She became the paragon of swannishness. Other swans pointed to her as an example for the young cygnets. “See Swanlinda?," they would say, “She wasn’t born into our flock, but even so, take note of her excellent manners. Do try to be more like her”!
They never realized how difficult it was for her to do those things they knew from hatching. She had to remain alert constantly, checking herself in the reflecting water, minding each sound she uttered. The most important thing for her was to fit in and to be an outcast no longer.
She managed to convince herself that the swans’ cry was not raucous, but assertive; that swimming in circles all day was not boring, but dignified. She learned how to conform, to fit in, to belong.
Since she was the perfect example of a Hen Swan, she was courted by the most desirable Cobs. Swans mate for life, so she was very careful to choose a mate of high social status and excellent background. The flock roundly approved the match. They settled down in a cozy little nest on the right bank.
That spring they became parents to 13 cygnets. The first twelve hatchlings were perfect. They were sources of joy and pride to both their mother and father. However, the last and smallest was a difficult chick from the day she broke through her egg with her egg tooth.