The Little Robber Girl
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES
Animal Sketches And Stories
Blondine Bonne Biche and Beau Minon
BRER RABBIT and HIS NEIGHBORS
CHINESE MOTHER-GOOSE RHYMES
FABLES FOR CHILDREN
FABLES FROM INDIA
FATHER PLAYS AND MOTHER PLAYS
FIRST STORIES FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK
For Classes Ii. And Iii.
For Classes Iv. And V.
For Kindergarten And Class I.
FUN FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK
Good Little Henry
JAPANESE AND OTHER ORIENTAL TALES]
Jean De La Fontaine
King Alexander's Adventures
KINGS AND WARRIORS
LAND AND WATER FAIRIES
Lessons From Nature
LITTLE STORIES that GROW BIG
MODERN FAIRY TALES
MOTHER GOOSE CONTINUED
MOTHER GOOSE JINGLES
MOTHER GOOSE SONGS AND STORIES
Myths And Legends
NEGLECT THE FIRE
ON POPULAR EDUCATION
PLACES AND FAMILIES
Poems Of Nature
RESURRECTION DAY (EASTER)
RHYMES CONCERNING "MOTHER"
RIDING SONGS for FATHER'S KNEE
ROMANCES OF THE MIDDLE AGES
SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY
Selections From The Bible
SLEEPY-TIME SONGS AND STORIES
Some Children's Poets
Songs Of Life
STORIES BY FAVORITE AMERICAN WRITERS
STORIES FOR CHILDREN
STORIES for LITTLE BOYS
STORIES FROM BOTANY
STORIES FROM GREAT BRITAIN
STORIES FROM IRELAND
STORIES FROM PHYSICS
STORIES FROM SCANDINAVIA
STORIES FROM ZOOLOGY
STORIES _for_ LITTLE GIRLS
THE DAYS OF THE WEEK
The King Of The Golden River; Or, The Black Brothers
The Little Grey Mouse
THE OLD FAIRY TALES
The Princess Rosette
THE THREE HERMITS
THE TWO OLD MEN
UNCLES AND AUNTS AND OTHER RELATIVES
VERSES ABOUT FAIRIES
WHAT MEN LIVE BY
WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD IS ALSO
The Magic Swan
from The Green Fairy Book
There were once upon a time three brothers, of whom the eldest was
called Jacob, the second Frederick, and the youngest Peter. This
youngest brother was made a regular butt of by the other two, and
they treated him shamefully. If anything went wrong with their
affairs, Peter had to bear the blame and put things right for
them, and he had to endure all this ill-treatment because he was
weak and delicate and couldn't defend himself against his stronger
brothers. The poor creature had a most trying life of it in every
way, and day and night he pondered how he could make it better.
One day, when he was in the wood gathering sticks and crying
bitterly, a little old woman came up to him and asked him what was
the matter; and he told her all his troubles.
'Come, my good youth,' said the old dame, when he had finished his
tale of woe, 'isn't the world wide enough? Why don't you set out
and try your fortune somewhere else?'
Peter took her words to heart, and left his father's house early
one morning to try his fortune in the wide world, as the old woman
had advised him. But he felt very bitterly parting from the home
where he had been born, and where he had at least passed a short
but happy childhood, and sitting down on a hill he gazed once more
fondly on his native place.
Suddenly the little old woman stood before him, and, tapping him
on the shoulder, said, 'So far good, my boy; but what do you mean
to do now?'
Peter was at a loss what to answer, for so far he had always
thought that fortune would drop into his mouth like a ripe cherry.
The old woman, who guessed his thoughts, laughed kindly and said,
'I'll tell you what you must do, for I've taken a fancy to you,
and I'm sure you won't forget me when you've made your fortune.'
Peter promised faithfully he wouldn't, and the old woman
'This evening at sunset go to yonder pear-tree which you see
growing at the cross roads. Underneath it you will find a man
lying asleep, and a beautiful large swan will be fastened to the
tree close to him. You must be careful not to waken the man, but
you must unfasten the swan and take it away with you. You will
find that everyone will fall in love with its beautiful plumage,
and you must allow anyone who likes to pull out a feather. But as
soon as the swan feels as much as a finger on it, it will scream
out, and then you must say, "Swan, hold fast." Then the hand of
the person who has touched the bird will be held as in a vice, and
nothing will set it free, unless you touch it with this little
stick which I will make you a present of. When you have captured a
whole lot of people in this way, lead your train straight on with
you; you will come to a big town where a Princess lives who has
never been known to laugh. If you can only make her laugh your
fortune is made; then I beg you won't forget your old friend.'
