The Twelve Dancing Princesses


Long ago in a faraway land there lived a King who had twelve lovely daughters. Each princess was more beautiful than the next with shimmery gowns, sparkling jewels and dainty glass slippers.

Every night after the girls went to bed, the King would lock the doors to the princesses’ bed chamber tightly. But each morning, their satin dancing shoes were found dirty and worn through, as if they had been out dancing all night!

Yet the solid oak doors showed no signs of being opened. Where did the twelve princesses go at night? The King needed to solve this mystery.

“Whoever learns where my daughters sneak off to may pick one as his bride,” decreed the King. Princes and Dukes from all around came and tried to find the answer.

But none prevailed. Each morning they were found fast asleep outside the locked room still not knowing the princesses’ secret. Off went another royal failure until the next Prince could try his luck.

After dozens had failed, at last came a humble soldier named Oscar. Though he owned no fancy royal robes or jewels, Oscar had a clever brain and paying attention was his best skill of all.

On his first night, Oscar made sure not to drink the sleepy-time tea a servant brought on a silver tray. He pretended to doze off slumping outside the bolted door. As soon as all was silent, Oscar crept close and peeked through the keyhole.

Inside the moonlit room, the oldest princess moved aside a curtain and unlocked a hidden door. One by one the sisters lined up and slipped into a dark passageway beyond. Where did it lead?

Oscar tried the glass doorknob but found it locked tight as ever. So he hurried outside and around to the rocky sea cliff below the princesses’ high tower bedroom. Aha – halfway down the sheer wall, Oscar spotted them!

Floating offshore was a splendid gilded galleon ship shimmering in the moonbeams. A silver plank extended from the glittering deck out to a cave opening in the cliff. The twelve princesses in their ruffled gowns and sparkly slippers tripped lightly over this bridge onto the fancy vessel.

As soon as all were safely aboard, the plank pulled away. Dozens of figures waited on deck – not people, but dwarves! They welcomed the princesses who danced away with their tiny partners as the ship sailed off toward the horizon.

Clever Oscar had solved the mystery! After the vessel disappeared from view, he crept quietly back to his post by the princesses’ door to wait. Just before dawn, the ship returned. Oscar watched through the keyhole again as the sisters crossed the plank back into their secret cavern entrance.

Not a speck of dust has marred their gowns or shoes. The magical galleon voyage must have transported them somewhere special for dancing the night away. Once the last princess locked the hidden passageway again, Oscar pretended to snore loudly.

In the morning, the King awoke Oscar expecting him to have failed like all the other Princes. But Oscar told the full tale of the silver boat, dwarf dancers and transporting cave that carried the princesses away each evening.

The King was thrilled and declared Oscar wise enough to marry any of his daughters. But Oscar’s heart had been captured by the sweetest princess named Pearl. Blushing shyly, Pearl accepted his proposal. Soon the soldier and the princess were married.

As Oscar took Pearl’s hand for their first dance, he paused and asked “Tell me honestly Pearl dear, wherever did that enchanted vessel take you and your sisters each night?” The other princesses leaned forward eagerly to hear Pearl’s answer.

“To a magical land called Revelry ruled by the fun-loving Duke of Dances,” Pearl explained. “The dwarf citizens of Revelry throw marvelous balls every night. They needed new dancing partners, so the Duke created a passage to sweep us secretly there and back.”

Oscar smiled and squeezed his bride’s hand gently. “Well, now you shall not need to sneak off. For we shall hold the grandest balls right here that Revelry land has ever seen!”

The new royal couple invited all the village folk to party at the palace that very evening. Oscar brought in the finest musicians and soon the great hall overflowed with waltzing couples. Even several bumbling dwarves managed to boogie along without getting stomped on.

Princess Pearl danced with joy on her toes, happy to whirl around right here at home instead of needing to magically travel so far away each night. And she was quite impressed by her clever new Prince Oscar’s smooth dance moves too! Even her sisters found delightful partners instead of only tiny dwarf men.

But the passageway still called now and then when Pearl longed to visit marvelous Revelry land and sail upon their splendid magic ship once more. Thankfully good Prince Oscar understood when his Princess needed a break from responsibilities now and then.

So together the royal couple would sneak off to the cave by the sea and cross the silver bridge onto the shimmering galleon to dance the night away in Revelry’s glow. The dwarves welcome them both onto the boat each time with merry songs and cheers.

In the mornings, Prince Oscar and Princess Pearl would race back through the cliff cavern and lock the hidden door just as dawn’s light tickled the ocean waves. Their secret voyages felt even more special now that they were husband and wife. And the kingdom rejoiced at how happy its princesses now were – all thanks to their mother’s wise choice in making clever Oscar part of their royal family.

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