Grimm's Fairy Tales - 12 Dancing Princesses
I've been re-reading my Grimm's Fairy Tales book that I must have read hundreds of times when I was a kid. Some of the stories are TRULY ghastly. The last lines are frequently things like "And then they pecked out her eyes and she bled to death. And they all lived happily ever after." For some reason, when I was a kid, these endings didn't phase me in the slightest.
In this story, the 12 princesses dance every night until their shoes are in holes. Their father says that any man who can figure out where they go to dance can marry one of the daughters and inherit the kingdom. Tons of men die really gruesome deaths after failing miserably, and then a soldier comes to try. He gets his hands on an invisibility cloak and follows the girls down a hidden staircase into the earth where they walk through three forests (silver, gold, and diamond) to a lake where 12 enchanted princes wait to row them to their underground castle. They dance the night away and after three days the soldier spills the beans on them and marries the eldest princess.
What I don't get is why he doesn't marry the youngest princess! The whole story, he sits with her, freaks her out by stepping on her skirt, and steals her food and wine. She keeps trying to tell the others that something is wrong and the eldest always tells her to shut it. Then he goes and picks the eldest. I feel like the moral of this story is that if you are smart and trust your instincts, it's your sister that lands the guy.
I hope the youngest sister starts her own business making invisibility cloaks and other high tech magical spy gear and supports the other 10 sisters, and they dance every night by themselves because they don't need a prince, anyways. Hmph.