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The Twelve Wild Ducks

Is there anything you want? If so, only say the word, and you shall have it!"

"Oh, it seems so dull and lonely here," said the daughter. "Everyone else has brothers and sisters, but I am all alone; I have no one. "

"Sit down, my love," said the Queen. "It's time you knew the truth. I had twelve sons before you. Stout, brave lads they all were, but I lost them when you came." And she told her daughter the whole story.

After the Princess learned how her brothers had been lost, she could not rest nor sleep nor eat, for she believed it was all her fault. She seized upon the notion that she must go in search of her lost brothers, and at once. She must find them and somehow free them of their terrible curse. The Queen wept and begged her not to go, for the thought of losing her last child was almost too much for her to bear. Yet, in spite of all the Queen could say or do, the lass felt she could not remain safely at home while her brothers still suffered under enchantment, and all because of her! So she ventured from her comfortable life in the palace. The princess walked on and on, so far you would never have thought her small feet could have had the strength to carry her so far. For three years she traveled.

Finally, one day, when she was walking through deep woods, she grew tired and fell asleep on a mossy tuft. She dreamed that she was walking deeper and deeper into the woods and then came to a little wooden hut, and within the hut she found her brothers. Just then she awoke. Straight before her she noticed a worn path in the green moss that she hadn't seen before. This path went deeper into the woods, and so she followed it. Astonished, she discovered at the end of the path a little hut exactly like the one she had seen in her dream.

Now when she went inside there was no one at home, but there were twelve beds, and twelve chairs, and twelve spoons -- in short, a dozen of everything. When she saw that, her heart leaped, for she could guess at once that it was her brothers who lived there.

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