While working on finding someone willing to find a nice publishing house for my dear Rapunzel, I have also been working on Beauty and the Beast. I had about twenty pages written from a year ago. Those twenty pages came easily, flowed in fact, and then they simply stopped from that point. After I finished Rapunzel I hoped that Beauty and the Beast would again come to me with ease but instead my brain was trying to pull me in another direction, toward Rapunzel's sequel. I did not want to write the sequel yet but I feared I was going to have no choice. And then...a magical thing happened. I was sitting here finishing homework when suddenly parts started coming to me for the book I actually wanted to write. And that is how it has been coming for the last two days...in parts. But as long as it keeps coming I won't complain. Castles Made of Sand was the same way. Only now I am working all high tech and when it comes time to put these parts into the book I can do this amazing thing called copy and paste. No rewriting involved. Welcome to the twenty-first century, Miss Snyder. lol
So since it appears as if Beauty and the Beast will indeed be the next book I write, I have decided to give you all, my beloved blogger people, a preview of this new work of mine. Here are the first ten pages and if you are hoping to find Belle and Mrs. Potts I am afraid you might be disappointed. :)
There are many in this world that are blinded by outward appearances. They equate a pretty face with a sweet nature. They are led astray by false promises mistaking beauty for a beast and vice versa based on few facts and many wild fantasies. As a child I watched my three sisters change from scrawny girls into beautiful young women. I watched them weave spells with a bat of a lash and then break hearts with no more thought than one gives to the kicking of a pebble. The three of them became cruel not only toward the world outside but toward our father and me as well. I would hear them whisper that I was jealous of their beauty and of the hearts they broke. What they never guessed at in their vain assumptions was that rather than envy it was pity I felt toward them. A beautiful face rarely lasts forever but if you keep your heart pure, if you look past appearances and you ignore what others might say; it is possible for anyone born of this earth to find a love that will last until time itself stands still.
I had learned many lessons from those around me by my seventeenth year. My mother had been dead and gone six years, my father suddenly seemed old as if age was a condition that snuck up on him in the middle of the night, and two of my three sisters had already sealed their fates with men as different as night and day. One was a young lord rich in title alone. He was cruel and cold and my oldest sister Adelaide was miserable living with a character so like her own. My other sister, the one closest to me in age, married a very rich man who worshipped her as if she were a goddess in the flesh. To him she gave nothing but harsh words and bitter jeers but he seemed trapped in her web.
I myself had become beautiful I was told but even if I had wanted to dwell on this fact I had no time. My father, the only man I had ever loved, was dying by the hour and of his four children I was the only one that would tend to him. The hours of work on his behalf were nothing compared with the pain I felt as he grew weaker, paler, smaller with each day that passed. When at last the disease took him from me it was close to Christmas and a snow had blown into the French countryside unlike any other I had seen before it. My dear father could not be buried until it passed and I could not bear to be trapped inside of our small home with a rude ninny and the body of a man I loved more than the waking world.
“You cannot leave me alone with a corpse! Where will you go in this mess?” My sister Agnes demanded as I pulled my father’s coat on over my own. All of my life I had been a good girl, doing what was expected, seeing the best in people even if they had little to offer in that regard. When my mother passed I vowed to be good to my sisters, no matter their crimes against me, and I promised myself I would stay home always to assist father as a son might have if any had lived that long. But with my father lying still in the same bed where mother took her last breath and we girls took our first, I felt a crazy painful freedom rise up inside of me. It was the sort that comes with having nothing in this world left to lose.
“Agnes, I have wasted too much of my time on you already. You have many suitors as you are fond of pointing out. I doubt they will leave you here for long. Any of them would brave hell and a blizzard with it to prove their adoration. Goodbye and good luck, sister. I hope life brings us just what we deserve.”
In truth I had no idea where I was going or what I would do when I left my home in a dead man’s coat. The snow was flying so hard and so fast that I couldn’t see my hand before me and, best of all, I really had no where in the world to go. The only plan I could think of as I started off was to follow the light of the moon. It was full that night and incredibly bright despite the storm. It was the only thing one could see for the snow. In my moment of grief induced insanity that was as good a plan as any.
I walked on when my feet went numb, I walked on when my hands began to burn from the wind, I walked on when my chest burned and breathing became a chore. Finally when the trees cleared and I was able to see a large structure before me the world began to fade out. I tried so hard to keep going knowing that if I stopped, if my body dropped where it stood I would freeze to death and die. But I had eaten nothing in three days, I had not a drop of water that day at all, and I had gone farther from my home and my village than ever before. Everything did not go black all at once. There was a gradual fading out and then the world was simply there no more.
When I opened my eyes the first thing I saw was a roaring fire set in a fireplace larger than any I had ever seen before. My first thought was the same of many who survive death: I believed I was dead. I thought I had entered another world. Then I tried to stand. I realized two important facts at once; the first was that I had been stripped down to my bare flesh and the second was that I had been chained to the cold stone wall. Instantly I knew that I had lived and I feared that I was spared only to die at the hands of another. There was but one thing to do. I screamed louder and longer than I ever had before.
A man, obviously the master of the house, come in followed by a chambermaid. It took me a moment to register that the girl was in the room because as soon as I laid eyes on him the rest of the world faded away. I had seen plenty of boys and men in my life but never had I seen a man so beautiful, so…enchanting. I forgot that I was naked, I forgot the manacles upon my wrists, and I lost myself completely in his strange dark eyes. They were forest green, unlike any color I had come across in my life. And his skin was so white it looked almost transparent. Despite the death white of his flesh, his hair was black as coal and as long and well-kept as my sisters’. “Who are you?” He demanded in an icy tone.
I forgot that it was I who should be indignant and I whispered apologetically, “Arianne.”
“Why did you come here?”
This question confused me. “I am not even sure where ‘here’ is, sir.” I replied.
