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Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

Then Benjamin knew that she was his sister


"Twelve

brothers!" cried the little maiden. "Where are they? I have not even heard of them."

"Heaven knows where they are," was the reply; "but they are wandering about the world somewhere." Then the queen took her little daughter to the private room in the castle, and showed her the twelve coffins which had been prepared for her brothers, and related to her, with many tears, why they had left home.

"Dear mother," said the child, "do not weep. I will go and seek my brothers." So she took the twelve shirts with her, and wandered away into the forest.

She walked for a whole day, and in the evening came to a cottage, stepped in, and found a young boy, who stared with astonishment at seeing a beautiful little girl dressed in rich clothing and wearing a golden star on her forehead.

At last he said, "Who are you, and what do you want?"

"I am a king's daughter," she said, "and I seek my twelve brothers, and I intend to search for them till I find them;" and she showed him their shirts.

Then Benjamin knew that she was his sister, and said, "I am your youngest brother, Benjamin." Then she wept for joy. They kissed each other with deep affection, and were for a time very happy.

At last Benjamin said, "Dear sister, we have made a vow that the first young

maiden we meet should die, because through a maiden we have lost our kingly rights."

"I would willingly die," she said, "if by so doing I could restore my brothers to their rightful possessions."

"No, you shall not die," he replied. "Hide yourself behind this tub until our eleven brothers come home; then I will make an agreement with them."

At night the brothers returned from hunting, and the supper was ready. While they sat at table, one of them said, "Well, Benjamin, have you any news?"

"Perhaps I have," he said, "although it seems strange that I, who stay at home, should know more than you, who have been out."

"Well, tell us your news," said one. So he said:

"I will tell you if you will make one promise."

"Yes, yes!" they all cried. "What is it?"

"Well, then, promise me that the first maiden you meet with in the forest shall _not_ die."

"Yes, yes!" said they all; "she shall have mercy, but tell us."

"Then," said the youngest brother, "our sister is here;" and, rising, he lifted the tub, and the king's daughter came forth in her royal robes and with a golden star on her forehead, and looking so fair and delicate and beautiful that the brothers were full of joy, and kissed and embraced her with the fondest affection.

She stayed with Benjamin, and helped him in keeping the house clean and cooking the game which the others brought home. Everything was so nicely managed now and with so much order, the curtains and the quilts were beautifully white, and the dinners cooked so well that the brothers were always contented, and lived in great unity with their little sister.

There was a pretty garden around the house in which they lived, and one day, when they were all at home dining together, and enjoying themselves, the maiden went out into the garden to gather them some flowers.


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