A rich merchant who had three sons and three daughters lived in a big house in the city. His Youngest daughter was so beautiful she was called Beauty by all who knew her. She was as sweet and good as she was beautiful. Sadly all of the merchant's ships were lost at sea and he and his family had to move to a small cottage in the country. His sons worked hard on the land and Beauty was happy working in the house, but his two elder daughters complained and grumbled all day long, especially about Beauty.
      One day news came that a ship had arrived which would make the merchant wealthy again. The merchant set off to the city, and just before he left he said, "Tell me, daughters, what gifts would you like me to bring back for you?"
      The two older girls asked for fine clothes and jewels, but Beauty wanted nothing. Realizing this made her sisters look greedy; she thought it best to ask for something. "Bring me a rose, father," she said, "just a beautiful red rose." When the merchant reached the city he found disaster had struck once more and the ship's cargo was ruined. He took the road home wondering how to break the news to his children. He was so deep in thought that he lost his way. Worse still, it started to snow, and he feared he would never reach home alive. Just as he despaired he noticed lights ahead, and riding towards them he saw a fine castle. The gates stood open and flares were alight in the courtyard.
      In the stables a stall empty with hay in the manger and clean bedding on the floor ready for his horse. The castle itself seemed to be deserted, but a fire was burning in the dining-hall where a table was laid with food. The merchant ate well and still finding no one went upstairs to a bedroom which had been prepared. “It is almost as if I were expected," he thought.
      In the morning he found clean clothes had been laid out for him and breakfast was on the table in the dining - hall. After he had eaten he fetched his horse and as he rode away he saw a spray of red roses growing from a rose bush. Remembering Beauty's request, and thinking he would be able to bring a present for at least one daughter, he plucked a rose from the bush.
      Suddenly a beast-like monster appeared. "Is this how you repay my hospitality?" it roared. "You eat my food, sleep in my guest-room and then insult me by stealing my flowers. You shall die for this." The merchant pleaded for his life, and begged to see his children once more before he died. At last the beast relented. "I will spare your life," it said, "if one of your daughters will come here willingly and die for you. Otherwise you must promise to return within three months and die yourself."
      The merchant agreed to return and went on his way. At home his children listened with sorrow to his tales of the lost cargo and his promise to the monster. His two elder daughters turned on Beauty, saying, "Your stupid request for a rose has brought all this trouble on us. It is your fault that father must die." When the three months were up Beauty insisted on going to the castle with her father, pretending only to ride with him for company on the journey. The beast met them, and asked Beauty if she had come of her own accord, and she told him she had.
"Good," he said. "Now your father can go home and you will stay with me."
      "What shall I call you?" she asked bravely. "You may call me Beast," he replied. Certainly he was very ugly and it seemed a good name for him. Beauty waved a sad farewell to her father. But she was happy that at least she had saved his life. As Beauty wandered through the castle she found many lovely rooms and beautiful courtyards with gardens. At last she came to a room which was surely meant just for her. It had many other favorite books and objects in it. On the wall hung a beautiful mirror and to her surprise, as she looked into it, she saw her father arriving back at their home and her brothers and sisters greeting him. The picture only lasted a few seconds then faded. "This Beast may be ugly, but he is certainly kind," she thought. "He gives me all the things I like and allows me to know how my family is without me."
      That night at supper the Beast joined her at the candle-lit table. He sat and stared at her. At the end of the meal he asked: "Will you marry me?" Beauty was startled by the question but said as gently as she could, "No, Beast, you are kind but I cannot marry you."
Each day it was the same. Beauty had everything she wanted during the day and each evening the Beast asked her to marry him, and she always said no.
      One night Beauty dreamt that her father lay sick. She asked the Beast if she could go to him, and he refused saying that if she left him he would die of loneliness. But when he saw how unhappy Beauty was, he said: "If you go to your family, will you return within a week?" "Of course," Beauty replied. "Very well, just place this ring on your dressing table the night you wish to return, and you shall come back here. But do not stay away longer than a week, or I shall die."
      The next morning Beauty awoke to find herself in her own home. Her father was indeed sick, but Beauty nursed him lovingly. Beauty's sisters were jealous once more. They thought that if she stayed at home longer than a week the Beast would kill her. So they pretended to love her and told her how much they had missed her. Before Beauty knew what had happened ten days had passed. Then she had a dream that the Beast was lying still as though he were dead by the lake near his castle.
