O GREAT WAS the longing of the Princess to be clever, that she at once promised Riquet to marry him in a year's time, and no sooner had she made the promise than a great change took place in her, and she found she could say all sorts of pleasant things, on all sorts of subjects, in quite an easy manner.
She at once began a conversation with Riquet, making such brilliant remarks, that he could almost think he had given her all his cleverness and had kept none for himself.
When the Princess returned to the Palace, everybody was astonished at the sudden and extraordinary change, for, instead of saying stupid things, or just nothing at all, she was now full of beautiful ideas which she expressed most charmingly.
The report of this transformation was soon spread abroad, and all the young Princes of the neighbouring kingdoms asked for her hand in marriage, but not one did she find altogether suitable.
However, at last one arrived, who was so powerful, rich, clever and handsome, that she could not help approving of him, and her father, noticing this, told her she was quite free to choose what husband she wished.
The Princess thanked him, and asked for time to consider the matter.
Then, to think it over, she went by chance, into the wood where she had met Tufty Riquet.
While she was walking, deep in thought, she noticed a loud noise beneath her feet, as of many persons hastening to and fro; then, listening attentively, she heard a voice say, "Bring me the saucepan," and another voice cry, "Put some wood on the fire."
At the same moment the earth opened and she saw a big kitchen full of cooks, and all sorts of things necessary for the making of a magnificent banquet, and everybody hard at work.
The Princess, astonished at this sight, asked the men for whom they were working.
"For the Prince Tufty Riquet," answered the head cook, "for to-morrow is his wedding day."
The Princess, more surprised than ever, all at once recollected that it was just a year ago that very day that she had promised to marry the ugly Tufty Riquet.
The reason that she had not remembered her promise before was that she was foolish when she made it, and in becoming clever she had forgotten all her former stupidities.
She had only walked on a few steps further, when Riquet appeared before her, magnificently clad, as a Prince about to marry.
"Here you see me, madam," said he, "keeping my word, and I have no doubt that you also came here to keep yours, and by giving me your hand to make me the happiest of men."
"I frankly confess," replied the Princess, "that I have not yet made up my mind, and I do not think I can ever do as you wish."
"You surprise me, madam," said Riquet.
"I can quite believe that," said the Princess, "and if you were not a good and clever man, I should not know how to act. But you are well aware that it was when I was stupid I promised to marry you, but now, as you may imagine, I am not so easily pleased."
"Except for my ugliness," said Riquet, "have you anything against me? Do you object to my birth, my character, or my manners?"
"Not at all," replied the Princess, "I love those things in you."
"If that is so," answered Riquet, "I shall indeed be made happy, because you can cause me to become the most delightful of men if only you will desire it. For know, madam, the same fairy who at my birth gave me the power to impart cleverness to whomsoever I should love, gave you a gift also, that of being able to render beautiful the one to whom you would grant this favour."
"If that is the case," exclaimed the Princess, "I desire with all my heart that you might be the most handsome and pleasing Prince in the world."
No sooner had the Princess uttered these words than her wish was fulfilled, though some say that no change really took place in Riquet, but that the Princess loved him now so much that all his ugliness was seen as beauty by her eyes.
However that may be, she straightway consented to be his bride, and, as the preparations had already been made, the wedding took place the very next day.