For the first several years of her life, Princess Ugh was entirely oblivious to the connotations or history of her name. She was, in spite of her father’s comment, truly a beautiful child. She had a pleasing temperament, and never seemed to get into trouble. Her favorite pastime was to walk around the Royal City. She was always pleased to see old friends, and she especially enjoyed meeting new people.

For their part, the townspeople grew to love the young princess, and were ever eager to meet her while she was out at play. People would go far out of their way just to walk past the young princess. They would smile, and wave, and say, "Hi, Ugh," and she would smile and wave back. A smile and a wave from the princess counted as worth more than a Royal Holiday.

As the princess advanced in age and knowledge, she began to take note of appearances–including and especially her own. Such a condition tends to affect all young princesses, and Princess Ugh was no exception. While it could be argued that she needed absolutely no help in presenting a pleasing appearance, the princess found small ways in which to make herself more beautiful than ever before.

She began to favor white dresses with colorful ribbons. She would often fashion small arrangements of orchids to be tied into her flowing hair, and if she occasionally had slightly redder lips, or deeper eyes, no one mentioned it. In short, it could be seen that the young princess was growing up.

One day Princess Ugh went out as usual, meeting friends and seeing the city. Feeling especially happy and full of life, she had put on her favorite white dress, and her most beautiful red ribbons. She had even spent an extra ten minutes brushing her hair. She skipped through the Royal City, up one lane and down another, smiling and waving at old friends, and meeting new people.

Such a fine day it was that she decided to treat herself to one of the tasty dessert cakes offered up by a bakery she had discovered some time back. The cakes were light and airy, and tasted like a spring day. The Royal Chef had tried to duplicate the dessert, with no luck. Attempts to bribe the recipe from the baker had met with a similar lack of success. The small bakery was the only place in town from which the cakes could be obtained. The princess could think of no better treat for a day as nice as this.

She was so intent on her dress, her friends, and the cake she had promised herself, that she was paying little attention to her footing. Crossing the street in front of the bakery, she accidentally wandered into a mud puddle, left there by the previous night’s rain. Startled, she lost her balance and sat down right in the middle of the puddle. Dirty mud splashed all over her pretty white dress, and her red ribbons were soaked. "Ugh," she said to herself.

Startled townspeople left whatever they were doing and sprang to her aid.
"Oh, it’s okay," she said, in answer to their queries. "I’m all right, really." She smiled as the clothes merchant from across the street helped her to stand. "Thank you," she said. "I’m truly all right."

But she wasn’t all right. Embarrassed and disheartened, the young princess tried to wipe some of the mud off her clothes. She succeeded only in spreading it around. Although she was still pretty, she certainly didn’t look like a princess. She looked around, swallowed a lump in her throat, and started to run back toward the palace.

Everyone stopped, amazed, and watched the muddy girl run down the lane. Children pointed and dogs barked. One particularly feisty Chihuahua chased her for three blocks, playfully nipping at her feet. She only just avoided tripping over the dog, and almost landed right in another puddle. Frustrated, she ran even faster, leaving the dogs and children behind.

The princess scampered over the moat bridge and past the startled gatekeeper. She ran through the front door into the palace, leaving muddy footprints all through the nice clean entryway. She ran up the stairs and down the hall, ignoring the anguished cry of the Royal Maid, who had just cleaned the stairs and the hall. She ran through the breezeway, past the residential wing, and into her bedroom. She collapsed upon her bed, and began to weep.

She didn’t know why she was crying. Yes, her dress was ruined, but she had other dresses that were just as pretty. She had forgotten to get her dessert cake, but she could always get one tomorrow. She was embarrassed at having fallen in the mud, and she knew that her
mother, the queen, would be furious at the mess she had made in the entryway, but even that wasn’t the worst of it all.

She thought about it harder. Something had happened. She remembered sitting in the mud. She remembered how it oozed and gurgled. She remembered looking at her dress. And then she remembered what she had said.

She had said, "Ugh."

She hadn’t ever really thought about her name before. It was just a silly little word, just like most other names. But this silly word had a meaning. It meant being dirty. It meant being messy. It was something that you said when you fell in the mud, and wanted to go clean up.

And THAT was the problem.

Princess Ugh took off her dirty clothes, cleaned herself up, crawled into bed, and cried all night long. Because her name meant mud.


