THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
"Swan, hold fast," called out Peter, and the clown became the fourth of the party.
Now, in the front row of the spectators sat the respected and popular mayor of the village, who was much put out by what he considered nothing but a foolish trick. So much annoved 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 dignified mayor shared the fate of his predecessors.
The mayoress, a long, thin stick of a woman, enraged at the insult done to her husband, seized his free arm and tore at it with all her might, with the only result that she too was forced to swell the procession. After this no one else had any wish to join them.
Soon Peter saw the towers of the capital in front of him. Just before entering it a glittering carriage came out to meet him, in which was seated a young lady as beautiful as the day, but with a very solemn and serious expression. But no sooner had she perceived the motley crowd fastened to the swan's tail than she burst into a loud fit of laughter, in which she 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 over the capers the poor captives cut. She ordered her carriage to be turned round and drove slowly back into the town, never taking her eyes off Peter and his procession.
When the king heard the news that his daughter had actually laughed he was more than delighted, and had Peter and his marvelous train brought before him. He laughed himself when he saw them till the tears rolled down his cheeks.
"My good friend," he said to Peter, "do you know what I promised the person who succeeded in making the princess laugh?"
"No, I don't," said Peter.
"Then I'll tell you," answered the king. "A thousand gold crowns or a piece of land. Which will you choose?"
Peter decided in favor of the land. Then he touched