Once upon a time there was a rich merchant, who had three daughters. They lived
in a very fine house in a beautiful city, and had many servants in grand
liveries to wait upon them. All their food was served on
gold and silver dishes, and their gowns were made of the richest stuff
sewn with jewels.
eldest were called Marigold and Dressalinda. Never a day passed but these
two went out to some feast or junketing; but Beauty, the
youngest, loved to stay at home and keep her old father
happened that misfortune came upon the merchant. Ships of his which were
sailing the high seas laden with merchandise of great
price, were wrecked, and in one day he found that he was
no longer the richest merchant in the city, but a very poor man.
There was still left to him a little house in the country,
and to this, when everything else had been sold, he
retired. His three daughters, of course, went with him.
and Dressalinda were very cross to think that they had lost all their
money, and after being so rich and sought after, they
must now live in a miserable cottage.
Beauty's only thought was to cheer her old father, and while her two
sisters sat on wooden chairs and cried and bewailed
themselves, Beauty lighted the fire and got the supper ready, for
the merchant was now so poor that he could not even keep
it went on. The two eldest sisters would do nothing but sulk in comers,
while Beauty swept the floors and washed the dishes, and
did her best to make the poor cottage pleasant. They led
their sister a dreadful life too, with their complaints, for not only did
they refuse to do anything themselves, but they said that
everything she did was done wrong. But Beauty bore all their unkindness patiently, for her father's sake.
In this way a whole year went by, and then one day a letter
came for the merchant.
hastened to find his daughters, for he was anxious to tell them the good
news contained in the letter.
children," he said, "at last our luck has turned. This letter says that
one of the ships supposed to have been lost has come
safely home to port, and if that be so, we need no longer live in poverty. We shall not be so rich as before, but we shall have
enough to keep us in comfort. Get me my traveling-cloak,
Beauty. I will set out at once to claim my ship. And now tell me,
girls, what shall I bring you when I come back ?"
"A hundred pounds," said Marigold, without hesitating an
"I want a new silk dress," said Dressalinda, "an
apple-green one, sewn with seed-pearls, and green shoes
with red heels, and a necklace of emeralds, and a box of
"And what shall I bring for you, my Beauty?" asked the
father, as his little daughter helped him to put on his
"Oh, bring me
a rose," said Beauty hastily.
Her father kissed her fondly, and set out.
"You silly girl," said Marigold," you just want our father
to think you are more unselfish than we are--that's what
you want! A rose, indeed!"
sister," said Beauty," that was not the reason. I thought our father would
have enough to do in seeing to the safety of his ship,
without being troubled to do shopping for me."
sisters were very much offended, and went off to sit in their own room to
talk of the fine things they would have when their father
meantime the merchant went his way to the city, full of hope and great
plans as to what he would do with his
he got there, he found that some one had played a trick on him, and no
ship of his had come into harbor, so he was just as badly
off as before.
the whole day looking about to make sure there was no truth in the letter
he had received, and it was beginning to get dusk when he
started out, with a sad heart, to make the journey home
again. He was tired and miserable, and he had tasted no food since he left
home in the morning.
quite dark by the time he came to the great wood through which he had to
pass to get to his cottage, and when he saw a light
shining through the trees, he decided not to go to his home that night, but to make his way towards the light in the wood and
ask for food and shelter.
expected to find a woodcutter's cottage, but what was his surprise, as he
drew near to the light, to find that it came from the
windows of a large and beautiful palace!
knocked at the gates, but no one answered, and presently, driven by hunger
and cold, he made bold to enter, and mounted the marble
steps into the great hall.
way he never saw a soul. There was a big fire in the hall, and when he had
warmed himself, he set out to look for the master of the
house. But he did not look far, for behind the first door
he opened was a cosy little room with supper set for one, a supper the
mere look of which made you hungry.
merchant sat down as bold as you please, and made a very hearty supper,
after which he again thought he would look for the master
of the house.
started off and opened another door, but there he saw a bed, merely to
look at which made you sleepy, so he said to himself:
"This is some fairies' work. I had better not look any
farther for the master of the house."
that he tumbled into bed, and, being very tired, he went to sleep at once,
and slept like a top till it was time to get up in the
morning. When he
awoke he was quite surprised to find himself in such a soft and
comfortable bed, but presently he remembered all that had
happened to him. "I must be going," he said to
himself, "but I wish I could thank my host for my good rest and
my good supper."
got out of bed he found he had something else to be grateful for, for on
the chair by the bedside lay a fine suit of new clothes,
marked with his name, and with ten gold pieces in every pocket. He felt quite a different man when he had put on the suit
of blue and silver, and jingled the gold pieces of money
in his pockets.
went downstairs, he found a good breakfast waiting for him in the little
room where he had supped the night before, and when he
had made a good meal, he thought he would go for a stroll
in the garden.
marble steps he went, and when he came to the garden, he saw that it was
full of roses, red and white and pink and yellow, and the
merchant looked at them, and remembered Beauty's wish.
