Nursery Rhymes . . . Jack and Jill went up the hill . . . Nursery Rhymes . . . Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall . . .

Jack and Jill went up the hill               nursery rhymes for childrennursery songs for children

Rhymes :
» Rhymes Home
» Nursery Rhymes
» Scottish Rhymes
» Poems for Kids
» Tongue Twisters
» Knock Knock Jokes
» Fairy Tales
» Aesop's Fables - 1
» Aesop's Fables - 2
» Limerick Rhymes
Fun Sites :

» Aesop’s Fables

» Christmas Jokes

» Complete Nonsense

» Fairy Tales

» Funny Cat Pictures

» Ghosts

» Jokes

» Limerick Poems

» Poems for Children

» Riddles Online

» Duck Webcam

» Stupid Laws

» Weird Facts

Nursery Rhymes . . . for children.

Once upon a time . . . . .  from our fabulous collection of Fairy Tales for children . . .  they lived happily ever after . . .

The Wild Swans - Part 2

'Yes, take me with you,' said Eliza. Then they spent the
whole night in weaving a net with the pliant willow and
rushes. It was very large and strong. Eliza laid herself down
on the net, and when the sun rose, and her brothers again
became wild swans, they took up the net with their beaks, and
flew up to the clouds with their dear sister, who still slept.
The sunbeams fell on her face, therefore one of the swans
soared over her head, so that his broad wings might shade her.
They were far from the land when Eliza woke. She thought she
must still be dreaming, it seemed so strange to her to feel
herself being carried so high in the air over the sea. By her
side lay a branch full of beautiful ripe berries, and a bundle
of sweet roots; the youngest of her brothers had gathered them
for her, and placed them by her side. She smiled her thanks to
him; she knew it was the same who had hovered over her to
shade her with his wings. They were now so high, that a large
ship beneath them looked like a white sea-gull skimming the
waves. A great cloud floating behind them appeared like a vast
mountain, and upon it Eliza saw her own shadow and those of
the eleven swans, looking gigantic in size. Altogether it
formed a more beautiful picture than she had ever seen; but as
the sun rose higher, and the clouds were left behind, the
shadowy picture vanished away. Onward the whole day they flew
through the air like a winged arrow, yet more slowly than
usual, for they had their sister to carry. The weather seemed
inclined to be stormy, and Eliza watched the sinking sun with
great anxiety, for the little rock in the ocean was not yet in
sight. It appeared to her as if the swans were making great
efforts with their wings. Alas! she was the cause of their not
advancing more quickly. When the sun set, they would change to
men, fall into the sea and be drowned. Then she offered a
prayer from her inmost heart, but still no appearance of the
rock. Dark clouds came nearer, the gusts of wind told of a
coming storm, while from a thick, heavy mass of clouds the
lightning burst forth flash after flash. The sun had reached
the edge of the sea, when the swans darted down so swiftly,
that Eliza's head trembled; she believed they were falling,
but they again soared onward. Presently she caught sight of
the rock just below them, and by this time the sun was half
hidden by the waves. The rock did not appear larger than a
seal's head thrust out of the water. They sunk so rapidly,
that at the moment their feet touched the rock, it shone only
like a star, and at last disappeared like the last spark in a
piece of burnt paper. Then she saw her brothers standing
closely round her with their arms linked together. There was
but just room enough for them, and not the smallest space to
spare. The sea dashed against the rock, and covered them with
spray. The heavens were lighted up with continual flashes, and
peal after peal of thunder rolled. But the sister and brothers
sat holding each other's hands, and singing hymns, from which
they gained hope and courage. In the early dawn the air became
calm and still, and at sunrise the swans flew away from the
rock with Eliza. The sea was still rough, and from their high
position in the air, the white foam on the dark green waves
looked like millions of swans swimming on the water. As the
sun rose higher, Eliza saw before her, floating on the air, a
range of mountains, with shining masses of ice on their
summits. In the centre, rose a castle apparently a mile long,
with rows of columns, rising one above another, while, around
it, palm-trees waved and flowers bloomed as large as mill
wheels. She asked if this was the land to which they were
hastening. The swans shook their heads, for what she beheld
were the beautiful ever-changing cloud palaces of the 'Fata
Morgana,' into which no mortal can enter. Eliza was still
gazing at the scene, when mountains, forests, and castles
melted away, and twenty stately churches rose in their stead,
with high towers and pointed gothic windows. Eliza even
fancied she could hear the tones of the organ, but it was the
music of the murmuring sea which she heard. As they drew
nearer to the churches, they also changed into a fleet of
ships, which seemed to be sailing beneath her; but as she
looked again, she found it was only a sea mist gliding over
the ocean. So there continued to pass before her eyes a
constant change of scene, till at last she saw the real land
to which they were bound, with its blue mountains, its cedar
forests, and its cities and palaces. Long before the sun went
down, she sat on a rock, in front of a large cave, on the
floor of which the over-grown yet delicate green creeping
plants looked like an embroidered carpet. 'Now we shall expect
to hear what you dream of to-night,' said the youngest
brother, as he showed his sister her bedroom.

