|The Book of Fables and Folk Stories|
|by Horace Elisha Scudder|
|A choice collection of old folk tales and fables, attractively arranged and illustrated. Between each of the longer tales appear several short fables, offering a varied reading experience for the young reader for whom it is intended. Ages 6-9 |
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
BEAUTY AND HER SISTERS
THERE was once a rich merchant who had six children, three
sons and three daughters. He loved them more than he
loved all his riches, so that he was always seeking to
make them happy and wise.
 The daughters were very pretty; but the youngest was
more than pretty—she was beautiful. As every one
called her Little Beauty when she was a child, and she
became more lovely every year, the name grew up with
her, so that she had no other than just—Beauty.
Now Beauty was as good as she was beautiful. But her
elder sisters were ill-natured and jealous of her, and
could not bear to hear her called Beauty. They were
very proud, too, of their father's riches, and put on
great airs. They would not visit the daughters of
other merchants, but were always following persons who
had titles, Lady This and Duchess That. They laughed
at Beauty, who lived quietly at home with their father.
The father was so rich that many great merchants wished
to marry his daughters. But the two eldest always said
that they could never think of marrying anybody below a
duke, or at the least an earl. As for Beauty, she
thanked her lovers for thinking so well of her, but as
she was still very young, she wished to live a few
years longer with her father.
Now it happened that the merchant all at once lost his
great wealth. Nothing was left but one small house in
the country, and there the poor
 man told his children they must now go, and earn their
The two eldest daughters said they need not go, for
they had plenty of lovers who would be glad enough to
marry them, even though they had lost their fortune.
But they were wrong, for their lovers would not look at
them now, and jeered at them in their trouble, because
they had been so proud before.
Yet every one felt sorry for Beauty. Several gentlemen
who loved her begged her still to let them marry her,
though she had not a penny. Beauty refused, and said
she could not leave her father now that trouble had
come upon him.
So the family went to live in the small house in the
country. There the merchant and his three sons
ploughed and sowed the fields, and worked hard all day.
Beauty rose at four o'clock every morning, put the
house in order, and got breakfast for the whole family.
It was very hard at first, for no one helped her. But
every day it grew easier to work, and Beauty grew
stronger and rosier. When her work was done, she
could read, or play on her harp, or sit at her
spinning-wheel, singing as she spun.
As for her two sisters, they were idle and unhappy, and
became quite helpless. They
 never got up till ten o'clock. They spent the day
moping and fretting, because they no longer had fine
clothes to wear, and could not go to fine parties.
They jeered at Beauty, and said that she was nothing
but a servant-girl after all, to like that kind of
living. But Beauty did not mind them, and lived on
They had been in the country a year, when one morning
the merchant had a letter. It brought the news that a
ship laden with rich goods belonging to him had not
been lost after all, and had just come into port. The
two sisters were half wild with joy, for now they could
soon leave the farm-house, and go back to the gay city.
When their father was about to go to the port to settle
his business there, they begged him to bring back all
manner of fine things for them.
Then the merchant asked Beauty:—
"And what shall I bring you, Beauty?" for Beauty had
yet asked nothing.
"Why, since you ask me dear father, I should like you
to bring me a rose, for none grow in these parts." Now
Beauty did not care so very much for a rose, but she
did not like to seem to blame her sisters, or to appear
better than they, by saying that she did not wish for
 The good man set off; but all was not as he had hoped.
The ship had come in, but there was a dispute about the
cargo. He went to law, and it ended in his turning
back poorer than when he left his home.
THE BEAST AT HOME
HE set out to return to the farm-house. When he was
within thirty miles of home, he came to a large wood
through which he must pass. The snow began to fall,
and covered the path. The night closed in, and it grew
so dark and so cold that the poor man gave himself up
for lost. He could not see the way, and he was faint
with cold and hunger.
All at once, he saw a light at the end of a long avenue
of trees. He turned into the avenue, and rode until he
came to the end of it. There he found a great palace;
the windows were all lighted, and the door stood open,
but he saw no one.
The door of the stable was also open, and his horse
walked in. A crib full of hay and oats was there, and
the tired beast fell to eating heartily. The merchant
left his horse in the
 stall and entered the palace. He saw nobody and heard
nobody, but a fire was burning on the hearth, and a
table was spread with choice food, and set for one
person. He was wet to the skin, and went to the fire
to dry himself, saying:—
"I hope the master of the house or his servants will
not blame me for this. No doubt some one will soon
He waited, but no one came. The clock struck eleven.
