THE TWELVE BROTHERS
' I am a Princess,' she answered,' and am seeking for my twelve brothers. I mean to wander as far as the blue sky stretches over the earth till I find them.'
Then she showed him the twelve shirts which she had taken with her, and Benjamin saw that it must be his sister, and said:
' I am Benjamin, your youngest brother.'
So they wept for joy, and kissed and hugged each other again and again. After a time Benjamin said:
' Dear sister, there is still a little difficulty, for we had all agreed that any girl we met should die at our hands, because it was for the sake of a girl that we had to leave our kingdom.'
' But,' she replied,' I will gladly die if by that means I can restore my twelve brothers to their own.
' No,' he answered, ' there is no need for that; only go and hide under that tub till our eleven brothers come in, and I'll soon make matters right with them.'
She did as she was bid, and soon the others came home from the chase and sat down to supper.
' "Well, Benjamin, what's the news ? ' they asked.
But he replied, ' I like that; have you nothing to tell me ? '
' Xo,' they answered.
Then he said : ' "Well, now, you've been out in the wood all the day and I've stayed quietly at home, and all the same I know more than you do.'
' Then tell us,' they cried.
But he answered: ' Only on condition that you promise faithfully that the first girl we meet shall not be killed.'
' She shall be spared,' they promised, ' only tell us the news.'
Then Benjamin said: ' Our sister is here ! ' and he lifted up the tub and the Princess stepped forward, with her royal robes and with the golden star on her forehead, looking so lovely and sweet and charming that they all fell in love with her on the spot.
They arranged that she should stay at home with Benjamin and help him in the house work, while the rest of the brothers went out into the wood and shot hares and roe-deer, birds and wood-pigeons. And Benjamin and his sister cooked their meals for them. She gathered herbs to cook the vegetables in, fetched the wood, and watched the pots on the fire, and always when her eleven brothers returned she had their supper ready for them. Besides this, she kept the house in order, tidied all the rooms, and made herself so