misshapen that it was long disputed whether he had human form. A fairy
who was at his birth said, however, that he would be very amiable for
all that, since he would have uncommon good sense. She even added that
it would be in his power, by virtue of a gift she had just then given
him, to bestow as much sense as he pleased on the person he loved the
best. All this somewhat comforted the poor Queen. It is true that this
child no sooner began to talk than he said a thousand pretty things, and
in all his actions there was an intelligence that was quite charming. I
forgot to tell you that he was born with a little tuft of hair upon his
head, which made them call him Riquet with the Tuft, for Riquet was
the family name.
Seven or eight years later the Queen of a neighboring kingdom had two
daughters who were twins. The first born of these was more beautiful
than the day; whereat the Queen was so very glad that those present were
afraid that her excess of joy would do her harm. The same fairy who was
present at the birth of little Riquet with the Tuft was here also, and,
to moderate the Queen's gladness, she declared that this little Princess
should have no sense at all, but should be as stupid as she was pretty.
This mortified the Queen extremely; but afterward she had a far greater
sorrow, for the second daughter proved to be very ugly.
"Do not afflict yourself so much, madam," said the fairy. "Your daughter
shall have her recompense; she shall have so great a portion of sense
that the want of beauty will hardly be perceived."
"God grant it," replied the Queen; "but is there no way to make the
eldest, who is so pretty, have any sense?"
"I can do nothing for her, madam, as to sense," answered the fairy, "but
everything as to beauty; and as there is nothing I would not do for your
satisfaction, I give her for gift that she shall have power to make
handsome the person who shall best please her."
As these princesses grew up, their perfections grew with them. All the
public talk was of the beauty of the elder and the rare good sense of
the younger. It is true also that their defects increased considerably
with their age. The younger visibly grew uglier and uglier, and the
elder became every day more and more stupid: she either made no answer
at all to what was asked her, or said something very silly. She was with
all this so unhandy that she could not place four pieces of china upon
the mantelpiece without breaking one of them, nor drink a glass of water
without spilling half of it upon her clothes.
Although beauty is a very great advantage in young people, the younger
sister was always the more preferred in society. People would indeed go
first to the Beauty to look upon and admire her, but turn aside soon
after to the Wit to hear a thousand most entertaining and agreeable
things; and it was amazing to see, in less than a quarter of an hour's
time, the elder with not a soul near her, and the whole company crowding
about the younger. The elder, dull as she was, could not fail to notice
this; and without the slightest regret would have given all her beauty
to have half her sister's wit. The Queen, prudent as she was, could not
help reproaching her several times for her stupidity, which almost made
the poor Princess die of grief.
One day, as she had hidden herself in a wood to bewail her misfortune,
she saw coming to her a very disagreeable little man, but most
magnificently dressed. This was the young Prince Riquet with the Tuft,
who having fallen in love with her upon seeing her picture,--many of
which were distributed all the world over,--had left his father's
kingdom to have the pleasure of seeing and talking with her. Overjoyed
to find her thus alone, he addressed himself to her with all imaginable
politeness and respect. Having observed, after he had paid her the
ordinary compliments, that she was extremely melancholy, he said to
"I cannot comprehend, madam, how a person so beautiful as you are can be
so sorrowful as you seem to be; for though I can boast of having seen a
great number of exquisitely charming ladies, I can say that I never
beheld any one whose beauty approaches yours."
"You are pleased to say so," answered the Princess, and here she
"Beauty," replied Riquet with the Tuft, "is such a great advantage, that
it ought to take place of all things besides; and since you possess this
treasure, I can see nothing that can possibly very much afflict you."
"I had far rather," cried the Princess, "be as ugly as you are, and have
sense, than have the beauty I possess, and be as stupid as I am."
"There is nothing, madam," returned he, "shows more that we have good
sense than to believe we have none; and it is the nature of that
excellent quality that the more people have of it, the more they believe
they want it."
"I do not know that," said the Princess; "but I know very well that I
am very senseless, and that vexes me mightily."
"If that be all which troubles you, madam, I can very easily put an end
to your affliction."
"And how will you do that?" cried the Princess.
"I have the power, madam," replied Riquet with the Tuft, "to give to
that person whom I love best as much good sense as can be had; and as
you, madam, are that very person, it will be your fault only if you have
not as great a share of it as any one living, provided you will be
pleased to marry me."
The Princess was quite confused, and answered not a word.
"I see," replied Riquet with the Tuft, "that this proposal does not
please you, and I do not wonder at it; but I will give you a whole year
to consider it."
The Princess had so little sense and, at the same time, so great a
longing to have some, that she imagined the end of that year would never
come, so she accepted the proposal which was made her.
She had no sooner promised Riquet with the Tuft that she would marry him
on that day twelvemonth than she found herself quite otherwise than she
was before: she had an incredible faculty of speaking whatever she had
in her mind in a polite, easy, and natural manner.
She began that moment a very gallant conversation with Riquet with the
Tuft, which she kept up at such a rate that Riquet with the Tuft
believed he had given her more sense than he had reserved for himself.
