Once a king ruled the city. Him and his wife had 12 children. All boys.Soon, the king desired a girl very much , and wanted the girl to rule and wear royal clothing. He ordered 12 coffins to be made, for his sons, since he wanted to kill them. They were indeed made. The queen, so very sad, sobbed everyday. Benjamin, the smallest brother, noticed that and came to comfort his mother.
” Mother, do not cry. What is the matter?” he asked.
At first she would not answer him, but then later on led him into the room where the coffins were and explained what their father wanted to do.
” Benjamin, run away with your 11 brothers. I’m afraid you have to live in the woods. Climb a tree and look here. When the baby is born, I will tell you if it’s a girl or boy. If it’s a boy, I will raise a white flag, and that shows that you can come home safely. If it’s a girl, then I will raise a red flag, and that will show that you cannot come back. ”
That night, Banjamin and his brothers ran off to the woods. Eleven days later, they saw a big flag waving in front of their palace home. It, was, RED.
” Why do we have to lose our wealth for a girl?” one brother asked.
” I vow to kill the first girl I see.” another added.
Everyone agreed. They soon saw a small cottage, with no one living in it, so they lived in it.
” Benjamin, since you are the smallest, you will stay home and keep house while we go hunting for food.” his brother told him.
And, so it was, everyday, Benjamin stayed home and his brothers went out. They always brang back something good to eat, wild rabbits, birds, etc. Ten years passed like this, and soon the little girl grew up and started wandering about in the castle. Then, she found 12 shirts.
” Mother, who does these shirts belong to? They are much too small for my father.” she asked.
” Perhaps, the time has come, for you to know everything. These belong to your twelve brothers.”
” BROTHERS? Where are they? How come Iv’e never met them?” she asked
Her mother led her into the room with the twelve coffins.
” These were supposed to be your brothers’ coffins, but they ran away. Your father wanted to kill them, because he was desperate for a girl. ”
” Oh my, I must find them, I will , mother, find them and bring them back.” she said.
Her mother let her go. She soon wandered about a small cottage. She went inside and saw a boy.
” Excuse me, have you seen my twelve brothers? I’m looking for them, after ten years, I didn’t even know I had brothers.” she told the boy.
The boy, being Benjamin, leaped up happily, realizing his sister. He remebered his brothers’ vow about killing the first maiden they saw.
” Oh dear, I must tell my brothers not to kill you.” he told her.
” Oh my.”
” Hide in here. I will tell them when they come back.”
Soon, his 11 brothers came back and they sat around the table.
” Have you got news?” the eldest asked.
” Indeed. But it is strange that I have news, staying home all day, while you don’t going out all day.”
” HURRY. Tell us.”
” But you must make a vow to NOT kill the first maiden you see…”
” YES!!!” they impaitiently agreed.
Benjamin took a deep breath and said,
” Our sister is here.”
She came out, hugged them gleefully, and they let her stay.
One day, when her brothers were out hunting, she went out for a walk , and started picking twelve flowers, trying to delight her brothers. Suddenly, her brothers dissapeared, turned into birds, and the cottage dissapeared as well.She wept, being the last one there, left alone, and knowing that her brothers turned into birds. Then she saw an old woman, a witch.
“My child, what have you done? Why didn’t you leave those white flowers to grow on their stems? They were your twelve brothers, and now they will always remain birds.”
“Is there no way to set them free?” asked the maiden, weeping.
“No way in the world,” she replied, “but one, and that is far too difficult for anyone to perform; yet it would break the spell and set them free. If you were to remain dumb seven years, and not speak to anyone, or even laugh? for if ever you utter a single word, or fail only once in the seven years, all you have done before will be vain, and at this one word your brothers will die.”
“Yes,” said the maiden, “I can do this to set my brothers free.”
Then the maiden climbed into a tree, and, seating herself in the branches, began to knit.
She remained here, living on the fruit that grew on the tree, and without laughing or uttering a word.
As she sat in her tree, the king, who was hunting, had a hound, who very soon discovered her, ran to the tree on which the maiden sat, sprang up to it, and barked at her violently.
The king came nearer, and saw the beautiful king’s daughter. He was so struck with her beauty that he begged her to come down, and asked her to be his bride. She did not speak a word, but nodded her head. Then the king himself climbed up into the tree, and bringing her down, seated her on his own horse and galloped away with her to his home.
The marriage was soon after celebrated, but the bride neither spoke nor laughed.
When they had lived happily together for some years, the king’s mother, a wicked woman, began to raise evil reports about the queen, and said to the king, “It is some beggar girl you have picked up. Who can tell what wicked tricks she practises. She can’t help being dumb, but why does she never laugh? ” The king at first would listen to none of these suspicions, but she urged him so long, and accused the queen of such wicked conduct, that at last he condemned her to be burnt to death.
Now in the court-yard a great fire was kindled, and the king stood weeping at a window overlooking the court of the palace, for he still loved her dearly. He saw her brought forth and tied to the stake; the fire kindled, and the flames with their forked tongues were creeping towards her, when at the last moment the seven years were past, and suddenly a rustling noise of wings was heard in the air; twelve black ravens alighted on the earth and instantly assumed their own forms—they were the brothers of the queen.
They tore down the pile and extinguished the fire, set their sister free, and embraced her tenderly. The queen, who was now able to speak, told the king why she had been dumb and had never laughed.
The delight of the king was only equalled by his anger against the wicked witch, who was brought to him and ordered to be thrown into a hole full of poisonous snakes, where she died a dreadful death.