Once upon a time, in a Kingdom by the sea, an old King fell sick. The King called for his most loyal palace servant and friend, Faithful John. The King said, “My soul must go over the sea. Do not worry. I have had a long and happy life. But my son Prince Crispin must rule my Kingdom. He is young and still unwise. If you do not pledge yourself to teach him, I can not rest in peace.”
Faithful John replied, “I will never allow harm to come to him, even if it should cost me my own life.” The King smiled, took Faithful John’s hand, and died.
Prince Crispin was now the new King, and Faithful John opened all the old King’s chambers to him, all but one. In the palace there was hung a portrait of Princess Esther of the Golden Roof.
The painting was doubly enchanted: with good magic, but also with a curse. The painting was so well made, and the Princess was so beautiful, that any one who beheld it would be in love with her – but would also be in terrible danger. Faithful John had strict orders to be very careful how young Crispin would enter this room, and on their tours he always passed it by.
One day the young King insisted that the mysterious locked door be opened.
Faithful John warned King Crispin. “I promised your father to take care how I show you this room. It could mean trouble for us both.” Faithful John tried to block the doorway.
The young King darted around him, but as soon as he saw the painting he stopped – the Princess was so beautiful that golden light seemed to shoot from her skin and fill his heart to bursting.
“I am in love!” he cried. “Help me!” He fainted, and fell unconscious to the floor. Faithful John lifted the young man up the stairs to bed, and knew that he would have to help his new King.