Peter promised again that he wouldn't, and at sunset he went to
the tree the old woman had mentioned. The man lay there fast
asleep, and a large beautiful swan was fastened to the tree beside
him by a red cord. Peter loosed the bird, and led it away with him
without disturbing the bird's master.
He walked on with the swan for some time, and came at last to a
building-yard where some men were busily at work. They were all
lost in admiration of the bird's beautiful plumage, and one
forward youth, who was covered with clay from head to foot, called
out, 'Oh, if I'd only one of those feathers how happy I should
'Pull one out then,' said Peter kindly, and the youth seized one
from the bird's tail; instantly the swan screamed, and Peter
called out, 'Swan, hold fast,' and do what he could the poor youth
couldn't get his hand away. The more he howled the more the others
laughed, till a girl who had been washing clothes in the
neighbouring stream hurried up to see what was the matter. When
she saw the poor boy fastened to the swan she felt so sorry for
him that she stretched out her hand to free him. The bird
'Swan, hold fast,' called out Peter, and the girl was caught also.
When Peter had gone on for a bit with his captives, they met a
chimney sweep, who laughed loudly over the extraordinary troop,
and asked the girl what she was doing.
'Oh, dearest John,' replied the girl, 'give me your hand and set
me free from this cursed young man.'
'Most certainly I will, if that's all you want,' replied the
sweep, and gave the girl his hand. The bird screamed.
'Swan, hold fast,' said Peter, and the black man was added to
They soon came to a village where a fair was being held. A
travelling circus was giving a performance, and the clown was just
doing his tricks. He opened his eyes wide with amazement when he
saw the remarkable trio fastened on to the swan's tail.
'Have you gone raving mad, Blackie?' he asked as well as he could
'It's no laughing matter,' the sweep replied. 'This wench has got
so tight hold of me that I feel as if I were glued to her. Do set
me free, like a good clown, and I'll do you a good turn some day.'
Without a moment's hesitation the clown grasped the black
outstretched hand. The bird screamed.
'Swan, hold fast,' called out Peter, and the clown became the
fourth of the party.
Now in the front row of the spectators sat the respected and
popular Mayor of the village, who was much put out by what he
considered nothing but a foolish trick. So much annoyed was he
that he seized the clown by the hand and tried to tear him away,
in order to hand him over to the police.
Then the bird screamed, and Peter called out, 'Swan, hold fast,'
and the dignified Mayor shared the fate of his predecessors.
The Mayoress, a long thin stick of a woman, enraged at the insult
done to her husband, seized his free arm and tore at it with all
her might, with the only result that she too was forced to swell
the procession. After this no one else had any wish to join them.
Soon Peter saw the towers of the capital in front of him. Just
before entering it, a glittering carriage came out to meet him, in
which was seated a young lady as beautiful as the day, but with a
very solemn and serious expression. But no sooner had she
perceived the motley crowd fastened to the swan's tail than she
burst into a loud fit of laughter, in which she was joined by all
her servants and ladies in waiting.
'The Princess has laughed at last,' they all cried with joy.
She stepped out of her carriage to look more closely at the
wonderful sight, and laughed again over the capers the poor
captives cut. She ordered her carriage to be turned round and
drove slowly back into the town, never taking her eyes off Peter
and his procession.
When the King heard the news that his daughter had actually
laughed, he was more than delighted, and had Peter and his
marvellous train brought before him. He laughed himself when he
saw them till the tears rolled down his cheeks.
'My good friend,' he said to Peter, 'do you know what I promised
the person who succeeded in making the Princess laugh?'
'No, I don't,' said Peter.
'Then I'll tell you,' answered the King; 'a thousand gold crowns
or a piece of land. Which will you choose?'
Peter decided in favour of the land. Then he touched the youth,
the girl, the sweep, the clown, the Mayor, and the Mayoress with
his little stick, and they were all free again, and ran away home
as if a fire were burning behind them; and their flight, as you
may imagine, gave rise to renewed merriment.
Then the Princess felt moved to stroke the swan, at the same time
admiring its plumage. The bird screamed.
'Swan, hold fast,' called out Peter, and so he won the Princess
for his bride. But the swan flew up into the air, and vanished in
the blue horizon. Peter now received a duchy as a present, and
became a very great man indeed; but he did not forget the little
old woman who had been the cause of all his good fortune, and
appointed her as head housekeeper to him and his royal bride in
their magnificent castle.
Next: The Dirty Shepherdess
Previous: The Little Soldier