OW I am going to tell a story," said the Wind.
"Excuse me," said the Rain, "but now it is my turn; you
have been howling round the corner as hard as ever you
could this long time past."
"Is that your gratitude toward me?" said the Wind. "I,
who in honor of you turn inside out—yes, even
break—all the umbrellas when people won't have
anything to do with you."
"I am going to speak!" said the Sunshine. "Silence!"
And the Sunshine
 said it with such glory and majesty that the long,
weary Wind fell prostrate, and the Rain beat against
him and shook him and said: "We won't stand it! She
always breaks through, that Madam Sunshine. We won't
listen to her. What she says is not worth hearing."
But the Sunshine said: "A beautiful swan flew over the
rolling, tumbling waves of the ocean. Every one of its
feathers shone like gold; one feather drifted down on
the great merchant vessel that, with all sail set, was
sailing away. The feather dropped on the curly light
hair of a young man whose business it was to have a
care for the goods—supercargo they called him.
The bird of Fortune's feather touched his forehead,
became a pen in his hand, and brought him such luck
that very soon he became a wealthy merchant—rich
enough to have bought for himself spurs of gold, rich
enough to change a golden dish into a nobleman's
shield; and I shone on it," said the Sunshine.
"The swan flew farther away over the bright-green
meadow, where the little shepherd –boy only seven years
old had lain down in the shadow of the old and only
tree there was. The swan in its flight kissed one of
the leaves of the tree. The leaf fell into the boy's
hand, and it was changed into three leaves, to
ten—yes, to a whole book—and in it he read
about all the wonders of nature, about his native
language, about faith and knowledge. At night he laid
the book under his head, that he might not forget what
he had been reading. The wonderful book led him to the
school-bench, and thence in search of knowledge. I have
read his name among the names of learned men," said the
"The swan flew into the quiet, lonely forest, rested
awhile on the dark, deep lake where the water-lilies
grow, where the wild apples are to be found on the
shore, where the cuckoo and the wild pigeon have their
"A poor woman was in the wood gathering
firewood—branches that had fallen down and dry
sticks—she carried them in a bundle on her back,
and in her arms she held her little child. She saw the
golden swan, the bird of Fortune, rise from among
 the reeds on the shore. What was that that glittered? A
golden egg quite warm yet. She laid it in her bosom,
and the warmth remained in it. Surely there was life in
the egg! 'Tick, tick,' it said, as if it had been a
valuable gold watch; but that it was not, only an
egg—a real, living egg. The egg cracked and
opened, and a dear little baby swan, all feathered as
with purest gold, put out its little head; round its
neck it had four rings, and as the poor woman had four
boys—three at home and the little one that she
had had with her in the lonely wood—she
understood at once that here was a ring for each boy;
and just as she thought of that the little gold bird
took flight. She kissed each ring, made each of the
children kiss one of the rings, laid it next to the
child's heart, then put it on his finger. I saw it
all," said the Sunshine, "and I saw what followed.
"One of the boys was playing in a ditch and took a lump
of clay in his hand, turned and twisted and pressed it
between his [should be fingers instead of figers] till
it took shape and was like Jason, who went in search of
and found the golden fleece.
"The second boy ran out on the meadow where the flowers
stood—flowers of all imaginable colors; he
gathered a handful and squeezed them so tight that all
the juice spurted into his eyes, and some of it wetted
the ring. It cribbled and crawled in his thought and in
his hands, and after many a day and many a year people
in the great city talked of the great painter.
"The third child held the ring so tight in his teeth
that it gave forth sound, an echo of the song in the
depths of his heart. Thoughts and feelings rose in
beautiful sounds; rose like singing swans; plunged like
swans into the deep, deep sea. He became a great
master, a great composer, of whom every country has the
right to say, 'He was mine!'
"And the fourth little one was—yes, he
was—the 'ugly duck' of the family; they said he
had the pip, and must have pepper and butter like the
little sick chickens, and that he got; but of
 me he got a warm, sunny kiss," said the Sunshine. "He
got ten kisses for one; he was a poet, and was buffeted
and kissed alternately all his life. But he held what
no one could take from him—the Ring of Fortune
from Dame Fortune's golden swan. His thoughts took wing
and flew up and away like singing butterflies—the
emblem of immortality!"
"That was a dreadfully long story," said the Wind.
"And, oh, how stupid and tiresome!" said the Rain.
"Blow on me please, that I may revive a little."
And the Wind blew, and the Sunshine said; "The swan of
Fortune flew over the beautiful bay where the fishermen
had set their nets; the poorest of them wanted to get
married, and marry he did. To him the swan brought a
piece of amber; amber draws things toward it, and it
drew hearts to the house. Amber is the most wonderful
incense, and there came a soft perfume, as from a
church; there came a sweet breath from out of beautiful
nature, that God has made. They were so happy and
grateful for their peaceful home, and content even in
their poverty. Their life became a real Sunshine
"I think we had better stop now," said the Wind; "the
Sunshine has talked long enough and I am dreadfully
"And I also," said the Rain.
And what do we others who have heard the story say?
We say, "Now my story's done."
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics