It was a lovely, warm Saturday morning with the sun just starting to climb. "No school today," thought Julie, "I think I'll go and play in the park."   First, she asked her mother if any jobs which needed to be done. "No dear," said her mother, " you can go and play with your friends, only be back for lunch."  Julie was nine years old and felt very grown up when her mother said she could go and play with her friends.

Off she went, to see if Mary one of her special friends, could come out and play in the park with her. Mary went to school with Julie they were in the same class. Mary asked her mother if she could go to the park with Julie. "Yes, of course dear, as long as you're back for lunch," her mother replied. 

The two girls went to see the swans on the lake in the park, the birds looked like a picture sitting on the water with their lovely, long, white necks, the small signets  were there too. Some days, the girls came and  fed the baby birds, so Mother Swan was very gentle with the two girls for she knew they were not harming her babies.
This day, as Julie went to the lake, mother swan was there and she had something in her beak. As the girls went nearer, the swan dropped the shiny pieces from her beak.  Mary picked them up: they were four small silver leaves, which were lovely in detail and very shiny.
Mary handed two of the leaves to Julie to examine and while they were looking closely at the strange markings on the silver leaves, the swan spoke. Julie, looking at Mary, said. "What's happened to your voice, it sounds different?"    Mary shook her head in puzzlement and replied, "That wasn't me!" 
"Well who spoke? " said Julie, looking around. "I did!!"  Mother Swan said quite loudly. This time both the children looked in amazement at the bird. 

The swan continued: "While you hold the silver leaves, you can understand what I say."    Both girls looked at the leaves they were holding, then back at the mother swan. "Oh! Mrs, Swan how wonderful to understand you!" gasped Julie.

 By this time Mary had got over her surprise, she whispered, "I wonder who's silver leaves they are."  The mother swan on hearing what Mary had whispered, stretched  her neck,  then with her beak brush down the side of her white chest, she  was quite relaxed as she answered the little girl.
"They belong to you both. I brought them from a land far away,"  she continued. "I've wanted to give you something for being so kind to my children." Julie and Mary thanked the  swan, who explained to them. "The leaves represent  four wishes and as your wish comes true, one leaf will disappear,"  she added: "But you must keep this a secret, or the wishes will not be granted," The little girls thought this a lovely gift and thanked the swan again. 

Each had two wishes and were not sure what to do next, so saying goodbye to the birds on the pond, they agreed to put the small silver leaves in their pockets and wait until later as it was near to lunch time.

After lunch, Julie decided to go and see Mary. Both girls had been thinking about the small 'Silver Leaves' and what Mother Swan had told them, they both wanted to discuss the mornings adventures.

Mary was playing in her garden when Julie arrived and soon they were talking about the silver leaves.  "What are we going to do with them," said Mary very quietly as not wanting to be overheard. "Well, I'm not sure," Julie murmured. 
" If we did make a wish that  it would come true." 
"Mmm"  Mary uttered, they sat and thought for a while then Mary looked up with her eyes bright and said "Lets wish for something, and see what happens,"  so the two little girls thought again. 

I know," said Mary "Lets ask for an Ice-cream, a large chocolate ice-cream," she said. "Oh, yes," said her friend, "but whose silver leaf will we use."asked Julie. "Mine, as I thought of it," replied  Mary, 
"I'll ask for two," So with this Mary took out one of her silver leaves and said "Two, large chocolate ice-creams, please." Not sure who she was saying it to and immediately the silver leaves disappeared and the hand which had held the silver leaves now held two lovely large ices. "Oh, yummy," said Julie, taking one and licking the ice-cream. "How does it taste," said Mary, 
"Mm Lovely," murmured Julie as she tucked into the ice, "Mm, yes,"  replied Mary,  "It really is nice," when the icecreams were finished they got back to the subject of the three wishes that were left left, as they now realised that they really worked.

Mary's garden was very large with fruit trees, then  lawn for sitting on, this was were the girls were. It was a lovely summers day and Mary's mother had provided a rug for the girls to sit on, the trees provided a shade and except for the birds twittering in the trees it was very quiet, in the distance a lawn mower was being used, so the girls were sitting wondering what next to wish for.

Then Julie said, "I know what I will wish for." 
Mary looked at her and asked    "What," 
"A lovely white rabbit, I've always wanted a white rabbit," said Julie quite excited with the idea, then quickly took out a silver leaf  "I wish for a lovely white rabbit," she said. "Please," she added as that was what Mary had said and maybe that made a difference, sure enough the silver leaf disappeared and there sitting on her lap was a beautiful white rabbit.

"Oh! how perfectly lovely," said Mary, and brushed the coat of the rabbit, it had long white ears, pink eyes, and a very white furry coat, "I'll call him Peppermint", said Julie, "for I like peppermints," so for quite a while the two little girls played with their new found friend.

Then Mary said, "I've always wanted a puppy," so out came her second leaf. "I wish for a lovely puppy, one I can play with, Please," she said and there on her lap was a little puppy, the leaf had disappeared.

How thrilled the two friends were, now they both had something that they really wanted, and Julie still had one wish left, but in there excitement they forgot about the last wish,.

 Peppermint had fallen asleep on Julies lap and Mary was just thinking of a name for her little dog,
"Barneby, thats what I'll call him, " she said, and playing with the puppy the afternoon passed.

Then all of a sudden, the rabbit woke up flicked its ears, twitched its nose. This Barneby saw, he growled and Peppermint saw the dog, before you could say 'Jack Robinson', the rabbit was out of Julies arms, and  into the flower beds, with Barneby yapping, thinking that the rabbit was a toy to play with he went after him.

Well, Mary and Julie, jumped up and started to run after them when Mary's mother called.
 "Girls what is happening, "the girls looked at each other for it seemed the wishes had gone a bit wrong. "You still have another wish,"  Mary said, looking at her friend,  "Julie, I think its time to wish them back where they were," so Julie took the last silver leaf and said."I wish the dog and the rabbit, back where they were, please and thank you, " she added. 

All of a sudden the noise stopped and all was quiet again. except for Mary's mother now coming around the trees. "Now what has been happening?" said Mary's mum, "Oh! mum, we've had such a lovely afternoon," Mary said quite loudly as the excitement of the day was getting too much for the girls and they wanted to share it with her. So over a glass of lemonade,  they told Mary's mum all about the swan as now the leaves were gone it seemed alright to tell someone.

 "Well, you girls, do seem to have some stories to tell," she said smiling at them.   Julie looked at her watch and decided it was time to go home, thinking that it would be nice to tell her mother too. "But next time I get three wishes I will ask for something, completely different" she thought

      ~Anne Pettersen~1999.