The Twelve Brothers
A tale by the Brothers Grimm
Once upon a time, there was a kind, loving king and queen. The king and queen were happy. They had twelve boys. One day, the queen said, “I am pregnant with another baby.” The King was happy, but then he had a vision. He saw the future. “If the baby is a girl, all our boys will disappear.”
The queen talked to the boys. The oldest boy was Benjamin. “Boys, Benjamin will take you to a safe place. You will not be safe after the baby is born,” said the queen. “Why?” asked Benjamin. “Because if the baby is born a girl, she will kill you. Do not return. I will be pregnant for a short time. Soon, I will know if it is a girl or boy. If it is a girl, I will fly a red flag. If you see a red flag, do not come home.”
Ben led the boys to a safe home. They stayed away from the baby. After twelve days, the baby was born. Ben saw a red flag. It was a girl. Ben warned his brothers, “The baby is a girl! We are not safe. We must make a new home far away and never see our parents or the baby.
The years passed. The girl was not a baby any longer. She was a beautiful princess. She played in the forest. Then, the princess met Ben walking in the forest. Ben saw the Princess and knew he was not safe. The princess and his mother had the same smile. But Ben did not die! “We can meet? I did not die?” Ben asked. Ben was happy. He embraced and hugged his sister. “I have a brother?” the princess cried. “Yes, you have twelve brothers. They are good brothers but the king predicted we would die if we met.” “Twelve brothers?” the princess was surprised.
Ben led her to the brothers’ home. Finally, the brothers met their sister. When the brothers saw they were safe, they embraced and hugged. The princess loved the brothers. The brothers were happy to be safe again! They walked through the forest to go back home. In the forest, the princess saw some beautiful flowers. There were twelve beautiful white lilies. The brothers walked and walked but the girl stopped to pick the flowers. She handed the flowers to her brothers with a smile.
The princess did not know lilies were dangerous… not until it was too late. The twelve boys disappeared and in their place twelve crows appeared.
The princess cried and cried and could not stop. She became mute. She could not speak. A fairy heard her cries and appeared. “Why are you crying?” she asked. “I made my brothers, who I love very much, disappear” she said. She cried until the fairy explained, “Seven years of silence. Stay mute for seven years and then your brothers will be safe and become humans again. Total silence, is that possible for you?” The princess was happy to fix the disaster she made. She did not say “yes.” She stayed mute.
For seven years, she was mute. Seven years passed, and the princess had only one more day to be mute. On that day a terrible woman mocked her. “This girl is mute! She is a witch.” The woman saw how kind and beautiful the girl was. She was furious and said, “Kill the mute woman. She is with those crows! She is a witch and we must kill her!” They were going to kill the mute girl.
At that moment, the twelve crows arrived. They rescued the girl. The twelve crows flew home and the princess was safe.
Seven years had passed, so the brothers transformed again into humans. The brothers hugged their sister. “You rescued us!” they cried as they embraced.
And they lived happily ever after.