Instead of coming forward to free me and offering me some clothes, perhaps a spot by the fire, he pulled up a heavy looking chair with one hand. His eyes never left mine but this is something I only noticed later. “‘Here’ would be the estate upon which you were found unconscious and nearly frozen to death. Anymore time spent out there and we would not be having this conversation. Instead I would be burying a body.”
“No, you wouldn’t.”
“Beg pardon?” His raised eyebrow was so condescending that it brought me back to my situation. My anger was frozen in veins until that moment. Now it was flowing through me like liquid flame.
My throat burned badly from thirst but I managed to get out, “The ground is too hard right now to break so you wouldn’t be burying my body…at least not for a while. I need water.”
“And what will you give me in return?”
I wanted to hate him. I would have given anything to feel disgust along with my anger but try as I might I could find none. “I will refrain from telling the townspeople that a madman chained me to his wall.”
“Very well.” There was a faint smile at his lips as he gestured toward the girl. It was then that I saw her standing there. “Cherise, get our…guest some water please.”
Turning around to glare at her, he seethed, “Find some!”
What was that supposed to mean? If this was the place I had seen before I fainted surely he had something as common as a well. “Clothes…?” My throat was too dry, my voice barely a whisper. But he heard me.
“They were soaked from the snow. It fell so fast…Well, you know how it was. You were foolish enough to go walking in it. Which makes me wonder…are you a madwoman, Arianne, or are you a…”
The chambermaid returned before he could finish his sentence. “Freshly melted snow, miss. It is nice and cool. I hope it suits you.”
I was accepting the water she ladled from the bucket and poured into my mouth. Nothing had ever tasted sweeter. When I had my fill I backed away from her hand and I turned all of my attention toward the man that I now knew as my captor. “Please free me. I will tell you how I came to be here and when I do you shall see that I mean you no harm.”
“No. Tell me why you were on this land, this estate, which no others besides my family and I have been on in centuries, and then I will consider freeing you…from the chains anyway. After tonight I may never be able to let you leave my home.”
I should have begged him to release me from it all, not just the restraints that bound me to a bitter wall of stone. But instead I looked at him and I replied in a voice I barely recognized, “What would that matter to me? I have no place to go.”
“Splendid!” Something sinister, vicious, flashed across those strange eyes of his and for a moment I felt true fear. My survival instincts, however, warned me to hide this fear at all costs.
“Could I get some clothes, sir?” I tried to make my tone as cold as the look he had a moment earlier but I could not tell if I succeeded.
“Clothes are hard to slip over chains and cuffs so you will get those as well after you tell me how you came to be here.” He let me dangle on his words knowing, perhaps, that I would feel the cold at my back even more since this comfort had been denied me; that I would watch his gaze as it slid over my body and feel the intensity there. Then he stood and grabbed a throw from one of the sofas in the grand room and in a moment of tenderness he came to me and wrapped it around my body the best he could. “Better?” I would have said yes to anything if it meant he would move away, for in that moment I felt a pang of lust for the first time in my life. “Great! Now where were we? Ah, yes…you were about to explain to me why I shouldn’t shoot you for trespassing.”
I disguised my fear with a weapon I hadn’t known I possessed until that night…sarcasm. “Oh, is that all? I thought you wanted to know how I came to be here. Well, sir, you shouldn’t shoot me because if the rest of your home…or shall I call it a castle?...looks anything like this room you will make a mess of your finery. Brains, blood, and all of that. No matter where you aim there is bound to be a disaster for the maids to clean and I doubt they will be thrilled about it. The maids tell the cooks you’ve wronged them, the cook puts the wrong ingredient in your soup, and your wife gets this great big house all to herself. A real tragedy.”
His laughter both surprised me and it eased my mind because it was pure, genuine, like sunlight and roses. Something inside of me knew that it was all that remained of the man he once was but at the time I didn’t understand what this meant. “There is no wife, my staff would kill for me, and I would eliminate the mess by shooting you outside. You have spirit, though, even under these conditions and I appreciate that. Anything else?”
“No, I am afraid that is all I had. My only request is that you bury me as soon as you can. I do not want animals eating me for a midday meal.” I felt almost possessed as I spoke. This was not the girl I had been two days before, the devoted daughter, the vigilant sister, the quiet mouse that said nothing out of the way. Had my father’s death truly driven me to insanity or was it possible that I had shed my former self like a dead skin as soon as I walked out of my father’s door? Either one could be a possibility but neither one felt right. They didn’t feel honest. What seemed most likely as I sat there was that this man had come from nowhere, he saved me like the white knight in the old tales, and now he held me spellbound in a place of enchantment. I tried to shake my head against the farfetched idea but I could not. It was wrapped around me tighter than any blanket and it kept me just as warm.
“I don’t think I will do that at all. At the very least, I will not shoot you for a rodent’s lunch until I’ve heard you out. What…or who…brought you here?”
It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I was afraid to tell my story. It all seemed like such a dream to me now and I was afraid if I spoke about it I would awake again in my father’s small house beside of his pale corpse. But the man was growing impatient and I could tell already that, innocent laugh or not, he was not a person to leave hanging. “It was my father that led me here; or rather, it was his death that led me here. He was the only person in this life that loved me, the only person I truly love, and last night when he drew his last breath I decided I had nothing to lose and no reason to stay and prolong my pain watching the flesh rot from his body until the snow melted and the ground softened enough for a proper burial. I had no place to go so I just walked. By the time I got here I was too weak to go on. I thought I would die out there if I fell but there was nothing left in me. I would be dead if not for you and I do thank you for that. I am forever in your debt, monsieur.”
“First, let me say that by the time all is said and done, you may not feel so grateful. I should tell you that you were stupid for doing what you did last night. You were. Don’t misread me on that point. But I am no stranger to pain or grief. I understand why you fled even if it was almost your last mistake. Now, that will be all for tonight. Cherise will show you to your room. It seems I now have some business to attend to.”
“What is it now? Clothes? She will have some for you. A hot bath perhaps? She can draw one for you.”
“I am very hungry, sir. Could I get a meal perhaps?”
