Beauty and the Beast
Once upon a time . . . as a merchant set off for market, he asked each of
his three daughters what she would like as a present on his return. The first
daughter wanted a brocade dress, the second a pearl necklace, but the third,
whose name was Beauty, the youngest, prettiest and sweetest of them all, said
to her father:
"All I'd like is a rose you've picked specially for me!"
When the merchant had finished his business, he set off for home. However,
a sudden storm blew up, and his horse could hardly make headway in the howling
gale. Cold and weary, the merchant had lost all hope of reaching an inn when
he suddenly noticed a bright light shining in the middle of a wood. As he drew
near, he saw that it was a castle, bathed in light.
"I hope I'll find shelter there for the night," he said to himself. When he
reached the door, he saw it was open, but though he shouted, nobody came to
greet him. Plucking up courage, he went inside, still calling out to attract
attention. On a table in the main hall, a splendid dinner lay already served.
The merchant lingered, still shouting for the owner of the castle. But no one
came, and so the starving merchant sat down to a hearty meal.
Overcome by curiosity, he ventured upstairs, where the corridor led into
magnificent rooms and halls. A fire crackled in the first room and a soft bed
looked very inviting. It was now late, and the merchant could not resist. He
lay down on the bed and fell fast asleep. When he woke next morning, an
unknown hand had placed a mug of steaming coffee and some fruit by his
The merchant had breakfast and after tidying himself up, went downstairs to
thank his generous host. But, as on the evening before, there was nobody in
sight. Shaking his head in wonder at the strangeness of it all, he went
towards the garden where he had left his horse, tethered to a tree. Suddenly,
a large rose bush caught his eye.
Remembering his promise to Beauty, he bent down to pick a rose. Instantly,
out of the rose garden, sprang a horrible beast, wearing splendid clothes. Two
bloodshot eyes, gleaming angrily, glared at him and a deep, terrifying voice
growled: "Ungrateful man! I gave you shelter, you ate at my table and slept in
my own bed, but now all the thanks I get is the theft of my favourite flowers!
I shall put you to death for this slight!" Trembling with fear, the merchant
fell on his knees before the Beast.
"Forgive me! Forgive me! Don't kill me! I'll do anything you say! The rose
wasn't for me, it was for my daughter Beauty. I promised to bring her back a
rose from my journey!" The Beast dropped the paw it had clamped on the unhappy merchant.
"I shall spare your life, but on one condition, that you bring me your
daughter!" The terror-stricken merchant, faced with certain death if he did
not obey, promised that he would do so. When he reached home in tears, his
three daughters ran to greet him. After he had told them of his dreadful
adventure, Beauty put his mind at rest immediately.
"Dear father, I'd do anything for you! Don't worry, you'll be able to keep
your promise and save your life! Take me to the castle. I'll stay there in
your place!" The merchant hugged his daughter.
"I never did doubt your love for me. For the moment I can only thank you
for saving my life." So Beauty was led to the castle. The Beast, however, had
quite an unexpected greeting for the girl. Instead of menacing doom as it had
done with her father, it was surprisingly pleasant.
In the beginning, Beauty was frightened of the Beast, and shuddered at the
sight of it. Then she found that, in spite of the monster's awful head, her
horror of it was gradually fading as time went by. She had one of the finest
rooms in the Castle, and sat for hours, embroidering in front of the fire. And
the Beast would sit, for hours on end, only a short distance away, silently
gazing at her. Then it started to say a few kind words, till in the end,
Beauty was amazed to discover that she was actually enjoying its conversation.
The days passed, and Beauty and the Beast became good friends. Then one day,
the Beast asked the girl to be his wife. .
Taken by surprise, Beauty did not know what to say. Marry such an ugly
monster? She would rather die! But she did not want to hurt the feelings of
one who, after all, had been kind to her. And she remembered too that she owed
it her own life as well as her father's.
"I really can't say yes," she began shakily. "I'd so much like to . . ."
The Beast interrupted her with an abrupt gesture.
"I quite understand! And I'm not offended by your refusal!" Life went on as
usual, and nothing further was said. One day, the Beast presented Beauty with
a magnificent magic mirror. When Beauty peeped into it, she could see her
family, far away.
"You won't feel so lonely now," were the words that accompanied the gift.
Beauty stared for hours at her distant family. Then she began to feel worried.
One day, the Beast found her weeping beside the magic mirror.
"What's wrong?" he asked, kindly as always.
"My father is gravely ill and close to dying! Oh, how I wish I could see
him again, before it's too late!" But the Beast only shook its head.
"No! You will never leave this castle!" And off it stalked in a rage.
However, a little later, it returned and spoke solemnly to the girl.
"If you swear that you will return here in seven days time, I'll let you go
and visit your father!" Beauty threw herself at the Beast's feet in delight.
"I swear! I swear I will! How kind you are! You've made a loving daughter
so happy!" In reality, the merchant had fallen ill from a broken heart at
knowing his daughter was being kept prisoner. When he embraced her again, he
was soon on the road to recovery. Beauty stayed beside him for hours on end,
describing her life at the Castle, and explaining that the Beast was really
good and kind. The days flashed past, and at last the merchant was able to
leave his bed. He was completely well again. Beauty was happy at last.
However, she had failed to notice that seven days had gone by.
Then one night she woke from a terrible nightmare. She had dreamt that the
Beast was dying and calling for her, twisting in agony.
"Come back! Come back to me!" it was pleading. The solemn promise she had
made drove her to leave home immediately.
"Hurry! Hurry, good horse!" she said, whipping her steed onwards towards
the castle, afraid that she might arrive too late. She rushed up the stairs,
calling, but there was no reply. Her heart in her mouth, Beauty ran into the
garden and there crouched the Beast, its eyes shut, as though dead. Beauty
threw herself at it and hugged it tightly.
"Don't die! Don't die! I'll marry you . . ." At these words, a miracle took
place. The Beast's ugly snout turned magically into the face of a handsome
young man.
"How I've been longing for this moment!" he said. "I was suffering in
silence, and couldn't tell my frightful secret. An evil witch turned me into a
monster and only the love of a maiden willing to accept me as I was, could
transform me back into my real self. My dearest! I'll be so happy if you'll
marry me . . ."
The wedding took place shortly after and, from that day on, the young
Prince would have nothing but roses in his gardens. And that's why, to this
day, the castle is known as the Castle of the Rose.