Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/299

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[No. 8.]

Title of Story.—The Twelve Brothers.

Dramatis Personæ.—King.—Queen.—Their twelve sons.—Daughter.—Twelve lilies.—Twelve ravens.—Old woman.—King.—Greyhound.—King's mother.—Judge.

Abstract of Story.—(l) King and queen have twelve sons. King declares, if a girl is born the twelve boys shall die, that she may be sole heiress. He has twelve coffins made and locked up in room of which he gives key to queen, bidding her tell no one of it. But youngest son, named Benjamin, from the Bible, seeing his mother's grief asks cause, and importunes her till at length she unlocks room and shows coffins, explaining their purpose. Son comforts her, saying he and his brothers will save themselves.—(2) She tells him that they must go forth into the forest, and one must keep watch from the highest tree, looking towards the castle tower. If she bears a son she will hoist a white flag, and they may safely return; if a daughter, a red flag, and they must fly for their lives. She blesses them, and they start. They keep watch in turn, and after eleven days Benjamin sees blood-red flag, their death-sentence.—(3) The brothers are angry and swear to be avenged, saying, wherever they find a girl her red blood shall flow. They go deeper into the forest and find a little bewitched hut standing empty, and determine to live there. Benjamin keeps house while the rest seek food, and they live here ten years.—(4) Queen's daughter, who is fair of face and has a golden star on her forehead, happens to see twelve men's shirts on the great washing day; and, as they are too small for her father, asks queen to whom they belong. Queen tells her, sorrowing, all about the twelve brothers, of whom she has never heard, and shows the twelve coffins. Daughter comforts her and sets forth with the twelve shirts to seek her brothers in the forest.—(5) In the evening she reaches the hut, and Benjamin, astonished at her beauty and her royal garments, ascertains that she is a king's daughter, and is in search of her twelve brothers. He sees the twelve shirts, makes himself known to her, and they rejoice together. Benjamin remembers their vow to slay every maiden they meet, and tells her to hide under tub till he has made an agreement with the brothers. They return at night, and during meal ask Benjamin for news, which he will tell if they promise not to slay the first maiden they meet. He raises the tub and they are overjoyed to see their sister. They live happily together, she always staying at home to help

Vol. 7.— Part 3. x