Then, faint for want of food, he went to the table and
ate some meat, yet all the time in a great fright. But
when he was no longer hungry, he began to pluck up
courage, and to look about him.
The clock struck twelve. He left the hall, and passed
through one room after another until he came to one
where there was a bed. It was made ready, and, since
he was very tired, he lay down and slept soundly.
The merchant did not wake until ten o'clock the next
morning. He had placed his clothes on a chair by the
side of the bed. They had been nearly ruined by the
storm, and were besides old and worn. Now he saw a
wholly new suit in their place.
He began to think he must be in the palace of
 some fairy, and he was sure of it when he looked out of
the window. The snow had gone, and a lovely garden lay
before him, full of flowers. He dressed and went back
to the hall. A table was spread for breakfast, and he
at once sat down to it. Then he went to get his horse.
On the way he passed some roses. He remembered Beauty,
and plucked a rose to take home with him.
As soon as he had done this, he heard a frightful roar,
and saw a dreadful Beast coming toward him. He was so
frightened that he nearly fell down. The Beast cried
out in a loud voice:—
"Ungrateful man! I saved your life by letting you come
into my palace. I gave you food to eat and a bed to
rest in, and now you steal my roses, which I love
beyond everything. You shall pay for this with your
life!" The poor man threw himself on his knees before
the Beast, saying:—
"Forgive me, my lord. I did not know I was doing
wrong. I only wanted to pluck a rose for one of my
daughters. She asked me to bring one home to her. I
pray you, do not kill me, my lord."
"I am not a lord. I am a Beast. I hate soft words,
and you will not catch me by any of your fine speeches.
You say you have daughters.
 Well, I will forgive you, if one of them will come and
die in your stead. But promise that, if they refuse,
you will come back in three months."
The merchant did not mean in the least to let one of
his daughters die for him. But he wished to see his
children once more before he died, so he promised to
return if one of his daughters would not die for him.
The Beast then told him to go back to the room where he
had slept. There he would find a chest. He might fill
it with anything he found in the palace, and it would
be sent after him.
BEAUTY GOES TO THE BEAST
THE merchant did as he was bid. The floor of the room was
covered with gold, and he filled the chest. If he must
die, he would at least provide for his children. Then
he took his horse and rode out of the wood, and came at
last to his home. He held the rose in his hand, and as
the daughters came out to meet him, he gave it to the
"Take it, Beauty. You little know what it has cost
your poor father;" and then he told all that had
happened since he left home.
 The two eldest daughters began to cry aloud, and to
blame Beauty. Why did she ask for roses? Why did she
not ask for dresses, as they did; then all would have
gone well. Now the hard-hearted thing, they said, did
not shed a tear. Beauty replied quietly that it was of
little use to weep. She meant to go and die in her
"No, no!" cried the three brothers. "We will go and
seek this Beast, and either he or we must die!"
"It is all in vain," said the father. "You do not know
the Beast. He is more mighty than you can think. No!
you must stay and care for your sisters. At the end of
three months I shall go back and die." The merchant
then went to his room, and there he found the chest of
He was greatly amazed. He had forgotten the promise of
the Beast. But he said nothing about the chest to his
daughters. He was sure they would tease him to go back
to town to live.
Beauty said little, but when the three months were
over, she made ready to go with her father. The
brothers and sisters bade them good-by, and wept over
Beauty. The brothers wept real tears, but the sisters
rubbed their eyes with onions, so as to make tears;
they did not really care.
 The horse took the right road, as if he knew the way,
and when he came to the palace, he went at once to the
stable. The merchant and Beauty entered the palace.
They found the table spread for two persons, and they
sat down to it.
After supper there was a great roar as before, and the
Beast entered. Beauty trembled, and the Beast turned
to her and said:—
"Did you come of your own self?"
"Yes," said Beauty, still trembling.
"Then I thank you. But you, sir," and he turned to the
father, "get you gone to-morrow, and never let me see
your face again. Good-night, Beauty."
"Good-night, Beast," she replied, and Beast walked off.
The merchant begged and begged his daughter to leave
him, and to go back to her home. But she was firm, and
when the morning came, she made him leave her.
"Surely," he thought, "Beast will not hurt Beauty."
Beauty wept, but she was a brave girl, and soon she
dried her eyes, and began to walk through the palace.
She came to a door, and over it was written
BEAUTY'S ROOM. She opened the door,
and found herself in a fine chamber, with books, music
and a harp, and many beautiful things.
 "It cannot be that I have only a day to live," she
said, "for why should all this be done for me?" She
opened a book and saw written in letters of gold:
Your wishes and commands shall be obeyed. You are
here the queen over everything.
