Workshop Scholarship Fund

The WriterAs a former student, I have struggled to find the necessary funds to further my education. Although there are options (loans, grants, scholarships) when it comes to formal education, online workshops are a different story. To meet this challenge, I’ve decided to run a GoFundMe campaign so that I can offer a potential option to students who could not financially be able to attend a workshop at The Storied Imaginarium otherwise. I plan to offer two full scholarships: one for Intersections: Science Fiction, Fairy Tales and Myth, and one for Monstrous Women. I will be posting scholarship application information on August 1, 2018. Thank you for you support. Stay tuned!


“I love working with Carina and the Storied Imaginarium. The courses are carefully crafted, a blend of creativity and academia that makes a perfect storm for writing thoughtful, smart speculative fiction. The class format supports constructive criticism that helps me analyze my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, while pushing me to expand my horizons and write outside my comfort zone. More than that, Carina has in-depth knowledge of the various markets for speculative short fiction which she uses to help us revise our work. I am positive that without the Storied Imaginarium, I would not have the publication credits I have today. I look forward to our next class together!” — Claire Eliza Bartlett, author of “The Velvet Castles of the Night,” Daily Science Fiction.

“Carina is a great teacher—insightful, resourceful and empathetic. It was Carina who encouraged me to get my stories out, even when they’d rather skulk in the corners of my brain, then revise and send my work out to publishers. She helped me think critically about my characters, plot, setting, and everything [else] that makes a story. I can’t wait to work with her more in the future.” – Daniela Tomova, author of “Behind Her, Trailing like Butterfly Wings,” Apex Magazine.

“Carina Bissett is one of the most energetic and enthusiastic workshop leaders I’ve ever seen. Her generous reading, sharp eye for detail, and prolific knowledge of both fairy tales and publishing make her an ideal teacher for novice and practiced writers alike. I heartily recommend any writing program with her at the helm.” – Julia K. Patt, author of “Whatever Tower, However High,” Escape Pod and My Dear, Like the Sky and Stars and Sun,” Clarkesworld.

“Carina’s classes are intensive and illuminating. I’m impressed with her extensive knowledge of myth and fairy tales, as well as her insightful and kind critique. Plus, there’s lots of writing involved.  Highly recommend!” – KT Wagner, author of “3-D Monarch” in Happily Ever After, “Slipped Stitch” in Dead of Winter, and “Grandma Heloise” at Daily Science Fiction.



Fall 2018 Workshops: Open Registration

Fall 2018 Workshops

Monstrous Women II: A Feminist Approach to Myth and Magic

La-Llorona_artThis intensive, online writing workshop explores the theme of Monstrous Women in literature and myth in a series of modules designed to prompt story generation over the course of 14 weeks. Monstrous Women II will be offered in Spring 2018 and will include the following modules: The Shifting Shapes of Animal Brides, The Seductive Allure of the Femme Fatale, Weeping Women and Tearful Prophecies, The Female Descent into Hysteria and Madness, and Mayhem in Numbers and the Sacred Three. Registration opens July 1, 2018.  Space is limited.

Intersections: Science Fiction, Fairy Tales and Myth

cinderella 1This intensive, online writing workshop explores the theme Intersections: Science Fiction, Fairy Tales and Myth in a series of modules designed to prompt story generation over the course of 14 weeks. Participants will explore fairy tales, folk tales, and world myths with links to science-based themes. Fairy tales and myths explored in Fall 2018 include Cinderella and Bio & Interactive Tattoos, The Singing Bone and Intersteller Linguistics, Bearskin and Biohybrid Robots, Maid Maleen and Doppelgangers, Golem Myths and Ancient Viruses & the Spark of Life, Snow White and Human Neuro-Reanimation, Pele Myths & The Wizard of Oz and Natural Catastrophes. Registration opens July 1, 2018.  Space is limited.

Submission Round-up

Themed Calls



It’s time Lackington’s celebrates all the “Magics” found in speculative fiction from around the globe. Send your tales of sorcerers, charmed items, mysterious transformations, and enchanted places in this world and others.
Word Count: 1,500-5,000 words
Deadline: Rolling
Payment: $50 AUD

An imprint of Broken Eye Books, eyedolon is open for original short stories of urban weird fiction (so stories about cities and dealing with the complexity that is other people) for the upcoming themed issue Nowhereville: Weird is Other People. These are modern weird tales (give or take a few decades) that could only be told of the weirdness of the urban experience and our interactions with one another. Limit of ONE submission per author. Note: The editors are actively seeking submissions from writers from underrepresented populations.
Word Count: 3,000-7,500 words
Deadline: July 1
Payment: Professional rates, .08 cents a word.

