Prologue: The cold, cruel, one-eyed Duke of Coffin Castle has imprisoned young Princess Saralinda until he can marry her. Hers is the only warm hand in his Castle. Per a spell put on him, enforced by the horrible Todal, he must offer princes a chance to win her hand. He sets them impossible tasks, and when they fail he feeds them to his geese.
At the Silver Swan tavern in town, Prince Zorn of Zorna enters, disguised as the minstrel Xingu. The townspeople tell him about the evil Duke, and how he might win Saralinda’s hand, but Zorn sings mocking the Duke. The Golux, a forgetful little semi-magician (and invisible servant of the Duke), offers his guidance. The Duke hears the songs, so the Golux and Zorn quickly craft a tale to deceive the Duke and save him from his wrath. The guards march down and bring Zorn to the Castle dungeon. He is summoned to the Great Hall, where he sees Saralinda, and is taken by her beauty. The Duke sees though the deception, and with his sarcastic servant Hark, sets Zorn his tasks: bring the Duke 1000 jewels in 99 hours, and restart all 13 stopped castle Clocks (the Duke claims he slew Time). They send Zorn off in a Laughing Chorus.
The Golux remembers Hagga, who used to weep jewels. He and Zorn set off through the forest to find her. They encounter two haggard travelers returning from Hagga, who failed to make her weep. Finding Hagga’s Hut, they tell their plight. She explains that her tears are all gone. They notice some jewels there which she says are Tears of Laughter — these last only a fortnight, then melt. So they struggle to make her laugh, and fail, but finally she does, and cannot stop. They bag the jewels and hasten back to the Castle.
Saralinda, in her tower, sings of her lonely long imprisonment by the Duke. The Duke and Hark keep watch awaiting the deadline. The Duke sings a tender Sarabande to Saralinda’s beauty. He says the spell on him specified that the Princess can be rescued only by a prince whose name begins with X — and doesn’t. Hark points out that Zorn arrived disguised as Xingu! Zorn comes back and overpowers the guards. The Golux and Saralinda manage to start the Clocks using logic. The trio deliver the jewels just as the Clocks all strike 5. The Duke is defeated, and, cheered on by the townspeople, Zorn and Saralinda ride off to set sail for the Land of Ever After.
A fortnight later, the Duke sees his jewels suddenly all melt, and must stand to defy the Todal, which gleeps him.