Riquet with the Tuft by Unknown
ONCE upon a time there was a Queen who had a son,
so ugly and misshapen that it was doubted for a long
time whether his form was really human. A fairy,
who was present at his birth, affirmed, nevertheless, that he
would be worthy to be loved, as he would have an excellent
wit; she added, moreover, that by virtue of the gift she had
bestowed upon him, he would be able to impart equal intelligence
to the one whom he loved best. All this was some consolation
to the poor Queen, who was much distressed at having
brought so ugly a little monkey into the world. It is true
that the child was no sooner able to speak than he said a
thousand pretty things, and that in all his ways there was a
certain air of intelligence, with which everyone was charmed.
I had forgotten to say that he was born with a little tuft
of hair on his head, and so he came to be called Riquet with
the Tuft; for Riquet was the family name.
About seven or eight years later, the Queen of a neighboring
kingdom had two daughters. The elder was fairer than
the day, and the Queen was so delighted that it was feared
some harm might come to her from her great joy. The same
fairy who had assisted at the birth of little Riquet was present
upon this occasion, and in order to moderate the joy of
the Queen she told her that this little Princess would have
no gifts of mind at all, and that she would be as stupid as
she was beautiful. The Queen was greatly mortified on hearing
this, but shortly after, she was even more annoyed when
her second little daughter was born and proved to be extremely
ugly. "Do not distress yourself, madam," said the
fairy to her, "your daughter will find compensation, for she
will have so much intelligence that her lack of beauty will
scarcely be perceived."
"Heaven send it may be so!" replied the Queen; "but are
there no means whereby a little more understanding might be
given to the elder, who is so lovely?" "I can do nothing for
her in the way of intelligence, madam," said the fairy, "but
everything in the way of beauty; as, however, there is nothing
in my power I would not do to give you comfort, I will
bestow on her the power of conferring beauty on any man or
woman who shall please her." As these two Princesses grew
up their endowments also became more perfect, and nothing
was talked of anywhere but the beauty of the elder and the
intelligence of the younger. It is true that their defects also
greatly increased with their years. The younger became
uglier every moment, and the elder more stupid every day.
She either made no answer when she was spoken to, or else
said something foolish. With this she was so clumsy that
she could not even place four pieces of china on a mantel
shelf without breaking one of them, or drink a glass of water
without spilling half of it on her dress. Notwithstanding the
attraction of beauty, the younger, in whatever society they
might be, nearly always bore away the palm from her sister.
At first everyone went up to the more beautiful to gaze at
and admire her; but they soon left her for the cleverer one,
to listen to her many pleasant and amusing sayings; and
people were astonished to find that in less than a quarter of
an hour the elder had not a soul near her, while all the
company had gathered around the younger. The elder, though
very stupid, noticed this, and would have given, without regret,
all her beauty for half the sense of her sister. Discreet
as she was, the Queen could not help often reproaching her
with her stupidity, which made the poor Princess ready to die
One day, when she had gone by herself into a wood to weep
over her misfortune, she saw approaching her a little man
of very ugly and unpleasant appearance, but magnificently
dressed. It was the young Prince Riquet with the Tuft, who,
having fallen in love with her from seeing her portraits, which
were sent all over the world, had left his father's kingdom
that he might have the pleasure of beholding her and speaking
to her. Enchanted at meeting her thus alone, he addressed
her with all the respect and politeness imaginable.
Having remarked, after paying her the usual compliments,
that she was very melancholy, he said to her: "I cannot understand,
madam, how a person as beautiful as you are can be
so unhappy as you appear; for, although I can boast of having
seen an infinite number of beautiful people, I can say
with truth that I have never seen one whose beauty could be
compared with yours."
"You are pleased to say so, sir," replied the Princess, and
there she stopped.
"Beauty," continued Riquet, "is so great an advantage that
it ought to take the place of every other, and, possessed of
it, I see nothing that can have power to afflict one."
