The Wild Swans

The Wild Swans Part II
Elise picked the roses, the things she treasured most.
Elise picked the roses, the things she treasured most.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Below is the second part of "The Wild Swans."

As Elise fell asleep, she wished for a way to free her brothers from the spell. Then Queen Morgana came to Elise in a dream.

"Only you can free your brothers," Queen Morgana whispered to Elise. "But you must sacrifice greatly."

"Oh, I will," Elise promised. Then she listened carefully.

"Take the things you treasure most," Queen Morgana said, "and craft a shirt for each brother. This may take a very long time, but when you cover the swans with them, the spell will be broken. There is one more thing," she added. "You may not speak until the shirts are made. If you do, your words will pierce your brothers' hearts like arrows."

With that Queen Morgana disappeared. Elise awoke to find the cave surrounded with hundreds of lovely rosebushes, like the ones she'd had as a child. She knew what she had to do.

Elise set to work immediately. She picked rose after rose and plucked petal after petal. She used the roses' prickly thorns as needles to string the petals together. Elise worked tirelessly, day and night. Her brothers visited her, but Elise didn't dare speak.

On the thirtieth day, Elise was nearly through with the third shirt. She had one sleeve left to sew. But that day a woodcutter and his wife came upon Elise's rose garden. The woodcutter's wife loved roses, too. She went forward for a closer look, and saw Elise working there among the soft petals.

"What are you doing in the woods alone?" they asked, but Elise didn't dare speak, out of fear for her brothers' lives. "Poor child, come with us. We'll give you proper food and rest."

Elise stayed with the woodcutter and his wife.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Elise did not want to leave her new rose garden. She wanted to finish the third shirt, and she needed the roses to do it.

Elise gathered up the shirts and as many roses as she could carry. Then she went sadly with the woodcutter and his wife.

Elise stayed there for many days and did as the woodcutter and his wife asked. At night, though, she would stay awake to sew the last shirt. Before long, Elise ran out of rose petals.

Elise crept out of the house that night and plucked the petals from the woodcutter's wife's prized roses. At sunrise, she had one cuff left to sew as the woodcutter's wife came to see her.

"Ungrateful girl!" she shouted. "You've ruined my roses!"

Elise used the rose petals to make shirts for the princes.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Flying the skies in search of some sign of their sister, Elise's brothers heard the shouts of the woodcutter's wife. They flew to the house. They squawked at the woodcutter, who ran in fear for his bow. Elise quickly spread the three shirts over the swans.

Before her eyes, the swans became men again!

Elise ran to her brothers' arms. The youngest brother, who wore the unfinished shirt, still had some feathers on one arm, but he did not mind.

Elise, anxious to speak now that the spell had been broken, explained everything to the woodcutter and his wife. "I'm sorry that I have been so difficult, when you have been so kind," said Elise. "My brothers and I thank you. We will repay you."

Elise and her brothers took all the rosebushes from the forest cave and planted them in the garden behind the woodcutter's house. Then they sent for their father the very next day. The king now had the strength and desire to escape the evil sorcerer. He journeyed by ship to the family's new home.

Elise and her three brothers prepared a new castle for their father, who became the king of a new land.

Elise and her family were reunited at last.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Of course, Elise's brothers remembered to plant a rose garden on the castle grounds. It is said that this rose garden is where Elise weaves the most fragrant and lovely rosebushes by hand and sends a flock of wild swans to plant them in forests all over the world. 

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