Monday, October 17, 2016

Twelve Dancing Princesses

Perhaps this is a second-tier fairy tale, not so loved as Goldilocks and Cinderella but it was always my favourite. The Prince's invisible cloak wrapped itself around my imagination, and in this Little Golden Book version, which is the one that I read and reread until it was dog-earred, I was intrigued when the Prince inadvertently stepped on the youngest princesses’ cloak. I decided that the princess was a little stupid not to suspect magic was afoot. This version allows the prince to outwit the dancing princesses though subterfuge and a little bit of magic. 
While I have searched for 'Australian' fairy tales that proclaimed their heritage and argued for their authenticity because of the bush environment and amongst unique Australian creatures I wondered if if when retold in an Australian newspaper it may absorb some of the OZ culture. I also wonder in this age of binge TV watching and the immediacy of everything how a child waited up to a month for the next instalment.

The story is not complete. These are the pages that have been digitised.
Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser (Qld. : 1860 - 1947)

Friday 20 July 1928, page 2
THE DANCING PRINCESSES (COPIED). (From 'Red Rose,' Booie Road, Nanango)
Long, long ago there lived a king, who had twelve daughters. It was difficult to stay which was the prettiest for they were all lovely girls, and there were no others the kingdom who could be compared to them. The king was always in fear that his daughters would meet with lovers who might run away with them, so he made them sleep together in one large room with the beds standing in a row; and each night as soon as the girls were asleep he bolted the door very securely. One morning, however when his majesty opened the door he found that his daughters' shoes were danced to pieces. (To be continued)

Saturday 4 August 1928, page 4
THE DANCING PRINCESSES. (Continued) (From 'Red Rose,' M.C.C)
He was very much puzzled but said nothing; he meant to wait and see what happened. On several mornings he found still more shoes in the same state, and then he asked his daughters to explain the meaning of it. But the Princesses refused to give any explanation. It was quite plain that they had been dancing somewhere, but how they got out of the palace, or where they went, nobody could tell. The King sent for all his wisest advisers to see if they could solve the puzzle, but none of them could explain the strange thing, and so his majesty had to think of a plan for himself. For a long time he could not make up his mind what to do, but at last he hit upon an idea that might be useful. (To be continued)

Saturday 1 September 1928, page 5
THE DANCING PRINCESSES. (Continued.) (From 'Red Rose.')
He had given it out that whoever could discover where his daughters danced in the night should have his choice of the girls for a wife, and at the King's death should reign in his stead. It was a very tempting prize. But whoever made up his mind to try to win a princess for a bride needed to be very careful, for if he failed after three days and nights he would be put to death. The news of the King's offer was soon spread far and wide, and in a very short time a prince arrived and undertook the task. The King was now very anxious to find out all about the strange matter, and so received the prince well, and gave him a room next to that of the princesses. It was now arranged that their door should not be locked at night in the hope that the prince would see them come out and discover where they went to dance. The prince was a fine handsome fellow and he meant to win one of the princesses if there was the least chance. He decided to be very watchful and he was quite certain that the girls would not get the better of him. Night time came and long before midnight the palace was in darkness. The prince had settled down to watch. He did not mean to close his eyes; he intended to win the prize. And then he could sleep all the next day if pleased. But try as he could the prince could not keep awake. His eyes got heavier and heavier, and at last he fell fast asleep. (To be Continued.)

Saturday 15 September 1928, page 5
The Prince did not wake until morning, and then he found that the Prin ceases' shoes had holes in them just as usual. He was very angry with himself, but still he had two more chances and would take greater care next time. But the something happened on the next night. The Prince could not keep awake. The Princesses had been dancing again, as was shown by their worn shoes. He now had only one more chance and if he went to sleep, and failed to dis cover where the Princesses went, to dance, he would lose his head. Once more night came and the Prince be gan his lonely watch. He made up his mind that he would not sit down, for if he stood up all the time, he would not be as likely to fall asleep. But us the time passed he begun to feel so drowsy, and he thought that it would not matter if he sat down for just two or three minutes. But it mattered a very great deal, for he was fast asleep in a minute, and so, of course, did not know what went on in the next room. The Prince did not wake until it was broad daylight— and he knew that he had failed in his task. The King was very sorry for him, but he bad to keep his word, and so the poor Prince lost his head. By that time, however, there were many others who came to the palace to see if they could win a rich and beautiful wife.

Werner, J (1954); Grimm, J. & Grimm, W. The Twelve Dancing PrincessesSimon and Schuster: Little Golden Book

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