RIQUET WITH THE TUFT
NCE upon a time a queen had a little son, who was so
ugly and ill-made, that for a long time the poor little
baby was thought hardly human. However, a good fairy,
who presided at his birth, assured his mother that, though
ugly, he would have so much sense and wit that he would
never be disagreeable; moreover, she bestowed on him
the power of communicating these gifts to the person he
should love best in the world. At this the queen was
a little comforted, and became still more so, when, as soon
as he could speak, the infant began to say such pretty and
clever things that everybody was charmed with him. (I
forgot to mention that his name was Riquet with the
Tuft, because he was born with a curious tuft of hair on
the top of his head.)
Seven or eight years after this, the queen of a
neighbouring country had two little daughters, twins, at
whose birth the same fairy presided. The elder twin was
more beautiful than the day—the younger so extremely
ugly that the mother's extravagant joy in the first was all
turned to grief about the second. So, in order to calm
her feelings, the fairy told her that the one daughter
should be as stupid as she was pretty, while the
would grow up so clever and charming that nobody would
miss her want of beauty.
"Heaven grant it!" sighed the queen, "but are
there no means of giving a little sense to the one who is
"I can do nothing for her, madam," returned the
fairy—"nothing as regards her own fortunes;
but I grant her
the power of making the person who best pleases her as
handsome as herself."
Accordingly, as the young princesses grew up, their
perfections grew with them; and nothing was spoken of
but the beauty of the elder and the wit of the younger.
True, their faults increased equally: the one became
uglier, and the other more stupid, day by day. Unlucky
fair one! she never had a word to say for herself, or else
it was the silliest word imaginable, and she was so
awkward that she could not place four teacups in a row
without breaking at least one of them, nor drink a glass
of water without spilling half of it over her clothes.
Beauty is a great charm; yet, whenever the sisters went
out together, those who were attracted by the elder's
lovely face, in less than half an hour were sure to be seen
at the side of the younger, laughing at her witty and
pleasant sayings, and altogether deserting the poor beauty,
who had just sense enough to find it out, and to feel that
she would have given all her good looks for one-half of
her sister's talents.
One day, when she had hid herself in a wood, and was
crying over her hard fate, she saw coming towards her
a little man, very ugly, but
mag-  nificently dressed. Who
should this be but Prince Riquet with the Tuft? He
had seen her portrait, had fallen desperately in love with
her, and secretly quitted his father's kingdom that he
might have the pleasure of meeting her. Delighted to
find her alone, he came forward with all the respect and
politeness imaginable. But he could not help noticing how
very melancholy she was, and that all the elegant compliments
he made her did not seem to affect her in the least.
"I cannot comprehend, madam," said he, "how so
charming and lovely a lady can be so very sad. Never
did I see any one who could at all compare with you."
"That's all you know," said the princess, and stopped.
"Beauty," continued the prince, sighing, "is so great
an advantage that, if one possessed it, one would never
trouble oneself about anything else."
"I wish I were as ugly as you, and had some sense,
rather than be as handsome as I am, and such a fool."
"Madam," said Riquet politely, though her speech
was not exactly civil, "nothing shows intellect so much
as the modesty of believing one does not possess it."
"I don't know that; but I know I am a great fool,
and it vexes me so, that I wish I was dead," cried the
"If that is all, madam, I can easily put an end to your
grief, for I have the power of making
 the person I love
best as clever as I please. I will do it, provided you
consent to marry me."
The princess stood dumb with astonishment.
She—to marry that little frightful
creature—scarcely a man
"I see," said Riquet, "that my proposal offends and
grieves you. Well, I will give you a year to consider it."
Now the young lady was so stupid that she thought
a year's end was a long way off—so long that it seemed
as if it might not come at all, or something might happen
between whiles. And she had such a longing to be clever
and admired that she thought at all risks she would
accept the chance of becoming so. Accordingly, she
promised Riquet to marry him that day twelvemonth.
