A Pretty Story
Darcy enjoyed a peaceful evening in his Pemberley library. His children all sat nearby on the ornate rug. The six year old Frederick and Amelia were playing on the floor with their brother Matthew of three and their sister Emma of two. Their mother was gone visiting her sister Jane Bingley. Darcy was reluctant to let her go because she was expecting a new child in two weeks, but he knew that Elizabeth couldnít bear to be idle and confined in the house. After her motherís death a few months ago, Elizabeth has often sought the comfort of the outdoors. Her spirit was a little quenched and she felt often melancholic. Darcy and the children did all they could to relieve her somewhat low spirits.
Darcy was working on account books when he felt one of his children climb into his lap. He looked down to see little Emma pulling his sleeve saying: "Papa, Emma wants a story."
"Shall I read one to you, my little one?"
"No want story of you. Want pretty story."
"All right, then. Once upon a timeÖ" The other children ceased their games and gathered close to Darcy to hear the story. "Once upon a timeÖlived a wild and fearful beast. Everyone was afraid of him."
"BeastÖnot pretty storyÖ Want pretty story, Papa," said Emma hiding her face on his lapel.
"I promise it will be a pretty story, Gemma."
Darcy continued: "So everyone was afraid of him; and yet the beast has a secret."
"What secret, Papa?" interrupted Amelia.
"The beast will become a human forever if he could smell hydrangea and lavender around him. So the beast began to search around him to find that scent. But he did not find it. One day, this beast disguised himself very cleverly and went to a ball with one of his friends. There he met a beautiful princess.
"What was her name?" said Frederick.
"Liz. And Princess Liz was very beautiful with long, dark, curly hair and sparkling dark eyes."
"Just like Mama!" cried Emma.
"Yes just like Mama," answered Darcy smiling.
"However the beast didnít find her very pretty and told his friend so without realising that she had heard him."
"Oh no, the beautiful princess must be angry! What did she do?"
"Well, the beast thought she would be afraid of him like the others. But Princess Liz found this insult very funny and laughed at it with one of her friends. The beast was exceedingly angry that she was not afraid of him. As she passed him, the beast smelt the scent of hydrangea and lavender. The princess was wearing this scent!"
"Hurrah! The beast will become human," said Matthew.
"As the time passed, the beast found he was more and more attracted to beautiful Liz. Every time he came in a room, the princess was there and her scent enchanted him. He gradually became less and less beastly. However the princess disliked him for what he had said about her beauty earlier and took every opportunity to mock and tease him. Finally, the beast realised he was in danger of becoming human if he stayed longer. He rather liked his beastly ways, so he quitted the princessís county."
"Oh no, he will stay a beast then," said a downcast Amelia.
"It is not finished. Donít worry. Some months later, he visited his aunt the ogress. The princess was there too visiting her married friend in the area. They met frequently and the beast realised he was in love with beautiful Liz."
"He is in love!" cried delightedly Amelia.
"He decided to propose to her. But unfortunately in his proposal, he told her of his struggles to get rid of that love for her and the spell she has put on him by her scent and his fondness being a beast. He wanted her to accept him and became a beast as well."
"What did the princess say? Thatís not a very good speech, Papa!" said Matthew.
"No, it wasnít very good. The princess Liz was very angry and told him to go out and never speak to her again. She told him how much she disliked him. The beast became angry as well and yelled at Liz. They fought before the princess succeeded to kick him out of the house."
"Well done, Princess Liz!" said Frederick.
"The beast came back to his auntís castle. On his way back to the castle, he realised the princess was right, that he had offended her deeply. So he came the next morning and made his excuses to her. She forgave him but did not begin to love him. The beast left his auntís castle and returned to his house. He was very sad because he thought he has lost beautiful Liz. He really loved her very deeply and he must continue alone."
"Not pretty story, Papa. Beast sad. Princess gone," said Emma.
"But some months later as he came back to his country house he smelt the hydrangea and lavender scent and what do you think he found there?"
"Princess Liz!" they all exclaimed.
"Yes, the beautiful princess Liz was there visiting in the area with her aunt and uncle. The beast resolved to behave better than he had some months ago. The princess began to like him better and the beast became more and more human. He realised he had never stopped loving her. Alas at the moment, he wanted to talk to her again, Liz learned that a dragon had took away one of the beautiful Lizís sisters.
"Very angry at the dragon and determined to protect the young princess, the beast went to fight the dragon and send him away. With the princessís aunt and uncle, he took care of Lizís sister.
"In the meantime, the beastís aunt, the ogress came to see the princess. She tried to frighten her. The ogress didnít want the beast to become human. But the princess was not afraid of her and sent the ogress away. The ogress came to see the beast and told him to forget the princess. He refused. He really wanted to become human. Finally, he came back to the princessís country."
"Did he see the princess again?" asked all the children.
"One day, he began to walk with her. The princess thanked him to have fought the dragon and to have taken care of her sister. The beast said he had done it for her and told her he still loved her. He begged her to be his wife. He was now totally powerless and he knew he would die if she refused again."
"What did the princess say?"
"She told him that her feelings were now quite the opposite. She loved him too. She agreed to be his wife. As soon as she said these words, the spell was broken and the beast became human forever. He has now the hydrangea and lavender scent on him. The beast and princess Liz married and lived happily ever after."
The children clapped and thanked him for such a lovely story. Emma said: "Beast happy. Princess happy. Pretty story. Emma happy." The children went to bed.
Darcy heard his wifeís teasing voice in the library entrance: "Really Fitzwilliam, your aunt an ogress and my brother in law, a dragon?" as she came to her husband to give him a kiss.
"Indeed they are, my beautiful princess," said Darcy holding his wife on his arms.
"Are you much occupied, beast William? I want another story for me."
"I have another idea than telling stories now, beautiful Liz." And Darcy made her forget in the next moments everything about beasts and princesses.
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