I wrote this little story years and years ago, when I was still in my teens. I still think it's rather funny, and hope you will too. Just to be clear, the subtitle is entirely fascetious.
How to Gain a Kingdom
(or, A Political Satire on the Monarchial System of Government)
Once upon a time, along time ago, a good king and better queen lived alone in a great big tall castle that perfectly echoed with emptiness. Of course, personally they would have preferred a nice cozy gardener's cottage with only one flight of stairs and a chimney that didn't smoke, but every king and queen since anyone could remember had lived in that castle, and they didn't think it their place to depart from tradition. Now, since it was generally agreed that it would be better to have the castle echo with a baby's cry rather than emptiness, great was the rejoicing through all the land when it was announced that the queen was to bear a child. And everyone waited in expectation.
In due course of time the joyous occasion arrived, and a huge celebration was thrown in honor of the new princess—a girl, as chance had it, with red curls and sky-blue eyes. When that was over, everyone settled down to wait for her to grow up, when the really interesting part would come, and she could marry her True Love, who by the conventions of the age would be a prince, and of course live happily ever after. Well, that never happened, because one day when she was five years old the little girl, whose named was Genuinna, wandered off into the woods and was never seen again. So much for that.
The years rolled by, and the castle again echoed with emptiness. In fact, it echoed with emptiness so long that eventually the queen got too old to have children, and the king being the only child of an only child of the only survivor of a childhood disease, the kingdom was in a quandary. But, being an enterprising nation, they determined that if their king and queen needed an heir, then they should have one. And so it was agreed upon that there should be a great lottery held among all the pregnant young women in the kingdom, and the child of the woman chosen should be instantly adopted by the royal couple, and raised as their own. Upon said agreement, said plan was immediately carried out, to the great satisfaction of everyone concerned. Everyone that is, except for the mother of the child, who retreated in grief to absolute seclusion where she remained for the remainder of her life.
The new princess (for this baby, like the last, was of the female half of the human race) was endowed with the fair name Generica, and installed in all comfort in the royal nursery. She wasn't quite as pretty a baby as Genuinna had been, but that didn't bother the royal nursery workers, who had been out of a job so long they'd almost forgotten what a baby looked like. And, once again, the kingdom settled back to wait, complacent in the assurance that they had done right by their illustrious monarchs.
Well, spring turned into summer into autumn into winter into spring into summer into autumn into winter, and so on and on in the same order year after year, without variation, until finally sixteen cycles had almost been completed. By this time, of course, little Generica had grown up into a young woman. The only problem was she wasn't the right young woman. Or rather, she wasn't right for the job. For ever since the beginning of the first telling of the first fairytale, it has been an accepted fact that all princesses are beautiful. And Generica, I regret to say, was not. The good queen wept many tears over Generica, unable to understand how such a prescription for beauty as blond hair and green eyes could go so wrong. As for the king and his counselors, they feared a rebellion if word got out that the future queen was plain.
Finally, they decided that there was only one thing to be done: they needed a new princess. Not another baby, but a beautiful young woman just Generica's age, who they could sneak into the castle and change out without anyone being the wiser. Generica, after all, would not be presented to the people until her sixteenth birthday, which was still a whole two weeks away. Now, if you ask me, two weeks is a far too short a time to learn everything it takes to be a princess in, and I personally would not have put it off a moment longer than three weeks previous to her birthday, but that was, of course, entirely up to them.
Immediately, the most trusted lackeys of the most trusted assistants of the most trusted advisors of the most trusted friends of the king were sent out to scour the land— figuratively, of course. It wasn't really very hard to find beautiful sixteen year olds, when it came right down to it, and so in the end their worse problem was deciding which friend's advisor's assistant's lackey was the most trusted all the way down the line, thereby gaining the status and authority necessary to claim the right of choosing the kingdom's next princess. That done, the lucky maiden, a black-haired, brown-eyed miss, found herself summarily plucked from her chicken yard one sunny afternoon and carried off in a gunnysack to her new expectant parents. Not, you understand, that she minded, once she found out why she had been thus plucked. In fact, she was delighted, and even bestowed a kiss on the cheek of the most trusted lackey, who thereby put it about that she had a crush on him.
