SEVEN AT ONE BLOW
A TAILOR sat in
his workroom one morning, stitching away busily at a coat for the Lord
Mayor. He whistled and sang so gaily that all the little boys who passed
the shop on their way to school thought what a fine thing it was to
be a tailor, and told one another that when they grew to be men they'd
be tailors, too.
I feel, to be sure!" cried the little man, at last; "but I'm
far too busy to trouble about eating. I must finish his lordship's coat
before I touch a morsel of food," and he broke once more into a
merry song."Fine new jam for sale," sang out an old woman,
as she walked along the street."Jam! I can't resist such a treat,"
said the tailor; and, running to the door, he shouted, "This way
for jam, dame; show me a pot of your very finest."
The woman handed
him jar after jar, but he found fault with all. At last he hit upon
some to his liking."And how many pounds will you take, sir ?"
" I'll take four ounces," he replied, in a solemn tone, "and
mind you give me good weight." The old woman was very angry, for
she had expected to sell several pounds, at least; and she went off
grumbling, after she had weighed out the four ounces."Now for a
feed!" cried the little man, taking a loaf from the cupboard as
he spoke. He cut off a huge slice, and spread the jam on quite half
an inch thick; then he suddenly remembered his work."It will never
do to get jam on the Lord Mayor's coat, so I'll finish it off before
I take even one bite," said he. So he picked up his work once more,
and his needle flew in and out like lightning.
I am afraid the
Lord Mayor had some stitches in his garment that were quite a quarter
of an inch long.The tailor glanced longingly at his slice of bread and
jam once or twice, but when he looked the third time it was quite covered
with flies, and a fine feast they were having off it.This was too much
for the little fellow. Up he jumped, crying:"So you think I provide
bread and jam for you, indeed! Well, we'll very soon see! Take that!"
and he struck the flies such a heavy blow with a duster that no fewer
than seven lay dead upon the table, while the others flew up to the
ceiling in great haste."Seven at one blow!" said the little
man with great pride. "Such a brave deed ought to be known all
over the town, and it won't be my fault if folks fail to hear of it."So
he cut out a wide belt, and stitched on it in big golden letters the
words "Seven at one blow."
When this was done
he fastened it round him, crying:"I'm cut out for something better
than a tailor, it's quite clear. I'm one of the world's great heroes,
and I'll be off at once to seek my fortune."He glanced round the
cottage, but there was nothing of value to take with him. The only thing
he possessed in the world was a small cheese."You may as well come,
too," said he, stowing away the cheese in his pocket, "and
now I'm off."When he got into the street the neighbors all crowded
round him to read the words on his belt."Seven at one blow!"
said they to one another. "What a blessing he's going; for it wouldn't
be safe to have a man about us who could kill seven of us at one stroke."You
see, they didn't know that the tailor had only killed flies; they took
it to mean men.
He jogged along
for some miles until he came to a hedge, where a little bird was caught
in the branches."Come along," said the tailor; "I'll
have you to keep my cheese company"; so he caught the bird and
put it carefully into his pocket with the cheese. Soon he reached a
lofty mountain, and he made up his mind to climb it and see what was
going on at the other side. When he reached the top, there stood a huge
giant, gazing down into the valley below."Good day," said
the tailor.The giant turned round, and seeing nobody but the little
tailor there, he cried with scorn:"And what might you be doing
here, might I ask ? You'd best be off at once.""Not so fast;
my friend," said the little man; "read this.""Seven
at one blow," read the giant, and he began to wish he'd been more
civil."Well , I'm sure nobody would think it to look at you,"
he replied; "but since you are so clever, do this," and he
picked up a stone and squeezed it until water ran out."Do that!
