But no one appeared, and even after another long sleep, fromwhich he awoke completely refreshed, there was no sign of any-body, though a fresh meal of dainty cakes and fruit was preparedupon the little table at his elbow. Being naturally timid, thesilence began to terrify him, and he resolved to search once morethrough all the rooms; but it was of no use. Not even a servantwas to be seen; there was no sign of life in the palace! He beganto wonder what he should do, and to amuse himself by pretendingthat all the treasures he saw were his own, and considering howhe would divide them among his children. Then he went downinto the garden, and though it was winter everywhere else, herethe sun shone, and the birds sang, and the flowers bloomed, andthe air was soft and sweet. The merchant, in ecstacies with all hesaw and heard, said to himself:
"All this must be meant for me. I will go this minute and bringmy children to share all these delights."
In spite of being so cold and weary when he reached the castle,
he had taken his horse to the stable and fed it. Now he thought hewould saddle it for his homeward journey, and he turned downthe path which led to the stable. This path had a hedge of roseson each side of it, and the merchant thought he had never seen orsmelt such exquisite flowers. They reminded him of his promiseto Beauty, and he stopped and had just gathered one to take toher when he was startled by a strange noise behind him. Turninground, he saw a frightful Beast, which seemed to be very angryand said, in a terrible voice: top rated strap on
"Who told you that you might gather my roses? Was it notenough that I allowed you to be in my palace and was kindto you? This is the way you show your gratitude, by stealingmy flowers! But your insolence shall not go unpunished." Themerchant, terrified by these furious words, dropped the fatal rose,and, throwing himself on his knees, cried: "Pardon me, noblesir. I am truly grateful to you for your hospitality, which was somagnificent that I could not imagine that you would be offendedby my taking such a little thing as a rose." But the Beast's angerwas not lessened by this speech.
"You are very ready with excuses and flattery," he cried; "butthat will not save you from the death you deserve."
"Alas!" thought the merchant, "if my daughter Beauty couldonly know what danger her rose has brought me into!"
And in despair he began to tell the Beast all his misfortunes,and the reason of his journey, not forgetting to mention Beauty'srequest.
"A king's ransom would hardly have procured all that my otherdaughters asked," he said; "but I thought that I might at least takeBeauty her rose. I beg you to forgive me, for you see I meant noharm."
The Beast considered for a moment, and then he said, in a lessfurious tone: