The Valiant Tailor
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A TAILOR was sitting on his table at the window one summer morning.
He was a good fellow, and stitched with all his might, A peasant woman came down the street, crying, СGood jam for sale! good jam for sale!Т
This had a pleasant sound in the Tailor's ears; he put his pale face out of the window, and cried, СYouСII find a sale for your wares up here, good Woman.Т
The Woman went up the three steps to the Tailor, with the heavy basket on her head, and he made her unpack all her pots.
He examined them all, lifted them up, smelt them, and at last said, СThe jam seems good; weigh me out four ounces, good Woman, and should it come over the quarter pound, it will be all the same to me.Т
The Woman, who had hoped for a better sale, gave him what he asked for, but went away cross, and grumbling to herself.
СThat jam will be a blessing to me,Т cried the Tailor; Сit will give me strength and power.Т
He brought his bread out of the cupboard, cut a whole slice, and spread the jam on it.
СIt won't be a bitter morsel,Т said he, Сbut I will finish this waistcoat before I stick my teeth into it.Т
He put the bread down by his side, and went on with his sewing, but in his joy the stitches got bigger and bigger.
The smell of the jam rose to the wall, where the flies were clustered in swarms, and tempted them to come down, and they settled on the jam in masses.
СAh! who invited you?Т
cried the Tailor, chasing away his unbidden guests.
But the flies, who did not understand his language, were not to be got rid of so easily, and came back in greater numbers than ever.
At last the Tailor came to the end of his patience, and seizing a bit of cloth, he cried, СWait a bit, and I СII give it you!Т
So saying, he struck out at them mercilessly.
When he looked, he found no fewer than seven dead and motionless.
СSo that's the kind of fellow you are,Т he said, admiring his own valour.
СThe whole town shall know of this.Т
In great haste he cut out a belt for himself, and stitched on it, in big letters, СSeven at one blow!Т
he then said, Сthe whole world shall know of it!Т
And his heart wagged for very joy like the tail of a lamb.
The Tailor fastened the belt round his waist, and wanted to start out into the world at once; he found his workshop too small for his valour.
Before starting, he searched the house to see if there was anything to take with him.
He only found an old cheese, but this he put into his pocket.
By the gate he saw a bird entangled in a thicket, and he put that into his pocket with the cheese.
Then he boldly took to the road, and as he was light and active, he felt no fatigue.
The road led up a mountain, and when he reached the highest point, he found a huge Giant sitting there comfortably looking round him.
The Tailor went pluckily up to him, and addressed him.
СGood-day, Comrade, you are sitting there surveying the wide world, I suppose.
I am just on my way to try my luck.
Do you feel inclined to go with me?Т
The Giant looked scornfully at the Tailor, and said, СYou jackanapes! you miserable ragamuffin!Т
СThat may be,Т said the Tailor, unbuttoning his coat and showing the Giant his belt.
СYou may just read what kind of fellow I am.Т
The Giant read, СSeven at one blow,Т and thought that it was people the Tailor had slain; so it gave him a certain amount of respect for the little fellow.
Still, he thought he would try him; so he picked up a stone and squeezed it till the water dropped out of it.
СDo that,Т he said, Сif you have the strength.Т
СNo more than that!Т
said the Tailor; Сwhy, it Сa a mere joke to me.Т
He put his hand into his pocket, and pulling out the bit of soft cheese, he squeezed it till the moisture ran out.
СI guess that will equal you,Т said he.
The Giant did not know what to say, and could not have believed it of the little man.
Then the Giant picked up a stone, and threw it up so high that one could scarcely follow it with the eye.
СNow, then, you sample of a mannikin, do that after me.Т
said the Tailor, Сbut the stone fell to the ground again.
Now I will throw one for you which will never come back again.Т
So saying, he put his hand into his pocket, took out the bird, and threw it into the air.
The bird, rejoiced at its freedom, soared into the air, and was never seen again.
СWhat do you think of that, Comrade?Т
asked the Tailor.
СYou can certainly throw; but now we will see if you are in a condition to carry anything,Т said the Giant.
He led the Tailor to a mighty oak which had been felled, and which lay upon the ground.
СIf you are strong enough, help me out of the wood with this tree,Т he said.
СWillingly,Т answered the little man.
СYou take the trunk on your shoulder, and I will take the branches; they must certainly be the heaviest.Т
The Giant accordingly took the trunk on his shoulder; but the Tailor seated himself on one of the branches, and the Giant, who could not look round, had to carry the whole tree, and the Tailor into the bargain.
The Tailor was very merry on the end of the tree, and whistled СThree Tailors rode merrily out of the town,Т as if tree-carrying were a joke to him.
When the Giant had carried the tree some distance, he could go no further, and exclaimed, СLook out, I am going to drop the tree.Т
The Tailor sprang to the ground with great agility, and seized the tree with both arms, as if he had been carrying it all the time.
