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The flaunting flowers our gardens vield.
Of clod or stane,
There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
In humble guise;
And low thou lies!
Such is the fate of simple bard,
Of prudent lore,
And whelm him o'er!
Such fate to suffering worth is given,
To misery's brink,
He, ruined, sink!
Ev’n thou who mournest the Daisy's fate,
Full on thy bloom,
Shall be thy doom! 1 stoure: dust; 2 bonnie: beautiful; 3 bield: shelter; 4 histie: dry; 5 stibble: stubble.
THE MAGIC SWAN.
ANDREW LANG. ANDREW LANG (1844- ), born in Scotland, writer of prose and verse. His “Green Fairy Book," from which this selection is taken, is a favorite.
Once upon a time there was a youth named Peter. He had two elder brothers, who were very unkind to him, so unkind that often he wished he had never been born. One day, when he was in the wood gathering sticks and crying bitterly, a little old woman came up to him, and asked him what was the matter; and he told her all his troubles.
“Come, my good youth,” said the old dame, “is not the world wide enough? Why do you not set out and try your fortune somewhere else? I will tell you what you must do, for I have taken a fancy to you, and I am sure you will not forget me when you are rich and great."
Peter said that he would not forget her, and the old woman went on with her talk. “This evening at sunset go to yonder pear tree. Under it you will find ,
lying asleep, and a beautiful swan will be fastened to the tree close to him. You must be careful not to wake 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 fine feathers, but you must not let anyone pull out a feather. 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 swan will be held fast, and nothing will set it free, unless you touch it with this little stick which I will give you. When you have caught several people in this way, lead them straight on with you, until you come to a big town where a princess lives, who was never known to laugh. If you can only make her laugh, your fortune is made. Then I beg you not to forget your old friend.”
Peter said again that he would not forget her, and at sunset he went to the tree which the old woman had pointed out. The man lay there fast asleep, and a 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 master.
He walked on with it for some time, and at last he came to a yard where some men were at work. They were all pleased with the bird's fine feathers; and one fond youth, who was covered with clay from head to foot, called out, “Oh, if only I had 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. The swan screamed, and Peter called out: “Swan, hold fast!” Do what he would, the poor youth could not get away his hand. The more he screamed, the more the others laughed, till a girl who had been washing clothes in a stream close by, 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!” cried Peter, and the girl was caught, also. When Peter had gone on for a bit, they met a chimney sweep, who laughed loudly over the strange troop, and asked the girl what she was doing.
“Oh, dearest John," said the girl, “give me your hand and set me free from this dreadful man.”.
"I will, if that is all you want,” said the sweep, and he gave the girl his hand. The bird screamed. “Swan, hold fast!” said Peter, and the black man was added to the troop.
They soon came to a village where a fair was being held. A clown was just performing his tricks. He opened his eyes wide when he saw the three fastened to the swan's tail.
“Have you gone raving mad, Blackie?" he asked, as well as he could for laughing.
“It's no laughing matter," the sweep replied. “This girl has hold of me so tight that I feel as if I were glued to her. Do set me free, like a good clown, and I will do you a good turn some day.” The clown at once grasped the
dirty hand. The bird screamed. “Swan, hold fast!” called out Peter, and the clown became the fourth of the party.
Now, in the crowd was the mayor of the village, who was much put out by what he thought was nothing but a foolish trick. So angry was he that he seized the clown by the hand and tried to tear him away, in order to hand him over to the police. Then the bird screamed, and Peter called out: “Swan, hold fast!” and the mayor was fastened to the rest.
The mayoress, a long, thin stick of a woman, mad.at the insult done to her husband, seized his free arm and tore at it with all her might; and she, too, was forced to join the rest. After this none else had any wish to join them.
Soon Peter saw the towers of the town in front of him. A coach came out, in which was seated a young lady, beautiful as the day, but with a very sad face. No sooner had she seen the crowd fastened to the swan's tail than she burst into a loud laugh, which 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 at the capers which the poor people cut. She ordered her carriage to be turned around, and drove slowly back into the town, never taking her eyes off Peter and his train.
When the king heard that his daughter had laughed, he was more than delighted, and had Peter and his followers