A man lived with his wife and three daughters in a hut. Although this man was not rich, he was contented with his life.
One day, this man became sick and in spite of trying a number of treatments his condition worsened. After a few months, he died.
Now his wife and his daughters had no one to look after them. The wife cried, “How will we manage without my dear husband?”
Her neighbours were very kind. They all decided to look after the family.
Every day the wife would go to some neighbour and get food for her family. The neighbours also gave them clothes and other things they needed.
This man was reborn as a golden swan. He lived near a beautiful lake. Even now he remembered his family, and he wanted to know about their welfare.
One day, he set off to see them.
When he saw his wife getting food from a neighbour, he felt very sorry for his family. He wanted to help his family and rescue them from such a demeaning way of life where they had to beg and live.
When he went near their hut, his daughters saw the golden swan and ran to inform their mother about it.
The wife, who had gone to a neighbour’s house to get food, came running to see the golden swan.
The swan told her, “I was your husband, and I have been reborn as a golden swan.”
“Your golden feathers look very beautiful,” said the wife, greedily eyeing his golden feathers.
“I am very unhappy to see you in such a bad condition. You must not beg from today. I will give you one feather every day,” said the swan.
The swan further added, “You can sell the golden feather in the market and buy whatever you want.”
From the next day, the swan would give one golden feather to the wife, and she would sell it in the market.
She got a lot of money in exchange of the feathers, and she soon became rich and had a house of her own.
One day, while sitting with her daughters, she wondered, “What will happen to us if this swan goes away?”
“We will have no feathers to sell,” said the youngest daugther innocently.
The wife thought for a while and said, “I think, I should pluck off all its feathers, and then it will not matter where it goes,”
Her daughters told her not to take out the feathers, but the wife had turned very greedy. She refused to listen to anybody.
She caught the swan one evening and started plucking off all its feathers.
The swan tried to stop her again and again, but she caught its throat and did not stop till she had taken out all the golden feathers.
When she had plucked all the feathers, she turned around to get a bag wherein to put the feathers.
On turning back towards the feathers, she screamed, “Oh no! These feathers are not golden any more! Why have they turned white? What will I do now?”
The swan said, “That is what I was trying to tell you, but you caught my throat and didn’t let me speak,”
The wife was mad with anger. She picked up the swan and threw it into the dustbin.
The swan lay in the dustbin for some days till its feathers grew again.
Once its feathers grew, it flew away to the lake it had come from. Now, it did not want to stay with such a greedy wife.
As the time passed, most of the wife’s savings were consumed and she became poor again.
Seeing the greedy side of this woman, the neighbours too refused to help her.
The husband would sometimes come to see his daughters. But he could do nothing to help them, as now he was an ordinary white swan.