Shortly after the queen and her new husband are married, he is forced to leave to fight in a war. He advises her that she must always remain inside and never to trust any visiting women. She listens at first, but when an old woman appears at her window and entices her to sit in her garden, she gives in and goes outside. The old woman is actually an evil witch who quickly tricks the queen and turns her into a white duck, then taking the form of the queen. The king returns and does not catch the deception. The white duck has three ducklings, which the evil witch queen kills. The white duck is stuck trying to figure how to regain her human form and become the true queen once again.
Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was a Scottish writer who collected fairy and folk tales from various cultures and put them together in twelve volumes of tales. He was noted for taking the tales from as many original sources as possible, keeping the fairy tales close to their intended meanings.