All this, however, did not sit well on the shoulders of the old Generica, who had wanted to be queen since she was a little girl. Point of fact, it made her downright mad. So she stormed off in a rage, and soon there was a new voice giving orders in the castle. Thus progressed things until the grand birthday celebration, at which Generica —Generica II, that is—was presented to all the people as princess and future queen. They cheered, and she waved, her only regret being that her friends couldn't see her now. And life, it seemed, was to go on as normal.
Wrong. For no sooner had the last guest wheeled away in the last velvet-upholstered carriage, than His Majesty the King promptly keeled over with a massive heart attack having eaten too much red meat at the banquet, which, as everyone knows, causes high blood pressure. The royal physician, I fear, could do nothing, and the king was laid to rest in a huge stone tomb, along with all his resting ancestors. His wife soon followed him in grief, and that's when things started to become complicated.
Well, Generica was, of course, heir to the throne, but since, as everyone knows, a woman can't be queen without a king at her side, the kingdom immediately sent off to a neighboring kingdom, whose royal couple had been blessed with no less than twelve male children, ranging from very young to somewhat young, to send them a prince right away. In the mean time, Generica the First decided that she was not going to settle for this. No sooner had she gotten word of the king's departure then she packed her bags and headed back to the castle to claim her throne.
Did I say it got complicated before? I was wrong. This is where it gets complicated. For, you see, it seems that Genuinna (you remember her? Red-haired kid who likes to walk in the woods) never was dead. Thus by deduction we realize that she was alive. Not only alive, but living in the lap of luxury, pampered to death by some childless couple who had decided to borrow her for a few years. Upon her death bed, however, the errant mother made a solemn confession, and the outcome of it all was that Genuinna decided that she had a right to the throne too.
So there they were, Genuinna, Generica I, and Generica II. The nation was in another quandary (of which situation they were by now growing a little tired). Of course they wanted to honor the wishes of their recently departed sovereign and lord, but really, this was going too far! Besides, maybe he'd have wanted Genuinna on the throne. As for Generica I, they just didn't know what to do. So, they sat and deliberated.
While they were sitting and deliberating, a young man wearing a bodily encasing of sterling silver and perched on a very big, blindingly white horse known for it talents in the specialized area of charging, rode into the palace courtyard, and announced, "Hi! I'm Charming!"
(Just so you know, he wasn't making a boastful declarative statement about the effect of his personality on others; he was just introducing himself. His name was Charming, and he was the aforesaid prince from the aforesaid neighboring kingdom. Only problem was, things were a little more complicated than the original agreement had led him to believe.)
Needless to say, Prince Charming was very handsome, and being the rightful property of whichever of them was the rightful queen, he heated up the competition a bit. Now, I could go to great lengths and lengthy detail, and give a play-by-play run down on all this ... but you don't want me to. Trust me. Instead, let's just say that at the end of three long (and for Charming, bewildering) months, the people put down their collective foot, and gentle but firmly informed the princessi that they had had enough. And they meant enough. In fact, they even came up with a plan for settling the matter.
The whole of this masterful plan hinged on the well known fact that a princess, put to sleep by a spell cast by the local fairy, would be awakened only by the kiss of her True Love. Now what they figured was that all three of the young ladies were put to sleep by said spell, and then Prince Charming kissed each in turn, whichever one woke up would not only be his bride, but their queen. Whatever happened, Charming got to be king.
