RIQUET WITH THE TUFT
 ONCE upon a time there lived a queen who had the
misfortune to have a child extremely ill-formed and
ill-looking, though a fairy assured her that the child
would have great good sense, and would be very amiable;
besides, this good fairy then and there gave the little
tiling a great gift; he should have the power to give
equally good sense to whomever he loved best. But all
this hardly comforted the queen, who was distressed at
having such a very homely child, and was scarcely
pleased when he began, as soon as he could speak, to
say the most charming things and to act with the most
admirable cleverness. I had forgotten to say that he
was born with a little tuft of hair on his head, which
got him the name of Riquet with the Tuft, for Riquet
was the family name.
About seven or eight years after Riquet with the Tuft
was born, the queen of a neighboring kingdom had twin
daughters. When the first of the twins came into the
world she was so exceedingly fair that the mother was
in the greatest excitement of joy, and the good fairy
who stood by, and who was the one present when Riquet
with the Tuft was born, was forced to tell her that the
child, for all she was so fair, would be very, very
dull, yes, as stupid as she was beautiful. Then came
the second of the twins, and she was just as ugly as
the first was lovely, and the fairy again tried to help
the queen by the assurance that this child would be so
sensible that no one would notice her lack of beauty.
"Heaven send it may be so!" said the poor queen, "but
is there no way of giving sense to the other, who is so
"I can do nothing of that sort with her," replied the
fairy, "but she shall have the gift of making beautiful
the person who shall please her. That is all I can do."
As the two princesses grew up, their perfections grew
with them, and nothing was talked of but the beauty of
the elder and the good sense of the younger. To be sure
their defects grew too. The younger grew uglier, and
the elder more stupid.
She either made no answer when she was spoken to, or
she said something foolish. Then she was so awkward
that she could not place four dishes on the shelf
without breaking one, nor drink a glass of water
without spilling some on her dress and in spite of her
beauty she saw that people began to desert her for her
sister. At first they flocked about her because she was
so lovely to look upon, but little by little they left
her and gathered about her sister, because she was so
witty and entertaining. The elder would have given all
she possessed for half her sister's good sense. Even
the queen could not help reproaching the poor girl for
her stupidity, and this made her exceedingly
One day the beautiful and stupid princess was walking
alone in a wood, bewailing her fate, when she met a
little man, dressed very finely, but with a most
disagreeable face. It was Riquet with the Tuft, who had
seen the princess's portrait, and was so fascinated by
it that he had left his father's kingdom to see if he
could find this marvelously beautiful girl. He knew her
at once and addressed her with the greatest respect and
courtesy. He noticed how melancholy she was, and
"I cannot imagine how one so beautiful as you are can
be sad. In all my life, and I have traveled far and
wide, I never have seen so beautiful a woman."
"You are very good to say so," said the princess, and
"Beauty," continued Riquet, seriously, "is so
great a gift that nothing can be compared with it,
and one who has it can surely be distressed by
"Very fine," said the princess, "but I would rather be
as ugly as you are, and have good sense,
than be as beautiful as I am and be stupid."
"There is no greater proof of good sense," said
 Riquet with the Tuft, bowing low, "than the
belief that we are without it. It is the nature of
that gift that the more we have the more sensible we
are of what — we lack."
"I do not know how that may be," cried the princess, "I
only know that I am very stupid, and that is what is
"If that is all that troubles you," said Riquet, "I can
easily put an end to your sorrow."
"I have the power to give as much wit as any one can
possess to the person I love the most. You are the one
I love, princess, and if you will only promise to marry
me you shall have the greatest good sense and wit."
The princess stood stock still with astonishment.
"I see," said Riquet, "that my offer pains you. I am
not surprised, but do not hurry. I will give you a year
to think of it." The princess had so little sense and
wanted so much, and a year seemed so very long to wait,
that she said in a moment that she would accept him. No
sooner had she promised to marry Riquet in a
twelvemonth than she felt herself to be quite another
person. She heard herself talking with the utmost
sprightliness, and saying the most sensible things with
the greatest ease. Indeed, she talked with so much
brilliancy and good nature, that Riquet began to think
he had given her more wit than he had kept for himself.
She returned alone to the palace, and the whole court
speedily discovered that she had been singularly
changed. Everybody was puzzled to account for her. She
said as many bright and sensible things now as before
she had said stupid and ridiculous ones. But whatever
had caused the change, every one was
charmed,—every one, that is, except her younger
sister, who had now lost the only advantage she had.
People all flocked about the princess who was both
witty and handsome. Even the king consulted her
judgment, and used to hold his councils of state in her
chamber. Her fame spread abroad and the princes in
the neighborhood all wished to marry her, but now not
one of them seemed to her half wise enough.
At length there came a prince who was rich, witty, and
handsome, and she looked upon him with more favor than
on any of the others. Her father, seeing this, called
her to himself and told her that he had perfect
confidence in her judgment, and he should leave her to
choose entirely for herself. As the more sense we have
the more difficult we find it to make up our minds
definitely in such cases, she requested, after thanking
her father, that he would give her some time to think
it over, and then, wishing to be by herself, she went
to walk in the wood. It was the same wood where she had
met Riquet with the Tuft, and as she walked, thinking
hard, she heard a dull sound beneath her feet as of
many people running about busily under ground. She
stopped to listen, and heard some one say, "Bring me
that saucepan," and again, "Give me that kettle," and
"Put some wood on the fire." At that the ground opened,
and she saw beneath her what appeared to be a large
kitchen, full of cooks, scullions, and all kinds of
servants, making ready a great banquet. A band of
twenty or thirty cooks came forward and placed
themselves at a table, where they set to work preparing
dainties, and singing over their work. The princess,
very much astonished, inquired of them for whom they
were working so merrily.
"Madam," replied one, "for Prince Riquet with the Tuft,
who is to be married to-morrow." All at once the
princess remembered that to-morrow was the very end of
the year when she had promised to marry Riquet. The
reason why she had forgotten this before was that when
she made the promise she was a fool, and as soon as she
became wise she forgot all her follies. She was lost in
amazement and was moving forward when Riquet with the
Tuft suddenly appeared, gayly dressed, and with all the
air of a man about to be married.
"I have kept my word, princess, as you see," he said,
"and I doubt not that you have kept yours and will
marry me to-morrow."
 "Prince," said the princess frankly, "I must confess
that I had not intended to marry you, and fear I
"You surprise me very much."
"No doubt, and I should be disturbed about it if I were
dealing with a dull person instead of one with your
excellent good sense. You must yourself see that I
cannot do what I promised to do when I was a fool. You
should not have given me so much sense."
"If I were a fool I might be persuaded by you,
princess, but being a man of sense I see that you are
taking away all the happiness of my life. Tell me
frankly, is there anything in me that you complain of
besides my ugliness? I know I am ugly, but do you
object to my birth, my temper, my manners or
any—my good sense?"
"No, truly," replied the princess, "I like every, thing
about you, except-except your looks."
"Then I need not lose my happiness; for if I have the
gift of making clever whomever I love best, you are
able to make the person you prefer as handsome as ever
you please. Could you not love me enough to do that?"
"Oh, I did not know that before!" cried the princess.
"With all my heart!" and she wished eagerly that he
might become the handsomest man in the world. No sooner
had she uttered this wish than Riquet stood before her
eyes the finest, most charming man she had ever seen.
And so they were married, and Riquet thought the
princess the most sensible and agreeable companion in
the world, while the princess looked upon Riquet as the
noblest and most commanding man.
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