The three Daughters of the King of the East, and the Son of a King in Erin
Our mother died, and our father married again, and had two other daughters; and these two are not so good looking nor so well favored as we, and their mother was in dread they wouldn't get such fine husbands as we, so she enchanted us, and now we are going about the world from lake to lake in the form of swans."
Then the eldest of the three sisters said to the king's son: "What kind are you, and where were you born?"
"I was born in Erin," said he; "and when I was a little boy my mother died, my father married again and had a second son, and that son wasn't to the eye what I was, and my stepmother was for banishing me from my father's house because she thought her own son was not so good as I was, and I am fishing here every day by the lake to keep out of her sight."
"Well," said the eldest sister, "I thought you were a king's son, and so I came to you in my own form to know could we go on in the world together."
"I don't know yet what to do," said the king's son.
"Well, be sure of your mind to-morrow, for that will be the last day for me here."
When the cowboy was going home, the king's son gave him the sleeping-pin for the stepmother. When he had driven in the cattle, the cowboy told the queen that the young man had fallen asleep as on the two other days.
But there was an old witch in the place who was wandering about the lake that day. She saw everything, went to the queen, and told her how the three swans had made young women of themselves, and talked with her stepson.
When the queen heard the old witch, she fell into a terrible rage at the cowboy for telling her a lie, and banished him out of her sight forever. Then she got another cowboy, and sent him off with the sleeping-pin next day. When he came near the lake, the king's son tried to drive him off; but the cowboy threw the sleeping-pin into his clothes, and he fell down near the edge of the water without sight or sense.
The three sisters came, and found him sleeping. They rubbed him, and threw water on his face, but they could not wake him.