There were once on a time a king and a queen who lived happily together and had twelve children, but they were all boys. Then said the King to his wife, "If the thirteenth child which thou art about to bring into the world, is a girl, the twelve boys shall die, in order that her possessions may be great, and that the kingdom may fall to her alone." He caused likewise twelve coffins to be made, which were already filled with shavings, and in each lay the little pillow for the dead, and he had them taken into a locked-up room, and then he gave the Queen the key of it, and bade her not to speak of this to any one.
The mother, however, now sat and lamented all day long, until the youngest son, who was always with her, and whom she had named Benjamin, from the Bible, said to her, "Dear mother, why art thou so sad?"
"Dearest child," she answered, "I may not tell thee." But he let her have no rest until she went and unlocked the room, and showed him the twelve coffins ready filled with shavings. Then she said, my dearest Benjamin, thy father has had these coffins made for thee and for thy eleven brothers, for if I bring a little girl into the world, you are all to be killed and buried in them." And as she wept while she was saying this, the son comforted her and said, "Weep not, dear mother, we will save ourselves, and go hence." But she said, "Go forth into the forest with thy eleven brothers, and let one sit constantly on the highest tree which can be found, and keep watch, looking towards the tower here in the castle. If I give birth to a little son, I will put up a white flag, and then you may venture to come back, but if I bear a daughter, I will hoist a red flag, and then fly hence as quickly as you are able, and may the good God protect you. And every night I will rise up and pray for you -- in winter that you may be able to warm yourself at a fire, and in summer that you may not faint away in the heat."
After she had blessed her sons therefore, they went forth into the forest. They each kept watch in turn, and sat on the highest oak and looked towards the tower. When eleven days had passed and the turn came to Benjamin, he saw that a flag was being raised. It was, however, not the white, but the blood-red flag which announced that they were all to die. When the brothers heard that, they were very angry and said, "Are we all to suffer death for the sake of a girl? We swear that we will avenge ourselves!-- wheresoever we find a girl, her red blood shall flow."
Thereupon they went deeper into the forest, and in the midst of it, where it was the darkest, they found a little bewitched hut, which was standing empty. Then said they, "Here we will dwell, and thou Benjamin, who art the youngest and weakest, thou shalt stay at home and keep house, we others will go out and get food." Then they went into the forest and shot hares, wild deer, birds and pigeons, and whatsoever there was to eat; this they took to Benjamin, who had to dress it for them in order that they might appease their hunger. They lived together ten years in the little hut, and the time did not appear long to them.
The little daughter which their mother the Queen had given birth to, was now grown up; she was good of heart, and fair of face, and had a golden star on her forehead. Once, when it was the great washing, she saw twelve men's shirts among the things, and asked her mother, "To whom do these twelve shirts belong, for they are far too small for father?" Then the Queen answered with a heavy heart, "Dear child, these belong to thy twelve brothers." Said the maiden, "Where are my twelve brothers, I have never yet heard of them?" She replied, "God knows where they are, they are wandering about the world." Then she took the maiden and opened the chamber for her, and showed her the twelve coffins with the shavings, and pillows for the head. "These coffins," said she, "were destined for thy brothers, but they went away secretly before thou wert born," and she related to her how everything had happened; then said the maiden, "Dear mother, weep not, I will go and seek my brothers."
So she took the twelve shirts and went forth, and straight into the great forest. She walked the whole day, and in the evening she came to the bewitched hut. Then she entered it and found a young boy, who asked, "From whence comest thou, and whither art thou bound?" and was astonished that she was so beautiful, and wore royal garments, and had a star on her forehead. And she answered, "I am a king's daughter, and am seeking my twelve brothers, and I will walk as far as the sky is blue until I find them." She likewise showed him the twelve shirts which belonged to them. Then Benjamin saw that she was his sister, and said, "I am Benjamin, thy youngest brother." And she began to weep for joy, and Benjamin wept also, and they kissed and embraced each other with the greatest love. But after this he said, "Dear sister, there is still one difficulty. We have agreed that every maiden whom we meet shall die, because we have been obliged to leave our kingdom on account of a girl." Then said she, "I will willingly die, if by so doing I can deliver my twelve brothers."
