THE WILD SWANS 133
time had elapsed before she told the- King so many falsehoods about the poor Princes that hfc, did not trouble himself any more about them.
' Fly out into the world and get your own living,' said the wicked Queen. ' Fly like great birds without a voice.'
But she could not maike. jt so bad for them as she_would have liked, for they became eleven magnificent ;sdld-6wans. With a strange cry they flew out of the palace windows, far over the park and into the wood.
It was yet quite early morning when they came by the place where their sister Eliza lay asleep in the peasant's room. Here they hovered over the roof, turned their long necks, and flapped their wings ; but no one heard or saw it. They were obliged to fly on, high up towrards the clouds, far away into the wide world ; there they flew into a great dark wood, which stretched away to the sea shore.
Poor little Eliza stood in the peasant's room and played with a green leaf, for she had no other playthings. And she pricked a hole in the leaf, and looked through it up at the sun, and it seemed to her that she saw her brothers' clear eyes ; each time the warm sun shone upon her cheeks she thought of all the kisses they had given her.
Each day passed just like the rest. When the wind swept through the great rose hedges outside the house, it seemed to whisper to them, ' What can be more beautiful than you ? ' But the roses shook their heads and answered, ' Eliza ! ' And when the old woman sat in front of her door on Sunday and read in her hymn-book, the wind turned the leaves and said to the book, ' Who can be more pious than you 1 ' and the hymn-book said, ' Eliza !' And what the rose bushes and the hymn-book said was the simple truth.
When she was fifteen years old she was to go home. And when the Queen saw how beautiful she was, she became spiteful and filled with hatred towards her. She would have been glad to change her into a wild swan, like her brothers, but she did not dare to do so at once, because the King wished to see his daughter.
Early in the morning the Queen went into the bath, which was built of white marble, and decked with soft