Why, it's mere child's play to me," and the man took out his cheese
and squeezed it until the whey ran from it."Now who is cleverer?"
asked the tailor. "You see, I can squeeze milk out, while you only
get water."The giant was too surprised to utter a word for a few
minutes; then, taking up another stone, he threw it so high into the
air that for a moment they couldn't see where it went; then down it
fell to the ground again.
said the tailor; "but I'll throw a stone that won't come back again
at all."Taking the little bird from his pocket, he threw it into
the air, and the bird, glad to get away, flew right off and never returned.This
sort of thing didn't suit the giant at all, for he wasn't used to being
beaten by any one."Here's something that you'll never manage,"
said he to the little man. "Just come and help me to carry this
fallen oak-tree for a few miles.""Delighted!" said the
tailor, "and I'll take the end with the branches, for it's sure
to be heavier.""Agreed," replied the giant, and he lifted
the heavy trunk on to his shoulder, while the tailor climbed up among
the branches at the other end, and sang with all his might, as though
carrying a tree was nothing to him.
The poor giant,
who was holding the tree-trunk and the little tailor as well, soon grew
tired."I'm going to let it fall!" he shouted, and the tailor
jumped down from the branches, and pretended he had been helping all
the time."The idea of a man your size finding a tree too heavy
to carry!" laughed the little tailor."You are a clever little
fellow, and no mistake," replied the giant, "and if you'll
only come and spend the night in our cave, we shall be delighted to
have you.""I shall have great pleasure in coming, my friend,"
answered the little tailor, and together they set off for the giant's
There were seven
more giants in the cave, and each one of them was eating a roasted pig
for his supper. They gave the little man some food, and then showed
him a bed in which he might pass the night. It was so big that, after
tossing about for half an hour in it, the tailor thought he would be
more comfortable if he slept in the corner, so he crept out without
being noticed.In the middle of the night the giant stole out of bed
and went up to the one where he thought the little man was fast asleep.
Taking a big bar
of iron, he struck such a heavy blow at it that he woke up all the other
giants"Keep quiet, friends," said he. "I've just killed
the little scamp."The tailor made his escape as soon as possible,
and he journeyed on for many miles, until he began to feel very tired,
so he lay down under a tree, and was soon fast asleep. When he awoke,
he found a big crowd of people standing round him. Up walked one very
wise-looking old man, who was really the King's prime minister."Is
it true that you have killed seven at one blow ?" he asked.
is a fact," answered the little tailor."Then come with me
to the King, my friend, for he's been searching for a brave man like
you for some time past. You are to be made captain of his army, and
the King will give you a fine house to live in.""That I will,"
replied the little man. "It is just the sort of thing that will
suit me, and I'll come at once."He hadn't been in the King's service
long before every. one grew jealous of him. The soldiers were afraid
that, if they offended him, he would make short work of them all, while
the members of the King's household didn't fancy the idea of making
such a fuss over a stranger.So the soldiers went in a body to the King
and asked that another captain should be put over them, for they were
afraid of this one.The King didn't like to refuse, for fear they should
all desert, and yet he didn't dare get rid of the captain, in case such
a strong and brave man should try to have his revenge.
At last the King
hit upon a plan. In some woods close by there lived two giants, who
were the terror of the country side; they robbed all the travelers,
and if any resistance was offered they killed the men on the spot.Sending
for the little tailor, he said: "Knowing you to be the bravest
man in my kingdom, I want to ask a favor of you. If you will kill these
two giants, and bring me back proof that they are dead, you shall marry
the Princess, my daughter, and have half my kingdom. You shall also
take one hundred men to help you, and you are to set off at once."A
hundred men, your Majesty! Pray, what do I want with a hundred men ?
If I can kill seven at one blow, I needn't be afraid of two. I'll kill
them fast enough, never fear."The tailor chose ten strong men,
and told them to await him on the border of the wood, while he went
on quite alone.
He could hear the
giants snoring for quite half an hour before he reached them, so he
knew in which direction to go.He found the pair fast asleep under a
tree, so he filled his pockets with stones and climbed up into the branches
over their heads. Then he began to pelt one of the giants with the missiles,
until after a few minutes one of the men awoke. Giving the other a rough
push, he cried:"If you strike me like that again, I'll know the
reason why.""I didn't touch you," said the other giant
crossly, and they were soon fast asleep once more.Then the tailor threw
stones at the other man, and soon he awoke as the first had done."What
did you throw that at me for ?" said he."You are dreaming,"
answered the other, "I didn't throw anything."No sooner were
they fast asleep again, than the little man began to pelt them afresh.Up
they both sprang, and seizing each other, they began to fight in real
earnest. Not content with using their fists, they tore up huge trees
by the roots, and beat each other until very soon the pair lay dead
on the ground.
