Once upon a time,
In the days when France was covered with dark woods and darker mysteries,
There lived a merchant with his three daughters.
He has once been a wealthy man,
And his daughters had worn the finest dresses in the kingdom.
But recently, several of the ships have been lost at sea,
And now all the money was gone.
The two oldest daughters could not bear to be poor,
And they did nothing but whine and complain.
But the youngest daughter, Beauty,
Simply hung up her fine dresses and went to work.
She scrubbed, she cleansed, she prepared the meals,
And she comforted her poor father and his sadness.
Then one day, he came to her with wonderful news.
"Beauty", he said, “A miracle has happened.
One of my ships has returned to port.
A fortune has been restored.
We will be rich again!"
He set off for the town at once.
As he was leaving, he hugged his daughters to him.
"What would you like for a present?" he asked.
"A fine dress", said the first.
"A rich jewel", said the second.
But Beauty only smiled.
"a rose", she said, “only a rose."
The merchant rode to the city
And found that the miracle had not happen after all.
Yes, one of his ships had come into port,
But the spices and fabrics on board had been ruined by the salt water.
So he started home again, even poorer then when he had set out.
On the way home, he had to ride through a thorny black wood.
A huge thunderstorm suddenly struck.
And the merchant, already lost, became terrified.
"I'll never find the way out", he thought. “I’ll never see my daughters again"
At that moment, a golden lightening shuddered through the sky.
And the merchant could clearly see what lay in front of him.
It was a castle, enormous and black.
With his last bit of strength, he rode towards it.
When the merchant reached the castle,
He know he had entered a strange fairy land indeed.
He was welcomed into the great hall;
His dripping cloak was taken away;
His horse was stapled;
He's given an elegant dinner.
And he was put to bed in a soft sheet.
But in all the deed, he did not see a single soul.
All the works were done by ghostly unseen hands.
And he felt the breath of spirit all about him.
In the morning, the merchant woke early.
Afraid of the magic around him, he wanted to get back home as soon as possible.
He dressed quickly, left the castle,
And found his horse, beautifully groomed, waiting for him.
But as the merchant was riding away through the garden,
His eyes fell upon a wonderful rose tree.
He thought of Beauty and her wish for a rose.
So he bent and picked one.
There was a sudden roar, a roar terribly loud as last night's thunderstorm.
The merchant looked up and screamed.
For there, in the path,
Dressed in velvet and silks like a couture,
Was the most hideous beast he had ever seen.
The great monster came closer,
"This is how you repay my hospitality?" the animal roared.
"I give you shelter, dinner, a bed, and you steal my rose.
For that, you will die."
"Oh, spare me!" the merchant cried.
"I only wanted the rose for one of my daughters."
A cunning look came into the beast's face.
"You have daughters?
Well then, I will give you a choice.
If one of your daughters is willing to come back here in your place,
I will spare your life.
If they refuse,
Then you will return here to die.
And do not think you can escape,
For I have enchanted your horse.
You will return here in three days,
With either your daughter, or yourself."
The miserable merchant got on his horse and rode home.
When he told his daughters the story of what had happened,
The two oldest cried and run and screamed.
But Beauty was very calm.
"The matter's very simply", she said.
"The whole thing is my fault.
And so I will go back into the Beast's castle in your place."
The merchant would not hear of the idea.
But on the third morning,
before he was even awake,
Beauty stole out of the house and jumped on the back of the horse.
And by late afternoon, she was at the castle of the beast.
She found herself as the same strange fairytale as her father had.
She was taken inside the castle by unseen hands,
And led to a beautiful bedroom.
The closet was full of lovely dresses,
The shelves full of delicate treasures and interesting books.
Beauty spend the day wondering around the grand castle and ??????grounds.
But still she saw nobody.
That evening, when the clock struck seven,
She was led by unseen hands into the dining hall.
She sat down and waited.
"Welcome, Beauty", said a low voice,
And in walked the Beast.
Beauty was too kind to show the beast how much his ugliness frightened her,
So she neither screamed nor ran away.
She only thanked him politely for his kindness in making her so comfortable.
He jointed her at the table, and they talked through the meal.
She was surprised to see what an interesting and amusing companion he was!
At the end of dinner, he turned to her and said,
"With a look of great lonely sadness, Beauty, will you marry me?"
As kind as Beauty was, there was still only one answer.
"No, Beast, I could never marry you."
In silence, he walked away.
The months had passed in the same way.
Beauty's days were filled with loveliness,
But also with loneliness.
So, more and more, she began to look forward to her evening with the Beast.
How kind he was.
How they laugh together.
How interesting he was to talk to.
But every night he asked the same question,
"Beauty, will you marry me?"
And his voice seems to grow sadder and more hopeless every time he said it.
And she hated to hurt him.
But still her answer was always the same,
"No, my Beast, I could never marry you."
As time went on, Beauty began to miss her family.
One day, she asked the Beast if she could go home for a visit.
The Beast grew very sad,
But he gave his permission.
"You must promise to come back in a month though, Beauty."
He told her with a strange smile,
"Or I shall die of a broken heart."
Beauty promised and went home.
Her family were thought her dead long ago.
What an over joy to see her.
And she, in turn, was thrilled to find them in happy circumstances.
Since she had been gone,
Two of her father's ships had come in and the family was rich again.
Beauty had a wonderful visit.
It was so busy and so marry that never once she think of the Beast.
And then one night, a month the day that Beauty had left the castle,
She had a dream.
She dreamed she saw the Beast,
He was lying by the fountain in front of the castle,
And he was dying.
She heard him whisper, “Beauty..."
And she knew that his heart has broken,
Because she had not returned to him.
Beauty woke from the dream, sprang out of bed, and dressed quickly.
"Where are you going", her sisters demanded.
"I'm going to my Beast!"
Within minutes, she said Goodbye to her father and got on her horse
And was riding through the dark forest towards the castle.
By day which she founded, chilly and damp as in her dream,
And there, lying by the fountain, was the still form of the Beast.
"Beast!" she screamed.
But it was too late.
He didn't answer.
She ran to him and held his heavy hairy head in her arms.
She looked at his face,
The face that when she first seen it,
She had thought it was the ugliest in the world.
But now all she could see in it,
Was his kindness and his gentleness and his love for herself.
"Beast", she wept.
And her tears fell on his fur.
"Beast, you mustn’t die.
You must live, live, so we can be married,
For I love you and I want to be with you always."
With those words, the Beast's eyes opened.
And still weeping, Beauty lean forward and kissed him.
And when she did, something wonderful happened.
For suddenly, the Beast began to change!
The furry body dissolved away,
And there, lying in Beauty's arms, was not a hideous monster,
But a radiant young prince.
The Prince gazed in the Beauty's face
With eyes that were long-last, no longer lonely and sad.
"Thank you, my Beauty", he said,
"You have released me from a terrible spell."
"Not I", she whispered, “it was love. And it released us both."
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