“Damn!” He swore in a way that made me think he would tell me to go to hell. “Can you hold off until the morning? You will have anything your stomach desires. The cook will not be available to you until evening; we keep odd hours you see, but you may avail yourself to anything you need. Is that well enough?”
“Yes, thank you.” I said simply though there were many questions I wanted to ask.
He moved to take his leave but when he reached the doors he stopped and turned back toward me. “Do you have any siblings, Arianne?”
“Yes, I have three sisters. Two are married and one lives at home.” I was so confused that I never thought to question his reasoning behind this inquiry.
His smile was again as sharp as a steal blade. “Thank you.”
As soon as he left the room, the chambermaid came in carrying a dressing gown and a key. “Everyone has eaten for the night so Master says to set you free.” She explained vaguely but with a warm smile.
Instead of questions I only smiled in return as her ice cold hands did their part to free me from my chains. I rubbed my wrists a moment before she handed me the gown and gestured toward a screen that I could use to dress privately. I found it odd that a dressing screen should be sitting in a parlor and just as strange that she should offer it to me as she was looking at me naked. But again I kept quiet going behind the partition to dress while making casual conversation. “Your accent…you speak French well but is that English I hear in your words?”
“Aye, it is. Do you know any English?”
“People or words?” I asked with a chuckle as I fought to button myself with numb hands. “Because I’ve met a few young men from England, soldiers they were, in the village when I was younger. The language I am fluent in.”
Suddenly she stood before me assisting me with the gown as if I had already asked. “You are?” She questioned, switching from my native tongue to her own.
“Yes as well as Spanish, Italian, German, some Russian…”
“Greek?” Her eyes lit up with enthusiasm and my guess at that moment was that learning Greek was a lifelong dream of hers. Then I remembered myself. Most girls I knew could barely write their names, let alone speak a language so foreign to us.
“Yes, Greek as well, and Latin. My father schooled me as he would have a son. If there was something he wanted me to learn that he could not teach, he found someone who could.”
“The Master shall be pleased at that. Greece is where he’s from, you see. I can’t understand him when he has a fit but now…”
“What do you mean, ‘when he has a fit’?” I asked, following her out of the room and into a large hall. Paintings hung on the walls but there wasn’t enough light for me to get a good look at them.
“Oh, aye. He’s got a temper on him. He can be the kindest creature that ever lived but if you cross him…he’s a shouter for sure. Sometimes he breaks things. But he would never hurt a soul. His bark is worse than his bite.”
We were outside a room and Cherise smiled, pride lighting up her eyes. When she opened the door I understood why. That one room was bigger than the whole house I spent my life in. The bed was a four poster, cherry wood, and the bed curtains were made from real velvet. The silver vanity, the ornate wardrobes, the lace curtains on the massive floor-length windows would have fed my entire village for years. I was half afraid to touch anything. “This is where he wants me?” I asked in disbelief.
“That’s what he says. He also told me to pass alone the message that he’ll have a tailor for you on the morrow to make you up some clothes.”
“Make me clothes? That won’t be necessary. I’m not staying.” Until that moment I had no thought of leaving but the way she spoke made me feel like a bird trapped in a gilded cage.
Her face changed suddenly and for a moment I felt my body shiver with fear. “Oh no, Miss, you’ve got this all wrong! The Master might treat you like a guest but he will not let you go until he knows why you’ve come and you will not leave here until the Master let’s you go.”
I sought to hide my fear behind indignation as I marched to the door we recently came through. “He may be your master but he is not mine and I will leave when I damned well please!” I turned the knob slowly only to find that Cherise had locked it. Again I faced her with my hands on my hips and I demanded, “What is this master of yours? Some sort of madman? Does he have a collection of lost people all throughout his palace?”
“No, not at all! I assure you, it is nothing like that! He is private and very leery of the townspeople. He has traveled the world over and he has not been welcomed, not even in his home. People do not visit him and he has no people that he visits. You are the first guest we have had since we came to this place and that was a century ago.”
I brushed off her final statement as a figure of speech as I sulked toward the bed. For the moment I was resigned to my fate and I watched the young woman build a fire in the massive fireplace across the room. “Perhaps no one likes him because he is not a likeable person.”
The girl’s laughter was genuine and for a moment it made me smile. “It isn’t like that at all. He is actually wonderful to have on your side. But few people understand him and even less try. They see his temper, his eccentricities, his heritage, and they shun him. Between you and me, I think it hurts him to have so many people turn their backs on him every place he goes.”
She was standing next to me now and she had lowered her voice as if she were sharing a secret with an old friend. If her intention was to make me feel empathy toward this stranger she failed. “It might help his case a bit if he refrained from taking townsfolk prisoner. Since I have no way out I might as well ask his name. I may have no choice in my stay but I will not call him master. I would rather not speak to him at all.”
“So like him to forget a proper introduction. His name is Lucania but those close to him call him Luke.”
“And the rest of you call him Master?” I asked. I was desperately trying to get an idea of the situation I found myself in. The place was like a dream but the circumstances were more like a nightmare and I was again thinking that perhaps I had died and I was now in some sort of purgatory.
“No. I alone call him that. If you knew the life he saved me from you might better understand. He took me from a miserable life and he gave me a new existence. He asked nothing in return for all of his kind deeds. It was I who made myself available to him as a maid. It was the only skill I had back then and it was the least I could do.” Somewhere in the distance a clock chimed the hour and she jumped as if startled. “I’ve chatted too long. I must go but Mother will be along shortly to see to your bath.”
“Mother?” I questioned.
Again Cherise flashed her angelic smile. “Yes. She is like a mother to us all.”