Oath and Iron
Published by Spring Song Press, this anthology is open for submissions that address the “Oath and Iron” theme in some way. “To us, oath and iron is a reference to fairies and the treacherous bargains they make. We’re interested in both classic and new interpretations of fairies. We’re interested in clever, dangerous, unpredictable creatures, bargains and promises that aren’t what they seem, and bright, brave characters rising to the challenge.” Note: The editors prefer noblebright stories for this anthology.
Word Count: 1,000-10,000 words
Deadline: July 1
Payment: .01 cent a word. Authors will receive the e-book and one print copy of the anthology.

Third Flatiron
This publication is open for the upcoming anthology “Terra! Tara! Terror!” Editors are looking for fantasy, science fiction, and horror stories: “Whether the setting is a cabin in the woods (Terra), Fae (Tara), or spaceship Nostromo (Terror), take us there and spin your adventure. For a bit of mood whiplash, we’d like a mixture of dark and bright stories. Examples: Obsession with odd artifacts (like Roadside Picnic’s golden sphere?), alternate histories, paranormal romance (no erotica, please, we’re PG-13).”
Word Count: 1,500-3,000 words
Deadline: July 15
Payment: Professional rates, .08 cents a word.

Body Parts Magazine
The editors at Body Parts Magazine seek well-written, thoughtfully structured horror, erotic horror, speculative fiction, dark fantasy (including fairy tales and mythology), exceptional stories about ghosts, ghouls, monsters and wretched creatures, Gothic fiction, and all combinations of the above for the upcoming issue based on the theme  A is for Aliens, Apocalypse and Armageddon. Note from the editors: “we’re looking for boundary-trampling, genre-splicing stories here. Skip the standard brain-eaters and ho-hum zombies. Give us something different, something much, much worse.”
Word Count: Up to 8,000 words
Deadline: August 1
Payment: $5 for flash fiction and $10 to $20 (depending on length) for short stories

Markets of Interest

The Gallery of Curiosities
This podcast is seeking speculative fiction stories that include some sort of anachropunkish retro-vintage element. “We want to be taken on an adventure in a time that never was, be it steampunk, gaslamp, weird tales, dreadpunk, vintage horror, mad science, fantastic cities (please!), monsters, impossible machines, clockworks, alt-history adventures, surprises, weird westerns, and things that shouldn’t work.”
Word Count: Up to 7,500 words
Deadline: June 30
Payment: .03 cents a word USD for original fiction and a penny a word for reprints, with a minimum of $10 USD for stories less than 1,000 words.

Cemetery Dance
Cemetery Dance is open for submissions by authors who have never sold a story to the magazine before. The editors are looking for well-written horror, dark mystery, and suspense short stories. In particular, they are looking for “tales that are powerful and emotional—creepy, chilling, disturbing, and moody. Suspense/mystery/crime tales with a horror element are always welcome. Both supernatural and psychological stories are fine.” Limit of ONE submission per author, so make it count.
Word Count: Up to 5,000 words
Deadline: July 5
Payment: Professional rates, minimum of .05 cents per word, plus two contributor copies. Maximum payment of $250.

Big Poetry Giveaway

Big-Poetry-Giveaway2018-768x427 (1)Welcome to the Big Poetry Giveaway! To participate in the giveaway and to find other blogs that are doing giveaways, check out this post.

To participate in my 2018 giveaway, just post a comment with your name and email address included. Please also let me know your first choice, if you win.

Book One: In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss

In the Forest of Forgetting

About the Book: The reprint of In the Forest of Forgetting by award-winning author Theodora Goss, first published in 2006 by Prime Books, with an introduction by Terri Windling and cover art by Virginia Lee. The table of contents has been slightly modified: “Phalaenopsis” has been replaced by “Her Mother’s Ghosts”, which first appeared in 2004 in The Rose and Twelve Petals and Other Stories, released by Small Beer Press.

