The Twelve Dancing Princesses

The Twelve Dancing Princesses - The Twelve Dancing Princesses

Once upon a time, there was a poor boy called Joseph, who led a humble life in a small village, working for his master, who was very pleased with his work, All the other peasant boys envied him, because he was clever, handsome and hardworking. The village girls were desperately trying to make him notice them, but he paid them no attention. They used to call him Prince Charming.

One sunny day, tired as he was after working very hard, he slipped into the forest and lay down under a huge oaktree and slept under its hospitable shelter. And while he slept, a beautiful fairy dressed in a robe sparkling with diamonds appeared before him and told him:

“Go to the king’s castle,because you’ll find your fortune there.”

No sooner had he reached home, than he went straight to his master and said to him:

“Master, I have a good mind to go into the wide world to seek my fortune. I have served you enough and now it’s time for me to turn over a new leaf.”

His master tried to change his mind and make him stay to no avail, so he paid the boy for his work and he was gone.

Joseph soon reached the king’s court and went to the gardener to ask for work. Seeing him so tidy and clever, the gardener liked him and accepted his services. His main job was to make twelve little bouquets every day and give them to the king’s twelve daughters each morning when they went out for a walk.

The twelve princesses were doomed not to be able to marry until someone could make one of them fall in love with him and thus, deliver them from their fate, which gifted them with the passion for dance. The princesses were crazy about dance and every night they tore up their shoes. But no one knew where they went, because they were locked in.

Then the king made it known to all the land, that if any person could find out where it was that the princesses danced in the night, he should have the one he liked best for his wife, and should be king after his death.

Many suitors came to the castle, but the princes who had been watching during the night could no longer be found in the morning. They just disssapeared, and no one knew what had happened to them. Eleven princes were lost so far and no one dared to try his luck any more.

Joseph did his job very well, and the princesses were pleased with his work. He was so humble that he didn’t even dare to look at them when he gave them the bouquets. It was only when he gave the flowers to the youngest of them, Laura, that his cheeks flushed and his heart started to beat wildly. The princess felt the same way about him, though her sisters were not delighted at all to see that.

He was thinking to go and watch, too, but he didn’t dare.

One night, the fairy appeared in his dreams again and said to him :

“Go to the eastern angle of the garden and there you’ll find two small laurel trees. Take good care of them. When they have grown, ask anything you want, and they will give it to you.

Saying this, she disappeared from sight.

As soon as he woke up, he went straight to the place described by the fairy. When he reached there, he just couldn’t believe his eyes. The laurel trees were right there! He took very good care of them and when they grew up enough, he asked them to make him invisible. His wish was granted immediately.

In the evening, when the princesses entered their room, Joseph sneaked inside. The doors were then shut and locked up by nine bolts. He noticed that, instead of preparing to go to bed, the princesses began to brush their hair, to dress themselves in beautiful clothes and to put on jewels like they were going to leave somewehere.

Then, the eldest sister stamped her foot on the floor three times and suddenly, a trap door opened. They went down on a secret staircase till they reached a garden whose gates opened when the eldest sister stamped her foot again. Joseph followed them everywhere they went.

They passed through a forest with silver leaves, then through another one where all the leaves were of gold, then into a third with the leaves glittering with diamonds and after that they came to a great lake.
In the middle of the lake, there was a marvellous castle, beautiful beyond description, dazzling in its brilliance.
Twelve boats with twelve paddlers were waiting for them ashore. The princesses seated themselves into the boats. Joseph entered the boat where the youngest princess was seated.
When they reached the other side of the lake, a merry music of horns and trumpets could be heard. The princesses ran into the castle as soon as they landed. Joseph was surprised to see that the princes who had watched them and had disappeared were all present there. They began dancing together. “So, that’s why they were never seen again…,” Joseph thought.
He seated himself into a corner, looking at everything that was going on there in open-mouthed wonder. He soon found himself dancing, too, among the others. The princesses danced on, till their shoes were worn out and they had to return home.
On their way back, Joseph broke a twig from each forest they went through. Each time he did that, the forest made a loud noise, which startled a little the princesses, but since they couldn’t explain what happened, they decided to go on.
The next day, when Joseph gave the princesses the little bouquets, he slipped the three twigs into Laura’s bouquet. She was so amazed to see those twigs in her bouquet and had no idea how they could have reached there.
Now that he knew everything, Joseph went to his laurels and asked them to dress him like a prince. In the twinkling of an eye, his appearance was that of a prince. His judgement was different, too, his wits grew sharper and he was dressed in fine clothes.
“That’s unbelievable!” he exclaimed. “No one would recognize me!”
Then he went to the king and asked him to allow him to watch his daughters one night. The king felt sorry for him and advised him to give up rather than lose his life. He insisted and the king finally agreed. He didn’t suspect that the prince might be the gardener boy. When he took him to the princesses, they didn’t recognize him either. Laura alone was startled by his sight, and her heart went pit-a-pat.
The following night, the princesses took him with them. They reached the bewitched castle, and when dancing stopped, they went to the supper room. He was given the wine that all the other princes drank, too, that was meant to kindle the passion for dance in his heart, as well, making him lose his mind and soul. That moment he confessed his love to the youngest princess. She responded in the same way and asked him to throw away the wine. He obeyed.
Everyone present stood thunderstruck, staring at them, upon hearing their words of love. Love triumphed and broke the spell that had been cast upon the princesses for so many years. They all found themselves in the king’s palace again. The bewitched castle sanked out of sight like it had never been. The king was so happy to see the charm was broken, that he made a great wedding, all of his daughters marrying the princes who had watched them. Joseph married Laura and they all lived happily ever after.