I was left alone with my thoughts for an hour and in that time I went through a range of emotions unlike any I had known before. I expected the anger at my predicament. I had done nothing, after all, to deserve being locked up. I wasn’t surprised by my sorrow either. I had not yet been given time to grieve for the man I loved above all else and a part of me hadn’t accepted yet that he was truly gone. The emotion that caught me off guard, the one that rose from a place inside of me I was unaware of, was the bitterness. Despite what Cherise told me I was beginning to believe that if I wasn’t dead already, I would be by the time Master Luke was finished with me. And what living had I done? I had never traveled, I had never attended a party or a ball, I had never had a suitor, and my lips were still unkissed. All of my life until then I had given to others and I vowed to myself that if I beat the odds and I made it out of that castle alive I would dance, I would sing, and I would never again hand my days on earth to another to spend.
When the woman everyone called “Mother” came for me my gratitude was great. I feared that if I spent any more time with myself I would start to go a little mad. I looked at her and I was stunned by her age and her beauty. If she were a mother, she was unlike any I had seen before. Her eyes were dark as night, her hair was long and black as coal, but like Cherise and Luke, her skin was as white as marble. “Are you ready for your bath, child?” She asked. Her voice was so soothing it felt like I could drown in it. Instead I nodded yes. “Follow me.”
She was a woman of few words. I noticed that right away. She said nothing at all as she led me down the hall a bit to a lavatory. The room was pure white and it included a mirror and a basin, a steaming tub big enough for two, and a chamber pot in a corner. I had heard people talk of rooms like these, a place to bathe and do your private business without the cold of an outdoor toilet or the gracelessness of an old tin tub. This was the first such room I had ever seen and it took my breath away. “This room is also yours. Like the water you drank, your tub is filled with melted snow heated to warm your skin. Our well has frozen up in this storm so that is all the water we have. Get in when you are ready.”
I was encouraged by her words and I thought I might learn more about my mysterious captor after all. I was silent as I climbed into the tub and for a moment I sat enjoying the hot water on my skin. When Mother gently put my head back so she might wash my hair I asked, “How did you meet Luke?”
“I was his nurse. I raised him.” She said simply. Her words shocked me. She looked far too young to have raised the man I met. As if reading my mind, she said, “I was a child when he was born. My family was servants to his and he was put in my charge. I am not like the girl, Arianne. If you wish to know more about Lucania you must wait until tomorrow evening and ask him. Now put your head back. I need to rinse.”
I went to sleep that night hungry but warm. My door had been locked behind me and I did my part not to think of this fact. I wasn’t sure how I could be so tired after all the time I spent sleeping in my chains but I was indeed exhausted. I had planned to stay awake until I heard the hoof beats of Luke’s horse announcing his arrival home but when I lay down on that mattress of feather and I closed the velvet curtains around me my eyes grew too heavy to hold open and I could fight sleep no more.
I slept late into the morning and when I woke I was again left to process all that happened the night before. The bed was black as night around me and this did nothing to clear my confusion. Remembering the bed curtains, I opened them and I was blinded by the sunlight pouring in. Nothing had ever looked as beautiful as that room bathed in the frosty glow of morning. Unable to resist, I pulled the blanket around me to ward off the chill and I walked over to the three windows that made up the south side of my cell. Looking out over the grounds I realized for the first time how large Lucania’s estate was and how high it stood above the town. I was perched on a hill that was nearly a mountain and to look from the third floor of the castle out upon the grounds was to feel as if you stood on the edge of the world. For the first time in months I felt my lips curl up in a genuine smile and I felt again that crazy thrill of freedom.
I walked back toward the bed intent on making it when I noticed a note set upon a beautifully bound book. My hand trembled a little as I lifted the white piece of paper and saw Luke’s signature scrolled across the bottom. This mysterious man that had left me chained naked to a wall, that had ordered even my own room to be locked against my escape, had come in while I was sleeping and stood just feet from where I lay. Anger again washed over me at the hypocrisy of it. I wasn’t free to leave the room without his consent but he was free to come in without mine? I almost ripped up his words in my fury but in the end curiosity won out. How could I help reading what he had to say? ‘Arianne, the kitchen has been stocked with all you need. Eggs and milk are in the cellar. You are free to use what you wish and we will meet this evening for a proper tour of the house.’ My eyes drifted past his name to his message at the bottom. ‘I bought a diary for you to keep. In times of hardship sometimes one finds peace in words.’
I lifted the blue book up and I found that it was bound with empty pages waiting for my story. It was perhaps the most thoughtful gift anyone had ever given me and it further confused my emotions toward the man that gave it. He had signed my full name on the cover and it took me a long time to realize I had never told him any but my first.
When I turned the knob on the heavy door it opened easily. Because I had no idea where the kitchen was, I headed first to the lavatory and then I went off exploring. Being the third floor, I never expected to find a kitchen there but I went looking anyway. Every unfamiliar door I came to was locked, the hall was still dark as night, but there was sunlight streaming in at the end of the hall. Having no other place to go, I followed it and what I came upon was the largest kitchen I had ever seen. I said I never expected to find one there but it was not unusual. I had heard my sisters talk of estates with six or seven kitchens in them. The tales that once seemed fanciful all looked as if they were true after all.
The cellar Luke referred to in the note was not a cellar at all. It was a small pantry of sorts made of brick that was kept cold by the weather outside, its position in the room, and its distance from the stove. I did find eggs, milk, and meat stored within. It never occurred to me to wonder where he found food at the late hour he left. I suppose I assumed he stole it. The kitchen was as marvelous to me as my room, the parlor, and the lavatory. It was all white save for the stove, there were two large windows to the south and one small window to the north and it was so clean that it looked as though it had never been used. There was no dining room and no table to set up anywhere but there were high chairs set up around an island in the center of the room. Considering the disposition of the home’s master I wasn’t surprised by this anymore than I was by the fact that all of the dried foods were left upon the island. He has probably never put food away in his life, I mused to myself with a grin. I was still smiling at the thought of him while I started the fire to cook.
