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Letture di inglese

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Beauty and the Beast.

Peter G. Thomson Cincinnati, O.


There was once a merchant who had been very rich at one time, but who,having had heavy losses, was compelled to retire to a little cottage inthe country; where he lived with his three daughters. The two elder oneswere very much discontented at their poverty, and were always grumblingand making complaints. But the youngest one, who was called Beauty, andwho was as amiable as she was handsome, tried all she could to comforther father and make his home happy.

Once, when he was going on a journey to try and mend his affairs, hecalled them around him, and asked them what he should bring them when hereturned. The two elder ones wanted each a number of nice presents; butBeauty, kissing him sweetly, said she would be content with a rose. Sowhen the merchant was on his way back, he came to an elegant garden, ofwhich the gate stood open; and thinking of Beauty's rose, he went in,and plucking a beautiful one, prepared to proceed on his journey.

As he turned to go, he saw a hideous Beast coming towards him, armedwith a sword! This terrible creature reproached him for stealing hisflowers, of which he was very choice; and threatened to kill him on thespot! The merchant begged for his life, and said, that he had only taken"a single one to please his daughter Beauty." On this, the beast saidgruffly, "well, I will let you off, if you will bring one of yourdaughters here in your place. But she must come here _willingly_, andmeanwhile you may stay and rest in my palace until to-morrow." But, asyou may well believe, the poor father did not feel much like eating orsleeping; although everything was done for his comfort, and, in themorning, the Beast sent him home upon a beautiful horse. But though thebirds sang around him, and the sun shone brightly, and all nature wassmiling on his path, the heart of the poor merchant was heavy, when hethought of his beloved daughters.

When he came near his home, his children came forth to meet him; but,seeing the sadness of his face, and his eyes filled with tears, theyasked him the cause of his trouble. Giving the rose to Beauty, he toldher all. The two elder sisters laid all the blame upon Beauty; who criedbitterly, and said that as _she_ was the cause of her father'smisfortune, she alone must suffer for it, and was quite willing to go.So Beauty got ready for the journey at once. The father (who meant toreturn to the Beast _himself_, after embracing his children) tried todissuade her, but in vain; and so the two set out together for theBeast's palace, much to the secret joy of the envious sisters.

When they arrived at the palace, the doors opened of themselves, sweetmusic was heard, and they found an elegant supper prepared. As soon asthey had refreshed themselves, the Beast entered, and said in a mildtone, "Beauty, did you come here willingly to take the place of yourfather?" "Yes, sir," she answered in a sweet but trembling voice. "Somuch the better for you," replied the Beast. "Your father can stay hereto-night, but he must go home in the morning." The Beast then retired,giving Beauty so kind a look as he went out, that she felt quiteencouraged. The next morning, when her father left her, she cheered hisheart by telling him that she thought she could soften the Beast'sheart, and induce him to spare her life. After he was gone, she enteredan elegant room, on the door of which was written, in letters of gold,"Beauty's room."

Lying on the table was a portrait of herself, set in gold and diamonds,and on the wall, these words: "_Beauty is Queen here; all things willobey her._" Her meals were served to the sound of music; and atsupper-time, the Beast after knocking timidly, would walk in and talk soamiably, that she soon lost all fear of him; and once when he failed tocome, felt quite disappointed! At last, one night, he said to her, "Am Iso _very_ ugly?" "Yes, indeed, you are," said Beauty, "but you are sokind and generous, that I do not mind your looks." "Will you marry me,then, dear Beauty?" said the poor Beast, with a look of such eagerentreaty in his eyes, that Beauty's heart melted within her, and she wasupon the point of saying "Yes!"

But happening to look towards him, at that moment her courage failedher, and, turning away her head, she replied softly, "Oh! do not askme." The Beast then bade her good-night, with a sad voice, and went awaysighing as if his heart would break. The palace was full of rooms,containing the most beautiful objects. In one room she saw a numeroustroupe of monkeys, of all sizes and colors. They came to meet her,making her very low bows, and treating her with the greatest respect.Beauty was much pleased with them, and asked them to show her about thepalace. Instantly, two tall and graceful apes, in rich dresses, placedthemselves, with great gravity, one on each side of her, while twosprightly little monkeys held up her train as pages. And from this timeforth they waited upon her wherever she went, with all the attention andrespect, that officers of a royal palace are accustomed to pay to thegreatest Queens and Princesses.