"I would rather," said the Princess, "be as ugly as you
are and have intelligence, than possess the beauty I do and
be as stupid as I am."
"There is no greater proof of intelligence, madam, than the
belief that we have it not; it is the nature of that gift, that the
more we have, the more we believe ourselves to be without it."
"I do not know how that may be," said the Princess, "but
I know well enough that I am very stupid, and this is the
cause of the grief that is killing me."
"If that is all that troubles you, madam, I can easily put
an end to your sorrow."
"And how would you do so?" said the Princess.
"I have the power, madam," said Riquet with the Tuft, "to
give as much intelligence as it is possible to possess to the person
whom I love best; as you, madam, are that person, it will
depend entirely upon yourself whether or not you become
gifted with this amount of intelligence—provided that you are
willing to marry me."
The Princess was stricken dumb with astonishment, and replied
not a word.
"I see," said Riquet with the Tuft, "that this proposal
troubles you, and I am not surprised, but I will give you a
full year to consider it."
The Princess had so little sense, and at the same time was
so anxious to have a great deal, that she thought the end
of that year would never come; so she at once accepted the
offer that was made her. She had no sooner promised Riquet
with the Tuft that she would marry him that day twelve
months than she felt herself quite another person from what
she had previously been. She found she was able to say
whatever she pleased, with a readiness past belief, and to
say it in a clever, but easy and natural manner. She immediately
began a sprightly and well-sustained conversation with
Riquet with the Tuft, and was so brilliant in her talk that
the Prince began to think he had given her more wit than he
had reserved for himself. On her return to the palace, the
whole court was puzzled to account for a change so sudden
and extraordinary; for instead of the number of foolish things
which they had been accustomed to hear from her, she now
made as many sensible and exceedingly witty remarks. All
the court was in a state of joy not to be described. The
younger sister alone was not altogether pleased, for, having
lost her superiority over her sister in the way of intelligence,
she now appeared by her side merely as a very unpleasing-looking
The King now began to be guided by his elder daughter's
advice, and at times even held his council in her apartments.
The news of the change of affairs was spread abroad, and
all the young princes of the neighboring kingdoms exerted
themselves to gain her affection, and nearly all of them asked
her hand in marriage. She found none of them, however,
intelligent enough to please her, and she listened to all of
them without engaging herself to one.
At length arrived a prince so rich and powerful, so clever
and so handsome, that she could not help listening willingly
to his addresses. Her father, having perceived this, told her
that he left her at perfect liberty to choose a husband for
herself, and that she had only to make known her decision.
As the more intelligence we possess, the more difficulty we
find in making up our mind on such a matter as this, she
begged her father, after having thanked him, to allow her
time to think about it.
She went by chance to walk in the same wood in which
she had met Riquet with the Tuft, in order to meditate more
uninterruptedly over what she had to do. While she was
walking, deep in thought, she heard a dull sound beneath her
feet, as of many persons running to and fro and busily occupied.
Having listened more attentively she heard one say,
"Bring me that saucepan"; another, "Give me that kettle";
another, "Put some wood on the fire." At the same moment
the ground opened, and she saw beneath her what
appeared to be a large kitchen, full of cooks, scullions, and
all sorts of servants necessary for the preparation of a magnificent
banquet. There came forth a band of about twenty
to thirty cooks, who went and established themselves in an
avenue of the wood, at a very long table, and who, each
with the larding pin in his hand and the tail of his fur
cap over his ear, set to work, keeping time to a harmonious
The Princess, astonished at this sight, asked the men for
whom they were working.
"Madam," replied the chief among them, "for Prince
Riquet with the Tuft, whose marriage will take place to-morrow."