"Alas!" she thought, "I wish most of all I could see my
father and know what he is doing." Just then her eyes
fell on a large looking-glass, and in it she saw her
father just reaching home. Her sisters came out to
meet him. They tried to look sad, but it was plain
that they were not sorry to see him come home alone.
The sight in the glass was only for a moment, then it
faded, and Beauty turned away and in her mind thanked
Beast for what he had done.
At noon she found dinner ready for her, and sweet music
sounded as she ate. But she saw nobody. At night
Beast came and asked leave to sup with her. Of course
she could not say no, but she sat in a fright all
through supper. He did not speak for some time. Then
"Beauty, do you think me very ugly?"
"Yes, Beast; I cannot tell a lie. But I think you are
very good." Nothing more was said, and Beauty was
beginning to be rid of her fear, when all at once he
 "Beauty, will you marry me?" Beauty was in a fright
again, but she answered:—
"No, Beast." He gave a great sigh which shook the
house. Then he got up from the table and said:—
"Good-night, Beauty," and went away. Beauty was glad
he had gone, but she could not help pitying him.
THE CHARM IS BROKEN
BEAUTY lived in this way three months. The Beast came to
supper every night. He did not grow less ugly, but
Beauty did not mind his ugliness so much, for she saw
how kind he really was. But there was one trouble.
Every night the Beast was sure to ask:—
"Will you marry me, Beauty?" and Beauty always
But one night he begged her at least never to leave
him. Now it chanced on that very day Beauty had looked
in her glass. There she saw her father sick with
grief, for he thought his child was dead. Her sisters
were married. Her brothers were soldiers. So she told
all this to
 the Beast, and wept and said she should die if she
could not see her father once more.
"Do not refuse to let me go!" she begged.
"No," said the Beast. "I will not refuse you. I would
much rather your poor Beast should die of grief for
your absence. So you may go."
"Oh, thank you, dear Beast," said Beauty, "and I will
surely come back in a week."
"When you wish to come back, Beauty, lay your ring on
the table before you go to bed, and you will find
yourself here when you wake. Good-night, Beauty."
The next morning Beauty woke to find herself at the
farm-house. Her father was so glad to see her once
more, and to know she was alive and well, that his
sickness left him at once. He sent for her sisters,
who came and brought their husbands.
These husbands were not much to be praised. One was so
vain that he looked at himself, and seldom looked at
his wife. The other had a sharp tongue, and liked to
use it on other people, and most of all on his own
wife. So the sisters were no happier than they had
But they were still jealous of Beauty, and they laid a
plan for her hurt. They thought if
 they could keep her at home after the week was over,
the Beast would be so angry, he would soon make an end
of her. So, at the end of the week, they made a great
ado, and begged her to stay just a little longer.
Beauty could not help being glad to have her sisters
want her. She said she would stay one week more; but
she was not quite easy in her mind.
On the night of the tenth day the sisters gave her a
feast, in order to make her forget the Beast. But at
night Beauty dreamed she saw poor Beast lying half dead
on the grass in the palace garden. She woke in tears,
and at once laid her ring on the table, and then went
to sleep again.
When she awoke, she was once more in her room at the
palace. All day she wished for supper time to come.
Then she would see Beast again. But supper time came,
and no Beast was at the table. Nine o'clock struck,
and still Beast did not come.
Beauty flew into the garden. She went to the spot she
had dreamed of, and there lay poor Beast on the grass.
She felt his heart beat. He was still alive. She ran
for some water and threw it on his face. The Beast
opened his eyes and said in a faint voice:—
 "You forgot your promise. I could not live without
you, and I meant to starve to death. Now you have
come, and I shall die happy."
"No! you shall not die, dear Beast," cried Beauty.
"You shall live to be my husband, for now I feel I
really love you."
At these words the whole palace was ablaze with light.
Music sounded, and there was a stir all about. There
was no Beast, but in his place a very handsome prince
was at Beauty's feet.
"You have broken the charm that held me," he said.
"But where is my poor Beast?" asked Beauty, weeping.
"I want my dear Beast."
"I was the Beast," said the Prince. "A wicked fairy
had power to make me live in that ugly form, till some
good and beautiful maid should be found, so good as to
love me in spite of my ugliness."
Beauty was amazed, but she took the Prince's hand and
they went into the palace. The people of the country
were full of joy. They had mourned for their Prince,
and now he had suddenly come back again, and with him
was a beautiful princess. So Beauty and the Beast, who
was no longer a Beast, reigned happily in the kingdom.
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