Princess Crystal, or the Hidden Treasure
by Isabel Bellerby
THERE were the four Kings: the King of the
North, the region of perpetual snow; the King
of the South, where the sun shines all the year
round; the King of the East, from whence the cold
winds blow; and the King of the West, where the gentle
zephyrs breathe upon the flowers, and coax them to
open their petals while the rest of the world is still
And there was the great Dragon, who lived on top of
a high mountain in the centre of the universe. He could
see everything that happened everywhere by means of
his magic spectacles, which enabled him to look all ways
at once, and to see through solid substances; but he could
only see, not hear, for he was as deaf as a post.
Now the King of the North had a beautiful daughter
called Crystal. Her eyes were bright like the stars; her
hair was black like the sky at night; and her skin was as
white as the snow which covered the ground outside the
palace where she lived, which was built entirely of crystals
clear as the clearest glass.
And the King of the South had a son who had been
named Sunshine on account of his brightness and warmth
The King of the East had a son who, because he was
always up early and was very industrious, had been given
the name of Sunrise.
The King of the West also had a son, perhaps
the handsomest of the three, and always magnificently
dressed; but as it took him all day to make his toilette,
so that he was never seen before evening, he received
the name of Sunset.
All three Princes were in love with the Princess
Crystal, each hoping to win her for his bride. When
they had the chance they would go and peep at her as
she wandered up and down in her glass palace. But
she liked Prince Sunshine best, because he stayed longer
than the others, and was always such excellent company.
Prince Sunrise was too busy to be able to spare her
more than half an hour or so; and Prince Sunset never
came until she was getting too tired and sleepy to care
to see him.
It was of no use, however, for her to hope that Sunshine
would be her husband just because she happened
to prefer him to the others. Her father—the stern,
blusterous old King, with a beard made of icicles so
long that it reached to his waist and kept his heart
cold—declared that he had no patience for such nonsense
as likes and dislikes; and one day he announced,
far and wide, in a voice that was heard by the other
three Kings, and which made the earth shake so that
the great green Dragon immediately looked through
his spectacles to see what was happening:
"He who would win my daughter must first bring
me the casket containing the Hidden Treasure, which
is concealed no man knows where!"
Of course the Dragon was none the wiser for looking
through his spectacles, because the words—loud though
they were—could not be heard by his deaf ears.
But the other Kings listened diligently; as did the
young Princes. And poor Princess Crystal trembled in
her beautiful palace lest Sunrise, who was always up so
early, should find the treasure before Sunshine had a
chance: she was not much afraid of the indolent Sunset,
except that it might occur to him to look in some spot
forgotten by his rivals.
Very early indeed on the following morning did
Prince Sunrise set to work; he glided along the surface
of the earth, keeping close to the ground in his anxiety
not to miss a single square inch. He knew he was
not first in the field; for the Northern King's proclamation
had been made towards evening on the previous
day, and Prince Sunset had bestirred himself for once,
and had lingered about rather later than usual, being
desirous of finding the treasure and winning the charming
But the early morning was passing, and very soon
the cheery, indefatigable Sunshine had possession of the
entire land, and flooded Crystal's palace with a look
from his loving eyes which bade her not despair.
Then he talked to the trees and the green fields and
the flowers, begging them to give up the secret in return
for the warmth and gladness he shed so freely on
them. But they were silent, except that the trees
sighed their sorrow at not being able to help him, and
the long grasses rustled a whispered regret, and the
flowers bowed their heads in grief.
Not discouraged, however, Prince Sunshine went to
the brooks and rivers, and asked their assistance. But
they, too, were helpless. The brooks gurgled out great
tears of woe, which rushed down to the rivers, and so
overcame them—sorry as they were on account of their
own inability to help—that they nearly overflowed their
banks, and went tumbling into the sea, who, of course,
wanted to know what was the matter; but, when told,
all the sea could do was to thunder a loud and continuous
"No!" on all its beaches. So Prince Sunshine
had to pass on and seek help elsewhere.
He tried to make the great Dragon understand; but
it could not hear him. Other animals could, though,
and he went from one to another, as cheerful as ever,
in spite of all the "Noes" he had met with; until, at
last, he knew by the twittering of the birds that he
was going to be successful.
"We go everywhere and learn most things," said the
swallows, flying up and down in the air, full of excitement
and joy at being able to reward their beloved
Sunshine for all his kindness to them. "And we know
this much, at any rate: the Hidden Treasure can only
be found by him who looks at its hiding-place through
the Dragon's magic spectacles."
Prince Sunshine exclaimed that he would go at once
and borrow these wonderful spectacles; but a solemn-looking
old owl spoke up:
"Be not in such a hurry, most noble Prince! The
Dragon will slay any one—even so exalted a personage
as yourself—who attempts to remove those spectacles
while he is awake; and, as is well known, he never
allows himself to sleep, for fear of losing some important
"Then what is to be done?" asked the Prince, beginning
to grow impatient at last, for the afternoon
was now well advanced, and Prince Sunset would soon
be on the war-path again.
A majestic eagle came swooping down from the
"There is only one thing in all the world," said he,
"which can send the Dragon to sleep, and that is a
caress from the hand of the Princess Crystal."