"No," answered he, "thou shalt not die, seat thyself beneath this tub until our eleven brothers come, and then I will soon come to an agreement with them."
She did so, and when it was night the others came from hunting, and their dinner was ready. And as they were sitting at table, and eating, they asked, "What news is there?" Said Benjamin, "Don't you know anything?" - "No," they answered. He continued, "You have been in the forest and I have stayed at home, and yet I know more than you do." - "Tell us then," they cried. He answered, "But promise me that the first maiden who meets us shall not be killed." - "Yes," they all cried, "she shall have mercy, only do tell us."
Then said he, "Our sister is here," and he lifted up the tub, and the King's daughter came forth in her royal garments with the golden star on her forehead, and she was beautiful, delicate and fair. Then they were all rejoiced, and fell on her neck, and kissed and loved her with all their hearts.
Now she stayed at home with Benjamin and helped him with the work. The eleven went into the forest and caught game, and deer, and birds, and wood-pigeons that they might have food, and the little sister and Benjamin took care to make it ready for them. She sought for the wood for cooking and herbs for vegetables, and put the pans on the fire so that the dinner was always ready when the eleven came. She likewise kept order in the little house, and put beautifully white clean coverings on the little beds, and the brothers were always contented and lived in great harmony with her.
Once on a time the two at home had prepared a beautiful entertainment, and when they were all together, they sat down and ate and drank and were full of gladness. There was, however, a little garden belonging to the bewitched house wherein stood twelve lily flowers, which are likewise called students. She wished to give her brothers pleasure, and plucked the twelve flowers, and thought she would present each brother with one while at dinner. But at the self-same moment that she plucked the flowers the twelve brothers were changed into twelve ravens, and flew away over the forest, and the house and garden vanished likewise. And now the poor maiden was alone in the wild forest, and when she looked around, an old woman was standing near her who said, "My child, what hast thou done? Why didst thou not leave the twelve white flowers growing? They were thy brothers, who are now for evermore changed into ravens." The maiden said, weeping, "Is there no way of delivering them?"
"No," said the woman, "there is but one in the whole world, and that is so hard that thou wilt not deliver them by it, for thou must be dumb for seven years, and mayst not speak or laugh, and if thou speakest one single word, and only an hour of the seven years is wanting, all is in vain, and thy brothers will be killed by the one word."
Then said the maiden in her heart, "I know with certainty that I shall set my brothers free," and went and sought a high tree and seated herself in it and span, and neither spoke nor laughed. Now it so happened that a king was hunting in the forest, who had a great greyhound which ran to the tree on which the maiden was sitting, and sprang about it, whining, and barking at her. Then the King came by and saw the beautiful King's daughter with the golden star on her brow, and was so charmed with her beauty that he called to ask her if she would be his wife. She made no answer, but nodded a little with her head. So he climbed up the tree himself, carried her down, placed her on his horse, and bore her home. Then the wedding was solemnized with great magnificence and rejoicing, but the bride neither spoke nor smiled. When they had lived happily together for a few years, the King's mother, who was a wicked woman, began to slander the young Queen, and said to the King, "This is a common beggar girl whom thou hast brought back with thee. Who knows what impious tricks she practises secretly! Even if she be dumb, and not able to speak, she still might laugh for once; but those who do not laugh have bad consciences." At first the King would not believe it, but the old woman urged this so long, and accused her of so many evil things, that at last the King let himself be persuaded and sentenced her to death.
And now a great fire was lighted in the courtyard in which she was to be burnt, and the King stood above at the window and looked on with tearful eyes, because he still loved her so much. And when she was bound fast to the stake, and the fire was licking at her clothes with its red tongue, the last instant of the seven years expired. Then a whirring sound was heard in the air, and twelve ravens came flying towards the place, and sank downwards, and when they touched the earth they were her twelve brothers, whom she had delivered. They tore the fire asunder, extinguished the flames, set their dear sister free, and kissed and embraced her. And now as she dared to open her mouth and speak, she told the King why she had been dumb, and had never laughed. The King rejoiced when he heard that she was innocent, and they all lived in great unity until their death. The wicked step-mother was taken before the judge, and put into a barrel filled with boiling oil and venomous snakes, and died an evil death.
