Thursday, September 8, 2011

The twelfth child.

"There was once upon a time a king and  queen who lived happily together, and they had twelve children, all of whom were boys. One day the king said to his wife, 'If our thirteenth child is a girl, all her twelve brothers must die, so that she may be very rich and the kingdom hers alone.' Then he ordered twelve coffins to be made, and he filled them with shavings and placed a little pillow in each. These he put away in an empty room and, giving the key to his wife, he bade her tell no one of it.

The queen grieved and refused to be comforted; so much so that the youngest boy, Benjamin, who was always with her said to her one day: 'Dear Mother, why are you so sad?' 'My child,' she answered, 'I may not tell you the reason.' But he left her no peace, till she unlocked the room and showed him the twelve coffins filled with shavings, and with a little pillow laid in each. Then she said: 'My dearest Benjamin, your father has ordered that if I bring a girl into the world you are all to be buried in them.' She wept bitterly as she spoke, but her son comforted her and said: 'Don't cry, dear Mother. We'll manage to escape somehow and will fly for our lives."

-The Red Fairy Book, Andrew Lang.