Once upon a time, a King was hunting in a great wood. When evening came he stood still and, looking round him, he found that he had lost his way.
Then, all at once, he saw a witch coming up to him. "I have a daughter," said the witch. "If you make her queen, I will show you the way out of the wood." The king consented because of the difficulty he was in.
The King had been married before, and his first wife had left seven children - six boys and one girl, whom he loved more than all the world.
He was afraid the stepmother might not behave well towards them, so he took them to a lonely castle which stood in the middle of a wood. Only his magical clew of yarn could show him the way to the castle.
The Queen finally discovered the secret. She took the clew of yarn and went to the castle. The children, seeing someone in the distance, thought it was their dear father coming to see them, and came jumping for joy to meet him.
Then the wicked Queen threw over each one a little shirt. They were changed into swans and flew away through the wood. The Queen knew nothing about a maiden who had not run out with her brothers.
The next day the King went to see his children and the maiden told him what happened. The King wished to take her back home but she was afraid of the stepmother and begged the king to let her remain one more night in the castle in the wood.
When the night came, she fled and went straight into the wood. She went on all through that night and the next day until she could go no longer for weariness.
At last, she went into a crude hut and she found a room with six little beds in it. She crept under one and wished for night.
When sunset came, she saw six swans come flying in through the window. They blew on their feathers and became human again. She knew they were her brothers and crept out from under the bed. The brothers were glad to see her.
They told her that if she wanted to help them, she must not speak or laugh for six whole years and make six little shirts out of aster flowers. Then they changed back into swans and flew out of the window.
The maiden went into the middle of the wood. She gathered asters and began sewing them together: As for speaking, there was no one to speak to, and as for laughing, she had no mind to it; so she sat down and looked at nothing but her work.
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Kila - You Are What You Read
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