T WAS BY no means likely that he would forget it, in fact he could think of nothing else. He hurried home and told his dreadful news, and received a dreadful scolding from his two elder daughters, who were angry at not getting their presents.
"And it is Beauty's fault that you have got into this trouble," they said. "Beauty and her stupid rose. Beauty had better get you out of the trouble." Beauty said little, but smiled on, with sunshine in her heart, and trust in her loving nature, and cooked the dinner.
Early next morning when the dawn was breaking she left her father's house, leaving a little note behind her begging him not to be anxious but that she had gone to the Beast's castle.
When she came to the gate in the wall she knocked upon it three times and it opened as if by magic, for she could see no one. And she stepped into the garden of red roses, and in the distance across the Park she saw the Castle, and she thought she had never seen anything so beautiful. For it was built of mother-of-pearl, and the red and yellow gleams of the rising sun shone upon its glistening walls, and lit them up with a thousand radiant lights.
Beauty marvelled at the loveliness and walked on. And when she arrived at this beautiful Castle, the huge gates opened as if by magic, and the doors opened as if by magic, for never a soul did she see, nor living thing of any sort.
And in the great hall was the breakfast table laid for two. It was a nice breakfast with steaming hot dishes, and jams, honey, and hot rolls, and brightly polished silver, and sweet flowers.
Then the Beast appeared suddenly from behind a curtain; oh, he was an awful Beast, and Beauty's heart beat fast! But he seemed a polite Beast for all that.
He handed Beauty a chair, and when she had sat down said:
"I bid you welcome; which do you take, tea or coffee?"
"Tea please," answered Beauty.
"Then pour it out," he said, "and I'll take tea too, please. Eggs, do you like eggs hard or soft?"
"I always cook mine three minutes and a half," replied Beauty.
"Half a minute too much, I think. But you shall have just what you like."
And so she had; not only at the breakfast table but in everything. She had only to express a wish and it was immediately gratified. She had ponies to ride, and dogs and cats, and pet birds, and the most beautiful dresses ever worn by real princesses.
And if it had not been that she was away from her father she would really have been happy.
The Beast was most kind and attentive to her, and told her that he loved her, and three times a day he asked her to marry him, but Beauty shook her head and said, oh no, she couldn't.
Well, Beauty had been at the great Castle some time when she began to pine to go home and see her father, and she begged the Beast to let her go.
"Very good," he said with a great sigh, "you may go home to-day, but promise me that you will be back early to-morrow morning. If you do not come back early I am sure I shall die for I love you so dearly."
So Beauty promised and went home, and she took presents for her father and her sisters, and when the sisters heard of all the wonderful things at the great Castle, they were envious and jealous, and made up their minds to do Beauty and the Beast a great injury.
So they mixed something in Beauty's supper that made her sleep nearly all the next day, and so she did not keep her promise. It was evening when she arrived at the gate in the wall, instead of early morning.
But she knocked three times and the gate opened by magic, and she went through the garden and hurried to the Castle, that shone like fire in the light of the setting sun. And the huge gates opened by magic, and the doors opened by magic, and she stood in the great hall, but there was no Beast there. She searched in all the rooms but he was not there; with fear and anxiety in her heart she ran into the gardens, and there she found him at last. Found him lying stretched out on the grass, and she thought he was dead.
"Oh, dear darling Beast," she cried, as she threw herself on her knees beside him, and raised his ugly head, "dear Beast, do not die, for I love you with all my heart, and will marry you to-morrow." And she kissed him. Then of a sudden he sprang to his feet, but no longer the Beast, no longer a hideous monster, but a beautiful prince most beautifully dressed. "Dearest," he said, "a wicked fairy turned me into this brute form until a day should come when a good girl like you should tell me that she loved me. And you will marry me to-morrow."
"Oh, yes," answered Beauty, "but the wicked fairy could not change your nature. I would have married you if you had remained just as you were."
And so they married and lived happy ever afterwards, and they took care of Beauty's father until the end of his days; so he was happy, and they forgave the two sisters and gave them fine dresses and jewels, and the two sisters turned over a new leaf and were less selfish, and they were happy, so this is a very happy ending to the story.
What a pity all stories can't end the same way!