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The Magic Swan

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 be!'

'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 screamed.

'Swan, hold fast,' called out Peter, and the girl was caught also.

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