It happened on the very day Princess Poubelle was to meet her intended, the handsome Prince John Don Ron von Finkleshteen.
She came down with a wicked case of ghoulish mouthus.
This frightful illness made it so everything the princess said was ill-mannered, ill-spoken and just plain nasty.
“I’ll never marry Prince Shtinklefiend!” shrieked the normally polite princess to her parents. “With a name like John Don Ron, he’s sure to be a plum dumb chum!”
“What are we to do, Kingsy-Poo!?” lamented the queen to her husband. “No prince in his right mind would marry a princess with such a foul mouth, no matter how beautiful she may be!”
“Worry not, Queensy-Poo. I’ll dispatch someone to the Royal Word Cellar at once to fetch some suitable words for our daughter,” proclaimed the king.
The Royal Word Cellar was where the royal family kept all the choicest words.
The task of descending to the word cellar fell to Theo Sorris, the king’s trusted page.
“But…but… your highness,” stammered Theo. “I’ve never been down there before. I’ll get lost or attacked by a foul word!”
“No one, least of all a page, should fear words,” admonished the king. “Now be a good lad and go down at once.”
Unable to argue with the king, Theo grabbed a satchel and lantern, and descended the seemingly endless winding stairs to the word cellar. He found himself in a long, dimly lit corridor lined with doors of all different colors and sizes.
Theo passed several doors before coming to a small door with a sign that said, “Young Words.”
“Ah, the innocence of youth,” said Theo as he crouched to open the door.
The room smelled of baby powder. A gentle lullaby filled the air. Soft, colorful words lay nestled in baskets. Theo gently picked up several words and put them in his satchel. He ascended the stairs and brought the young words to Delysia, the Royal Chef, who promptly chopped them up into an omelet for Princess Poubelle.
After declaring the omelet looked “WORSE THAN ROADKILL” the princess ate it.
The change was immediate. Her mean words were replaced by a steady patter of baby talk.
“Binky, binky! Gaa! Gaa! Me go potty-pishy-poopy!” babbled the princess. When the king refused to let her wear his crown, she threw a royal tantrum and had to be calmed down with a pacifier.
“My word, Kingsy-Poo, no one wants to marry a baby!” cried the queen.
So the king ordered Theo back down to the Royal Word Cellar.
“But your highness, spare me!” pleaded Theo. “I’ll be squashed by an onomatopoeia or cut down by a spastic semi-colon!”
“Oh, stop whining and descend at once!” commanded the k;ng.
Ever dutiful, Theo took the satchel and lantern, and headed back down to the word cellar. Walking further down the hall, he found an old wooden door with a faded sign that read, “Ancient Words.”
“We have much to learn from our elders,” declared Theo as he opened the creaking door.
The room smelled of dust and mildew and was filled with cobwebs. The plucking of a lute could be heard. Theo put several old, brittle words in his satchel and headed back to the Royal Kitchen.
Delysia crumbled the ancient words into a porridge, which the princess sloppily ate. The princess’s baby talk suddenly grew old:
“Forsooth mother dearest, wouldest thou tell me where I might perchance encounter the esteemed Prince John Don Ron von Finkleshteen? For thine daughter groweth impatient.”
“Ye gads!” cried the queen to the king. “She sounds worse than your Aunt Aethylswith.”
And so the king ordered Theo back down to the Royal Word Cellar, and before the page could protest the king said, “And I don’t want to hear any ifs, ands or buteths!”
Poor Theo returned to the word cellar. He walked further along the corridor until he reached a room with velvet curtains instead of a door. On the curtain the words “Dramatic Words” were illuminated by a spotlight.
“What could be more dramatic than young love?” mused Theo as he parted the curtains.
The room was warm and humid. A violin played passionately somewhere in the background. From every corner of the room, words begged Theo to take them. He grabbed several words, which were hot to the touch, and put them in his satchel.
Theo hastened the dramatic words to Delysia, who cooked them in a soufflé for Princess Poubelle.
Taking the soufflé, the princess bowed and said, “Thine humble mistress thanketh thee.”
Once the delicacy was eaten, the crusty, old manner of speech was replaced by far livelier articulations.
“I am in the very throes of love!” cried Princess Poubelle. “If I am not united with my true love at once, I shall go out of my mind!”
Clutching her heart, she fell to the ground and yelled, “My heart, my love-torn heart!!”
Watching her daughter with a look of horror, the queen cried, “The princess is sure to scare off the poor prince! Nobody wants a drama queen!”
The king could not agree with her more. Summoning Theo, he said, “Surely there is a room in the cellar that has just everyday, polite words. You must find it at once.”
As Theo began to protest, a tearful Princess Poubelle grabbed him by the shoulders and cried, “I beseech you, dear Theo. Do brave the terrible word cellar one last time, for my very life depends upon it!!”
Unable to resist the Princess’s pleas, Theo trudged back down to the word cellar.
Reaching the end of the corridor, Theo saw a black door upon which “Foul Words” was painted in red. Though he had no good reason to enter the room, he opened the door.
The room was lit by a single sputtering lamp. It smelled of cheap grape juice, and even cheaper words. No music filled this room – instead was a steady grumbling punctuated by growls and barks. As he grew accustomed to the dim light, Theo saw that the furry foul words were attacking and biting each other. Then the growling and fighting stopped. A myriad of yellowish eyes fell upon the poor page, as the foul words prepared to pounce.
“Expletive!” cried Theo. He fled the room and slammed the door behind him, just in time to hear several loud thumps against the other side of the door.
“I give up!!” cried Theo. “Let Kingsy-Poo and Queensy-Poo and the rest of the Poos hire a Royal Wordologist. I’m not paid enough for this!” (He was, in fact, not paid at all.)
Then, as Theo was about to ascend the stairs, empty-satcheled, he noticed a simple, blue door he had walked by each time before. The door had a sign that read, “Everyday Polite Words.”
Theo knew he had found his quarry. He entered the well-lit room, which was graced with a harp’s soothing song. Amiable words lined neat shelves, waiting patiently to be chosen. Theo picked up as many of the words as he could fit in his satchel and ran up to the kitchen.
Using a mortar and pestle, Delysia ground the words to a fine powder, which she mixed into some sweet wine.
Theo brought the wine to the princess.
“Goodbye cruel world!” she exclaimed, and she drank the elixir.
The change in Princess Poubelle was immediate and much welcome:
“My dear parents, I’ve had an eventful day. I shall go to my room now and prepare myself for the arrival of Prince Finkleshteen.”
Shortly afterward the royal court assembled, and Theo announced the arrival of Prince John Don Ron von Finkleshteen. He was every bit as handsome as rumor foretold. He bowed, pulled out a scroll and cleared his throat.
The entire court awaited the prince’s elegant words. However, instead of words came forth a spray of spittle and froth, and then this:
“Ishkabibble, shmigegee, shlub, flub, shplegh!!!!”
The prince put his hand to his mouth, and everyone gasped in horror.
All then were speechless, save for Theo, who had become quite the expert.
“Well, there’s a case of Frothinsense-and-Slur if I ever heard one!” he declared. “Now if you’ll excuse me…”
And grabbing his lantern and satchel, Theo headed back down to the Royal Word Cellar.