Down climbed the
little tailor, and taking his sword in his hand he plunged it into each
giant, and then went back to the edge of the forest where the ten men
were waiting for him."They are as dead as two door nails,"
shouted the little man. "I don't say that I had an easy task, for
they tore up trees by their roots to try to protect themselves with,
but, of course, it was no good. What were two giants to a man who has
slain seven at one blow?"But the men wouldn't believe it until
they went into the forest and saw the two dead bodies, lying each in
a pool of blood, while the ground was covered with uprooted trees.
Back they went
to the King, but instead of handing over half his kingdom, as he had
promised, his Majesty told the little tailor that there was still another
brave deed for him to do before he got the Princess for his bride."Just
name it, then; I'm more than ready," was the man's reply."You
are to kill the famous unicorn that is running wild in the forest and
doing so much damage.When this is done you shall have your reward at
once.""No trouble at all, your Majesty. I'll get rid of him
in a twinkling."He made the ten men wait for him at the entrance
to the wood as they had done the first time, and taking a stout rope
and a saw he entered the forest alone.
Up came the unicorn,
but just as it was about to rush at the man he darted behind a big tree.The
unicorn dashed with such force against the tree that its horn was caught
quite fast and it was kept a prisoner.Taking his rope, he tied it tightly
round the animal, and, after sawing off the horn, back he went to the
palace, leading the unicorn by his side.But even then the King was not
satisfied, and he made the little tailor catch a wild boar that had
been seen wandering in the woods.He took a party of huntsmen with him,
but again he made them wait on the outskirts of the forest while he
went on by himself.
The wild boar made
a dash at the little tailor; but. the man was too quick for it. He slipped
into a little building close by, with the animal at his heels. Then,
catching sight of a small window, he forced his way out into the forest
again, and while the boar, who was too big and clumsy to follow, stood
gazing at the spot where he had disappeared, the tailor ran round and
closed the door, keeping the animal quite secure inside.
Then he called
the hunters, who shot the boar and carried the body back to the palace.This
time the King was obliged to keep his promise; so the little tailor
became a Prince, and a grand wedding they had, too.When they had been
married for about a couple of years, the Princess once overheard her
husband talking in his sleep."Boy, if you have put a patch on that
waistcoat, take the Lord Mayor's coat home at once, or I'll box your
ears," he said."Oh, dear," cried the Princess, "to
think that I've married a common tailor! Whatever can I do to get rid
of him?"So she told her father the story, and the King said she
need not worry, for he would find a way out of the difficulty.
She was to leave
the door open that night, and while the tailor was sleeping, the King's
servants should steal into the room, bind the tailor, and take him away
to be killed.
The Princess promised to see that everything was in readiness, and she
tripped about all day with a very light heart. She little knew that
one of the tailor's servants had over-heard their cruel plot, and carried
the news straight to his master.That night, when the Princess thought
her husband was sleeping fast, she crept to the door and opened it.
To her great terror, the
tailor began to speak. "Boy, take the Lord Mayor's coat home, or
I'll box your ears. Haven't I killed seven at one blow? Haven't I slain
two giants, a unicorn, and a wild boar ? What do I care for the men
who are standing outside my door at this moment ?"At these words
off flew the men as though they had been shot from a gun, and no more
attempts were ever made on his life. So the Princess had to make the
best of a bad job. He lived on and when the old King died he ascended
the throne in his stead. So the brave little tailor became ruler over
the whole kingdom; and his motto throughout his whole life was, "Seven
at one blow."
WILHELM AND JAKOB GRIMM
THE YOUNG FOLKS TREASURY
THE UNIVERSITY SOCIETY INC.