In fact, Beauty was the Queen of this splendid palace. She had only towish for anything to have it; and she would have been _quite_ contentedif she could have had some company; for, except at supper-time, she wasalways alone! Then the Beast would come in and behave so agreeably, thatshe liked him more and more. And when he would say to her "dear Beautywill you marry me?" in his soft and tender way, she could hardly find itin her heart to refuse him.

Now, although Beauty had everything that heart could wish, she could notforget her father and sisters. At last, one evening she begged so hardto go home for a visit, that the Beast consented to her wish, on herpromising not to stay more than two months. He then gave her a ring,telling her to place it on her dressing-table, when she wished either togo or return; and showed her a wardrobe filled with the most elegantclothes, as well as a quantity of splendid presents for her father andsisters.

The poor Beast was more sad than ever, after he had given his consent toher absence. It seemed to him as if he could not look at her enough, normuster courage to leave her. She tried to cheer him, saying, "Be of goodheart, Beauty will soon return," but nothing seemed to comfort him, andhe went sadly away.

Beauty felt very badly when she saw how much the poor Beast suffered.She tried, however, to dismiss him from her thoughts, and to think onlyof the joy of seeing her dear father and sisters on the morrow. Beforeretiring to rest, she took good care to place the ring upon the table,and great was her joy, on awaking the next morning, to find herself inher father's house, with the clothes and gifts from the palace at herbed-side!

At first she hardly knew where she was, for everything looked strangeto her; but soon she heard the voice of her father, and, rushing out ofthe room, threw her loving arms around his neck. Beauty then related allthe kindness and delicacy of the Beast toward her, and in returndiscovered that _he_ had been as liberal to her father and sisters. Hehad given them the large and handsome house in which they now lived,with an income sufficient to keep them in comfort.

For a long time Beauty was happy with her father and sisters; but shesoon discovered that her sisters were jealous of her, and envied her thefine dresses and jewels the Beast had given her. She often thoughttenderly of the poor Beast, alone in his palace; and as the two monthswere now over, she resolved to return to him as she had promised. Buther father could not bear to lose her again, and coaxed her to stay withhim a few days longer; which she at last consented to do, with manymisgivings, when she thought of her broken promise to the lonely beast.At last, on the night before she intended to return, she dreamed thatshe saw the unhappy beast lying dead on the ground in the palace garden!She awoke, all trembling with terror and remorse, and, leaving a note onthe table for her dear father; placed the ring within her bosom, andwished herself back again in the palace. As soon as daylight appeared,she called her attendants, and searched the palace from top to bottom.But the Beast was nowhere to be found! She then ran to the garden, and_there_, in the very spot that she had seen in her dream, lay the poorBeast, gasping and senseless upon the ground; and seeming to be in theagonies of death! At this pitiful sight, Beauty clasped her hands, fellupon her knees, and reproached herself bitterly for having caused hisdeath.

"Alas! poor Beast!" she said, "_I_ am the cause of this. How can I everforgive myself for my unkindness to _you_, who were so good andgenerous to me, and mine, and never even reproached me for my cruelty?"

She then ran to a fountain for cold water, which she sprinkled over him,her tears meanwhile falling fast upon his hideous face. In a few momentsthe Beast opened his eyes, and said, "now, that I see _you_ once more, Ishall die contented." "No, no,!" she cried, "you shall not die; youshall live, and Beauty will be your faithful wife!" The moment sheuttered these words, a dazzling light shone around--the palace wasbrilliantly lighted up, and the air was filled with delicious music.

In place of the terrible and dying Beast, she saw a young and handsomePrince, who knelt at her feet, and told her that he had been condemnedto wear the form of a frightful Beast, until a beautiful girl shouldlove him in spite of his ugliness! At the same moment, the Apes, and theMonkeys, who had been in attendance upon her, were transformed intoelegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen, who ranged themselves at arespectful distance, and performed their duties, as Gentlemen, and Maidsof Honor. The grateful Prince now claimed Beauty for his wife; and _she_who had loved him, even under the form of the Beast, was now tenfoldmore in love with him, as he appeared in his rightful form. So the verynext day, Beauty and the Prince were married with great splendor, andlived happily together for ever after.

Produced by Jacqueline Jeremy, Janet Blenkinship and theOnline Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net(This file was produced from images generously madeavailable by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

Un grazie particolare a www.gutenberg.org per il loro prezioso lavoro, visita il loro sito per altri testi!

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