Please read the Introduction first. Then continue reading each piece in order.
Click on the following titles to be magically transported to each piece of the triptych.
- “Beauty and the Beastess” 3. “Beauty’s Beginning”
2. BEAST’S BEAUTY
Once upon a time, there was an extremely handsome young man who lived in a village at the foot of a mountain. It was generally a peaceful village, whose residents laughed, loved, celebrated, broke each others’ hearts, worked, played, buried and mourned their dead, helped each other when they could, and tried to live as comfortably as possible.
All the while, the mountain watched over their lives, changing with the seasons and growing over time. The mountain was home to lots of trees, bushes, flowers, herbs, deer, squirrels, rabbits, skunks, birds, goats, mice, and bears though not many of those, and they’d be more afraid of you than you would be of them.
Near the top of the mountain, just below the clouds, there was a cabin made from some of the trees that grew there, and quite grown over with moss. Inside was a small living room, cozily furnished with a big stuffed chair and footstool, a big stuffed bookcase, a small table and a great stone fireplace. It also had a small kitchen with several iron pots, its own fireplace, and a window overlooking the glade outside. Tucked behind the kitchen was a tiny room containing a sink and a large tub, which flowed with clean, hot water at the turn of a nozzle, and a small porcelain seat in which one could do what one must and flush away the result in a trice. This last is noteworthy because in the village down at the foot of the mountain, the residents were still visiting the backyard whenever ablutions became necessary, which was most inconvenient during the long, cold winters.
The cabin had an upstairs as well, with two small bedrooms, each with its own fireplace, bookcase, feather bed and lots of warm down blankets, necessary to endure winters on the mountain.
As comfortable as the cabin was in itself, however, its most extraordinary feature was outside, just behind it. Where the residents of the village below had outhouses, the smells of which wafted into their open windows during the hot summers, behind the cabin stood a large, old tree, around which a narrow but sturdy stair wound, leading up, up into its boughs where sat nestled a treehouse built of the same wood as the cabin, grown over with the same moss and therefore difficult to see unless one knew to look for it.
Inside the treehouse were more bookshelves, overflowing with books, a largish telescope, and a smallish laboratory with vials and tubes and jars and dishes containing strange mixtures. From this vantage point, the resident of the cottage could see the valley below, the mountains to the west, and the plains and river and forests between them.
It was in this canopy-ensconced perch that she read her books, mixed her herbs, drew her plans, and watched the world below.
In good weather, every few months, she would rise in the dark hours of the morning, gather some jars and vials, some books and drawings, and packing them tightly to her back, she would make her way down the mountain, passing through the village before the sunrise, on her way to the town across the river. There she would buy supplies and meet with a group of wise people to discuss ways of making life even more comfortable for themselves, for the people in the town, the small village, and for you and me.
It was a solitary life, and quite a satisfactory one for the woman who lived atop the mountain.
At the foot of the mountain, the handsome man lived a life which could hardly be described as solitary. He was personable and outgoing, with an infectious laugh that drew both women and men toward him, eager to bask in the glow of his company.