After I finished my meal and cleaned up the mess I needed something else to do. The entire place was silent around me and loneliness was threatening to creep into my soul. I was used to people, voices, always having the sound of another living soul nearby and it was the silence of being completely alone that forced me to remember the situation I was in. Again I decided to explore, heading down the hall opposite the way I came, passed the lavatory, my room, the parlor, and the many locked doors in between. I did not think twice about going down the circular staircase I came to although I almost knew what I would find on the second floor.It was dark and dusty and there was no grand kitchen to light the way to the end of the hall. Instead there were more locked doors, more paintings on the walls for only the bats to see, and another staircase leading down to the first floor. Again I took my chances hoping I would find something down there to occupy my day.
Now, for those of you who have seen the Disney movie (one of my favorite movies since I was six years old) but have never read the original story, here it is. I am mixing elements of both versions with my own vampire grown-up twists and turns but the sisters come from the original version. I, however, cut out the brothers because at that time in France the likelihood of Arianne's father educating her in such a way if he had sons would have been small. But here is the original story from 1757 translated from its original French into English:
Beauty and the Beast
Jeanne-Marie LePrince de BeaumontThere was once a very rich merchant, who had six children, three sons, and three daughters; being a man of sense, he spared no cost for their education, but gave them all kinds of masters. His daughters were extremely handsome, especially the youngest. When she was little everybody admired her, and called her "The little Beauty;" so that, as she grew up, she still went by the name of Beauty, which made her sisters very jealous.
The youngest, as she was handsomer, was also better than her sisters. The two eldest had a great deal of pride, because they were rich. They gave themselves ridiculous airs, and would not visit other merchants' daughters, nor keep company with any but persons of quality. They went out every day to parties of pleasure, balls, plays, concerts, and so forth, and they laughed at their youngest sister, because she spent the greatest part of her time in reading good books.
As it was known that they were great fortunes, several eminent merchants made their addresses to them; but the two eldest said, they would never marry, unless they could meet with a duke, or an earl at least. Beauty very civilly thanked them that courted her, and told them she was too young yet to marry, but chose to stay with her father a few years longer.
All at once the merchant lost his whole fortune, excepting a small country house at a great distance from town, and told his children with tears in his eyes, they must go there and work for their living. The two eldest answered, that they would not leave the town, for they had several lovers, who they were sure would be glad to have them, though they had no fortune; but the good ladies were mistaken, for their lovers slighted and forsook them in their poverty. As they were not beloved on account of their pride, everybody said; they do not deserve to be pitied, we are very glad to see their pride humbled, let them go and give themselves quality airs in milking the cows and minding their dairy. But, added they, we are extremely concerned for Beauty, she was such a charming, sweet-tempered creature, spoke so kindly to poor people, and was of such an affable, obliging behavior. Nay, several gentlemen would have married her, though they knew she had not a penny; but she told them she could not think of leaving her poor father in his misfortunes, but was determined to go along with him into the country to comfort and attend him. Poor Beauty at first was sadly grieved at the loss of her fortune; "but," said she to herself, "were I to cry ever so much, that would not make things better, I must try to make myself happy without a fortune."
When they came to their country house, the merchant and his three sons applied themselves to husbandry and tillage; and Beauty rose at four in the morning, and made haste to have the house clean, and dinner ready for the family. In the beginning she found it very difficult, for she had not been used to work as a servant, but in less than two months she grew stronger and healthier than ever. After she had done her work, she read, played on the harpsichord, or else sung whilst she spun.
On the contrary, her two sisters did not know how to spend their time; they got up at ten, and did nothing but saunter about the whole day, lamenting the loss of their fine clothes and acquaintance. "Do but see our youngest sister," said they, one to the other, "what a poor, stupid, mean-spirited creature she is, to be contented with such an unhappy dismal situation."
The good merchant was of quite a different opinion; he knew very well that Beauty outshone her sisters, in her person as well as her mind, and admired her humility and industry, but above all her humility and patience; for her sisters not only left her all the work of the house to do, but insulted her every moment.
The family had lived about a year in this retirement, when the merchant received a letter with an account that a vessel, on board of which he had effects, was safely arrived. This news had liked to have turned the heads of the two eldest daughters, who immediately flattered themselves with the hopes of returning to town, for they were quite weary of a country life; and when they saw their father ready to set out, they begged of him to buy them new gowns, headdresses, ribbons, and all manner of trifles; but Beauty asked for nothing for she thought to herself, that all the money her father was going to receive, would scarce be sufficient to purchase everything her sisters wanted.
"What will you have, Beauty?" said her father.
"Since you have the goodness to think of me," answered she, "be so kind to bring me a rose, for as none grows hereabouts, they are a kind of rarity." Not that Beauty cared for a rose, but she asked for something, lest she should seem by her example to condemn her sisters' conduct, who would have said she did it only to look particular.
The good man went on his journey, but when he came there, they went to law with him about the merchandise, and after a great deal of trouble and pains to no purpose, he came back as poor as before.
He was within thirty miles of his own house, thinking on the pleasure he should have in seeing his children again, when going through a large forest he lost himself. It rained and snowed terribly; besides, the wind was so high, that it threw him twice off his horse, and night coming on, he began to apprehend being either starved to death with cold and hunger, or else devoured by the wolves, whom he heard howling all round him, when, on a sudden, looking through a long walk of trees, he saw a light at some distance, and going on a little farther perceived it came from a palace illuminated from top to bottom. The merchant returned God thanks for this happy discovery, and hastened to the place, but was greatly surprised at not meeting with any one in the outer courts. His horse followed him, and seeing a large stable open, went in, and finding both hay and oats, the poor beast, who was almost famished, fell to eating very heartily; the merchant tied him up to the manger, and walking towards the house, where he saw no one, but entering into a large hall, he found a good fire, and a table plentifully set out with but one cover laid. As he was wet quite through with the rain and snow, he drew near the fire to dry himself. "I hope," said he, "the master of the house, or his servants will excuse the liberty I take; I suppose it will not be long before some of them appear."
He waited a considerable time, until it struck eleven, and still nobody came. At last he was so hungry that he could stay no longer, but took a chicken, and ate it in two mouthfuls, trembling all the while. After this he drank a few glasses of wine, and growing more courageous he went out of the hall, and crossed through several grand apartments with magnificent furniture, until he came into a chamber, which had an exceeding good bed in it, and as he was very much fatigued, and it was past midnight, he concluded it was best to shut the door, and go to bed.
