Once upon a time there was a king who had twelve daughters, they were the most beautiful in the whole kingdom. The twelve princesses slept together in a huge room with twelve beds lined up. Every night, the king closed the door of the room with two bolts.

However, when opening the door in the morning, I noticed that the girls’ shoes were torn as if they had danced all night.

The perplexed king demanded an explanation, but the princesses remained silent. It was then that he proclaimed to his subjects that whoever discovered the mystery of the broken shoes would have the opportunity to marry one of his daughters and become the future king. But he had to do it within three days. Otherwise, he would be banished from the kingdom.

A few days later, a prince appeared before the king willing to discover the truth. He was well received and comfortably accommodated in the adjoining room where the princesses slept. But the prince seemed to have leaden eyelids and fell asleep instantly. In the morning, he learned that the king’s twelve daughters had gone out in the middle of the night and that the soles of their shoes were broken. The same thing happened on the second and third night.

The prince was mercilessly banished. Many more after him suffered the same fate.

At this, a soldier who returned from the war arrived at the gates of the king’s palace. It turns out that, while traveling through a forest, he had an encounter with an old woman who asked him where he was going.

“I don’t even know myself,” replied the soldier, jokingly adding, “I would like to discover the mystery of the twelve princesses and become king.”

“That’s not difficult,” said the old woman. The secret is not to take anything that the princesses offer you and pretend to sleep.

Then he gave him a cloak and said:

“When you wear this you will become invisible and you will be able to follow the princesses.”

The soldier received the same attention as everyone else. When he was ready to sleep a princess came to offer him a glass of wine. He tied a sponge to his chin and dropped the liquid onto it.

Without taking a single drop of wine, he pretended to be sleeping soundly. The princesses laughed when they heard him snore. Then, they began to put on their extraordinary dresses. The young women jumped for joy thinking about the dance they would attend, except for the youngest, who told them:

Without taking a single drop of wine, he pretended to be sleeping soundly. The princesses laughed when they heard him snore. Then, they began to put on their extraordinary dresses. The young women jumped for joy thinking about the dance they would attend, except for the youngest, who told them:

Before leaving, the princesses patted the soldier and he did not move. The older sister touched her bed. It immediately sank below the floor, and they all descended through the opening via a ladder, one after another, the largest leading the way. The soldier saw everything and, without hesitation, put on his cloak and followed the younger one. Halfway down the stairs he stepped on her dress. Startled, the youngest cried out:

-Who’s there? Who stepped on my dress?

The others ignored the shouts and followed the path until they reached a magnificent forest of trees whose silver leaves shone brilliantly. The soldier thought to himself, “I’d better take some proof,” and snapped off a twig.

The youngest heard the crack and shouted again:

-Something is not right. Did you hear that sound?

The older sister replied:

“It’s okay, that must be the happy greeting of our princes.”

Then they came to a second forest where the trees were gold, and finally to a third where they were clear diamonds. The soldier broke a twig from each of them. The creaking sounds frightened the younger, but the older insisted it was just cheery greetings.

The princesses continued on their way until they reached a large body of water. There were twelve ships in that place and on each ship there was a handsome prince waiting for them. Each prince invited a princess to board his ship. The soldier got on the boat of the youngest. Noticing the change in weight, the prince said:

“I don’t know why the boat is so much heavier today. I have to row with all my strength to reach our destination.

After a few minutes, they arrived at a castle illuminated with cheerful music from kettledrums and trumpets. Each princess danced with a prince. The invisible soldier also danced. The youngest princess was still feeling very uncomfortable, but no one was paying attention to her. At three in the morning they left when the shoes were shredded and they could not continue dancing.

The princes rowed back to the forest. This time, the soldier sat next to the older one in the first boat. The princesses said goodbye to their princes and promised to return the following night.

The soldier climbed the stairs before the princesses and went to his bed. As the twelve princesses entered the room, he snored again so loudly that they could all hear him.

“Of this we are certain!” they said to each other.

Then they took off their beautiful clothes and put them away, put their worn shoes under their beds and went to sleep.

The next morning the soldier said nothing; I wanted to return to participate in the magnificent parties. Everything happened like the first time, the princesses danced until they ruined their shoes. However, on the third night, the soldier took a drink as evidence.

When the time came for him to give an account to the king, the soldier brought the three twigs and the cup. The twelve princesses stood behind the door and listened to what he had to say.

The king asked:

“Where have my daughters damaged their shoes?”

To which the soldier replied:

— Dancing with twelve princes in an underground palace.

Then he told the whole story and presented the evidence. The king summoned his daughters and asked if the soldier had told the truth. Seeing that they had been discovered, they had to admit everything.

At that time, the king asked the soldier which of his daughters he wanted to marry. The soldier replied:

“I am not young, so I prefer to marry the older princess.

His wedding was held on the same day, the king named him heir to the throne. As for the princes, they were enchanted for as many days as they had danced with the princesses for nights.