing herself, a servant brought word to her that
her sisters were come with their husbands to pay her a visit. They
both lived unhappily with the gentlemen they had married. The husband
of the eldest was very handsome, but was so proud of this, that he
thought of nothing else from morning till night, and did not care a
pin for the beauty of his wife. The second had married a man of great
learning; but he made no use of it, except to torment and affront all
his friends, and his wife more than any of them. The two sisters were
ready to burst with spite when they saw Beauty dressed like a
princess, and looking so very charming. All the kindness that she
showed them was of no use; for they were vexed more than ever when she
told them how happy she lived at the palace of the beast. The
spiteful creatures went by themselves into the garden, where they
cried to think of her good fortune.
"Why should the little wretch be better off than we?" said they. "We
are much handsomer than she is."
"Sister!" said the eldest, "a thought has just come into my head: let
us try to keep her here longer than the week for which the beast gave
her leave; and then he will be so angry, that perhaps when she goes
back to him he will eat her up in a moment."
"That is well thought of," answered the other, "but to do this, we
must pretend to be very kind."
They then went to join her in the cottage, where they showed her so
much false love, that Beauty could not help crying for joy.
When the week was ended, the two sisters began to pretend such grief
at the thought of her leaving them, that she agreed to stay a week
more: but all that time Beauty could not help fretting for the sorrow
that she knew her absence would give her poor beast; for she tenderly
loved him, and much wished for his company again. Among all the grand
and clever people she saw, she found nobody who was half so sensible,
so affectionate, so thoughtful, or so kind. The tenth night of her
being at the cottage, she dreamed she was in the garden of the palace,
that the beast lay dying on a grass-plot, and with his last breath put
her in mind of her promise, and laid his death to her forsaking him.
Beauty awoke in a great fright, and burst into tears. "Am not I
wicked," said she, "to behave so ill to a beast who has shown me so
much kindness? Why will not I marry him? I am sure I should be more
happy with him than my sisters are with their husbands. He shall not
be wretched any longer on my account; for I should do nothing but
blame myself all the rest of my life."
She then rose, put her ring on the table, got into bed again, and soon
fell asleep. In the morning she with joy found herself in the palace
of the beast. She dressed herself very carefully, that she might
please him the better, and thought she had never known a day pass away
so slowly. At last the clock struck nine, but the beast did not come.
Beauty, dreading lest she might truly have caused his death, ran from
room to room, calling out, "Beast, dear beast;" but there was no
answer. At last she remembered her dream, rushed to the grass-plot,
and there saw him lying apparently dead beside the fountain.
Forgetting all his ugliness, she threw herself upon his body, and,
finding his heart still beat, she fetched some water and sprinkled it
over him, weeping and sobbing the while.
The beast opened his eyes: "You forgot your promise, Beauty, and so I
determined to die; for I could not live without you. I have starved
myself to death, but I shall die content since I have seen your face
"No, dear beast," cried Beauty, passionately, "you shall not die; you
shall live to be my husband. I thought it was only friendship I felt
for you, but now I know it was love."
The moment Beauty had spoken these words, the palace was suddenly
lighted up, and all kinds of rejoicings were heard around them, none
which she noticed, but hung over her dear beast with the utmost
tenderness. At last, unable to restrain herself, she dropped her head
over her hands, covered her eyes, and cried for joy; and, when she
looked up again, the beast was gone. In his stead she saw at her feet
a handsome, graceful young prince, who thanked her with the tenderest
expressions for having freed him from enchantment.
"But where is my poor beast? I only want him and nobody else," sobbed
"I am he," replied the Prince. "A wicked fairy condemned me to this
form, and forbade me to show that I had any wit or sense, till a
beautiful lady should consent to marry me. You alone, dearest Beauty,
judged me neither by my looks nor by my talents, but by my heart
alone. Take it then, and all that I have besides, for all is yours."
Beauty, full of surprise, but very happy, suffered the prince to lead
her to his palace, where she found her father and sisters, who had
been brought there by the fairy-lady whom she had seen in a dream the
first night she came.
"Beauty," said the fairy, "you have chosen well, and you have your
reward, for a true heart is better than either good looks or clever
brains. As for you, ladies," and she turned to the two elder sisters,
"I know all your ill deeds, but I have no worse punishment for you
than to see your sister happy. You shall stand as statues at the door
of her palace, and when you repent of and have amended your faults,
you shall become women again. But, to tell you the truth, I very much
fear you will remain statues for ever."
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