The Lady of the River. Once, a young maiden was pushed into a river by her eldest sister, Anne, who was jealous and wanted to marry the maid’s true love, a prince by the name of William. The maiden drowned, but the latent power within the river transformed her into a swan; and, in that form, she was discovered far downstream by a miller’s daughter. As the miller and his child admired the swan, a passing harper shot it with bow and arrow so that he could make a harp of the feathers and bones. When he finished building the harp, however, it began to play by itself, and so the astonished harper brought it to Court. There, the king, queen, and princes—one of whom was William—listened as the harp told the tale of the young maiden’s murder at the hands of her sister, Anne. This tale has been captured in a folkloric ballad, entitled “The Bonny Swans,” as written by (it is rumored) Laryn Goldentongue.
[See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsNJuhBfbPg All credit for the song “The Bonny Swans” goes to Loreena McKennitt.]