"Oh, my poor daughters," he said, "what a disappointment it
will be to them to know that my ship has not come home
after all, but Beauty at any rate can have what she wanted."
So he stretched out his hand and plucked the biggest red
rose within his reach.
stalk snapped in his fingers, he started back in terror, for he heard an
angry roar, and the next minute a dreadful Beast sprang
upon him. It was taller than any man, and uglier than any animal, but, what seemed most dreadful of all to the merchant, it
spoke to him with a man's voice, after it had roared at
him with the Beast's. "Ungrateful
wretch!" said the Beast. "Have I not fed you, lodged you, and clothed you,
and now you must repay my hospitality by stealing the
only thing I care for, my roses ?" "Mercy!
mercy!" cried the merchant. "No," said the
Beast, "you must die!" The poor merchant fell upon his knees and tried to
think of something to say to soften the heart of the
cruel Beast; and at last he said, "Sir, I only stole this rose because my youngest daughter asked me to bring her one. I did
not think, after all you have given me, that you would
grudge me a flower." "Tell me about
this daughter of yours," said the Beast suddenly. "Is she a good girl ?"
"The best and dearest in the world," said the old merchant.
And then he began to weep, to think that he must die and
leave his Beauty alone in the world, with no one to be kind to her.
"Oh!" he cried, "what will my poor children do without me?"
"You should have thought of that before you stole the
rose," said the Beast.
"However, if one of your daughters loves you well
enough to suffer instead of you, she may. Go back and tell them what has happened to you, but you must give me your promise that
either you, or one of your daughters, shall be at my
palace door in three months' time from to-day."
wretched man promised. "At any rate,"
he thought, "I shall have three months more of life." Then the
Beast said, "I will not let you go empty-handed."
merchant followed him back into the palace. There, on the floor of the
hall, lay a great and beautiful chest of wrought
"Fill this with any treasures that take your fancy," said
merchant filled it up with precious things from the Beast's
send it home for you," said the Beast, shutting down the lid.
And so, with a heavy heart, the merchant went away; but as
he went through the palace gate, the Beast called to him
that he had forgotten Beauty's rose, and at the same time held out to him
a large bunch of the very best. The
merchant put these into Beauty's hand when she ran to meet him at the door
of their cottage.
"Take them, my
child," he said, "and cherish them, for they have cost your poor father
that he sat down and told them the whole story. The two elder sisters wept
and wailed, and of course blamed Beauty for all that had
"If it had not been for your wanting a rose, our father
would have left the palace in safety, with his new suit
and his gold pieces; but your foolishness has cost him his
"No," said Beauty, "it is my life that shall be sacrificed,
for when the three months are over, I shall go to the
Beast, and he may kill me if he will, but he shall never hurt my dear
father tried hard to persuade her not to go, but she had made up her mind,
and at the end of the three months she set out for the
father went with her, to show her the way. As before, he saw the lights
shining through the wood, knocked and rang in vain at the
great gate, warmed himself at the fire in the big hall, and then found the little room with the supper on the table that made
you hungry to look at. Only this time the table was laid
"Come, father dear," said Beauty, "take comfort. I do not
think the Beast means to kill me, or surely he would not
have given me such a good supper."
next moment the Beast came into the room. Beauty screamed and clung to her
"Don't be frightened," said the Beast gently, "but tell me,
do you come here of your own free will
"Yes," said Beauty, trembling.
"You are a
good girl," said the Beast, and then, turning to the old man, he told him
that he might sleep there for that night, but in the
morning he must go and leave his daughter behind him.
went to bed and slept soundly, and the next morning the father departed,
left alone, tried not to feel frightened. She ran here and there through
the palace, and found it more beautiful than anything she
had ever imagined.
beautiful set of rooms in the palace had written over the doors, "Beauty's Rooms," and in them she found books and music, canary-birds and Persian cats,
and everything that could be thought of to make the time
pass pleasantly. "Oh, dear!"
she hid; "if only I could see my poor father I should be almost
spoke, she happened to look at a big mirror, and in it she saw the form of
her father reflected, just riding up to the door of his
night, when Beauty sat down to supper, the Beast came in.
"May I have supper with you?" said he.
