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Riquet With The Tuft
by [?]

Once 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 other 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 so beautiful?”

“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 magnificently 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 anyone 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.