He said to the Giant: СBig fellow as you are, you can't carry a tree.Т
After a time they went on together, and when they came to a cherry-tree, the Giant seized the top branches, where the cherries ripened first, bent them down, put them in the Tailor's hand, and told him to eat.
The Tailor, however, was much too weak to hold the tree, and when the Giant let go, the tree sprang back, carrying the Tailor with it into the air.
When he reached the ground again, without any injury, the Giant said, СWhat Сa this?
Haven't you the strength to hold a feeble sapling?Т
СItСs not strength thatСs wanting,Т answered the Tailor.
СDo you think that would be anything to one who killed seven at a blow?
I sprang over the tree because some sportsmen were shooting among the bushes.
Spring after me if you like.Т
The Giant made the attempt, but he could not clear the tree, and stuck among the branches.
So here, too, the Tailor had the advantage of him.
The Giant said, Сit you are such a gallant fellow, come with me to our cave, and stay the night with us.Т
The Tailor was quite willing, and went with him.
When they reached the cave, they found several other Giants sitting round a fire, and each one held a roasted sheep in his hand, which he was eating.
The Tailor looked about him, and thought, Сit is much more roomy here than in my workshop.Т
The Giant showed him a bed, and told him to lie down and have a good sleep.
The bed was much too big for the Tailor, so he did not lie down in it, but crept into a corner.
At midnight, when the Giant thought the Tailor would be in a heavy sleep, he got up, took a big oak club, and with one blow crashed right through the bed, and thought he had put an end to the grasshopper.
Early in the morning the Giants went out into the woods, forgetting all about the Tailor, when all at once he appeared before them, as lively as possible.
They were terrified, and thinking he would strike them all dead, they ran off as fast as ever they could.
The Tailor went on his way, always following his own pointed nose.
When he had walked for a long time, he came to the courtyard of a royal palace.
He was so tired that he lay down on the grass and went to sleep.
While he lay and slept, the people came and inspected him on all sides, and they read on his belt, СSeven at one blow.Т
they said, Сwhy does this great warrior come here in time of peace; he must be a mighty man.Т
They went to the King and told him about it; and they were of opinion that, should war break out, he would be a useful and powerful man, who should on no account be allowed to depart.
This advice pleased the King, and he sent one of his courtiers to the Tailor to offer him a military appointment when he woke up.
The messenger remained standing by the Tailor, till he opened his eyes and stretched himself, and then he made the offer.
СFor that very purpose have I come,Т said the Tailor.
СI am quite ready to enter the King's service.Т
So he was received with honour, and a special dwelling was assigned to him.
The Soldiers, however, bore him a grudge, and wished him a thousand miles away.
СWhat will be the end of it?Т
they said to each other.
СWhen we quarrel with him, and he strikes out, seven of us will fall at once.
One of us can't cope with him.Т
So they took a resolve, and went all together to the King, and asked for their discharge.
СWe are not made,Т said they, Сto hold our own with a man who strikes seven at one blow.Т
It grieved the King to lose all his faithful servants for the sake of one man; he wished he had never set eyes on the Tailor, and was quite ready to let him go.
He did not dare, however, to give him his dismissal, for he was afraid that he would kill him and all his people, and place himself on the throne.
He pondered over it for a long time, and at last he thought of a plan.
He sent for the Tailor, and said that as he was so great a warrior, he would make him an offer.
In a forest in his kingdom lived two giants, who, by robbery, murder, burning, and laying waste, did much harm.
No one dared approach them without being in danger of his life.
If he could subdue and kill these two Giants, he would give him his only daughter to be his wife, and half his kingdom as a dowry; also he would give him a hundred Horsemen to accompany and help him.
СThat would be something for a man like me,Т thought the Tailor.
СA beautiful Princess and half a kingdom are not offered to one every day.Т
СOh yes,Т was his answer, СI will soon subdue the Giants, and that without the hundred Horsemen.
He who slays seven at a blow need not fear two.Т
The Tailor set out at once, accompanied by the hundred Horsemen; but when he came to the edge of the forest, he said to his followers, СWait here, I will soon make an end of the Giants by myself.Т
Then he disappeared into the wood; he looked about to the right and to the left.
Before long he espied both the Giants lying under a tree fast asleep, and snoring.
Their snores were so tremendous that they made the branches of the tree dance up and down.
The Tailor, who was no fool, filled his pockets with stones, and climbed up the tree.
When he got half-way up, he slipped on to a branch just above the sleepers, and then hurled the stones, one after another, on to one of them.
It was some time before the Giant noticed anything; then he woke up, pushed his companion, and said, СWhat are you hitting me for?Т
СYou Сre dreaming,Т said the other.
СI didn't hit you.Т
They went to sleep again, and the Tailor threw a stone at the other one.
