The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Demanding Beast

The man had come my castle out of a brutal winter storm. Cold, lost, and hungry, he found himself in a wondrous blossoming avenue. He found shelter for his horse. He came into the castle, ate a fine meal, and slept in a comfortable bed. He never met his host, but he seemed to take it all in stride, as if he felt entitled to my hospitality. When he brought his horse out, he turned down a path that was lined by a hedge of roses. He stopped to smell them, which I appreciated, but then he had the audacity to take one.

I was furious with this fellow. I made myself known to him, and I am not a pretty sight.

“Who gave you permission to take my roses?” I roared. “Was it not enough that I allowed you to be in my palace? Was I not kind to you? Is this the way you show your gratitude, by stealing my flowers? Your insolence shall not go unpunished!”

The man dropped the rose, and fell to his knees. “Pardon me, noble sir. I am truly grateful to you for your hospitality, which was so magnificent that I could not imagine that you would be offended by my taking such a little thing as a rose.”

“You are very ready with excuses and flattery,” I said; “but that will not save you from the death you deserve.”

The man who had been a merchant, started to tell me all his misfortunes. He could not afford to buy his greedy daughters what they wanted in town, but his youngest daughter had asked for a rose, which seemed to be within his grasp. It wasn’t. But i softened.

“I will forgive you on the condition that you give me one of your daughters.”

How could he do that? he cried. What would he say to his daughters? What excuse could he give them?

“No excuse will be necessary,” I said. “If she comes at all she must come willingly. On no other condition will I receive her. See if any one of your daughters is courageous enough, and loves you well enough to save your life. You seem to be an honest man, so I will trust you to go home. I will give you a month to see if one of your daughters will come back with you and stay here. If they are not willing, you must come alone. Say goodbye to them forever, for then you will belong to me. And do not imagine that you can hide from me, for if you fail to keep your word I will come and fetch you!”

Who would save her father to live with a Beast? It almost broke my heart to imagine that sort of girl.

The Demanding Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Blue Fairy Book. Illustration by H.J. Ford.

Demanding Beast