Book Two: Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

poisoned apples

About the Book: Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies, and their friends. The poems range from contemporary retellings to first-person accounts set within the original tales, and from deadly funny to deadly serious. Complemented throughout with black-and-white photographs from up-and-coming artists, this is a stunning and sophisticated book to be treasured, shared, and paged through again and again.

The giveaway ends on April 30th at midnight, at which point I will use a random number generator to select the winners.

You can find others who are giving away poetry listed here.

Good luck! And Happy National Poetry Month!


February Submission Roundup

Themed Calls

Beneath the Waves – Tales from the Deep
Shine up your stories of the submerged for the upcoming Australian anthology Beneath the Waves – Tales from the Deep, which will be the fourth anthology in the Things in the Well series.  From the editor: “sea monsters and underwater encounters can be believable if written well, which Brian Lumley demonstrates well in his work, as does Ramsey Campbell in stories like ‘The Inhabitant of the Lake,’ and Lovecraft’s ‘Dagon’ also leaps to mind.”
Word Count: 5,000-8,000 words
Deadline: February 28, 2018
Payment: $50 AUD

Making Monsters Publishing and the Institute of Classical Studies are looking for retellings or reimaginings of classical monsters in fantasy, horror or science fiction short stories, for a mixed fiction and nonfiction volume titled Making Monsters to be published in mid-2018, edited by Emma Bridges and Djibril al-Ayad. Classical monsters may include those from Greco-Roman mythology, ancient Egypt, the Near East, or any other ancient world cultures far beyond the Mediterranean.
Word Count: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: February 28, 2018
Payment: £50 for short stories (between 2,000-5,000 words); £25 for flash stories (up to 1,999 words) or poetry

Baba Yaga Anthology
Anthologist Kate Wolford is looking for stories from Baba Yaga’s point of view, or the point of view from those she helps or hurts, or from anyone who might be a protagonist worthy of the Baba Yaga story. You can set the story in the past or present. The story can take place anywhere in the world. It can include romance or action or tragedy or comedy.
Word Count: 7,500-20,000 words
Deadline: March 1, 2018
Payment: $50 + contributor copy

Sword & Sonnet
Project editors Aidan Doyle, Rachael K. Jones and E. Catherine Tobler are seeking science fiction and fantasy stories featuring battle poets. Note: Stories must feature a woman or non-binary battle poet as a main character.
Word Count: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: March 1, 2018
Payment: $0.06 cents a word

Uncanny Magazine
This pro speculative fiction magazine is seeking submissions for the special issue Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction. From the editors: “We welcome submission from writers who identify themselves as disabled. Identity is what matters for this issue. What kinds of disabilities? All of them. Invisible and visible. Physical disabilities, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, mental health disabilities, and neurodiversity.”
Word Count: 750-6,000 words
Deadline: February 28, 2018
Payment: $0.08 cents a word

Markets of Interest

Gallery of Curiosities
Gallery of Curiosities is a speculative fiction podcast looking for stories with an anachropunkish retro-vintage element. “As an audio venue, we want short stories that entertain. We want to be taken on an adventure in a time that never was, be it steampunk, gaslamp, weird tales, dreadpunk, vintage horror, mad science, fantastic cities (please!), monsters, impossible machines, clockworks, alt-history adventures, surprises, weird westerns, and things that shouldn’t work. We will read Bizarro but it must have an internal logic to it.”
Word Count: Not listed
Deadline: February 28, 2018
Payment: $0.03 cents a word

Phantom Drift Limited
This print publication is looking for fabulist flash fiction and short stories. “We like stories that favor the unusual over the usual; we like stories that create a milieu where anything can happen. Stories can take the form of myth or fable. They can invent or suggest an unreal ambience or describe a realistic landscape gripped by a surreal or unexplained event.”
Entry Fee: $3
Word Count: up to 6,000 words
Deadline: March 31, 2018
Payment: $5 per page with a minimum of $10 for flash fiction, plus 1 contributor copy.


Apparation Lit Flash Fiction Contest
Each month Apparition Lit holds a flash fiction contest. For February, the editors are seeking speculative fiction stories that meet the theme Margaret Atwood’s Marrying the Hangman. Other themes for the year include March: Through the mirror darkly; April: Lazarus; May: The lilies on the table; June: Posthumous; July: Follow the light; August: Parasites; September: Emily Dickinson’s Because I could Not Stop for Death; October: You can see the bone; November: Security; December: The final problem . Stories are accepted during the first 15 days of each month with winners announced on the 20th.
Word Count: up to 1,000 words
Deadline: February 15, 2018
Entry Fee: None
Prize(s): The winning story wins $5.

Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest 2018
Hosted by the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University, this contest is seeking submissions in all genres of short fiction, including speculative, realistic, literary, experimental, and hybrid forms. Guidelines include Imagining Climate Futures, Scientific Accuracy and Understanding, and Climate Challenges, Human Responses. (NOTE: The contest will once again be judged by science fiction legend Kim Stanley Robinson, award-winning author of many foundational works in climate fiction, along with other climate fiction experts from ASU.)
Word Count: up to 5,000 words
Deadline: February 28, 2018
Entry Fee: None
Prize(s): The winning story will receive a $1,000 prize. Nine finalists will receive $50 each.

The Pied Piper and Parasites: A Sample Module

800px-Pied_Piper2 (1)(From Fall 2017–Intersections: Science Fiction, Fairy Tales and Myth–MODULE EIGHT: Pied Piper and Parasites)



The story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin is based on real events in the town of Hamelin, Lower Saxony, Germany when a large number of the town’s children disappeared in 1284. The earliest known record of this story is from the town of Hamelin itself depicted in a stained glass window created for the church of Hamelin, which dates to around 1300 AD. Although it was destroyed in 1660, several written accounts have survived. The oldest comes from the Lueneburg manuscript (c 1440 – 50), which stated: “In the year of 1284, on the day of Saints John and Paul on June 26, by a piper, clothed in many kinds of colours, 130 children born in Hamelin were seduced, and lost at the place of execution near the koppen.”

There are numerous theories explaining the possible turn of events that led to the mass disappearance of the town’s children. Theories exploring natural causes are linked to starvation or disease and the Pied Piper being the personification of Death. Other theories hint the exodus to the sale of the children to a recruiter from the Baltic region of Eastern Europe with the unnamed Piper as the leader or the recruitment of the town’s youth for the doomed “Children’s Crusade.” One of the interesting evolutions of this tale are the introduction of the rats, which are found in a version of the story in 1559, but are absent from earlier accounts:

“Among the various interpretations, reference to the colonization of East Europe starting from Low Germany is the most plausible one: The ‘Children of Hameln’ would have been in those days citizens willing to emigrate being recruited by landowners to settle in Moravia, East Prussia, Pomerania or in the Teutonic Land. It is assumed that in past times all people of a town were referred to as ‘children of the town’ or ‘town children’ as is frequently done today. The ‘Legend of the children’s Exodus’ was later connected to the ‘Legend of expelling the rats.’ This most certainly refers to the rat plagues being a great threat in the medieval milling town and the more or less successful professional rat catchers.”

“When, lo! as they reached the mountain-side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.”

Robert Browning, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin: A Child’s Story”


73be85a468473749fc3e2dafe4688e87In the year 1284 a mysterious man appeared in Hameln. He was wearing a coat of many colored, bright cloth, for which reason he was called the Pied Piper. He claimed to be a ratcatcher, and he promised that for a certain sum that he would rid the city of all mice and rats. The citizens struck a deal, promising him a certain price. The ratcatcher then took a small fife from his pocket and began to blow on it. Rats and mice immediately came from every house and gathered around him. When he thought that he had them all he led them to the River Weser where he pulled up his clothes and walked into the water. The animals all followed him, fell in, and drowned.

Now that the citizens had been freed of their plague, they regretted having promised so much money, and, using all kinds of excuses, they refused to pay him. Finally he went away, bitter and angry. He returned on June 26, Saint John’s and Saint Paul’s Day, early in the morning at seven o’clock (others say it was at noon), now dressed in a hunter’s costume, with a dreadful look on his face and wearing a strange red hat. He sounded his fife in the streets, but this time it wasn’t rats and mice that came to him, but rather children: a great number of boys and girls from their fourth year on. Among them was the mayor’s grown daughter. The swarm followed him, and he led them into a mountain, where he disappeared with them.

Rats_of_HamelinAll this was seen by a babysitter who, carrying a child in her arms, had followed them from a distance, but had then turned around and carried the news back to the town. The anxious parents ran in droves to the town gates seeking their children. The mothers cried out and sobbed pitifully. Within the hour messengers were sent everywhere by water and by land inquiring if the children—or any of them— had been seen, but it was all for naught.

