A merchant is obliged to leave his three daughters to go on a long journey. He asks each of them what they would like him to bring them. The two eldest wish for fine clothing and jewels, but the youngest asks for a rose. At the end of his trip, the merchant still has not found the rose his youngest daughter has asked for.
On the way home, the merchant becomes lost in a dark wood, and spends the night in a deserted castle. In the morning, he spies a rosebush, and breaks off one of the roses. A hideous Beast appears and demands either his life or one of his daughters to live at the castle. (In some variations, the Beast demands the first thing to meet him when he comes home. Hoping it will be a dog or a cat, the merchant agrees, only to find out that his youngest daughter meets him first)
The youngest daughter goes to live in the castle over everyone's protests. Every night the Beast asks her to marry him; every night, she refuses. She pines for her family, and is finally allowed to go back for a visit, but stays too long and comes back to find the Beast is dying. By then she trusts his gentle nature, and agrees to marry him.
The Beast turns into a handsome prince, and explains how he was enchanted to remain a Beast until a woman would love him and agree to marry him. They are married and live happily ever after.