'Heaven grant that I may dream how to save you,' she
replied. And this thought took such hold upon her mind that
she prayed earnestly to God for help, and even in her sleep
she continued to pray. Then it appeared to her as if she were
flying high in the air, towards the cloudy palace of the 'Fata
Morgana,' and a fairy came out to meet her, radiant and
beautiful in appearance, and yet very much like the old woman
who had given her berries in the wood, and who had told her of
the swans with golden crowns on their heads. 'Your brothers
can be released,' said she, 'if you have only courage and
perseverance. True, water is softer than your own delicate
hands, and yet it polishes stones into shapes; it feels no
pain as your fingers would feel, it has no soul, and cannot
suffer such agony and torment as you will have to endure. Do
you see the stinging nettle which I hold in my hand?
Quantities of the same sort grow round the cave in which you
sleep, but none will be of any use to you unless they grow
upon the graves in a churchyard. These you must gather even
while they burn blisters on your hands. Break them to pieces
with your hands and feet, and they will become flax, from
which you must spin and weave eleven coats with long sleeves;
if these are then thrown over the eleven swans, the spell will
be broken. But remember, that from the moment you commence
your task until it is finished, even should it occupy years of
your life, you must not speak. The first word you utter will
pierce through the hearts of your brothers like a deadly
dagger. Their lives hang upon your tongue. Remember all I have
told you.' And as she finished speaking, she touched her hand
lightly with the nettle, and a pain, as of burning fire, awoke

It was broad daylight, and close by where she had been
sleeping lay a nettle like the one she had seen in her dream.
She fell on her knees and offered her thanks to God. Then she
went forth from the cave to begin her work with her delicate
hands. She groped in amongst the ugly nettles, which burnt
great blisters on her hands and arms, but she determined to
bear it gladly if she could only release her dear brothers. So
she bruised the nettles with her bare feet and spun the flax.
At sunset her brothers returned and were very much frightened
when they found her dumb. They believed it to be some new
sorcery of their wicked step-mother. But when they saw her
hands they understood what she was doing on their behalf, and
the youngest brother wept, and where his tears fell the pain
ceased, and the burning blisters vanished. She kept to her
work all night, for she could not rest till she had released
her dear brothers. During the whole of the following day,
while her brothers were absent, she sat in solitude, but never
before had the time flown so quickly. One coat was already
finished and she had begun the second, when she heard the
huntsman's horn, and was struck with fear. The sound came
nearer and nearer, she heard the dogs barking, and fled with
terror into the cave. She hastily bound together the nettles
she had gathered into a bundle and sat upon them. Immediately
a great dog came bounding towards her out of the ravine, and
then another and another; they barked loudly, ran back, and
then came again. In a very few minutes all the huntsmen stood
before the cave, and the handsomest of them was the king of
the country. He advanced towards her, for he had never seen a
more beautiful maiden.

'How did you come here, my sweet child?' he asked. But
Eliza shook her head. She dared not speak, at the cost of her
brothers' lives. And she hid her hands under her apron, so
that the king might not see how she must be suffering.

