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The Magic Swan

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.

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