Where was it? Where was it not? Once upon a time there was a poor man who had a very pious son who was a shepherd. One day he was grazing his sheep in a very mountainous area when, like someone whose heart was about to break because of a great wish, he uttered a deep sigh toward heaven. Hearing a quiet sound he looked around and saw Saint Peter as a gray old man walking toward him.
"Why are you sighing so, my son?" he asked, "and what is your wish?"
"My only wish," he answered respectfully, "is a bag that can never be filled and a pelt that would make me invisible when I wrap myself in it."
Peter granted these wishes, and then disappeared.
The boy left his shepherd's things lying there and made his way to the capital city. Here he hoped to find his luck, for a king lived here who had twelve daughters, eleven of whom wore out at least six pairs of shoes every night. This angered their father because it was costing him a good part of his income, and furthermore some people were thinking ill of his daughters. But in spite of all his cunning he could not discover how they were doing this. Finally the king promised his youngest daughter to the man who could bring the mystery to the light of day.
This promise lured a great many suitors to the capital city, but they were all ridiculed by the girls, and they had to withdraw in shame. The shepherd boy, trusting in his pelt, presented himself as well, and the girls, as usual, measured him with spiteful looks.
Night came, and the boy, wrapped in his pelt, lay down before their bedroom door, then quickly slipped inside when they went to bed. At midnight a spirit entered and awoke each girl. There was a flurry of activity: they got dressed, made themselves beautiful, then stuffed a travel bag full of shoes. However, the youngest one did not see what was happening. Therefore the invisible shepherd boy, without being noticed, awoke her as well, which frightened the other sisters. However, because it had already happened, they thought it would be best to tempt her to join them. After some hesitation the girl agreed to do so.
When everyone was ready the spirit placed a basin on the table. Each sister rubbed some of its contents onto her shoulders, and wings immediately grew from them. The shepherd boy did the same thing, and when they all flew out the window, he flew after them.
After flying a few hours they came to a great copper forest and to a well with a copper railing on which were twelve copper cups. Here they refreshed themselves and drank. The youngest one, who was taking this journey for the first time, looked about fearfully. The boy drank as well, and as they were setting forth again, he put into his bag a cup and some leaves that he pulled from a tree,. The tree rustled noisily, sounding through the entire forest. The littlest girl noticed this and warned her sisters that someone was following them, but thinking they were safe, they only laughed at her.
They flew onward, and before long they came to a silver forest and to a well with a silver railing. They drank here as before, and the boy again put a cup and a silver twig into his bag. At the sound of the twig being broken from the tree the smallest sister again warned her sisters, but to no avail.
Leaving this forest they arrived at a golden forest, and a well with a golden railing and golden cups. They also stopped here, and the boy put a golden cup and a golden twig into his bag. Hearing the cracking sound, the smallest sister alerted the others, but again they did nothing.
After leaving this forest they came to a huge mountain cliff, whose moss-covered summit reached steeply toward heaven. They stopped here, and the spirit struck the cliff with a golden wand, upon which it opened up, and they all went through the opening, the boy as well.
They entered a marvelous room which opened into a hall that was decorated with fairy-like splendor. Twelve handsome fairy-youths approached them. Ever more servants appeared and busied themselves making all necessary preparations for a magnificent ball. Magical music sounded forth. The doors opened onto a huge dance hall, and everything was happy and gay.
As morning approached they returned home just as they had come (and the shepherd boy was with them). They lay down on their beds as though nothing had happened, which their worn-out shoes disproved, then got up at the normal time.
The king was waiting impatiently for any news that the shepherd boy might bring, and in only a few minutes he told him everything that had happened. The girls were summoned, and they denied everything. However, the cups and the twigs testified against them, and the littlest sister spoke against them as well, which was why the shepherd boy had awakened her.
The king now fulfilled his promise, but the eleven girls were burned to death as sorceresses.
Source: G. Stier, "Der unsichtbare Schäferjunge," Ungarische Sagen und Märchen: Aus der Erdélyischen Sammlung übersetzt (Berlin: Ferd. Dümmler's Buchhandlung, 1850), no. 7, pp. 51-56.