When she returned to the palace, the whole court knew not what to think
of such a sudden and extraordinary change; for they heard from her now
as much sensible discourse and as many infinitely witty phrases as they
had heard stupid and silly impertinences before. The whole court was
overjoyed beyond imagination at it. It pleased all but her younger
sister, because, having no longer the advantage of her in respect of
wit, she appeared in comparison with her a very disagreeable, homely
The King governed himself by her advice, and would even sometimes hold a
council in her apartment. The news of this change in the Princess spread
everywhere; the young princes of the neighboring kingdoms strove all
they could to gain her favor, and almost all of them asked her in
marriage; but she found not one of them had sense enough for her. She
gave them all a hearing, but would not engage herself to any.
However, there came one so powerful, so rich, so witty, and so handsome
that she could not help feeling a strong inclination toward him. Her
father perceived it, and told her that she was her own mistress as to
the choice of a husband, and that she might declare her intentions. She
thanked her father, and desired him to give her time to consider it.
She went by chance to walk in the same wood where she met Riquet with
the Tuft, the more conveniently to think what she ought to do. While she
was walking in a profound meditation, she heard a confused noise under
her feet, as it were of a great many people busily running backward and
forward. Listening more attentively, she heard one say:--
"Bring me that pot," another, "Give me that kettle," and a third, "Put
some wood upon the fire."
The ground at the same time opened, and she saw under her feet a great
kitchen full of cooks, kitchen helps, and all sorts of officers
necessary for a magnificent entertainment. There came out of it a
company of cooks, to the number of twenty or thirty, who went to plant
themselves about a very long table set up in the forest, with their
larding pins in their hands and fox tails in their caps, and began to
work, keeping time to a very harmonious tune.
The Princess, all astonished at this sight, asked them for whom they
"For Prince Riquet with the Tuft," said the chief of them, "who is to be
The Princess, more surprised than ever, and recollecting all at once
that it was now that day twelvemonth on which she had promised to marry
the Prince Riquet with the Tuft, was ready to sink into the ground.
What made her forget this was that when she made this promise, she was
very silly; and having obtained that vast stock of sense which the
prince had bestowed upon her, she had entirely forgotten the things she
had done in the days of her stupidity. She continued her walk, but had
not taken thirty steps before Riquet with the Tuft presented himself to
her, gallant and most magnificently dressed, like a prince who was going
to be married.
"You see, madam," said he, "I am exact in keeping my word, and doubt not
in the least but you are come hither to perform your promise."
"I frankly confess," answered the Princess, "that I have not yet come to
a decision in this matter, and I believe I never shall be able to arrive
at such a one as you desire."
"You astonish me, madam," said Riquet with the Tuft.
"I can well believe it," said the Princess; "and surely if I had to do
with a clown, or a man of no sense, I should find myself very much at a
loss. 'A princess always keeps her word,' he would say to me, 'and you
must marry me, since you promised to do so.' But as he to whom I talk
is the one man in the world who is master of the greatest sense and
judgment, I am sure he will hear reason. You know that when I was but a
fool I could scarcely make up my mind to marry you; why will you have
me, now I have so much judgment as you gave me, come to such a decision
which I could not then make up my mind to agree to? If you sincerely
thought to make me your wife, you have been greatly in the wrong to
deprive me of my dull simplicity, and make me see things much more
clearly than I did."
"If a man of no wit and sense," replied Riquet with the Tuft, "would be
well received, as you say, in reproaching you for breach of your word,
why will you not let me, madam, have the same usage in a matter wherein
all the happiness of my life is concerned? Is it reasonable that persons
of wit and sense should be in a worse condition than those who have
none? Can you pretend this, you who have so great a share, and desired
so earnestly to have it? But let us come to the fact, if you please.
Putting aside my ugliness and deformity, is there anything in me which
displeased you? Are you dissatisfied with my birth, my wit, my humor, or
"Not at all," answered the Princess; "I love you and respect you in all
that you mention."
"If it be so," said Riquet with the Tuft, "I am happy, since it is in
your power to make me the most amiable of men."
"How can that be?" said the Princess.
"It is done," said Riquet with the Tuft, "if you love me enough to wish
it was so; and that you may no ways doubt, madam, of what I say, know
that the same fairy who on my birthday gave me for gift the power of
making the person who should please me witty and judicious, has in like
manner given you for gift the power of making him whom you love and to
whom you would grant the favor, to be extremely handsome."
"If it be so," said the Princess, "I wish with all my heart that you may
be the most lovable prince in the world, and I bestow my gift on you as
much as I am able."
The Princess had no sooner pronounced these words than Riquet with the
Tuft appeared to her the finest prince upon earth, the handsomest and
most amiable man she ever saw. Some affirm that it was not the fairy's
charms, but love alone, which worked the change.
They say that the Princess, having made due reflection on the
perseverance of her lover, his discretion, and all the good qualities of
his mind, his wit and judgment, saw no longer the deformity of his body,
nor the ugliness of his face; that his hump seemed to her no more than
the grand air of one having a broad back, and that whereas till then
she saw him limp horribly, she now found it nothing more than a certain
sidling air, which charmed her.
They say further that his eyes, which were squinted very much, seemed to
her most bright and sparkling, that their irregularity passed in her
judgment for a mark of the warmth of his affection, and, in short, that
his great red nose was, in her opinion, somewhat martial and heroic in
However it was, the Princess promised immediately to marry him, on
condition that he obtained the King's consent. The King, knowing that
his daughter highly esteemed Riquet with the Tuft, whom he knew also for
a most sage and judicious prince, received him for his son-in-law with
pleasure, and the next morning their nuptials were celebrated, as Riquet
with the Tuft had foreseen, and according to the orders he had given a
long time before.