Riquet with the Tuftpage 2 / 7
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 her:—