从前有一个国王和一个王后，他们幸福地生活在一起，并且生了十二个孩子，可这十二个孩子全是男孩。 国王对王后说："你快要生第十三个孩子了。要是这个孩子是个女孩，我就下令杀掉那十二个男孩，好让她得到更多的财产，并且让她继承王位。"国王不只是说说而已，他甚至让人做了十二副棺材，在棺材里装满刨花，还在里面放上一个小寿枕。 他让人把棺材全部锁进一个密室，把秘室的钥匙交给王后，不许她告诉任何人。
在接受了母亲的祝福之后，十二位王子便来到了森林里。 他们一个个轮流放哨，坐在最高的橡树上，望着王宫里的高塔。 十一天过去了，轮到便雅明放哨。 他看到高塔上升起了一面旗子，可这旗子不是白色的，而是血红色的，这意味着他们只有死路一条。 当便雅明的哥哥们听到这个消息后都气坏了，说："难道要我们大家为一个女孩去死吗？我们发誓要为自己报仇，不管在什么地方，只要见到女孩，就一定让她流出鲜红的血液！"
于是，他们便向森林的深处走去，在森林中最黑暗的地方发现了一座被人使了魔法的小空屋。 他们说："我们就住在这里。便雅明，你是我们当中年纪最小、身子最弱的，所以你就呆在家里看家 ，我们其他人出去找吃的东西。 "随后，他们走进林子去射野兔、野鹿、各种各样的鸟和鸽子，并且寻找任何可以吃的东西，一起带回来给便雅明，让他做好了给大家填肚子。他们在这小屋子里一起生活了十年，并没有感到时间很长。
王后生下的小姑娘现在也长大了。 她心地善良，美丽可爱，额头上还有一颗金色的星星。 一天大扫除，她看到洗的衣服里有十二件男衬衣，便问她的妈妈："这些衬衣是谁穿的呀？它们太小了，肯定不是爸爸穿的。"王后心情沉重地回答："亲爱的孩子，这些是你十二个哥哥的衣服。"小姑娘说："我的十二个哥哥在哪里呀？我怎么从来没有听说过他们呀？"王后回答："他们四处流浪，只有上帝才知道他们在哪里。"说着，王后把小姑娘带到密室那里，打开门，让她看了里面装着刨花和寿枕的十二副棺材。 她说："这些棺材是为你的哥哥们准备的，但他们在你出世前偷偷逃跑了。"王后把事情的的经过原原本本地告诉了小姑娘，而小姑娘则说："不要伤心，亲爱的妈妈。我去把哥哥们找回来。"
于是，她带上那十二件衬衣，径直向森林走去。 她走了整整一天，傍晚时来到了这座被人使了魔法的小屋。 她走进小屋，看到里面有个少年。 看到她长得非常漂亮，而且身上穿着华丽的衣服，额头上还有一颗金色的星星，少年感到很惊讶，便问："你从哪里来？要到哪里去？"她回答："我是公主，在寻找我的十二个哥哥。哪怕是走到天涯海角，我也一定要找到他们。"她说着便拿出他们的十二件衬衣给他看，便雅明这才知道她是他的妹妹。 他说："我叫便雅明，是你最小的哥哥。"公主高兴得哭了起来，便雅明也流下了热泪。 他们亲热地又是亲吻又是拥抱。 过了一会儿，便雅明说："亲爱的妹妹，我们还有一件麻烦事。我们十二个人发过誓，要杀掉我们见到的任何一个姑娘，因为我们就是为了一个女孩而被迫逃离王国的。"她说："只要能救我的十二个哥哥，我愿意去死。"
