The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Once upon a time, there was a king who had twelve beautiful daughters. They all lived together in a great big castle in the town.
The king loved his girls but he was a little bit strict. He wanted to keep them safe. So, he didn’t allow them to go outside the castle.
But a very strange thing was happening. Every morning when the princesses woke up their shoes looked all worn out. Just as if they had been dancing in them all night long.
The king got fed up with this, as he had to buy his daughters new shoes every day!
It was very strange and nobody could solve the mystery of the worn out shoes.
Then the king had an idea. He went out and made a speech to the people in the town.
“We have a mystery in the castle”, he said. The crowd grew quiet, as this sounded very interesting to them.
“You all know all about the shoes that are worn out every morning,” said the king, “I am well and truly fed up. I can’t keep buying shoes every day! Anyone who can solve the mystery will be given a cosy house and the best horse from my stables.”
Many people in the kingdom and even people from other kingdoms came to the castle, but not one of them could solve the mystery.
Finally, a very kind-hearted young man called David wanted to give it a try. So he set off for a long walk to the castle.
He stopped in the woods to munch a sandwich. A giant rat scurried over and sat next to him. She looked hungry so he gave her the other half of his sandwich and an apple.
But he didn’t know that this giant rat had special powers! In return for his kindness, the rat gave him a magic cloak.
She also squeaked eagerly at David and told him not to drink anything the princesses gave him.
David was quite puzzled by this but said goodbye to the giant rat and went on his way.
When he got to the castle that night he met the princesses.
They gave him some fizzy berryade to drink. But he had forgotten all about the giant rat’s warning! He drank up all the delicious berryade and immediately fell fast asleep.
The next night the youngest princess came with some more berryade for him. David was very tired and a bit hiccupy. But he didn’t think and drank the fizzy pop! Once again he went straight back to sleep.
On the last night, the princesses came with another glass of fizzy pop. This time he remembered the giant rat’s warning. He took the glass from her and when the princess left he tipped it down the sink. Then he went to bed pretending to be sleepy.
At midnight David got out of bed and put on the invisible cloak the giant rat had given him. Then, all invisible, he went to the princesses' room. He saw that all the princesses were dressed in their finest clothes.
The eldest princess moved her bed to one side and clapped three times. David was very surprised to see a secret door in the wall.
As if by magic, the door opened and, one by one, all the princesses went through it. David followed them.
They all went down some stairs and came out of a door that was right next to the forest.
In the forest there were trees that were all made of silver and they gleamed in the moonlight. David broke off a little silver twig and put it into his pocket.
Soon, the princesses stopped by the edge of the river. In the river there was a big boat with musicians playing.
All the princesses and David got into the boat.
They crossed the river and came to a big castle that had lights shining from every window. All the princesses went into a great big room in the castle.
The musicians started playing and the girls danced and danced.
The princesses danced for such a long time that their shoes wore out.
Then, much later and very tired, the princesses got back on the boat. They crossed the river, and went through the forest. Then they all walked up the long staircase, through the magic door and back into their room.
David was very excited, as he had solved the mystery.
The next morning he told the king everything. The king couldn't believe him at first. But when he showed him the silver twig, the king knew that he was telling the truth.
The king was very kind and he paid for the musicians to play for his daughters for just one hour every evening. That way, their shoes would last a lot longer!
The king kept his promise and gave David a beautiful big house near the castle and his very best horse.
David was thrilled and he brought his whole family to live with him in his lovely new home.
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