Once there was a King who rescued a rabbit while out hunting. The rabbit was actually a fairy in disguise, and in return for his kind heart, the Fairy Candide offered the King a choice of gifts: to make his only son the handsomest, the richest, or the most powerful Prince. Being wise, the King decided he wanted his son to be a good man rather than anything else. The fairy promised to point out the Prince's faults and punish him for them.
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To do this, she gave the prince a gold ring which would always prick his finger when he was doing something wrong. If he continued to ignore his ring's warnings, she would stop being his Protectoress. The Prince was amazed, but the ring did indeed start pricking him whenever he lost his temper or became cruel. At first the Prince obeyed his ring, but he became frustrated with not having his way, and ignored the ring more and more, and eventually got rid of it. He also had bad companions who encouraged him to do the wrong thing. He had a beloved tutor, Suliman, who would admonish the Prince when he took advantage of his power, but one day the Prince became so frustrated he banished the tutor.
Later, Cherry happened upon the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, and proposed marriage. The maiden, Zelia, refused, for she knew he was selfish and had a bad temper. His friends encouraged him to make an example of anyone who dared disobey him and imprison the girl. He listened to his friends and cast her into the dungeon.
The Fairy appeared before the Prince again. Because he behaved like an animal, she condemned him to appear as an animal, and Cherry was transformed into a creature like a mixture of a lion, a bull, a wolf, and a serpent. Cherry ran away and fell into a bear trap. His captors put him on display, and through people's talk, Cherry learned that his wise tutor had been made King in his absense, and that the people were glad of the disappearance of the cruel prince.
One day, the keeper of the Menagerie was attacked by an escaped tiger. As soon as Cherry had the impulse to save the man, his cage was opened and he saved the keeper, who was thankful. At that moment, Cherry transformed again, this time into a dog.
Cherry lived happily as a dog for a while, until he saw a woman in a garden looking for food. Feeling pity, Cherry gave her the piece of bread he was about to eat. As he did, he recognized the beautiful Zelia as the recipient of his bread-but just then she was dragged back into the dungeon. As Cherry repented of this deed, he became a white pigeon.
Cherry flew in search of Zelia. He finally found her and perched on her shoulder. Zelia proclaimed her love of the bird, which were the words needed to turn Cherry back into his human form. Zelia was able to love Cherry now that his true nature was not "hidden by faults," and they were transported back to rule Prince Cherry's kingdom. His ring was restored to him, and he became a just and kind ruler.
This little fairy tale isn't really part of the Beauty and the Beast cycle, although it is an Animal Bridegroom tale. Here we see a foreshadowing of the Disney version in that the beastly forms are punishment for beastly behaviors, only here the Prince gradually goes from savage to domestic, which is an interesting twist.
Also interesting is that this tale is written by Madame LePrince de Beaumont, the same woman who is credited with writing Beauty and the Beast Proper. Clearly appearances and beast-like men were a theme with her. Only the book from which I got this tale (Bookhouse Through Fairy Halls, 1928) calls her not "LePrince de Beaumont," but "La Princesse de Beamont." I don't know why they decided to make her last name feminine, but I checked and it really is the same person.