Nobody could quite put their finger on it, but there had definitely been a change in the princess. They still walked by her, smiled, and said, "Hi, Ugh," and she still waved back. But she seemed not to smile as much, and her waves were perfunctory, as if she would really rather have just walked by without waving or smiling at all. The townspeople wondered about it, but having better things to do, they relegated it to the bottom of their Things-to-Worry-About list.

No one knew that the princess had discovered the meaning of her name. They didn’t know that, every time they waved and said, "Hi, Ugh," she imagined they were mocking her, making fun of her embarrassing fall. Had they known, they would have been shocked and horrified, for no one could imagine hurting the princess. They loved her, and would have done anything to keep her from distress. But the princess didn’t speak about it, and no one could have guessed.

The princess’ wanderings about the city grew less frequent, and one day she decided she was just not going to go out anymore. Not as long as people called her "Ugh." She would just sit in her room all day, and look out the window. She would never again walk through the streets. She didn’t want to fall in the mud again. She didn’t want people to call her "Ugh" anymore. She just wanted to stay in her room, where it was safe.

She looked longingly at the dresses in her closet. She really liked wearing them, and looking pretty. She sighed and turned away. If she wore them, she might fall in the mud and ruin them. Pretty as they were, she couldn’t bear to see another dress soiled. She folded up all her ribbons, put them in her dresser and closed the drawer.

Then, having nothing else to do, the princess walked across her room to the corner, and climbed into her blue funk. She wasn’t supposed to have it, but she had never quite gotten around to getting rid of it. She knew that her mother would be displeased, but she was tired, and the funk was comfortable.

A funk is a specially built piece of furniture. It wraps around you when you sit in it. It hides you from other people, and it keeps them from calling you names. More generically, it keeps you from getting hurt by isolating you from anything that you might care about.

Blue funks are especially good at this, and they have the additional property of making you dependent on them. If you spend very much time in a blue funk, pretty soon you will never want to get up out of it. Blue funks are insidious and dangerous, in spite of which they are often found in the bedrooms of princesses, particularly upset princesses.

Oddly enough, the only way to get rid of one is for the owner to pitch it out through the window. It is quite impossible for anyone else to do so, on behalf of said owner.

And so the princess sat in the corner, in her blue funk, all day long. Then she sat there the next day. And the next. In fact, the princess sat there for a good many days. She sat there for so long that the funk had quite convinced her she was never going to come out.

She didn’t need friends, it told her. She didn’t need people. She didn’t need pretty white dresses or colorful ribbons. She didn’t need dessert cakes. All she needed was the blue funk.

But the blue funk had made one mistake–a small but fatal one. Blue funks generally feed their owners fairly well in order to keep them content. However, this blue funk really hadn’t had a lot of practice, and it quite forgot about feeding the princess. It had even gone to some trouble to convince her that she didn’t need her dessert cakes, instead of providing them for her, as it should have done.

Inevitably, the princess began thinking on her own, if only enough to decide that maybe she did want a dessert cake after all. She then realized that she was pretty hungry. She could eat a whole plate of dessert cakes.

The blue funk noticed something was wrong. It tried to grab her, but the one rule funks must always obey is that they cannot prevent their owners from getting up on their own. The blue funk thought quickly, but it was too late.

"I’m sure not going to get any dessert cakes sitting here," thought the princess to herself, getting up out of the funk.

"Yes, you are," squealed the funk desperately, grabbing up whatever crumbs it could find inside itself. "Here! Cakes! Cakes!" it yelled, to no avail.

The princess had broken out of the blue funk which having no means of locomotion, could only sigh and watch her walk away. It let the crumbs fall back inside itself and relaxed, figuring there would be another chance to catch and hold the princess. There were always other chances, with princesses. The next time, promised the blue funk, she would not escape.

Princess Ugh stood in the middle of her room, considering what to do. She really wanted a dessert cake, but they could only be had at the bakery down the street. There was no getting around it–if the princess wanted her cake, she was going to have to get dressed and go walking for it. If she did that, she was going to meet someone, and they were going to say, "Hi, Ugh." Probably, she’d fall down in the mud again.

She didn’t want to go out, but she was beginning to realize that it was silly to be stuck in the palace. Not knowing what else to do, the princess decided to pay a visit to the Royal Sorcerer, Hyu. Perhaps he could think of a solution to her problem.

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