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The Twelve Wild Ducks

Once upon a time there was a Queen who had twelve sons but, alas! no daughter to call her own.

One day when the queen was out driving in the woods, she came upon the prettiest little lassie she ever did see. The Queen stopped her horses, lifted the child up in her arms, and kissed her on both cheeks. All the while she thought to herself, "I do so love my sons, but oh! how I wish I had a little girl of my own!"

Just then an old witch of the trolls came up to her, but you wouldn't have known she was a witch at all, she looked so kind and good.

"A daughter you shall have," she said, "and she shall be the prettiest child in twelve kingdoms, if you will only give me whatever comes to meet you at the bridge when you return home."

Now the Queen had a little snow-white dog of which she was very fond, and it always ran to greet her when she had been away. She thought it must be the dog the old dame wanted. Since the old woman seemed gentle and kind, the Queen said, "Yes, you may have what comes to meet me on the bridge if that is what will bring me a daughter." With that she hurried home as fast as she could.

But who should come to meet her on the bridge, not her snow-white dog at all, but her twelve sons! Before the mother could cry out to them to stop, the wicked witch threw a spell upon them and turned them into twelve ducks! The ducks flapped their wings, flew away, and away they stayed.

The Queen mourned her lost sons for a long time. She found comfort in nothing at all until at long last, she had a daughter of her own. The little princess was the loveliest child one ever set eyes on. She grew up tall and fair, but she was often quiet and her eyes were sad. No one could understand what it was that ailed her. The Queen was also troubled, as you may believe, for she had many strange fears when she thought about the loss of her twelve sons. One day she said to her daughter, "Why are you so sad, my daughter?

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