СWhat are you throwing at me?Т
СI Сm not throwing anything,Т answered the first one, with a growl.
They quarrelled over it for a time, but as they were sleepy, they made it up, and their eyes closed again.
The Tailor began his game again, picked out his biggest stone, and threw it at the first Giant as hard as he could.
СThis is too bad,Т said the Giant, flying up like a madman.
He pushed his companion against the tree with such violence that it shook.
The other paid him back in the same coin, and they worked themselves up into such a rage that they tore up trees by the roots, and hacked at each other till they both fell dead upon the ground.
Then the Tailor jumped down from his perch.
СIt was very lucky,Т he said, Сthat they did not tear up the tree I was sitting on, or I should have had to spring on to another like a squirrel, but we are nimble fellows.Т
He drew his sword, and gave each of the Giants two or three cuts in the chest.
Then he went out to the Horsemen, and said, СThe work is done.
I have given both of them the finishing stroke, but it was a difficult job.
In their distress they tore trees up by the root to defend themselves; but all that Сs no good when a man like me comes, who slays seven at a blow.Т
СAre you not wounded?Т
then asked the Horsemen.
СThere was no danger,Т answered the Tailor.
СNot a hair of my head was touched.Т
The Horsemen would not believe him, and rode into the forest to see.
There, right enough, lay the Giants in pools of blood, and, round about them, the uprooted trees.
The Tailor now demanded his promised reward from the King; but he, in the meantime, had repented of this promise, and was again trying to think of a plan to shake him off.
СBefore I give you my daughter and the half of my kingdom, you must perform one more doughty deed.
There is a Unicorn which runs about in the forests doing vast damage; you must capture it.Т
СI have even less fear of one Unicorn than of two Giants.
Seven at one stroke is my style.Т
He took a rope and an axe, and went into the wood, and told his followers to stay outside.
He did not have long to wait.
The Unicorn soon appeared, and dashed towards the Tailor, as if it meant to run him through with its horn on the spot.
СSoftly, softly,Т cried the Tailor.
СNot so fast.Т
He stood still, and waited till the animal got quite near, and then he very nimbly dodged behind a tree.
The Unicorn rushed at the tree, and ran its horn so hard into the trunk that it had not strength to pull it out again, and so it was caught.
СNow I have the prey,Т said the Tailor, coming from behind the tree.
He fastened the rope round the creature's neck, and, with his axe, released the horn from the tree.
When this was done he led the animal away, and took it to the King.
Still the King would not give him the promised reward, but made a third demand of him.
Before the marriage, the Tailor must catch a Boar which did much damage in the woods: the Huntsmen were to help him.
СWillingly,Т said the Tailor.
СThat will be mere child's play.Т
He did not take the Huntsmen into the wood with him, at which they were well pleased, for they had already more than once had such a reception from the Boar that they had no wish to encounter him again.
When the Boar saw the Tailor, it flew at him with foaming mouth, and, gnashing its teeth, tried to throw him to the ground; but the nimble hero darted into a little chapel which stood near.
He jumped out again immediately by the window.
The Boar rushed in after the Tailor; but he by this time was hopping about outside, and quickly shut the door upon the Boar.
So the raging animal was caught, for it was far too heavy and clumsy to jump out of the window.
The Tailor called the Huntsmen up to see the captive with their own eyes.
The hero then went to the King, who was now obliged to keep his word, whether he liked it or not; so he handed over his daughter and half his kingdom to him.
Had he known that it was no warrior but only a Tailor who stood before him he would have taken it even more to heart.
The marriage was held with much pomp, but little joy, and a King was made out of a Tailor.
After a time the young Queen heard her husband talking in his sleep, and saying, СApprentice, bring me the waistcoat, and patch the trousers, or I will break the yard measure over your head.Т
So in this manner she discovered the young gentleman's origin.
In the morning she complained to the King, and begged him to rid her of a husband who was nothing more than a Tailor.
The King comforted her, and said, СTo-night, leave your bedroom door open.
My servants shall stand outside, and when he is asleep they shall go in and bind him.
They shall then carry him away, and put him on board a ship which will take him far away.Т
The lady was satisfied with this; but the Tailor's armour-bearer, who was attached to his young lord, told him the whole plot.
СI will put a stop to their plan,Т said the Tailor.
At night he went to bed as usual with his wife.
When she thought he was asleep, she got up, opened the door, and went to bed again.
The Tailor, who had oily pretended to be asleep, began to cry out in a clear voice, СApprentice, bring me the waistcoat, and you patch the trousers, or I will break the yard measure over your head.
I have slain seven at a blow, killed two Giants, led captive a Unicorn, and caught a Boar; should I be afraid of those who are standing outside my chamber door?Т
When they heard the Tailor speaking like this, the servants were overcome by fear, and ran away as if wild animals were after them, and none of them would venture near him again.
So the Tailor remained a King till the day of his death.