In total, one hundred thirty were lost. Two, as some say, had lagged behind and came back. One of them was blind and the other mute. The blind one was not able to point out the place, but was able to tell how they had followed the piper. The mute one was able to point out the place, although he [or she] had heard nothing. One little boy in shirtsleeves had gone along with the others, but had turned back to fetch his jacket and thus escaped the tragedy, for when he returned, the others had already disappeared into a cave within a hill.

Source: “The Children of Hameln” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, translated by D.L. Ashliman

800px-Sachsenspiegel-OstsiedlungPIED PIPER OF HAMELIN STORY LINKS

The Pied Piper of Hamelin” by Robert Browning


  • Rat Catcher’s Yellows” by Charlie Jane Anders
  • Pay the Piper: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple


They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cook’s own ladles.
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women’s chats
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.”

Robert Browning, The Pied Piper of Hamelin


In biology, parasitism is a non-mutual relationship between species, where one species, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host. Traditionally parasite primarily meant an organism visible to the naked eye, or a macroparasite (such as a helminth). Microparasites are typically far smaller, such as protozoa, viruses, and bacteria. Examples of parasites include the plants mistletoe and cuscuta, and animals such as hookworms.

Unlike predators, parasites typically do not kill their host, are generally much smaller than their host, and often live in or on their host for an extended period. Both are special cases of consumer-resource interactions. Parasites show a high degree of specialization, and reproduce at a faster rate than their hosts. Classic examples include interactions between vertebrate hosts and tapeworms, flukes, the Plasmodium species, and fleas. Parasitoidy is an evolutionary strategy within parasitism in which the parasite eventually kills its host.

Parasites reduce host biological fitness by general or specialized pathology, from parasitic castration and impairment of secondary sex characteristics, to the modification of host behavior. Parasites increase their own fitness by exploiting hosts for resources necessary for their survival, in particular transmission. Although parasitism often applies unambiguously, it is part of a continuum of types of interactions between species, grading via parasitoidy into predation, through evolution into mutualism, and in some fungi, shading into being saprophytic.

In human culture, parasitism has negative connotations. These were exploited to satirical effect in Jonathan Swift’s 1733 poem “On Poetry: A Rhapsody,” comparing poets to hyperparasitical “vermin.” In fiction, Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula and its many later adaptations featured a blood-drinking parasite. Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien was one of many works of science fiction to feature a terrifying parasitic alien species.



If you are feeling stuck, pick one or more of the options below and freewrite for ten minutes. Set a timer and make sure you write until the alarm sounds.  Another option is to free associate the story and/or theme to create a word list, which can then be mined for inspiration.

Words: channel, transmit, drowned, elegy
Quote: “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” –English proverb
Genre mash-up: immortality/cyberpunk
Trope: Dances and Balls
Movie mash-up: World War Z
Myth Tale mash-up: “Orpheus and Eurydice
Pinterest: Pied Piper and Parasites
Symbolism: RATS: A plague animal, death, decay, the underworld. PIPE: Harmony; the pipes of Pan represent universal harmony in nature.