      "I must return at once," she cried and she placed her ring on the dressing table. The next morning she found herself once more in the Beast's castle. All that day she expected to see him, but he never came. "I have killed the Beast," she cried, "I have killed him." Then she remembered that in her dream he had been by the lake and quickly she ran there. He lay still as death, down by the water's edge. "Oh, Beast!" she wept, "Oh, Beast! I did not mean to stay away so long. Please do not die. Please come back to me. You are so good and kind." She knelt and kissed his ugly head.
      Suddenly no Beast was there, but a handsome prince stood before her. "Beauty, my dear one," he said. "I was bewitched by a sell that could only be broken when a beautiful girl loved me and wanted me in spite of my ugliness. When you kissed me just now you broke the enchantment."
      Beauty rode with the prince to her father's house and then they all went together to the prince's kingdom. There he and Beauty were married. In time they became king and queen, and ruled for many happy years.

      There was once a boy called Jack who was brave and quick-witted. He lived with his mother in a small cottage and their most valuable possession was their cow, Milky-White. But the day came when Milky-White gave them no milk and Jack's mother said she must be sold. "Take her to market," she told Jack, "and mind you gets a good price for her."
       So Jack set out to market leading Milky-White by her halter. After a while he sat down to rest by the side of the road. An old man came by and Jack told him where he was going. "Don't bother to go to the market," the old man said. "Sell your cow to me. I will pay you well. Look at these beans. Only plant them, and overnight you will find you have the finest bean plants in the entire world. You'll be better off with these beans than with an old cow or money. Now, how many is five, Jack?"
       "Two in each hand and one in your mouth," replied Jack, as sharp as a needle. "Right you are, here are five beans," said the old man and he handed the beans to Jack and took Milky-White's halter. When he reached home, his mother said, "Back so soon, Jack? Did you get a good price for Milky-White?" Jack told her how he had exchanged the cow for five beans and before he could finish his account, his mother started to shout and box his ears. "You lazy good-for-nothing boy!" she screamed, "How could you hand over our cow for five old beans? What will we live on now? We shall starve to death, you stupid boy."
       She flung the beans through the open window and sent Jack to bed without his supper. When Jack woke the next morning there was a strange green light in his room. All he could see from, the window was green leaves. A huge beanstalk had shot up overnight. It grew higher than he could see. Quickly Jack got dressed and stepped out of the window right onto the beanstalk and started to climb. "The old man said the beans would grow overnight," he thought. "They must indeed be very special beans."
       Higher and higher Jack climbed until at last he reached the top and found himself on a strange road. Jack followed it until he came to a great castle where he could smell the most delicious breakfast. Jack was hungry. It had been a long climb and he had had nothing to eat since midday the day before. Just as he reached the door of the castle he nearly tripped over the feet of an enormous woman.
       "Here, boy," she called. "What are you doing? Don't you know my husband likes to eat boys for breakfast? It's lucky I have already fried up some bacon and mushrooms for him today, or I'd pop you in the frying pan. He can eat you tomorrow, though."
"Oh, please don't let him eat me," pleaded Jack. "I only came to ask you for a bite to eat. It smells so delicious."
       Now the giant's wife had a kind heart and did not really enjoy cooking boys for breakfast, so she gave Jack a bacon sandwich. He was still eating it when the ground began to shake with heavy footsteps, and a loud voice boomed: "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum." "Quick, hide!" cried the giant's wife and she pushed Jack into the oven. "After breakfast, he'll fall asleep," she whispered. "That is when you must creep away." She left the oven door open a crack so that jack could see into the room.
       Again the terrible rumbling voice came: "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman, Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread." A huge giant came into the room. "Boys, boys, I smell boys," he shouted. "Wife, have I got a boy for breakfast today?"
       "No, dear," she said soothingly. "You have got bacon and mushrooms. You must still smell the boy you ate last week." The giant sniffed the air suspiciously but at last sat down. He wolfed his breakfast of bacon and mushrooms drank a great bucketful of steaming tea and crunched up a massive slice of toast. Then he fetched a couple of bags of gold from a cupboard and started counting gold coins. Before long he dropped off to sleep. Quietly Jack crept out of the oven.