It was ten the next morning before the merchant waked, and as he was going to rise he was astonished to see a good suit of clothes in the room of his own, which were quite spoiled; certainly, said he, this palace belongs to some kind fairy, who has seen and pitied my distress. He looked through a window, but instead of snow saw the most delightful arbors, interwoven with the beautifullest flowers that were ever beheld. He then returned to the great hall, where he had supped the night before, and found some chocolate ready made on a little table. "Thank you, good Madam Fairy," said he aloud, "for being so careful, as to provide me a breakfast; I am extremely obliged to you for all your favors."
The good man drank his chocolate, and then went to look for his horse, but passing through an arbor of roses he remembered Beauty's request to him, and gathered a branch on which were several; immediately he heard a great noise, and saw such a frightful Beast coming towards him, that he was ready to faint away.
"You are very ungrateful," said the Beast to him, in a terrible voice; "I have saved your life by receiving you into my castle, and, in return, you steal my roses, which I value beyond any thing in the universe, but you shall die for it; I give you but a quarter of an hour to prepare yourself, and say your prayers."
The merchant fell on his knees, and lifted up both his hands, "My lord," said he, "I beseech you to forgive me, indeed I had no intention to offend in gathering a rose for one of my daughters, who desired me to bring her one."
"My name is not My Lord," replied the monster, "but Beast; I don't love compliments, not I. I like people to speak as they think; and so do not imagine, I am to be moved by any of your flattering speeches. But you say you have got daughters. I will forgive you, on condition that one of them come willingly, and suffer for you. Let me have no words, but go about your business, and swear that if your daughter refuse to die in your stead, you will return within three months."
The merchant had no mind to sacrifice his daughters to the ugly monster, but he thought, in obtaining this respite, he should have the satisfaction of seeing them once more, so he promised, upon oath, he would return, and the Beast told him he might set out when he pleased, "but," added he, "you shall not depart empty handed; go back to the room where you lay, and you will see a great empty chest; fill it with whatever you like best, and I will send it to your home," and at the same time Beast withdrew.
"Well," said the good man to himself, "if I must die, I shall have the comfort, at least, of leaving something to my poor children." He returned to the bedchamber, and finding a great quantity of broad pieces of gold, he filled the great chest the Beast had mentioned, locked it, and afterwards took his horse out of the stable, leaving the palace with as much grief as he had entered it with joy. The horse, of his own accord, took one of the roads of the forest, and in a few hours the good man was at home.
His children came round him, but instead of receiving their embraces with pleasure, he looked on them, and holding up the branch he had in his hands, he burst into tears. "Here, Beauty," said he, "take these roses, but little do you think how dear they are like to cost your unhappy father," and then related his fatal adventure. Immediately the two eldest set up lamentable outcries, and said all manner of ill-natured things to Beauty, who did not cry at all.
"Do but see the pride of that little wretch," said they; "she would not ask for fine clothes, as we did; but no truly, Miss wanted to distinguish herself, so now she will be the death of our poor father, and yet she does not so much as shed a tear."
"Why should I," answered Beauty, "it would be very needless, for my father shall not suffer upon my account, since the monster will accept of one of his daughters, I will deliver myself up to all his fury, and I am very happy in thinking that my death will save my father's life, and be a proof of my tender love for him."
"No, sister," said her three brothers, "that shall not be, we will go find the monster, and either kill him, or perish in the attempt."
"Do not imagine any such thing, my sons," said the merchant, "Beast's power is so great, that I have no hopes of your overcoming him. I am charmed with Beauty's kind and generous offer, but I cannot yield to it. I am old, and have not long to live, so can only loose a few years, which I regret for your sakes alone, my dear children."
"Indeed father," said Beauty, "you shall not go to the palace without me, you cannot hinder me from following you." It was to no purpose all they could say. Beauty still insisted on setting out for the fine palace, and her sisters were delighted at it, for her virtue and amiable qualities made them envious and jealous.
The merchant was so afflicted at the thoughts of losing his daughter, that he had quite forgot the chest full of gold, but at night when he retired to rest, no sooner had he shut his chamber door, than, to his great astonishment, he found it by his bedside; he was determined, however, not to tell his children, that he was grown rich, because they would have wanted to return to town, and he was resolved not to leave the country; but he trusted Beauty with the secret, who informed him, that two gentlemen came in his absence, and courted her sisters; she begged her father to consent to their marriage, and give them fortunes, for she was so good, that she loved them and forgave heartily all their ill usage. These wicked creatures rubbed their eyes with an onion to force some tears when they parted with their sister, but her brothers were really concerned. Beauty was the only one who did not shed tears at parting, because she would not increase their uneasiness.
The horse took the direct road to the palace, and towards evening they perceived it illuminated as at first. The horse went of himself into the stable, and the good man and his daughter came into the great hall, where they found a table splendidly served up, and two covers. The merchant had no heart to eat, but Beauty, endeavoring to appear cheerful, sat down to table, and helped him. "Afterwards," thought she to herself, "Beast surely has a mind to fatten me before he eats me, since he provides such plentiful entertainment." When they had supped they heard a great noise, and the merchant, all in tears, bid his poor child, farewell, for he thought Beast was coming. Beauty was sadly terrified at his horrid form, but she took courage as well as she could, and the monster having asked her if she came willingly; "ye -- e -- es," said she, trembling.
The beast responded, "You are very good, and I am greatly obliged to you; honest man, go your ways tomorrow morning, but never think of coming here again."
"Farewell Beauty, farewell Beast," answered he, and immediately the monster withdrew. "Oh, daughter," said the merchant, embracing Beauty, "I am almost frightened to death, believe me, you had better go back, and let me stay here."
