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Three Feathers

This got him in for a regular scrape, and the master when he got back to his wife said: "What has come over the men, they were all right until that laundry-maid of yours came. Something is up now though. They have all drawn out their pay, and yet they don't leave, and what can it be anyway?"

But his wife said she could not hear of the laundry-maid being blamed, for she was the best servant she had and worth all the rest put together.

So it went on until one day as the girl stood in the hall door, the coachman happened to say to the footman: "Do you know how that girl served me, James?" And then William told about the clothes. The butler put in, "That was nothing to what she served me," and he told of the shutters clapping all night.

Just then the master came through the hall, and the girl said: "By virtue of my three feathers may there be slashing and striving between master and men, and may all get splashed in the pond."

And so it was, the men fell to disputing which had suffered the most by her, and when the master came up all would be heard at once and none listened to him, and it came to blows all round, and the first they knew they had shoved one another into the pond.

When the girl thought they had had enough she took the spell off, and the master asked her what had begun the row, for he had not heard in the confusion.

And the girl said: "They were ready to fall on any one; they'd have beat me if you had not come by."

So it blew over for that time, and through her feathers she made the best laundress ever known. But to make a long story short, when the seven years and a day were up, the bird-husband, who had known her doings all along, came after her, restored to his own shape again. And he told her mistress he had come to take her from being a servant, and that she should have servants under her. But he did not tell of the feathers.

And then he bade her give the men back their savings.

"That was a rare game you had with them," said he, "but now you are going where there is plenty, leave them each their own.

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