The Third Wish Summary by Joan Aiken

Peter – An Honest Man

This is a story of a magical journey of one Mr Peters who is an honest and helpful man. This starts when one day Mr. Peters rescues a bird trapped in the waters of a lake. Stuck and unable to move the bird lies helpless.

Peters, true, to his gentle self comes to release it and allow it to fly away. However, to his surprise, the bird transforms into a man. This man turns out to be a king and wizard. He is thankful for Peters help and wants to reward him by granting his heart’s desire.

Peters humbly accepts the gift. The wizard hands him three leaves which he could use any time to ask for anything. However, he advises it to use wisely as many men get corrupted with such immense power and choose their own downfall.

A Loving Spouse

Peters is clear in his mind and asks for a loving spouse. He keeps the rest of the leaves for future emergencies. To his amazement, he finds the most beautiful woman, Leita lying next to him. She acknowledges her desire to marry him. He is overjoyed and they both get happily married.

Years pass by and the happy couple lives out a blissful life. However, there is something missing. Leita starts to get depressed with every passing day. Peters cannot understand her predicament and finally ask her about her pain.

Leita was Swan

She reveals that she is a swan in true form but was transformed by the magic of the wishing leaf. She misses her previous life and her family who are still swans, especially her sister. She also visits her sister at the lake to share her sorrow with her.

This revelation burdens and breaks Peter’s spirit. He is sympathetic to her pain but does not want to lose his home. However, he realizes that if he truly loves Leita, he should use the leaf to make things right. He does exactly that and wishes her to return to being a swan. He transforms immediately and he carries her wife to the lake and bids farewell to her.

Gives Up Third Wish

Suddenly, the wizard king appears and remonstrates with Peters for using his wish for emotional and unwise purpose. Peters declines his suggestion and reaffirms his choice to not use the third and final wish.

Eventually, he grows fond of the two friendly swans that keep visiting him in the woods. He is content with his wife being happy. As time passes by, he grows old and dies leaving behind her mournful wife.