Once upon a time there was a poor but clever girl who found herself in the clutches of a dreadful Beast.

The dreadful Beast promised the poor but clever girl that if she could tell him stories that were so amazing, so wonderful that even his jaded tastes would be satisfied, he would let her live.

With trembling in her voice, the poor but clever girl sat upon the splendid carpet and wove a tale that sailed just off the coast of midnight, while holding her tattered copy of One Thousand and One Nights against her heart.

She told of hidden caves and open graves, flying ships and endless trips. She told of magic stones and giant's bones, flying steeds and magic seeds, of cabbages and kings.

The Beast appeared somewhat amused as he lounged before her upon a Turkish divan wearing a silken robe while smoking upon a water pipe.

With less trembling in her voice, the poor but clever girl sat up straight upon the splendid carpet and wove a tale that sailed far past midnight and towards the nearest edge of dawn, while holding her tattered copy of One Thousand and One Nights against her heart.

She told of fearful storms and locust swarms, golden thrones and kings of stone, she told of shifting sands and mythic lands, of wizards and of princes.

The Beast now leaned forward, his eyes gazing into those of the poor but clever girl as he lounged before her upon a Turkish divan wearing a silken robe and smoking upon a water pipe.

With no trembling in her voice, the poor but clever girl stood upon the splendid carpet and wove a tale that sailed within the sight of dawn, while holding her tattered copy of One Thousand and One Nights against her heart.

She told of talking dogs and magic frogs, of fearsome giants and wicked kings. She told of sesame seeds and forty thieves, of the phoenix and the elephant.

As sunrise stained the far edge of the sky a delicate shade of puce, the poor but clever girl stood triumphant before the Beast as he lounged before her upon a Turkish divan wearing a silken robe and smoking upon a water pipe.

"Kind sir, I see that I have amused you. Give me what you promised." She said without begging.

"Aye, lass," purred the beast, "Yeh've amused me, I'll grant yeh that. But I will not, for I always eat before I rest."

Angry, the poor but clever girl said, "You gave your word!"

"Promises are things easily broken, lass!" Jeered the Beast as he sprang upon the poor but clever girl and sank his teeth into her throat so that her tattered copy of One Thousand and One Nights fell to the splendid carpet.

The Beast cast the poor but clever girl aside so that she landed beside the shabbily bound book.

His Beauty, who watched his feasting from the open door with the half-closed eyes of a lynx, embraced her Beast, "Did my Angelus like his birthday gift?" she said while kissing him lingeringly upon the mouth, savoring the shared bouquet of a poor but clever girl, "Was it dainty enough? Was it amusing?"

"Aye, it were, but the wrapping tore all too easily," grinned the Beast with his arms about his Beauty's narrow waist as he nibbled at her throat. "Give us another kiss will yeh Darla? I've yet to get me fill!"

And so the Beauty and the Beast rutted upon the richly woven Persian carpet; the poor but clever girl and her tattered copy of One Thousand and One Nights forgotten, for sometimes to be a poor but clever girl means nothing in the way of the world, Scherezade be damned.