Sunshine waited to hear no more. Smiling his thanks,
he hastened away to put his dear Crystal's love to the
test. She had never yet ventured outside the covered
gardens of her palace. Would she go with him now,
and approach the great Dragon, and soothe its savage
watchfulness into the necessary repose?
As he made the request, there stole into the Princess's
cheeks the first faint tinge of colour that had ever
been seen there.
"My robe is of snow," she faltered; "if I go outside
these crystal walls into your radiant presence it will
"You look as if you yourself would melt at my first
caress, you beautiful, living snowflake," replied the
Prince; "but have no fear: see, I have my own mantle
ready to enfold you. Come, Princess, and trust yourself
Then, for the first time in her life, Princess Crystal
stole out of her palace, and was immediately wrapped
in Prince Sunshine's warm mantle, which caused her
to glow all over; her face grew quite rosy, and she
looked more than usually lovely, so that the Prince
longed to kiss her; but she was not won yet, and she
might have been offended at his taking such a liberty.
Therefore, he had to be content to have her beside
him in his golden chariot with the fiery horses, which
flew through space so quickly that they soon stood on
the high mountain, where the Dragon sat watching
them through his spectacles, wondering what the Princess
was doing so far from home, and what her father would
think if he discovered her absence.
It was no use explaining matters to the Dragon,
even had they wished to do so; but of course nothing
was further from their intention.
Holding Prince Sunshine's hand to give her courage,
the Princess approached the huge beast and timidly
laid her fingers on his head.
"This is very nice and soothing," thought the Dragon,
licking his lips; "very kind of her to come, I'm sure;
but—dear me!—this won't do! I'm actually—going—to—sleep!"
He tried to rise, but the gentle hand prevented that.
A sensation of drowsiness stole through all his veins,
which would have been delightful but for his determination
never to sleep. As it was, he opened his
mouth to give a hiss that would surely have frightened
the poor Princess out of her wits; but he fell asleep
before he could so much as begin it; his mouth remained
wide open; but his eyes closed, and his great
head began to nod in a very funny manner.
Directly they were satisfied that he really slept,
Prince Sunshine helped himself to the Dragon's spectacles,
requesting the Princess not to remove her hand, lest
the slumber should not last long enough for their
Then he put on the spectacles, and Princess Crystal
exclaimed with fear and horror when—as though in
result of his doing so—she saw her beloved Prince
plunge his right hand into the Dragon's mouth.
Prince Sunshine had stood facing the huge beast
as he transferred the spectacles to his own nose, and,
naturally enough, the first thing he saw through them
was the interior of the Dragon's mouth, with the tongue
raised and shot forward in readiness for the hiss which
sleep had intercepted; and under the tongue was the
golden casket containing the Hidden Treasure!
The spectacles enabled the Prince to see through
the cover; so he learned the secret at once, and knew
why the King of the North was so anxious to possess
himself of it, the great treasure being a pair of spectacles
exactly like those hitherto always worn by the Dragon,
and by him alone—which would keep the King
informed of all that was going on in every corner of
his kingdom, so that he could always punish or reward
the right people and never make mistakes; also
he could learn a great deal of his neighbours' affairs,
which is pleasant even to a King.
The Princess was overjoyed when she knew the
casket was already found; she very nearly removed
her hand in her eagerness to inspect it; but, fortunately,
she remembered just in time, and kept quite still until
Prince Sunshine had drawn his chariot so close that
they could both get into it without moving out of
reach of the Dragon's head.
Then, placing the spectacles, not in their accustomed
place, but on the ground just beneath, and laying the
golden casket on the Princess's lap, the Prince said,
as he gathered up the reins:
"Now, my dearly beloved Crystal—really mine at
last—take away your hand, and let us fly, without an
instant's delay, to the Court of the King, your royal
It is well they had prepared for immediate departure.
Directly the Princess's hand was raised from the Dragon's
head his senses returned to him, and, finding his mouth
open ready for hissing, he hissed with all his angry
might, and looked about for his spectacles that he
might pursue and slay those who had robbed him; for,
of course, he missed the casket at once.
But he was a prisoner on that mountain and unable
to leave it, though he flapped his great wings in terrible
wrath when he saw the Prince and Princess, instead
of driving down the miles and miles of mountain side
as he had hoped, being carried by the fiery horses
right through the air, where he could not reach them.
They only laughed when they heard the hiss and
the noise made by the useless flapping of wings.
Prince Sunshine urged on his willing steeds, and they
arrived at the Court just as the King, Crystal's father,
was going to dinner; and he was so delighted at
having the treasure he had so long coveted, that he
ordered the marriage to take place at once.
Prince Sunset called just in time to be best man,
looking exceedingly gorgeous and handsome, though
very disappointed to have lost the Princess; and the
festivities were kept up all night, so that Prince Sunrise
was able to offer his good wishes when he came
early in the morning, flushed with the haste he had
made to assure Prince Sunshine that he bore him no
ill-will for having carried off the prize.
Princess Crystal never returned to her palace, except
to peep at it occasionally. She liked going everywhere
with her husband, who, she found, lived by no means
an idle life, but went about doing good—grumbled at
sometimes, of course, for some people will grumble
even at their best friend—but more generally loved
and blessed by all who knew him.