'Come with me,' he said; 'here you cannot remain. If you
are as good as you are beautiful, I will dress you in silk and
velvet, I will place a golden crown upon your head, and you
shall dwell, and rule, and make your home in my richest
castle.' And then he lifted her on his horse. She wept and
wrung her hands, but the king said, 'I wish only for your
happiness. A time will come when you will thank me for this.'
And then he galloped away over the mountains, holding her
before him on this horse, and the hunters followed behind
them. As the sun went down, they approached a fair royal city,
with churches, and cupolas. On arriving at the castle the king
led her into marble halls, where large fountains played, and
where the walls and the ceilings were covered with rich
paintings. But she had no eyes for all these glorious sights,
she could only mourn and weep. Patiently she allowed the women
to array her in royal robes, to weave pearls in her hair, and
draw soft gloves over her blistered fingers. As she stood
before them in all her rich dress, she looked so dazzingly
beautiful that the court bowed low in her presence. Then the
king declared his intention of making her his bride, but the
archbishop shook his head, and whispered that the fair young
maiden was only a witch who had blinded the king's eyes and
bewitched his heart. But the king would not listen to this; he
ordered the music to sound, the daintiest dishes to be served,
and the loveliest maidens to dance. After-wards he led her
through fragrant gardens and lofty halls, but not a smile
appeared on her lips or sparkled in her eyes. She looked the
very picture of grief. Then the king opened the door of a
little chamber in which she. was to sleep; it was adorned with
rich green tapestry, and resembled the cave in which he had
found her. On the floor lay the bundle of flax which she had
spun from the nettles, and under the ceiling hung the coat she
had made. These things had been brought away from the cave as
curiosities by one of the huntsmen.

'Here you can dream yourself back again in the old home in
the cave,' said the king; 'here is the work with which you
employed yourself. It will amuse you now in the midst of all
this splendor to think of that time.'

When Eliza saw all these things which lay so near her
heart, a smile played around her mouth, and the crimson blood
rushed to her cheeks. She thought of her brothers, and their
release made her so joyful that she kissed the king's hand.
Then he pressed her to his heart. Very soon the joyous church
bells announced the marriage feast, and that the beautiful
dumb girl out of the wood was to be made the queen of the
country. Then the archbishop whispered wicked words in the
king's ear, but they did not sink into his heart. The marriage
was still to take place, and the archbishop himself had to
place the crown on the bride's head; in his wicked spite, he
pressed the narrow circlet so tightly on her forehead that it
caused her pain. But a heavier weight encircled her heart-
sorrow for her brothers. She felt not bodily pain. Her mouth
was closed; a single word would cost the lives of her
brothers. But she loved the kind, handsome king, who did
everything to make her happy more and more each day; she loved
him with all her heart, and her eyes beamed with the love she
dared not speak. Oh! if she had only been able to confide in
him and tell him of her grief. But dumb she must remain till
her task was finished. Therefore at night she crept away into
her little chamber, which had been decked out to look like the
cave, and quickly wove one coat after another. But when she
began the seventh she found she had no more flax. She knew
that the nettles she wanted to use grew in the churchyard, and
that she must pluck them herself. How should she get out
there? 'Oh, what is the pain in my fingers to the torment
which my heart endures?' said she. 'I must venture, I shall
not be denied help from heaven.' Then with a trembling heart,
as if she were about to perform a wicked deed, she crept into
the garden in the broad moonlight, and passed through the
narrow walks and the deserted streets, till she reached the
churchyard. Then she saw on one of the broad tombstones a
group of ghouls. These hideous creatures took off their rags,
as if they intended to bathe, and then clawing open the fresh
graves with their long, skinny fingers, pulled out the dead
bodies and ate the flesh! Eliza had to pass close by them, and
they fixed their wicked glances upon her, but she prayed
silently, gathered the burning nettles, and carried them home
with her to the castle. One person only had seen her, and that
was the archbishop- he was awake while everybody was asleep.
Now he thought his opinion was evidently correct. All was not
right with the queen. She was a witch, and had bewitched the
king and all the people. Secretly he told the king what he had
seen and what he feared, and as the hard words came from his
tongue, the carved images of the saints shook their heads as
if they would say. 'It is not so. Eliza is innocent.'

