The King of the River, Part 2

The next day, the two sisters again took their lunch to the river. Almost immediately, the younger sister suggested the older sister go find the swans’ nest, which she eagerly did. And again upon her return, the older sister was pleased to see the younger sister’s bowl of stew had been eaten.

Things continued like this for some time. The older sister was delighted on days when the swans appeared, and especially delighted on the day she saw a young swan follow them out of the nest. She quickly ran back to fetch her sister, so that she might share in her joy.

When she arrived at the picnic spot, she was surprised to see a strange, ugly little man sitting next to her sister. His hands were lifting her bowl of stew up to his lips, and he was gulping greedily.

“Stop that!” the older sister cried, but the little man had already swallowed every last drop of the stew. Tossing the bowl to the ground, he laughed loudly and with surprising speed hurled his twisted body into the water, where it disappeared.

“Sister! Whatever does this mean?” the older sister asked, angrily.

“The King of the River requires food,” the younger said simply.

“But that food keeps you healthy,” the older sister scolded. “Do you mean he has been eating it all this time?”

The younger sister nodded and the older began to scold her. However, when she looked carefully at her sister, she could see that there was a vacant look in her eyes. The older sister guessed that the King of the River must have been slowly placing a spell on her every day, and she grew worried that perhaps her sister was already in his power.

Click here to read Part 3.

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