"No, father," said Beauty, in a resolute tone, "you shall set out tomorrow morning, and leave me to the care and protection of providence." They went to bed, and thought they should not close their eyes all night; but scarce were they laid down, than they fell fast asleep, and Beauty dreamed, a fine lady came, and said to her, "I am content, Beauty, with your good will, this good action of yours in giving up your own life to save your father's shall not go unrewarded." Beauty waked, and told her father her dream, and though it helped to comfort him a little, yet he could not help crying bitterly, when he took leave of his dear child.
As soon as he was gone, Beauty sat down in the great hall, and fell a crying likewise; but as she was mistress of a great deal of resolution, she recommended herself to God, and resolved not to be uneasy the little time she had to live; for she firmly believed Beast would eat her up that night.
However, she thought she might as well walk about until then, and view this fine castle, which she could not help admiring; it was a delightful pleasant place, and she was extremely surprised at seeing a door, over which was written, "Beauty's Apartment." She opened it hastily, and was quite dazzled with the magnificence that reigned throughout; but what chiefly took up her attention, was a large library, a harpsichord, and several music books. "Well," said she to herself, "I see they will not let my time hang heavy upon my hands for want of amusement." Then she reflected, "Were I but to stay here a day, there would not have been all these preparations." This consideration inspired her with fresh courage; and opening the library she took a book, and read these words, in letters of gold:
Welcome Beauty, banish fear,"Alas," said she, with a sigh, "there is nothing I desire so much as to see my poor father, and know what he is doing." She had no sooner said this, when casting her eyes on a great looking glass, to her great amazement, she saw her own home, where her father arrived with a very dejected countenance. Her sisters went to meet him, and notwithstanding their endeavors to appear sorrowful, their joy, felt for having got rid of their sister, was visible in every feature. A moment after, everything disappeared, and Beauty's apprehensions at this proof of Beast's complaisance.
You are queen and mistress here.
Speak your wishes, speak your will,
Swift obedience meets them still.
At noon she found dinner ready, and while at table, was entertained with an excellent concert of music, though without seeing anybody. But at night, as she was going to sit down to supper, she heard the noise Beast made, and could not help being sadly terrified. "Beauty," said the monster, "will you give me leave to see you sup?"
"That is as you please," answered Beauty trembling.
"No," replied the Beast, "you alone are mistress here; you need only bid me gone, if my presence is troublesome, and I will immediately withdraw. But, tell me, do not you think me very ugly?"
"That is true," said Beauty, "for I cannot tell a lie, but I believe you are very good natured."
"So I am," said the monster, "but then, besides my ugliness, I have no sense; I know very well, that I am a poor, silly, stupid creature."
"'Tis no sign of folly to think so," replied Beauty, "for never did fool know this, or had so humble a conceit of his own understanding."
"Eat then, Beauty," said the monster, "and endeavor to amuse yourself in your palace, for everything here is yours, and I should be very uneasy, if you were not happy."
"You are very obliging," answered Beauty, "I own I am pleased with your kindness, and when I consider that, your deformity scarce appears."
"Yes, yes," said the Beast, "my heart is good, but still I am a monster."
"Among mankind," says Beauty, "there are many that deserve that name more than you, and I prefer you, just as you are, to those, who, under a human form, hide a treacherous, corrupt, and ungrateful heart."
"If I had sense enough," replied the Beast, "I would make a fine compliment to thank you, but I am so dull, that I can only say, I am greatly obliged to you."
Beauty ate a hearty supper, and had almost conquered her dread of the monster; but she had like to have fainted away, when he said to her, "Beauty, will you be my wife?"
She was some time before she dared answer, for she was afraid of making him angry, if she refused. At last, however, she said trembling, "no Beast." Immediately the poor monster went to sigh, and hissed so frightfully, that the whole palace echoed. But Beauty soon recovered her fright, for Beast having said, in a mournful voice, "then farewell, Beauty," left the room; and only turned back, now and then, to look at her as he went out.
When Beauty was alone, she felt a great deal of compassion for poor Beast. "Alas," said she, "'tis thousand pities, anything so good natured should be so ugly."
Beauty spent three months very contentedly in the palace. Every evening Beast paid her a visit, and talked to her, during supper, very rationally, with plain good common sense, but never with what the world calls wit; and Beauty daily discovered some valuable qualifications in the monster, and seeing him often had so accustomed her to his deformity, that, far from dreading the time of his visit, she would often look on her watch to see when it would be nine, for the Beast never missed coming at that hour. There was but one thing that gave Beauty any concern, which was, that every night, before she went to bed, the monster always asked her, if she would be his wife. One day she said to him, "Beast, you make me very uneasy, I wish I could consent to marry you, but I am too sincere to make you believe that will ever happen; I shall always esteem you as a friend, endeavor to be satisfied with this."
"I must," said the Beast, "for, alas! I know too well my own misfortune, but then I love you with the tenderest affection. However, I ought to think myself happy, that you will stay here; promise me never to leave me."
Beauty blushed at these words; she had seen in her glass, that her father had pined himself sick for the loss of her, and she longed to see him again. "I could," answered she, "indeed, promise never to leave you entirely, but I have so great a desire to see my father, that I shall fret to death, if you refuse me that satisfaction."
"I had rather die myself," said the monster, "than give you the least uneasiness. I will send you to your father, you shall remain with him, and poor Beast will die with grief."
"No," said Beauty, weeping, "I love you too well to be the cause of your death. I give you my promise to return in a week. You have shown me that my sisters are married, and my brothers gone to the army; only let me stay a week with my father, as he is alone."
"You shall be there tomorrow morning," said the Beast, "but remember your promise. You need only lay your ring on a table before you go to bed, when you have a mind to come back. Farewell Beauty." Beast sighed, as usual, bidding her good night, and Beauty went to bed very sad at seeing him so afflicted. When she waked the next morning, she found herself at her father's, and having rung a little bell, that was by her bedside, she saw the maid come, who, the moment she saw her, gave a loud shriek, at which the good man ran up stairs, and thought he should have died with joy to see his dear daughter again. He held her fast locked in his arms above a quarter of an hour. As soon as the first transports were over, Beauty began to think of rising, and was afraid she had no clothes to put on; but the maid told her, that she had just found, in the next room, a large trunk full of gowns, covered with gold and diamonds. Beauty thanked good Beast for his kind care, and taking one of the plainest of them, she intended to make a present of the others to her sisters. She scarce had said so when the trunk disappeared. Her father told her, that Beast insisted on her keeping them herself, and immediately both gowns and trunk came back again.