But the archbishop interpreted it in another way; he
believed that they witnessed against her, and were shaking
their heads at her wickedness. Two large tears rolled down the
king's cheeks, and he went home with doubt in his heart, and
at night he pretended to sleep, but there came no real sleep
to his eyes, for he saw Eliza get up every night and disappear
in her own chamber. From day to day his brow became darker,
and Eliza saw it and did not understand the reason, but it
alarmed her and made her heart tremble for her brothers. Her
hot tears glittered like pearls on the regal velvet and
diamonds, while all who saw her were wishing they could be
queens. In the mean time she had almost finished her task;
only one coat of mail was wanting, but she had no flax left,
and not a single nettle. Once more only, and for the last
time, must she venture to the churchyard and pluck a few
handfuls. She thought with terror of the solitary walk, and of
the horrible ghouls, but her will was firm, as well as her
trust in Providence. Eliza went, and the king and the
archbishop followed her. They saw her vanish through the
wicket gate into the churchyard, and when they came nearer
they saw the ghouls sitting on the tombstone, as Eliza had
seen them, and the king turned away his head, for he thought
she was with them- she whose head had rested on his breast
that very evening. 'The people must condemn her,' said he, and
she was very quickly condemned by every one to suffer death by
fire. Away from the gorgeous regal halls was she led to a
dark, dreary cell, where the wind whistled through the iron
bars. Instead of the velvet and silk dresses, they gave her
the coats of mail which she had woven to cover her, and the
bundle of nettles for a pillow; but nothing they could give
her would have pleased her more. She continued her task with
joy, and prayed for help, while the street-boys sang jeering
songs about her, and not a soul comforted her with a kind
word. Towards evening, she heard at the grating the flutter of
a swan's wing, it was her youngest brother- he had found his
sister, and she sobbed for joy, although she knew that very
likely this would be the last night she would have to live.
But still she could hope, for her task was almost finished,
and her brothers were come. Then the archbishop arrived, to be
with her during her last hours, as he had promised the king.
But she shook her head, and begged him, by looks and gestures,
not to stay; for in this night she knew she must finish her
task, otherwise all her pain and tears and sleepless nights
would have been suffered in vain. The archbishop withdrew,
uttering bitter words against her; but poor Eliza knew that
she was innocent, and diligently continued her work.

The little mice ran about the floor, they dragged the
nettles to her feet, to help as well as they could; and the
thrush sat outside the grating of the window, and sang to her
the whole night long, as sweetly as possible, to keep up her

It was still twilight, and at least an hour before
sunrise, when the eleven brothers stood at the castle gate,
and demanded to be brought before the king. They were told it
could not be, it was yet almost night, and as the king slept
they dared not disturb him. They threatened, they entreated.
Then the guard appeared, and even the king himself, inquiring
what all the noise meant. At this moment the sun rose. The
eleven brothers were seen no more, but eleven wild swans flew
away over the castle.

And now all the people came streaming forth from the gates
of the city, to see the witch burnt. An old horse drew the
cart on which she sat. They had dressed her in a garment of
coarse sackcloth. Her lovely hair hung loose on her shoulders,
her cheeks were deadly pale, her lips moved silently, while
her fingers still worked at the green flax. Even on the way to
death, she would not give up her task. The ten coats of mail
lay at her feet, she was working hard at the eleventh, while
the mob jeered her and said, 'See the witch, how she mutters!
She has no hymn-book in her hand. She sits there with her ugly
sorcery. Let us tear it in a thousand pieces.'

And then they pressed towards her, and would have
destroyed the coats of mail, but at the same moment eleven
wild swans flew over her, and alighted on the cart. Then they
flapped their large wings, and the crowd drew on one side in

'It is a sign from heaven that she is innocent,' whispered
many of them; but they ventured not to say it aloud.

As the executioner seized her by the hand, to lift her out
of the cart, she hastily threw the eleven coats of mail over
the swans, and they immediately became eleven handsome
princes; but the youngest had a swan's wing, instead of an
arm; for she had not been able to finish the last sleeve of
the coat.

'Now I may speak,' she exclaimed. 'I am innocent.'

Then the people, who saw what happened, bowed to her, as
before a saint; but she sank lifeless in her brothers' arms,
overcome with suspense, anguish, and pain.

'Yes, she is innocent,' said the eldest brother; and then
he related all that had taken place; and while he spoke there
rose in the air a fragrance as from millions of roses. Every
piece of faggot in the pile had taken root, and threw out
branches, and appeared a thick hedge, large and high, covered
with roses; while above all bloomed a white and shining
flower, that glittered like a star. This flower the king
plucked, and placed in Eliza's bosom, when she awoke from her
swoon, with peace and happiness in her heart. And all the
church bells rang of themselves, and the birds came in great
troops. And a marriage procession returned to the castle, such
as no king had ever before seen.

<-- Previous     |     Next -->



More Fairy Tales

Nursery Rhymes . . . for children.

Fun :



© Website Design Copyright 2010 by