HOUSEHOLD STORIES from The BROTHERS GRIMM

51 Tales translated to English by Lucy Crane & Illustrated by Walter Crane

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•THE TWELVE • BROTHERS •
NCE upon a time there lived a King and Queen very peacefully together; they had twelve children, all boys. Now the King said to the Queen one day,
" If our thirteenth child should be a girl the twelve boys shall die, so that her riches may be the greater, and the kingdom fall to her alone."
Then he caused twelve coffins to be made ; and they were filled with shavings, and a little pillow laid in each, and they were brought and put in a locked-up room ; and the King gave the key to the Queen, and told her to say nothing about it to any one.
But the mother sat the whole day sorrowing, so that her youngest son, who never left her, and to whom she had given the Bible name Benjamin, said to her, " Dear mother, why are you so sad ? " " Dearest child," answered she, " I dare not tell you." But he let her have no peace until she went and unlocked the room, and showed him the twelve coffins with the shavings and the little pillows. Then she said,
" My dear Benjamin, your father has caused these coffins to be made for you and your eleven brothers, and if I bring a little girl into the world you are all to be put to death together and buried therein." And she wept as she spoke, and her little son comforted her and said,
" Weep not, dear mother, we will save ourselves and go far away." Then she answered,