Ferdinand III stared at the slim, up-time object on the table before him.

“This,” he announced to the courtier who had brought it to his attention, “is ridiculous.”

“Yes it is,” agreed the courtier. “But . . .”

“Indeed,” mused Ferdinand. “But . . .”

“It’s honestly not a dig at you at all,” interjected Francis M. Kidwell, one of Ferdinand’s up-timers, called in as a consultant. “Or at anybody, really. It’s just a coincidence, there was never a connection . . .”

ADoS-frdiii“Until now,” stated Ferdinand.

“Well, yeah, kind of, I guess,” Francis admitted. “But it’s not like it was planned or anything, it just happened to work out that way.”

“Suppose we change it somewhat?” asked the courtier. “After all, it’s really only the name. Otherwise it’s actually quite pleasant.”

“Yeah, that could work. Just need a nice long name, Reginald say . . . er, no . . . Archibald, maybe. Forsythe, that would work great, man of peace after all.”

Ferdinand stared in thought at the slim, should-be-innocuous object.

“I would prefer that, but no. It will get about what the real name is, and if it is changed, everybody will think I had a hand in it.

“That,” he said, pointing at the object in question, “considered properly, is actually quite amusing. God does have a sense of humor, and if this is indeed an example of such, it is . . . flattering, to suppose He would take such personal interest. But if the name is changed, or if it is suppressed, people will rightfully view me as a humorless fool, quick to take offense where none is meant or intended.

“No. Pride goeth before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. If people want it, they may have it. We will not suppress it, but neither will We support it. Put it away, someplace where my wife won’t see it.”

“Beg pardon, Your Majesty?” “Say what, boss?”

Ferdinand the III, By The Grace of God Emperor of Austria-Hungary, King of Hungary, Count of Habsburg, ruling monarch, commander of armies, devoted husband and loving father, explained.

“Should Maria Anna hear of this, she will likely insist I bring it to Our children. And, as entertaining as it is, and as much as I adore her, as much as I thank God and the Holy Mary for her, all the same, I would honestly prefer to not read aloud The Story Of Ferdinand The Bull!”