No sooner had she said it than she felt herself quite
another being. She found she could at once say anything
she chose, and say it in the most graceful and brilliant way.
She began a lively conversation with Prince Riquet, and
chattered so fast and so wittily, that he began to be afraid
he had given her so much cleverness as to leave himself
When she returned to the palace, all the court were
astonished at the change. She, who had annoyed everybody
by the impertinent, tasteless, or downright foolish
things she uttered, now charmed everybody by her wit,
her pleasantness, and her exceeding good sense. The
king himself began to come to her apartment, and ask her
advice in state affairs. Her mother, and indeed the whole
kingdom, were delighted; the
 only person to be pitied
was the poor younger sister, of whom nobody now took
the least notice.
Meantime, princes came in throngs to ask in marriage
this wonderful princess, who was as clever as she was
beautiful; but she found none to suit her, probably
because the more sense a lady has, the more difficult she
is to please. As for her promise to Riquet with the Tuft,
being given in the days when she was so dull and stupid,
it now never once came into her head; until one day,
being quite perplexed by her numerous suitors, she went
to take a solitary walk and think the matter over, when
by chance she came into the same wood where she had
met the prince. There, all of a sudden, she thought she
heard a queer running about and chattering underground.
"Fetch me that spit," cried one; "Put some more wood
on that fire," said another; and by and by the earth
opened, showing a great kitchen filled with cooks, cooking
a splendid banquet. They were all working merrily at
their several duties, and singing together in the most lively
"What is all this about?" asked the amazed princess.
"If you please, madam," replied the head-cook,
politely, "we are cooking the wedding-dinner of Prince
Riquet with the Tuft, who is to be married to-morrow."
"To-morrow!" cried the princess, all at once
recollecting her promise; at which she was so frightened
that she thought she should have
fall-  en to the earth.
Greater still was her alarm when, at only a few steps'
distance, she beheld Riquet, dressed splendidly, like a
prince and a bridegroom.
"You see me, princess, exact to my word; and I
doubt not you are the same, come to make me the happiest
"Prince," said the lady frankly, "I must confess that
such was not my intention, and I fear I shall never be
able to do as you desire."
"You surprise me, madam."
"I can well believe it; and if I had to do with a
brute, instead of a gentleman of sense and feeling, I should
be very uneasy," returned she; "but since I speak with
the cleverest man in the world, I am sure he will hear
reason, and will not bind me, now a sensible woman, to a
promise I made when I was only a fool."
"If I were a fool myself, madam, I might well
complain of your broken promise; and being, as you say,
a man of sense, should I not complain of what takes away
all the happiness of my life? Tell me candidly, is there
anything in me, except my ugliness, which displeases you?
Do you object to my birth, my temper, my manners?"
"No, truly," replied the princess; "I like everything
in you, except"—and she hesitated
courteously—"except your appearance."
"Then, madam, I need not lose my happiness; for if
I have the gift of making clever whosoever I love best,
you also are able to make the person you prefer as
handsome as ever you please. Could you love me enough
to do that?"
 "I think I could," said the princess; and her heart
being greatly softened towards him, she wished that he
might become the handsomest prince in all the world.
No sooner had she done so than Riquet with the Tuft
appeared in her eyes the most elegant young man she had
Ill-natured people have said that this was no fairy-gift,
but that love created the change. They declare that the
princess, when she thought over her lover's perseverance,
patience, good-humour, and discretion, and counted his
numerous fine qualities of mind and disposition, saw no
longer the deformity of his body or the plainness of his
features; that his hump was merely an exaggerated stoop,
and his awkward movements became only an interesting
eccentricity. Nay, even his eyes, which squinted terribly,
seemed always looking on all sides for her, in token of his
violent love, and his great red nose gave him an air very
martial and heroic.
However this may be, it is certain that the princess
married him; that either she retained her good sense, or
he never felt the want of it; and he never again became
ugly—or, at least, not in his wife's eyes; so they both
lived very happy until they died.