The Princess & The Name

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Once upon a time, there was a Princess of a fair land. The kingdom was graced with happiness, wealth, and nice weather. The people were all friendly and they never went to war with any of their neighbors. The King would really listen to the people and he never taxed them too much. The Princess had many friends inside and outside of the castle and she was allowed to play with whomever she chose.

The Princess was generally happy, but she hated her name. It was unusually long. Her full name was Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II. She wouldn’t have minded, since royalty throughout the ages have had unusually long full names, but everyone always uttered every single syllable whenever they addressed her. Even her own parents called her by her full name or addressed her only as daughter. For example, “Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II, it’s time for bed.” or “Would you like some more soup, Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II?” She hated it. She longed to be addressed with just one syllable.

She asked her father, King Ferdinand Alexander Charles Phillipe Henry Frederick James de Marquese VI, why it was that everyone always called them by all those names. Couldn’t she just choose one and be done with it? The King told his Princess that it was necessary that everyone address the royal family by their full names, but he didn’t tell her why just yet.

Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II gave long thought as to which of the many names she preferred. She finally decided on Kat from Ekaterina. It was a short, one syllable name. She commanded her maidservant to address her as such. The maidservant looked away in horror and ran out of the room. She told the royal chef to call her Kat and he had much the same reaction. No one in the castle would call her Kat. They all kept calling her Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II.

She decided to explore outside the castle walls. Surely, someone would be willing to call her Kat out there. She walked through the village, as she was wont to do on sunny days, and everyone greeted her with a bow and her full name. It made her angry and she kept walking. She passed the blacksmith’s on the edge of town. She had often watched the smith bend horseshoes. It usually took her mind off her troubles, not that she had many. The blacksmith greeted her with a bow and her full name. Miffed, she kept walking. She was determined to walk as far as necessary to find someone who wouldn’t refer to her with all those letters and syllables.

Towards late afternoon, the Princess came upon the forest. She had often ridden horses by the forest, but she had never been inside since she hadn’t been this far from the castle on foot before, and the horses couldn’t traverse the brambles and thickets. Hardly had she set foot in the forest when she regretted it, but like her father, she was stubborn and never gave up once she set her mind to something. She scarcely wanted to admit it herself, but she was weary from walking and scared of being alone in the forest. Before long, she came upon a cottage.

She asked the old woman in the cottage for a rest. The woman bade her inside and offered her some stew. The Princess ate it greedily. She felt better almost immediately to have company. She began telling the old woman of her troubles, “I’m sick of being addressed always as Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II and I want to be called Kat, but I could not find a single soul in the castle nor village who would address me as anything other than Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II.”

The old woman led the Princess to a bed, gave a smile and said, “Fear not, little Kat, rest your weary head and forget your troubles.” The Princess smiled and laid her head down to sleep. When she awoke, it was dark and she was alone. She left the little cottage in the forest to find the night sky lit up with an orange glow.

She made her way out to the road of the village. She realized that the glow was fire. The blacksmith shop and all the buildings of the village were burning. People were in the streets with torches and weapons, cursing at each other. She saw the butcher stab the baker with a carving knife. She saw the blood flow from the houses. The village streets were red with blood. She ran back to the castle as fast as her feet could carry her and it was on fire, too.

When the King’s guards saw her, they quickly ran her to the King. “Father, what is happening?” He replied, “Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II, did someone address you as something other than your full name?” Joyfully, she responded, “Yes! There was a woman in the forest who called me Kat.” “I thought so”, the King said with a lowered head. “Father, what is happening?”

With a heavy sigh, the King sat her down and told her the story of her name as he should have done before. “When I was a young boy, I also went to that cottage in the forest. There lives a witch. She set a curse upon our family.  If anyone outside the royal family ever referred to us as anything other than our full given names, the peace would be broken, the village would be razed and the streets would run red with blood.” The Princess cried for she did not know.

Then, the King asked the Princess, “Think hard, daughter, did anyone besides the witch not address you as Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II?” The Princess thought and said, “No, I could not find a single soul in the kingdom who would call me anything but Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II.” The King rejoiced, “Since it is she who has cursed us, she cannot not be the one to break the spell.”

The King made haste to the forest and confronted the witch. She laughed, “I admit my trickery. The spell has not been broken. But take this as a warning, King Ferdinand Alexander Charles Phillipe Henry Frederick James de Marquese VI, for by not telling your daughter the truth, you nearly destroyed the kingdom.” When the King left the cottage, the orange glow was gone and everything was as it was before. The butcher and the baker, both greeted him politely as King Ferdinand Alexander Charles Phillipe Henry Frederick James de Marquese VI. Peace was restored to the land.

Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II promised King Ferdinand Alexander Charles Phillipe Henry Frederick James de Marquese VI that she would never again complain about being called Princess Gladiola Ekaterina Elizabeth Christina Adelaide Victoria Astrid Batilda de Marquese II, but she also promised herself that, if she had a daughter, she would name her simply Kat. And they lived happily ever after.

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