There was once a little girl who had no name. Her parents, a little old man and a little old woman, discovered the child one day while they were out gathering small twigs and dry leaves for their fire.
The little old woman, who liked to keep her ear to the wind, was certain she heard a faint cry traveling along with the crisp autumn breeze. The little old man, who liked to keep his feet planted firmly on the ground, thought it sounded more like pieces of the sweetest lullaby.
Curious, the little old man steadied himself against his tall walking stick, and he and the little old woman searched for what they did not know, until finally, just before the setting sun painted its last strokes of pale pink and indigo across the clear sky, they found it. A beautiful baby girl, swaddled in a thin blanket, nestled deep within a bush.
The little old man grinned, wide and nearly toothless, at the sight of the child’s head full of dark curly hair. The little old woman laughed out loud, her dark eyes misty at the sight of the child’s perfect rosy pout.
“What shall we name her?” the little old man asked the little old woman. Still beaming, the little old woman thought for a moment and answered, “I do not know. What name could possibly be as beautiful as she? We should not worry ourselves too much about it. When it is right, it will come.”
The little old man agreed, and they started along the path toward home.
With each new day, the little girl who had no name felt happy, safe, and loved. Her mother and father cherished every moment they had with the little girl. But just as she grew as big as the vegetables in her mother’s garden, and as strong as her father’s ox, so did her desire to find a name. It kept her awake most nights and stole away her dreams. So on the eve of her seventh birthday, the little girl who had no name decided that she would go and find one.
Her mother and father were saddened by the news of her leaving, but they wished the child well along her journey. They filled a small satchel with more food than she could ever eat and told her to choose any three things from their home that might help her while she was away. Like her mother, the little girl thought for a moment before choosing her mother’s shawl, her father’s walking stick, and the small wooden music box she received from a birthday passed.
Her parents happily obliged, smothered their daughter with hugs and kisses, and offered her their advice.
From her mother “Always say please and thank you”, and from her father “Know when to let something go.” The little girl smiled, her bright eyes clouded over with tears, and she promised to return home soon.
It wasn’t long before she came upon a large serpent slithering along the path. He seemed to be looking for something too.
“Hello, Sly Snake”, the little girl called. “Can I be of any help at all?”
Now Sly Snake didn’t run into too many little girls on this path, much less ones that didn’t want to stomp him with their feet or scream and run. So he was instantly suspicious.
“What’s it to you?” he hissed. “Do I look like I need your help?”
“Maybe not,” the little girl answered, “but maybe you can help me.” And she began to tell Sly Snake about her search for a name. That gave Sly Snake an idea.
“I’ll tell you where you can find the perfect name for you, but you have to give me something first.”
“OK”, said the little girl with a smile, “but I get to decide what I give you.” This made Sly Snake angry, but he agreed. The little girl reached into her bag and handed Sly Snake the small wooden music box.
“What I am supposed to do with this?” Sly Snake growled.
“I don’t know, but a promise is a promise.”
Grudgingly, Sly Snake told the little girl to stay on the path until the sun rose and set and rose again.
“You will come upon the Flowering Oak. You’ll find your name there.”
The little girl thanked Sly Snake and continued along her way. She turned back just once to see him open up the tiny box. Its music filled the air and made Sly Snake dance.
The little girl did as Sly Snake told her, and soon she came upon what had to be the Flowering Oak. She’d never seen anything like the giant tree. Instead of leaves, there were tulips, roses, and daffodils. And along the base of its trunk grew lavender and baby’s breath. The little girl began to gather some to take home to her mother, until she heard an angry voice behind her.
“Who told her that you could take those flowers? Those are my flowers!”
The little girl turned around and found herself nose to nose with a large hare, and he was angry.
“I’m so sorry, Kind Rabbit,” said the little girl. “You may have them back if you like.”
“There no good to me now,” huffed Kind Rabbit. “There is nothing you can do. Besides, I need to plant my cabbage and carrot seeds more than anything else. And I don’t suppose you can help me with that.”
But the little girl happily agreed. She offered to use her father’s walking stick to help with the digging. Kind Rabbit was delighted, and together they finished in no time.
“Now, how can I help you?” he asked.
The little girl told him of her plight, and Kind Rabbit quickly hopped away into the trunk of the tree. He returned shortly, a small book in his hands.
“Please take this book and stay on this path until the sun rises and sets and rises and sets again. But you must promise me that you will not open the book until you come to the Bottomless Lake. You’ll know it when you get there.”
The little girl happily agreed, thanked Kind Rabbit, and went on her way. She walked and walked, for two days and nights, the small book in hand. Just as the moon peeked out on that last night, she came upon the Bottomless Lake and sat down. It was time to open the book and pick out her name. But when she opened its pages, she found them blank. The little girl cried and cried. Surely Kind Rabbit had tricked her, and now she didn’t know what to do. Shivering and afraid, she wrapped herself in her mother’s shawl and lay down near the shore, the useless book open at her side.
Suddenly the book sprang to life, its pages full of golden light. It showed her pictures of herself, her family and friends, and all of the wonderful things she’d done in her life. The little girl wiped her tears away and smiled.
“Now my child,” said the small book, “tell me, what is your name?”
The little girl did not hesitate and said, “My name shall be Gift,” and she turned to go home.