"That must be
as you please," said Beauty.
the Beast sat down to supper with her, .and when it was finished, he said:
"I am very ugly, Beauty, and I am very stupid, but I love
you; will you marry me?"
said Beauty gently. The poor Beast sighed and went away. And every night
the same thing happened. He ate his supper with her, and
then asked her if she would marry him. And she always
said, "No, Beast."
time she was waited on by invisible hands, as though she had been a queen.
Beautiful music came to her ears without her being able
to see the musicians, but the magic looking-glass was
best of all, for in it she could see whatever she wished. As the days went
by, and her slightest wish was granted, almost before she
knew what she wanted, she began to feel that the Beast
must love her very dearly, and she was very sorry to
see how sad he looked every night when she said "No" to
his offer of marriage.
she saw in her mirror that her father was ill, so that night she said to
"Dear Beast, you are so good to me, will you let me go home
to see my father? He is ill, and he thinks that I am
dead. Do let me go and cheer him up, and I will promise faithfully to
return to you."
said the Beast kindly, "but don't stay away more than a week, for if you
do, I shall die of grief, because I love you so dearly."
"How shall I reach home?" said Beauty; "I do not know 'the
Beast gave her a ring, and told her to put it on her finger when she went
to bed, turn the ruby towards the palm of her hand, and
then she would wake up in her father's cottage. When she wanted to come back, she was to do the same thing.
So in the morning, when she awoke, she found herself at her
father's house, and the old man was beside himself with
joy to see her safe and sound.
sisters did not welcome her very kindly, and when they heard how kind the
Beast was to her, they envied her her good luck in living
in a beautiful palace, whilst they had to be content
"I wish we had gone," said Marigold. "Beauty always gets
the best of everything."
"Tell us all
about your grand palace," said Dressalinda, "and what you do, and how you
spend your time."
Beauty, thinking it would amuse them to hear, told them, and their envy
increased day by day. At last Dressalinda said to
"She has promised to return in a week. If we could only
make her forget the day, the Beast might be angry and
kill her, and then there would be a chance for us."
the day before she ought to have gone back, they put some poppy juice in a
cup of wine which they gave her, and this made her so
sleepy that she slept for two whole days and nights. At the end of that time her sleep grew troubled, and she dreamed that
she saw the Beast lying dead among the roses in the
beautiful gardens of his palace; and from this dream she awoke
she did not know that a week and two days had gone by since she left the
Beast, yet after that dream she at once turned the ruby
towards her palm, and the next morning there she was,
sure enough, in her bed in the Beast's palace.
not know where his rooms in the palace were, but she felt she could not
wait till supper-time before seeing him, so she ran
hither and thither, calling his name. But the palace was empty, and no one answered her when she called.
ran through the gardens, calling his name again and again, but still there
shall I do if I cannot find him?" she said. "I shall never be happy
remembered her dream, and ran to the rose garden, and there, sure enough,
beside the basin of the big fountain, lay the poor Beast
without any sign of life in him.
flung herself on her knees beside him.
Beast," she cried, "and are you really dead? Alas! alas! then I, too, will
die, for I cannot live without you."
Immediately the Beast opened his eyes, sighed, and
"Beauty, will you marry me?"
Beauty, beside herself with joy when she found that he was still alive,
"Yes, yes, dear Beast, for I love you dearly."
At these words the rough fur dropped to the ground, and in
place of the Beast stood a handsome Prince, dressed in a
doublet of white and silver, like one made ready for a wedding. He knelt
at Beauty's feet and clasped her hands.
"Dear Beauty," he said, "nothing but your love could have
disenchanted me. A wicked fairy turned me into a Beast,
and condemned me to remain one until some fair and good maiden
should love me well enough to marry me, in spite of my
ugliness and stupidity. Now, dear one, the enchantment is
broken; let us go back to my palace. You will find that all my servants
--who, too, have been enchanted, and have waited on you
all this long time with invisible hands--will now become
returned to the palace, which by this time was crowded with courtiers,
eager to kiss the hands of the Prince and his bride. And
the Prince whispered to one of his attendants, who went out, and in a very little time came back with Beauty's father and
sisters were condemned to be changed into statues, and to stand at the
right and left of the palace gates until their hearts
should be softened, and they should be sorry for their unkindness
to their sister. But Beauty, happily married to her
Prince, went secretly to the statues every day and wept
over them. And by
her tears their stony hearts were softened, and they were changed into
flesh and blood again, and were good and kind for the
rest of their lives.
Beauty and the Beast, who was a Beast no more, but a handsome Prince,
lived happily ever after.
indeed I believe they are living happily still, in the beautiful land
where dreams come true.
Adapted By E. Nesbit