Princess Bluegreen of the Seven Cities
Once upon a time in the lost kingdom of Atlantis there ruled a king whose name was Graywhite. He had married the beautiful Queen Rosewhite. They lived in a magnificent palace, but it was a sad place because there were no little children in it.
"There are plenty of babies in the homes of the poor peasants who can scarcely find food for them," mourned King Graywhite. "Why is it that I, the ruler of this vast rich kingdom, can have no child to inherit my wealth and my domains?"
"Women in tiny hovels have their arms full of rosy dimpled darlings," sighed Queen Rosewhite. "Why is it that I, the queen of this magnificent palace, can have no baby of my own?"
Queen Rosewhite passed her days and nights in weeping, while King Graywhite grew ugly and cruel to his subjects. Once he had been the kindest ruler in the world.
Things went on like this for several years. Queen Rosewhite's lovely face grew pale and wan, and her beautiful eyes became so sad that it hurt the hearts of her faithful subjects. The king's face lost its expression of jolly kindness and became sour and cruel. They offered prayers and solemn vows before all the holy shrines in the whole kingdom of Atlantis, but no child was born into the royal palace. King Graywhite grew so harsh and ugly to his subjects that the entire kingdom offered prayers and vows, too. As things were, life was not worth living in the kingdom of Atlantis.
In front of the royal palace there was a beautiful terrace where King Graywhite and Queen Rosewhite had loved to walk in the days before they had grown cross and sad. One night when they were sitting upon the terrace enjoying the fresh soft evening air and the bright starlight there suddenly appeared a dazzling light which almost blinded them. Queen Rosewhite covered her face with her hands and the king bowed his proud head upon his breast.
"Do not fear to look at me," said a gentle voice.
King Graywhite and Queen Rosewhite glanced up. They saw a tiny fairy standing before them with a circle of bright light dancing about her.
"King and Queen of Atlantis," said the gentle voice. "You shall have a child, a little daughter, prettier than the sunlight. I have heard your prayers and vows, but I have also heard the prayers and vows of your poor subjects, too."
The glad news had brought a happy light into Queen Rosewhite's beautiful eyes, but now it faded out and a look of fear crept in. It had hurt the queen's loving heart to have her husband so cruel to his subjects. She often had told him that punishment would surely come upon him because of his harsh deeds.
"When the little princess is born," went on the fairy's voice, "I shall take her away from you for twenty years. No harm will come to her. I shall hide her away from you and all the world within seven beautiful cities which I shall construct in the loveliest part of your whole kingdom. Around these seven cities I shall place strong walls. At the end of twenty years, if your heart, King Graywhite, is free from sin and you have made proper restitution for all your wrongdoing, you shall receive the princess into your arms."
"Twenty years is a long time," said King Graywhite sadly. Tears were running down Queen Rosewhite's cheeks and she could not speak.
"You must wait until the twenty years are over," continued the fairy. "If you attempt to enter the strong walls before that time you shall fall dead and your kingdom shall be consumed by fire. Swear to me now in the presence of your faithful queen that you will not try to enter these strong walls which I shall construct about the seven cities.