The Princess, still more surprised than she was
before, and suddenly recollecting that it was just a twelvemonth
from the day on which she had promised to marry
Prince Riquet with the Tuft, was overcome with trouble and
amazement. The reason of her not having remembered her
promise was, that when she made it she had been a very
foolish person, and since she became gifted with the new
mind that the Prince had given her, she had forgotten all
She had not taken another thirty steps when Riquet with
the Tuft presented himself before her, gaily and splendidly
attired, like a prince about to be married. "You see,
madam," said he, "I keep my word punctually, and I doubt
not that you have come hither to keep yours, and to make
me, by the giving of your hand, the happiest of men."
"I confess to you frankly," answered the Princess, "that
I have not yet made up my mind on that matter, and that I
doubt if I shall ever be able to do so in the way you wish."
"You astonish me, madam," said Riquet with the Tuft.
"I have no doubt I do," said the Princess; "and assuredly,
had I to deal with a stupid person, with a man without intelligence,
I should feel greatly perplexed. 'A Princess is
bound by her word,' he would say to me, 'and you must
marry me, as you have promised to do so.' But as the person
to whom I speak is, of all men in the world, the one of
greatest sense and understanding, I am certain he will listen
to reason. You know that, when I was no better than a
fool, I nevertheless could not decide to marry you—how
can you expect, now that I have the mind which you have
given me, and which renders me much more difficult to
please than before, that I should take to-day a resolution
which I could not then? If you seriously thought of marrying
me you did very wrong to take away my stupidity, and
so enable me to see more clearly than I saw then."
"If a man without intelligence," replied Riquet with the
Tuft, "who reproached you with your breach of promise,
might have a right, as you have just intimated, to be treated
with indulgence, why would you, madam, that I should receive
less consideration in a matter which affects the entire
happiness of my life? Is it reasonable that persons of intellect
should be in a worse position than those that have none?
Can you assert this—you who have so much, and who so earnestly
desired to possess it? But let us come to the point, if
you please. Setting aside my ugliness, is there anything in
me that displeases you? Are you dissatisfied with my birth,
my understanding, my temper, or my manners?"
"Not in the least," replied the Princess; "I admire in you
everything you have mentioned."
"If that is so," rejoined Riquet with the Tuft, "I shall
soon be happy, as you have it in your power to make me the
most pleasing-looking of men."
"How can that be done?" asked the Princess.
"It can be done," said Riquet with the Tuft, "if you love
me sufficiently to wish that it should be. And in order,
madam, that you should have no doubt about it, know that
the same fairy who, on the day I was born, endowed me with
the power to give intelligence to the person I chose, gave
you also the power to render handsome the man you should
love, and on whom you should wish to bestow this favor."
"If such be the fact," said the Princess, "I wish, with all
my heart, that you should become the handsomest and most
lovable Prince in the world, and I bestow the gift on you to
the fullest extent in my power."
The Princess had no sooner pronounced these words than
Riquet with the Tuft appeared to her eyes, of all men in the
world, the handsomest, the best-made, and most attractive
she had ever seen. There are some who assert that it was
not the spell of the fairy, but love alone that caused this metamorphosis.
They say that the Princess, having reflected on
of her lover, on his prudence, and on all the
good qualities of his heart and mind, no longer saw the deformity
of his body, or the ugliness of his features; that his
hump appeared to her nothing more than a good-natured
shrug of his shoulders, and that instead of noticing, as she
had done, how badly he limped, she saw in him only a certain
lounging air, which charmed her. They say also that
his eyes, which squinted, only seemed to her the more brilliant
for this; and that the crookedness of his glance was to her
merely expressive of his great love; and, finally, that his
great red nose had in it, to her mind, something martial and
heroic. However this may be, the Princess promised on the
spot to marry him, provided he obtained the consent of the
King, her father. The King, having learned that his daughter
entertained a great regard for Riquet with the Tuft, whom he
knew also to be a very clever and wise Prince, received him
with pleasure as his son-in-law. The wedding took place the
next morning, as Riquet with the Tuft had foreseen, and according
to the orders which he had given a long time before.
No beauty, no talent, has power above
Some indefinite charm discern'd only by love.