       Carefully he picked up two gold coins and ran as fast as he could to the top of the beanstalk. He threw the gold clown to his mother's garden and climbed after it. At the bottom he found his mother looking in amazement at the gold coins and the beanstalk. Jack told her of his adventures in the giant's castle and when she examined the gold she realized he must be speaking the truth.
       Jack and his mother used the gold to buy food. But the day came when the money ran out, and Jack decided to climb the beanstalk again. It was all the same as before, the long climb, the road to the castle, the smell of breakfast and the giant's wife. But she was not so friendly this time.
       "Aren't you the boy who was here before," she asked, "on the day that some gold was stolen from under my husband's nose?" But Jack convinced her she was wrong and in time her heart softened again and she gave him some breakfast. Once more as: ack was eating the ground shuddered and the great voice boomed: "Tee, Fi, Fo, Fum." Quickly,  ackjumped into the oven. As he entered, the giant bellowed:
"Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, I smell the blood of cm Englishman, Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread." The giant's wife put a plate of sizzling sausages before him, telling him he must be mistaken. After breakfast the giant fetched a hen from a back room. Every time he said "Lay!" the hen laid an egg of solid gold.
       "I must steal that hen, if I can," thought Jack, and he waited until the giant fell asleep. Then he slipped out of the oven, snotched up the and rim for the top of the beanstalk. Keeping the hen under one arm, he scrambled Jack and the Beanstalk clown as fast as he could until he reached the bottom. Jack's mother was waiting but she was not pleased when she saw the hen.
       "Another of your silly ideas, is it, bringing an old hen when you might have brought us some gold? I don't know, what is to be done with you?" Then jack set the hen down carefully, and cornmanded "Lay!" just as the giant had done. To his mother's surprise the hen laid an egg of solid gold. Jack and his mother now lived in great luxury. But in time Jack became a little bored and decided to climb the beanstalk again.
       This time he did not risk talking to the giant's wife in case she recognized him. He slipped into the kitchen when she was not looking, and hid himself in the log basket. He watched the giant's wife prepare breakfast and then he heard the giant's roar:
"Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman, Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread." "If it's that cheeky boy who stole your gold and our magic hen, then help you catch him," said the giant's wife. "Why don't we look in the oven? It's my guess he'll be hiding there."
You may be sure that jack was glad he was not in the oven.
       The giant and his wife hunted high and low but never thought to look in the log basket. At last they gave up and the giant sat down to breakfast. After he had eaten, the giant fetched a harp. When he commanded "Play!" the harp played the most beautiful music. Soon the giant fell asleep, and jack crept out of the log basket. Quickly he snatched up the harp and ran. But the harp called out loudly, "Master, save me! Save me!" and the giant woke. With a roar of rage he chased after Jack.
       Jack raced down the road towards the beanstalk with the giant's footsteps thundering behind him. When he reached the top of the beanstalk he threw down the harp and started to slither down after it. The giant followed, and now the whole beanstalk shook and shuddered with his weight, and Jack feared for his life. At last he reached the ground, and seizing an axe he chopped at the beanstalk with all his might. Snap!
       "Look out, mother!" he called as the giant came tumbling clown, head first. He lay dead at their feet with the beanstalk on the ground beside them. The harp was broken, but the hen continued to lay golden eggs for Jack and his mother and they lived happily and in great comfort for a long, long time.

       There once lived a king and queen who had no children, which made them very sad. Then one clay, to the queen's delight, she found she was going to have a baby. She and the king looked forward with great excitement to the day of the baby's birth.
       When the time came, a lovely daughter was born and they arranged a large party for her Christening. As well as lots of other guests, they invited twelve fairies, knowing they would make wishes for their little daughter, the princess.
       At the Christening party, the guests and the fairies all agreed that the princess was a beautiful baby. One fairy wished on her the gift of Happiness, another Beauty, others Health, Contentment, Wisdom, Goodness . . . Eleven fairies had made their wishes when suddenly the doors of the castle flew open and in swept a thirteenth fairy. She was furious that she had not been invited to the Christening party, and as she looked around a shiver ran down everyone's spine. They could feel she was evil. She waved her wand over the baby's cradle and cast a spell, not a wish.
       "On her sixteenth birthday," she hissed, "the princess will prick herself with a spindle. And she will die." With that a terrible hush fell over the crowd. The twelfth fairy had still to make her wish and she hesitated. She had been going to wish the gift of joy on the baby but now she wanted to stop the princess dying on her sixteenth birthday. Her magic was not strong enough to Sleeping Beauty break the wicked spell but she tried to weaken the evil. She wished that the princess would fall asleep for a hundred years instead of dying.
