“She plucked with her own soft hands the ugly stinging-nettles.”
“Do you see these stinging-nettles which I have in my hand? There are many of the same kind growing round the cave where you are sleeping; only those that grow there or on the graves in the churchyard are of use – remember that! You must pluck them, although they will sting your hands; you must trample on the nettles with your feet, and get yarn from them; and with this yarn you must weave eleven shirts with long sleeves.”
“If these are thrown over the eleven wild swans, the spell will be broken. But mark this: from the moment that you begin your work till it is ended, even should it take you years, you must not speak a word. The first word that escapes your lips will fall like a dagger into the hearts of your brothers. Their lives hang on your tongue. Mark well all this!”
As the fairy took her leave, she touched Elise’s hands with a nettle. This made them burn like fire, and caused her to wake. . .
From the story “The Wild Swans.”
Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales.
Written by William Woodburn.
Illustrated by Gordon Robinson.
W. & R. Chambers, Limited: London & Edinburgh. 1917.