THE TWELVE BROTHERS.
At last Benjamin remembered the vow made by his brothers that the first young maiden they met should die, because through a maiden they had lost their kingly rights; and he told his little sister about it. "I would willingly die," she said, "if by so doing I could restore my brothers to their rightful possessions."
" But I do not fear anything so sad will happen," he replied, " if I explain to them before they see you; and I hear them coming," he continued; "just hide yourself in this room till after supper, and I will see what can be done." So the maiden hid herself where she could hear all that was said.
Presently the brothers returned from hunting, but the youngest would not speak about his sister till he had prepared the supper. While they sat at table, one of them said, "Well, Benjamin, have you any news to tell us?"
" Perhaps I have," he said ; " although it seems strange that I who stay at home and keep house should know more than you who have been out in the world."
" Well, tell us your news," said one, and they all looked very eager ; so he said,—
" I will tell you if you will make one promise."
" Yes, yes," they all cried ; " what is it ?"
"Well, then, promise me that the first maiden you meet with in the forest shall not die."
To this they all readily agreed, and the eldest said, "I wall take care that mercy shall be shown to her."
" Then," said the youngest brother, "our sister is here; " and, rising, he opened the door of the inner room, and the king's daughter came forth in her royal robes and with a golden star on her forehead, and looking so fair and delicate and beautiful, that the brothers were full of joy, and kissed and embraced her with the fondest affection.
She stayed with them some time, and was a great help to the youngest brother in keeping the house clean, and cooking the game which the others brought home. Every thing was so nicely managed now, and with so much order—the curtains and the quilts were beautifully white, and the dinners cooked so well' that the brothers were always contented, and lived in great unity with their little sister.
There was a pretty garden around the house in which they lived,