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The Twelve Dancing Princesses

The Twelve Dancing Princesses - Where did the twelve princesses wear out their shoes by dancing every night?

A King had twelve beautiful daughters who all slept together in a big hall. When they went to bed in the evening he locked the door behind them. In spite of this, every morning his daughters' shoes were worn out from dancing. To uncover this secret, the King offered his most beautiful daughter's hand in marriage to anyone who could solve the riddle. Many young men tried this but, as soon as it got dark, they fell asleep at their observation posts.

One day a young, poor and wounded soldier was making his way to the castle. He encountered an old woman who asked him where he wanted to go. "I want to find out where the King's daughters dance at night and become king". To which the old woman replied "Don't drink the wine they bring you in the evening. It contains sleeping powder." She gave him a cloak and said "Put this on at night and you will become invisible. You can then follow the daughters unnoticed."

The soldier reported to the castle to try his luck. In the evening, the eldest daughter brought him a goblet of wine. The soldier pretended to drink it, laid down in bed and made snoring noises. After a while, the twelve princesses got up, put on magnificent dresses and climbed through a hidden door under the eldest daughter's bed. The soldier put on the cloak and followed them into an underground castle with a passageway of trees made of silver, gold and diamonds. The soldier took a leaf with him as proof that he was there. They came to a brightly-lit ballroom where music was playing. There they danced to their hearts' content with twelve enchanted princes. In the morning they returned to their bedroom with worn-out shoes.

When the King asked where his daughters had worn out their shoes with dancing, the soldier answered "With twelve princes in an underground castle". As proof he showed the King the leaf made of gold, silver and diamonds. That is how the king found the solution to the riddle. As a reward the poor soldier was given the royal throne and the hand of his eldest daughter in marriage.