  • Until the middle of the eighteenth century, and probably still today, the street through which the children were led out to the town gate was called the bunge-lose (drumless, soundless, quiet) street, because no dancing or music was allowed there. Indeed, when a bridal procession on its way to church crossed this street, the musicians would have to stop playing. The mountain near Hameln where the children disappeared is called Poppenberg. Two stone monuments in the form of crosses have been erected there, one on the left side and one on the right. Some say that the children were led into a cave, and that they came out again in Transylvania.
  • In the year 1572 the Hameln mayor had the story portrayed in the church windows. The accompanying inscription has become largely illegible. In addition, a coin was minted in memory of the event.
  • Von Goethe incorporated references to the Pied Piper story in his version of Faust. (The first part of the drama was first published in 1808 and the second in 1832.)
  • In the year 1257 a miraculous event occurred in the city of Erfurt. More than 1000 children assembled there, and then all together they left the city, dancing and singing. They went through the Löber Gate and along Steiger Way. They finally arrived at Arnstadt, where the citizens there took them in. The people of Erfurt did not know where their children were until the people of Arnstadt notified them. Then the people of Erfurt brought their children back in carriages. No one ever discovered who had led them away. – from “The Dancing Children of Erfurt” as recorded by literary historian G. Th. Grässe.
  • The Dancing Plague (or Dance Epidemic) of 1518 was a case of dancing mania that occurred in Strasbourg, Alsace (then part of the Holy Roman Empire) in July 1518. More than 400 people were afflicted. Modern theories include food-poisoning caused by the toxic and psychoactive chemical products of ergot fungi (which was known as St. Anthony’s fire in the Middle Ages) and/or “stress-induced psychosis” by people plagued with superstition in times of extreme hardship. (“What Was the Dancing Plague of 1518?” by Evan Andrews at Ask History)
  • A papal bull (Vox in Rama) issued by Pope Gregory IX in the early 1230s, condemned a German heresy known as Luciferian, a form of devil worship. The church condemned the black cat as an incarnation of Satan and demanded the extermination of cats in general. Some claim this mass execution of cats was linked to the Black Death and other diseases as the rat population was left unchecked due to the decline in the numbers of cats.
  • As metaphor: The Merriam-Webster definitions of pied piper is 1) a charismatic person who attracts followers, 2) one that offers strong but delusive enticement, and 3) a leader who makes irresponsible promises.
  • “In the late 15th C., one particular outbreak in the town of Taranto in Southern Italy gave rise to an actual dance form. Here, it was believed that the manic dancing was caused by the bite of a local spider. Again, music was employed to try to cure the dancers, and a dance that mimicked their actions was developed – possibly out of empathy for those afflicted, or out of subtle protest against the local government, or possibly through the influence of a local cult of Dionysus that may have existed there. The name of the local dancing mania became known as tarantism, after the town of Taranto, and the indigenous spider called the tarantula. Like other tarantulas, the Apulian tarantual is not truly poisonous, although it can give a painful bite, and could not have been responsible for the mania. But the dance developed after the outbreak of dancing mania lived on as the tarantella.” –From “Dancing Manis,” excerpted from volume 3 of the “Letter of Dance”


abbott12dancingThe Twelve Dancing Princesses” From Grimms’ Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm

There was a king who had twelve beautiful daughters. They slept in twelve beds all in one room; and when they went to bed, the doors were shut and locked up; but every morning their shoes were found to be quite worn through as if they had been danced in all night; and yet nobody could find out how it happened, or where they had been.

Then the king made it known to all the land, that if any person could discover the secret, and find out where it was that the princesses danced in the night, he should have the one he liked best for his wife, and should be king after his death; but whoever tried and did not succeed, after three days and nights, should be put to death.

A king’s son soon came. He was well entertained, and in the evening was taken to the chamber next to the one where the princesses lay in their twelve beds. There he was to sit and watch where they went to dance; and, in order that nothing might pass without his hearing it, the door of his chamber was left open. But the king’s son soon fell asleep; and when he awoke in the morning he found that the princesses had all been dancing, for the soles of their shoes were full of holes. The same thing happened the second and third night: so the king ordered his head to be cut off. After him came several others; but they had all the same luck, and all lost their lives in the same manner.

Now it chanced that an old soldier, who had been wounded in battle and could fight no longer, passed through the country where this king reigned: and as he was travelling through a wood, he met an old woman, who asked him where he was going. ‘I hardly know where I am going, or what I had better do,’ said the soldier; ‘but I think I should like very well to find out where it is that the princesses dance, and then in time I might be a king.’ ‘Well,’ said the old dame, ‘that is no very hard task: only take care not to drink any of the wine which one of the princesses will bring to you in the evening; and as soon as she leaves you pretend to be fast asleep.’

Then she gave him a cloak, and said, ‘As soon as you put that on you will become invisible, and you will then be able to follow the princesses wherever they go.’ When the soldier heard all this good counsel, he determined to try his luck: so he went to the king, and said he was willing to undertake the task.