Weil, Generica II threw a fit, Genuinna sulked in a corner, and Generica I just turned up her dignified nose. Charming surveyed them, surveyed the castle, surveyed the kingdom, and said, "Uh... I guess that's all right with me." So it was decided—rather well, the kingdom thought. Due to the unfortunate lack of market for the nation's main export, Chinese-style tinker toys woven from straws extracted from the nests of rare albino-redbreasts who've been fed with eucalyptus leaves and silkworms, the king had not been able to retain a court fairy for some years now, and they had to send off to a neighboring kingdom. Not Charming's, another one. After an agonizing wait, she arrived, fluttering into the throne room and explaining breathlessly that she had been delayed by a flock of talkative butterflies, and all three princesses were whisked off to sleep in a twinkle.
Charming lost no time in fulfilling his duty, starting with Generica and ending with Generica I, but, to everyone's great astonishment, none of them woke up. So, he tried it again. Still nothing. He looked at them, and he looked at the fairy, and he scratched his handsome head, and cried, "Fairy, Fairy, what does it mean?"
The fairy looked back gravely. "My son," she pronounced, "it means that none of them," she paused, "are your True Love."
None of them his True Love! After the prolonged stress of attempting to keep on terms with three women vying for his love, without committing to or offending any of them (the young prince had an eye to the future), followed by the climatic build up of the last four and seven thirteenths of a minute, compounded by the shock of the last two seconds, he did the only thing any sensitive fellow would do in his place: he fainted dead away.
When the Kingdom got the news, they did the same thing any Kingdom would do in their place: they threw a party. Effectively relieved of their princess problem, they almost overthrew the whole throne and set up a democratic government, but instead they decided to tell Prince Charming, who they liked, that if he wanted he could be their king anyway. That was a hard decision for him, as I'm sure you can imagine, but having wrestled in thought for all of possibly half a second, he decided to accept.
When the prince discovered that the kingdom the fairy was from was resplendent with silver mines, he decided that he must immediately accompany her home—purely out of the kindness of his heart, of course, although it is true that his beloved horse's supply of pure silver horseshoes was running low. This particular kingdom proved to be a very green place, with a tiny quaint little castle absolutely jammed full of friendly people. It was quite a shock to Charming, coming from his last place of residence, but he got over it. The good folk were delighted to have him, and made him sit down and tell his story over and over again, with clucks of sympathy and plenty of apple pie to soothe his lacerated nerves. Of course, because of limited space he had to sleep in a stable loft next to the second scullery boy, who snored, but on the whole he was very happy.
It wasn't long before the prince discovered that there was a lady getting in some very serious sleep in one of their back rooms. She had skin as white as snow, and lips as red as blood, and—sorry, wrong fairytale. At any rate, she was most lovely, and he thought what a pity is was that she had to just lie there and sleep. He asked the fairy about her; and she said, of course, that was the princess. She had been put to sleep by the last fairy, the one before her, because she was having difficulty choosing between suitors. But, kiss as they might, they all failed, and the fairy choked on a chicken bone at lunch that day, and died. They had hoped that the new fairy would be able to undo the spell, but all she knew were the latest spells, not the obsolete ones this old fogey had used, and so, through no fault of her own, there had been nothing she could do. Meanwhile, the princess was getting kissed by everyone from the under-gardener to the king of three kingdoms to the west. So far, nothing had happened.
Needless to say, Charming wasted no time in kissing the fair princess, and, sure enough, she woke up, they looked straight into each other's eyes, and instantly fell sickeningly in love. They were married in two week's time, and then Charming carried her back to his kingdom —not over the bow of his saddle, however. He did propose it, but she, being a young woman of admirable sense, pointed out that it was bound to rain this time of the year, and she really didn't want to get rust on her wedding gown, and he gave in without further complaint. So they were off, toting behind them a great pile of silver horse shoes (her dowry), and their new subjects welcome them with joy, and quickly installed them in their large castle, where they lived HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
You might perhaps be curious about the fate of the princesses Genuinna and Generica I and II. Well, the first thing Charming did on arriving back with his new bride was to sell them to a traveling circus, who turned them into a very profitable side-show by charging three pennies a kiss per princess. To the best of my knowledge, they're still there now.
THE (VERY) END