于是，公主便躲到了桶下面。 晚上，另外十一位王子打猎回来时，便雅明已经把晚饭做好了。 他们在桌子旁坐下来，边吃边问："有什么新闻吗？"便雅明说："难道你们什么也不知道？""没有，"他们回答。 便雅明说："你们去了森林，我一个人呆在家里，可我知道的却比你们知道的还要多。""快告诉我们吧，"他们嚷道。 他说："不过你们得向我保证，决不杀死见到的第一个女孩。""好的，"他们一起说，"我们饶了她。快把新闻告诉我们吧。"
便雅明说："我们的妹妹来了！"然后，他提起木桶，公主从里面走出来了。 只见她穿着华丽的衣服，额头上有一颗金色的星星，显得非常美丽、温柔、文雅。 他们一个个喜出望外，搂着她的脖子，亲吻她，真心实意地爱她。
从此，她便和便雅明呆在家里，帮他做家务。 十一个哥哥去森林里打猎，抓来鹿、斑鸠和别的鸟，让小妹妹和便雅明仔细烧好了填肚子。 小姑娘出去捡柴火，采来花草当蔬菜，把锅子放在火塘上，总是在十一个哥哥回来之前把饭菜做好。 她还收拾小屋，给小床铺上了漂漂亮亮、干干净净的床单。 哥哥们对她非常满意，和她快乐地生活在一起。
有一天，留在家里的公主和便雅明做了一顿非常丰盛的饭菜，等着哥哥们回来后一起坐下来开心地又吃又喝。 这座被人使了魔法的屋子有个小花园，里面开着十二朵百合花。 公主想让哥哥们高兴一下，便摘下了那十二朵花，准备在吃晚饭时送给每位哥哥一朵。 但是，就在她摘下那些百合花的同时，十二个哥哥变成了十二只乌鸦，从森林上空飞了过去。 屋子和花园也立刻消失了，荒凉的森林里现在只剩下了公主一个人。 她朝四周看了看，见身边站着一位老太婆。 老太婆说："我的孩子，瞧你都干了些什么！你为什么不让那些花长在那儿呢？那些花就是你的哥哥呀。他们现在要永远变成乌鸦了。"
公主心中想："我知道，我一定能救活我的哥哥们。"于是，她就走到一棵大树旁，爬上去坐在上面纺纱，既不说话也不笑。 说来也巧，一位年轻的国王打猎来到了这座森林。 国王有条大狼犬，它跑到公主坐着的大树下，不停地围着大树跳上跳下，对着姑娘吠叫不止。 国王跟了过来，看到了额头上有金色星星的美丽公主，一下子就被她的美貌迷住了。 他大声问她愿不愿意做他的妻子。 她没有开口回答，但微微点了点头。 于是，国王便亲自爬到树上，把她抱下来放到马背上，带着她回到宫中。 庄严的婚礼壮观而又热闹，可新娘却既不说话也不欢笑。 他们一起幸福地生活了好几年。 国王的母亲是个邪恶的女人，开始说新王后的坏话了，她对国王说："你带回来的姑娘是个穷要饭的。谁知道她在搞什么鬼名堂呢！就算她是个哑巴，就算她不会说话，可她总能笑一笑吧？从来不笑的人一定心肠很坏！"国王起初不相信这些话，可他的母亲一直在他的面前念叨，而且总是说王后干了这样那样的坏事，到后来，国王终于被蒙住了，而且判了王后死刑。
王宫的院子里点燃了一大堆火，王后将被这堆火烧死。 国王站在楼上的窗口前，眼泪汪汪地看着，因为他仍然深深地爱着王后。 就在王后被紧紧地绑在火刑架上，红红的火舌开始吞噬她的衣裳时，七年的最后一刹那终于过去了。 空中传来了一阵呼啦呼啦的声音，十二只乌鸦飞到这里落了下来。 它们刚落地就变成了王后的十二个哥哥。 他们拆掉火堆，扑灭火焰，把他们的好妹妹放了下来，并且亲吻她、拥抱她。 王后现在终于能开口说话了，她把自己当哑巴、从来不笑的原因告诉了国王。 国王知道她清白无辜后，非常高兴，与她幸福地生活在一起，直到白发千古。 国王那邪恶的母亲受到了审判，被塞进一只装着沸油和毒蛇的大桶，死得很惨。