A King and his three daughters live by the sea. The Queen has died and the household is not harmonious with the King showing special favour to his youngest daughter, Isean, the middle daughter, Lyla, more concerned for the flattering words of others and Abbie, the eldest treating those around her cruelly. The kingdom is also at war. The King gives a special gift to each of his daughters with warnings. Ships from Spain, the enemy, are wrecked and sailors are cast ashore. The King, under the influence of Abbie, makes a decree that any Spaniards caught will be tortured and killed. However Isean has met a Spanish sailor, Sebastian, and is protecting him. They fall in love with each other. In spite of her promise to the contrary Lyla tells her father about Sebastian and Isean and her beloved are suddenly in danger. The King dresses as a pauper and tricks his elder daughters into telling him where Isean is. Abbie and Lyla realise their folly and vow to be better in future. They follow the disguised King and try to persuade him not to turn Isean and Sebastian in, offering to give him their gifts if he left their sister alone. Isean meanwhile has sent Sebastian back to his own country for safety with her own gift (a locket with a picture of her mother inside) so he can pay his way across. The King realises he has not loved his daughters as he should and apologises while revealing his true identity. They choose Isean to be the next queen and the King retires to his garden. Isean governs a peaceful kingdom. The family have a party and the Spanish ambassador is invited. As it turns out the Spanish ambassador is actually Sebastian. The two are reunited.
This is a tale which points out three particular follies (partiality, pride and cruelty) and seeks to expose them.