Gerhard had brought the new serving girl. She seemed very pretty perched on the back of the wagon. What hid in her heart of course was small, and petty. But then that was the requirement of the spell. Only a heart that was itself as ugly as I was could set me free and only if it learned to see my heart as the match for their exterior. Her heart had to find redemption in me in order for my looks to change. Typical spell-caster’s riddles. What small and petty heart was able to see beyond itself?
A decade ago Gerhard had postulated that perhaps a heart that had been taught to be small would still have the capacity to learn to see. They simply needed some hardship in order to grow. He had been collecting pretty serving girls since. None had been able to see him truly. After a year they were given the choice to stay and be apprenticed to a career, or to leave with a small dowry. If they had learned to think ahead they would stay. To date none had.
This girl was the most vain yet. She refused to even consider doing the simple washing up assigned to her, because her hands might chap. She wouldn’t go out to care for the animals or prepare the ground for spring seeding, because the sunlight might damage her complexion. She wouldn’t even sew for fear of developing a squint. If she wouldn’t work how was she supposed to learn to be kinder. It was time for the test.
“Girl, we require winter berries for the meal tonight. Go out and fetch them or you won’t eat.” The cook shouted. She raised a hand as if to cuff the little serving girl.
“Fine, I’ll go out and get your berries. Just don’t you dare lay hand on me. I will be an important lady here soon.”
Belle grabbed the bonnet that had been supplied with her uniform, and the carry basket cook shoved at her. After dodging cook’s parting swing she went outside and headed for the woods.
picking of all things. That I should be lowered to such menial labour. Why, I might scratch my skin on those nasty thorns. That old witch of a cook, she probably wants me to be ruined so that I will be stuck working for her forever. When the master finally sees me he will set her straight. No man could resist my looks.” Belle mumbled to herself while she went down the trail, deeper into the old forest. She looked neither left nor right and completely disregarded any dangers that might be lurking. Berry
The lord of the mansion looked on and shook his head in regret. She was such a pretty thing, it was too bad that her heart couldn’t match the exterior. So vain that she hadn’t even noticed the classic tests of the hero. The nest of drowning ants, the dove who is attacked by the hawk, or the fox with it’s paw caught in a trap. He had saved all of these once he was sure that she wouldn’t. he could hear them as any open heart would have in this wood. The final test then, knowing that if she lost she would truly lose.
Belle’s head snapped up. A scream to the side of the path. She froze. Should she leave without the berries or continue on and hope whatever was happening wouldn’t happen to her. She certainly couldn’t help whoever that was. She ran back, she would just pick whatever berries she found on the way. Cook wouldn’t notice anyway. And she wouldn’t risk her beauty to whatever was making that horrible sound.
“Well that settles it. She didn’t even think of trying to help, never mind actually going over and seeing what was happening. She’s your to deal with beast, you know our recommendation.”
“I won’t kill her. While that might work to weed out the bad blood among the elves it won’t help among humans. She needs to learn. As such it is my responsibility to teach her, and hope that in so learning she will learn to see me.”
The beast ran ahead of the girl to block her path. While she cowered from the dread beast he explained why she was being cursed. She didn’t hear a word. After a moment he swung and she lost consciousness.