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Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

The merchant fell on his knees to the beast

flowers. He returned to the

hall, where he had supped, and found a breakfast table, with some chocolate got ready for him. "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 most shocking noise, and saw such a frightful beast coming towards him, that he was ready to drop with fear. "Ungrateful man!" said the beast, in a terrible voice, "I have saved your life by letting you into my palace, and in return you steal my roses, which I value more than any thing else that belongs to me. But you shall make amends for your fault with your life. You shall die in a quarter of an hour." The merchant fell on his knees to the beast, and clasping his hands, said, "My lord, I humbly beg your pardon. I did not think it would offend you to gather a rose for one of my daughters, who wished to have one." "I am not a lord, but a beast," replied the monster; "I do not like false compliments, but that people should say what they think: so do not fancy that you can coax me by any such ways. You tell me that you have daughters; now I will pardon you, if one of them will agree to come and die instead of you. Go; and if your daughters should refuse, promise me that you yourself
will return in three months."

The tender-hearted merchant had no thought of letting any one of his daughters die instead of him; 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 the beast his promise; and the beast told him 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 just what you like best, and I will get it taken to your own house for you," When the beast had said this, he went away; and the good merchant said to himself, "If I must die, yet I shall now have the comfort of leaving my children some riches," He returned to the room he had slept in, and found a great many pieces of gold. He filled the chest with them to the very brim, locked it, and mounting his horse, left the palace as sorry as he had been glad when he first found 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 as he got off his horse; but the merchant, instead of kissing them with joy, could not help crying 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 fine 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 of no use," replied Beauty, "to weep for the death of my father, for he shall not die now. As the beast will accept of one of his daughters, I will give myself up to him; and think myself happy in being able at once to save his life, and prove my love for the best of fathers." "No, sister," said the three brothers, "you shall not die; we will go in search for this monster, and either he or we will perish." "Do not hope to kill him," said the merchant, "for his power is far too great for you to be able to do any such thing. I am charmed with the kindness of Beauty, but I will not suffer her life to be lost. I myself 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, "shall you go to the palace without me; for 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 the grief your loss would give me." The merchant tried in vain to reason with Beauty, for she would go; which, in truth, made her two sisters glad, for they were jealous of her, because everybody loved her.

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