       Over the years the princess grew into the happiest, kindest and most beautiful child anyone had ever seen. It seemed as though all the wishes of the first eleven fairies had come true. The king and queen decided they could prevent the wicked fairy's spell from working by making sure that the princess never saw a spindle.
       So they banned all spinning from the land. All the flax and wool in their country had to be sent elsewhere to be spun. On their daughter's sixteenth birthday they held a party for the princess in their castle. They felt sure this would protect her from the danger of finding a spindle on her sixteenth birthday.
People came from far and wide to the grand birthday ball for the princess and a magnificent feast was laid out. After all the guests had eaten and drunk as much as they wanted and danced in the great hall, the princess asked if they could all play hide-and-seek, which was a favourite game from her childhood. It was agreed the princess should be the first to hide, and she quickly sped away.
       The princess ran to a far corner of the castle and found herself climbing a spiral staircase in a turret she did not remember ever visiting before. "They will never find me here," she thought as she crept into a little room at the top. 'there to her surprise she found an old woman dressed in black, sitting on a chair spinning.
       "What are you doing?" questioned the princess as she saw the spindle twirling, for she had never seen anything like it in her whole life. "Come and see, pretty girl," replied the old lady. The princess watched fascinated as she pulled the strands of wool from the sheep's fleece on the floor, and twirling it deftly with her fingers fed it on to the spindle.
       "Would you like to try?" she asked cunningly.
With all thoughts of hide-and-seek gone, the princess sat down and took the spindle. In a flash she pricked her thumb and even as she cried out, she fell clown as though dead. The wicked fairy's spell had worked. So did the twelfth good fairy's wish. The princess did not die, but fell into a deep deep sleep. The spell worked upon everyone else in the castle too. The king and queen slept in their chairs in the great hall. The guests dropped off to sleep as they went through the castle looking for the princess.
       In the kitchen the cook fell asleep as she was about to box the pot boy's ears and the scullery maid nodded off as she was plucking a chicken. All over the castle a great silence descended. As the years went by a thorn hedge grew up around the castle. Passers-by asked what was behind the hedge, but few people remembered the castle where the king and queen had lived with their lovely daughter. Sometimes curious travellers tried to force their way through, but the hedge grew so thickly that they soon gave up.
       One clay, many many years later, a prince came by. He asked, like other travellers, what was behind the thorn hedge, which was very tall and thick by now. An old man told him a story he had heard about a castle behind the thorns, and the prince became curious. He decided to cut his way through the thorns. This time the hedge seemed to open out before his sword and in a short while the prince was inside the grounds. He ran across the gardens and through an open door into the lovely old castle.
       Everywhere he looked — in the great hall, in the kitchens, in the corridors and on the staircases — he saw people asleep. He passed through many rooms until he found himself climbing a winding staircase in an old turret. There in a small room at the top he found himself staring in wonder at the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. She was so lovely that without thinking he leaned forward and gently kissed her.
       As his lips touched her, the princess began to stir and she opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was a handsome young. man. She thought she must be dreaming, but she looked again and saw he was really there. As she gazed at him she fell in love.
       They came down the turret stairs together and found the whole castle coming back to life. In the great hall the king and queen were stretching and yawning, puzzled over how they could have dropped off to sleep during their daughter's party. Their guests too were shaking their heads, rubbing their eyes, and wondering why they felt so sleepy. In the kitchen, the cook boxed the ears of the pot boy, and the scullery maid continued to pluck the chicken.      Outside horses stamped and neighed in their stables, dogs barked in the yards, while in the trees birds who had stayed silent for so long burst into song. The hundred-year spell had been broken. The princess told her parents how much she loved the handsome young man who had kissed her, and they were delighted to find he was a prince from a neighbouring country. The king gave them his blessing and a grand wedding was arranged.
       At the wedding party the princess looked more beautiful than ever, and the prince loved her more every moment. The twelve good fairies who had come to her Christening were invited once again and were delighted to see the happiness of the prince and princess. Towards evening the newly married pair rode off together to their new home in the prince's country, where they lived happily ever after.

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Najwa Shazwani
Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know.
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