He was as well received as the others had been, and the king ordered fine royal robes to be given him; and when the evening came he was led to the outer chamber. Just as he was going to lie down, the eldest of the princesses brought him a cup of wine; but the soldier threw it all away secretly, taking care not to drink a drop. Then he laid himself down on his bed, and in a little while began to snore very loud as if he was fast asleep. When the twelve princesses heard this they laughed heartily; and the eldest said, ‘This fellow too might have done a wiser thing than lose his life in this way!’ Then they rose up and opened their drawers and boxes, and took out all their fine clothes, and dressed themselves at the glass, and skipped about as if they were eager to begin dancing. But the youngest said, ‘I don’t know how it is, while you are so happy I feel very uneasy; I am sure some mischance will befall us.’ ‘You simpleton,’ said the eldest, ‘you are always afraid; have you forgotten how many kings’ sons have already watched in vain?        And as for this soldier, even if I had not given him his sleeping draught, he would have slept soundly enough.’

When they were all ready, they went and looked at the soldier; but he snored on, and did not stir hand or foot: so they thought they were quite safe; and the eldest went up to her own bed and clapped her hands, and the bed sank into the floor and a trap-door flew open. The soldier saw them going down through the trap-door one after another, the eldest leading the way; and thinking he had no time to lose, he jumped up, put on the cloak which the old woman had given him, and followed them; but in the middle of the stairs he trod on the gown of the youngest princess, and she cried out to her sisters, ‘All is not right; someone took hold of my gown.’ ‘You silly creature!’ said the eldest, ‘it is nothing but a nail in the wall.’ Then down they all went, and at the bottom they found themselves in a most delightful grove of trees; and the leaves were all of silver, and glittered and sparkled beautifully. The soldier wished to take away some token of the place; so he broke off a little branch, and there came a loud noise from the tree. Then the youngest daughter said again, ‘I am sure all is not right—did not you hear that noise? That never happened before.’ But the eldest said, ‘It is only our princes, who are shouting for joy at our approach.’

Then they came to another grove of trees, where all the leaves were of gold; and afterwards to a third, where the leaves were all glittering diamonds. And the soldier broke a branch from each; and every time there was a loud noise, which made the youngest sister tremble with fear; but the eldest still said, it was only the princes, who were crying for joy. So they went on till they came to a great lake; and at the side of the lake there lay twelve little boats with twelve handsome princes in them, who seemed to be waiting there for the princesses.

One of the princesses went into each boat, and the soldier stepped into the same boat with the youngest. As they were rowing over the lake, the prince who was in the boat with the youngest princess and the soldier said, ‘I do not know why it is, but though I am rowing with all my might we do not get on so fast as usual, and I am quite tired: the boat seems very heavy today.’ ‘It is only the heat of the weather,’ said the princess: ‘I feel it very warm too.’

On the other side of the lake stood a fine illuminated castle, from which came the merry music of horns and trumpets. There they all landed, and went into the castle, and each prince danced with his princess; and the soldier, who was all the time invisible, danced with them too; and when any of the princesses had a cup of wine set by her, he drank it all up, so that when she put the cup to her mouth it was empty. At this, too, the youngest sister was terribly frightened, but the eldest always silenced her. They danced on till three o’clock in the morning, and then all their shoes were worn out, so that they were obliged to leave off. The princes rowed them back again over the lake (but this time the soldier placed himself in the boat with the eldest princess); and on the opposite shore they took leave of each other, the princesses promising to come again the next night.

When they came to the stairs, the soldier ran on before the princesses, and laid himself down; and as the twelve sisters slowly came up very much tired, they heard him snoring in his bed; so they said, ‘Now all is quite safe’; then they undressed themselves, put away their fine clothes, pulled off their shoes, and went to bed. In the morning the soldier said nothing about what had happened, but determined to see more of this strange adventure, and went again the second and third night; and everything happened just as before; the princesses danced each time till their shoes were worn to pieces, and then returned home. However, on the third night the soldier carried away one of the golden cups as a token of where he had been.

As soon as the time came when he was to declare the secret, he was taken before the king with the three branches and the golden cup; and the twelve princesses stood listening behind the door to hear what he would say. And when the king asked him: ‘Where do my twelve daughters dance at night?’ he answered, ‘With twelve princes in a castle underground.’ And then he told the king all that had happened, and showed him the three branches and the golden cup which he had brought with him. Then the king called for the princesses, and asked them whether what the soldier said was true: and when they saw that they were discovered, and that it was of no use to deny what had happened, they confessed it all. And the king asked the soldier which of them he would choose for his wife; and he answered, ‘I am not very young, so I will have the eldest.’—And they were married that very day, and the soldier was chosen to be the king’s heir.

Additional Reading for “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”

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