BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
sprinkled it over his face, and to her great delight he began to revive.
' Oh ! Beast, how you frightened me !' she cried. ' I never knew how much I loved you until just now, when I feared I was too late to save your life.'
' Can you really love such an ugly creature as I am ? ' said the Beast faintly. ' Ah ! Beauty, you only came just in time. I was dying because I thought you had forgotten your promise. But go back now and rest, I shall see you again by-and-by.'
Beauty, who had half expected that he would be angry with her, was reassured by his gentle voice, and went back to the palace, where supper was awaiting her; and afterwards the Beast came in as usual, and talked about the time she had spent with her father, asking if she had enjoyed herself, and if they had all been very glad to see her.
Beauty answered politely, and quite enjoyed telling him all that had happened to her. And when at last the time came for him to go, and he asked, as he had so often asked before :
' Beauty, will you marry me ? ' she answered softly:
'Yes, dear Beast.'
As she spoke a blaze of light sprang up before the windows of the palace ; fireworks crackled and guns banged, and across the avenue of orange trees, in letters all made of fire-flies, was written : 'Long live the Prince and his Bride.'
Turning to ask the Beast what it could all mean, Beauty found that he had disappeared, and in his place stood her long-loved Prince ! At the same moment the wheels of a chariot were heard upon the terrace, and two ladies entered the room. One of them Beauty recognised as the stately lady she had seen in her dreams; the other was also so grand and queenly that Beauty hardly knew which to greet first.
But the one she already knew said to her companion :
' "Well, Queen, this is Beauty, who has had the courage to rescue your son from the terrible enchantment. They love one another, and only your consent to their marriage is wanting to make them perfectly happy.'
' I consent with all my heart,' cried the Queen. ' How can I ever thank you enough, charming girl, for having restored my dear son to his natural form ? '
And then she tenderly embraced Beauty and the Prince, who had meanwhile been greeting the Fairy and receiving her congratulations.