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256 pages, Paperback
First published October 25, 1978
Ger strode forwards and caught him in his arms as he staggered, and then half carried him to a seat near the fire. As he sank down with a sigh we all noticed that in his hand he held a rose: a great scarlet rose, bigger than any we had seen before, in full and perfect bloom. “Here, Beauty,” he said to me, and held it out. I took it, my hand trembling a little, and stood gazing at it. I had never seen such a lovely thing.
“You fainted,” he said; his voice was a rough whisper. “I caught you before you reached the floor. You—you might have hurt yourself. I only wanted to lay you down somewhere that you could be comfortable.” I stared at him, still kneeling, with my fingernails biting into the sofa cushions. I couldn’t look away from him, but I did not recognize what I saw. “You—you clung to me,” he said, and there was a vast depth of pleading in his voice.
“It’s said there’s a castle in a wild garden at the center of these woods; and if you ever walk into the trees till you are out of sight of the edge of the forest and you can see nothing but big dark trees all around you, you will be drawn to that castle; and in the castle there lives a monster. He was a man once, some tales say, and was turned into a terrible monster as a punishment for his evil deeds; some say he was born that way, as a punishment to his parents, who were king and queen of a good land but cared only for their own pleasure.”
“I said: "He cannot be so bad if he loves roses so much."
"But he is a Beast," said Father helplessly.
I saw that he was weakening, and wishing only to comfort him I said, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?”
“He leaned forwards. There was a bowl of roses on a what-not at his elbow; he lifted out a great red one, like the one Father had brought home nearly eight months ago. “Take this.” I took it, the stem still wet, cool against my fingers. “For a week it will remain fresh and blooming, as it is now; but at the end of the week it will droop and die. You will know then that your faithful Beast is dying too. For I cannot live without you, Beauty.””