The six swans

The six swans

Once on a time a king was hunting in a great wood, and he pursued a wild animal so eagerly that none of his people could follow him. When evening came he stood still, and looking round him he found that he had lost his way; and seeking a path, he found none. Then all at once he saw an old woman with a nodding head coming up to him; and it was a witch. My good woman, said he, can you show me the way out of the wood? Oh yes, my lord king, answered she, certainly I can; but I must make a condition, and if you do not fulfil it, you will never get out of the wood again, but die there of hunger. What is the condition? asked the king. I have a daughter, said the old woman, who is as fair as any in the world, and if you will take her for your bride, and make her queen, I will show you the way out of the wood. The king consented, because of the difficulty he was in, and the old woman led him into her little house, and there her daughter was sitting by the fire. She received the king just as if she had been expecting him, and though he saw that she was very beautiful, she did not please him, and he could not look at her without an inward shudder. Nevertheless, he took the maiden before him o
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