Beauty dressed herself, and in the meantime they sent to her sisters who hastened thither with their husbands. They were both of them very unhappy. The eldest had married a gentleman, extremely handsome indeed, but so fond of his own person, that he was full of nothing but his own dear self, and neglected his wife. The second had married a man of wit, but he only made use of it to plague and torment everybody, and his wife most of all. Beauty's sisters sickened with envy, when they saw her dressed like a princess, and more beautiful than ever, nor could all her obliging affectionate behavior stifle their jealousy, which was ready to burst when she told them how happy she was. They went down into the garden to vent it in tears; and said one to the other, in what way is this little creature better than us, that she should be so much happier? "Sister," said the oldest, "a thought just strikes my mind; let us endeavor to detain her above a week, and perhaps the silly monster will be so enraged at her for breaking her word, that he will devour her."
"Right, sister," answered the other, "therefore we must show her as much kindness as possible." After they had taken this resolution, they went up, and behaved so affectionately to their sister, that poor Beauty wept for joy. When the week was expired, they cried and tore their hair, and seemed so sorry to part with her, that she promised to stay a week longer.
In the meantime, Beauty could not help reflecting on herself, for the uneasiness she was likely to cause poor Beast, whom she sincerely loved, and really longed to see again. The tenth night she spent at her father's, she dreamed she was in the palace garden, and that she saw Beast extended on the grass plat, who seemed just expiring, and, in a dying voice, reproached her with her ingratitude. Beauty started out of her sleep, and bursting into tears. "Am I not very wicked," said she, "to act so unkindly to Beast, that has studied so much, to please me in everything? Is it his fault if he is so ugly, and has so little sense? He is kind and good, and that is sufficient. Why did I refuse to marry him? I should be happier with the monster than my sisters are with their husbands; it is neither wit, nor a fine person, in a husband, that makes a woman happy, but virtue, sweetness of temper, and complaisance, and Beast has all these valuable qualifications. It is true, I do not feel the tenderness of affection for him, but I find I have the highest gratitude, esteem, and friendship; I will not make him miserable, were I to be so ungrateful I should never forgive myself." Beauty having said this, rose, put her ring on the table, and then laid down again; scarce was she in bed before she fell asleep, and when she waked the next morning, she was overjoyed to find herself in the Beast's palace.
She put on one of her richest suits to please him, and waited for evening with the utmost impatience, at last the wished-for hour came, the clock struck nine, yet no Beast appeared. Beauty then feared she had been the cause of his death; she ran crying and wringing her hands all about the palace, like one in despair; after having sought for him everywhere, she recollected her dream, and flew to the canal in the garden, where she dreamed she saw him. There she found poor Beast stretched out, quite senseless, and, as she imagined, dead. She threw herself upon him without any dread, and finding his heart beat still, she fetched some water from the canal, and poured it on his head. Beast opened his eyes, and said to Beauty, "You forgot your promise, and I was so afflicted for having lost you, that I resolved to starve myself, but since I have the happiness of seeing you once more, I die satisfied."
"No, dear Beast," said Beauty, "you must not die. Live to be my husband; from this moment I give you my hand, and swear to be none but yours. Alas! I thought I had only a friendship for you, but the grief I now feel convinces me, that I cannot live without you." Beauty scarce had pronounced these words, when she saw the palace sparkle with light; and fireworks, instruments of music, everything seemed to give notice of some great event. But nothing could fix her attention; she turned to her dear Beast, for whom she trembled with fear; but how great was her surprise! Beast was disappeared, and she saw, at her feet, one of the loveliest princes that eye ever beheld; who returned her thanks for having put an end to the charm, under which he had so long resembled a Beast. Though this prince was worthy of all her attention, she could not forbear asking where Beast was.
"You see him at your feet, said the prince. A wicked fairy had condemned me to remain under that shape until a beautiful virgin should consent to marry me. The fairy likewise enjoined me to conceal my understanding. There was only you in the world generous enough to be won by the goodness of my temper, and in offering you my crown I can't discharge the obligations I have to you."
Beauty, agreeably surprised, gave the charming prince her hand to rise; they went together into the castle, and Beauty was overjoyed to find, in the great hall, her father and his whole family, whom the beautiful lady, that appeared to her in her dream, had conveyed thither.
"Beauty," said this lady, "come and receive the reward of your judicious choice; you have preferred virtue before either wit or beauty, and deserve to find a person in whom all these qualifications are united. You are going to be a great queen. I hope the throne will not lessen your virtue, or make you forget yourself. As to you, ladies," said the fairy to Beauty's two sisters, "I know your hearts, and all the malice they contain. Become two statues, but, under this transformation, still retain your reason. You shall stand before your sister's palace gate, and be it your punishment to behold her happiness; and it will not be in your power to return to your former state, until you own your faults, but I am very much afraid that you will always remain statues. Pride, anger, gluttony, and idleness are sometimes conquered, but the conversion of a malicious and envious mind is a kind of miracle."
Immediately the fairy gave a stroke with her wand, and in a moment all that were in the hall were transported into the prince's dominions. His subjects received him with joy. He married Beauty, and lived with her many years, and their happiness -- as it was founded on virtue -- was complete.
And did you know that my beloved Stevie Nicks has a song called Beauty and the Beast? Yeah, she does and in my opinion it is one of the most beautiful songs she ever wrote. Perhaps one day, many years in the future, if this novel goes anywhere and I temporarily lose my mind and allow it to be made into a movie, this song might be the theme. Hey, I was always told to dream big. hahaha