The Grimm Brothers
One summer's morning a little tailor was sitting on his table by
the window, he was in good spirits, and sewed with all his might. Then came
a peasant woman down the street crying, "Good jams, cheap. Good jams,
This rang pleasantly in the tailor's ears, he stretched his delicate head
out of the window, and called, "Come up here, dear woman, here you will get
rid of your goods."
The woman came up the three steps to the tailor with her heavy basket,
and he made her unpack all the pots for him. He inspected each one, lifted
it up, put his nose to it, and at length said, "The jam seems to me to be
good, so weigh me out four ounces, dear woman, and if it is a quarter of a
pound that is of no consequence."
The woman who had hoped to find a good sale, gave him what he desired,
but went away quite angry and grumbling.
"Now, this jam shall be blessed by God," cried the little tailor, "and
give me health and strength." So he brought the bread out of the cupboard,
cut himself a piece right across the loaf and spread the jam over it. "This
won't taste bitter," said he, "but I will just finish the jacket before I
take a bite."
He laid the bread near him, sewed on, and in his joy, made bigger and
bigger stitches. In the meantime the smell of the sweet jam rose to where
the flies were sitting in great numbers, and they were attracted and
descended on it in hosts.
"Ha! Who invited you?" said the little tailor, and drove the unbidden
guests away. The flies, however, who understood no German, would not be
turned away, but came back again in ever-increasing companies. The little
tailor at last lost all patience, and drew a piece of cloth from the hole
under his work-table, and saying, "Wait, and I will give it to you," struck
it mercilessly on them. When he drew it away and counted, there lay before
him no fewer than seven, dead and with legs stretched out.
"Are you a fellow of that sort?" said he, and could not help admiring his
own bravery. "The whole town shall know of this." And the little tailor
hastened to cut himself a girdle, stitched it, and embroidered on it in
"Seven at one stroke!"
"What, the town!" he continued, "the whole world shall hear of it." And
his heart wagged with joy like a lamb's tail. The tailor put on the girdle,
and resolved to go forth into the world, because he thought his workshop was
too small for his valor. Before he went away, he sought about in the house
to see if there was anything which he could take with him, however, he found
nothing but an old cheese, and that he put in his pocket. In front of the
door he observed a bird which had caught itself in the thicket. It had to go
into his pocket with the cheese.
Now he took to the road boldly, and as he was light and nimble, he felt
no fatigue. The road led him up a mountain, and when he had reached the
highest point of it, there sat a powerful giant looking peacefully about
The little tailor went bravely up, spoke to him, and said, "Good day,
comrade, so you are sitting there overlooking the wide-spread world. I am
just on my way thither, and want to try my luck. Have you any inclination to
go with me?"
The giant looked contemptuously at the tailor, and said, "You ragamuffin!
You miserable creature!"
"Oh, indeed," answered the little tailor, and unbuttoned his coat, and
showed the giant the girdle, "there may you read what kind of a man I am."
The giant read, "Seven at one stroke," thought that they had been men
whom the tailor had killed, and began to feel a little respect for the tiny
fellow. Nevertheless, he wished to try him first, and took a stone in his
hand and squeezed it together so that water dropped out of it.
"Do that likewise," said the giant, "if you have strength."
"Is that all?" said the tailor, "that is child's play with us," and put
his hand into his pocket, brought out the soft cheese, and pressed it until
the liquid ran out of it. "Faith," said he, "that was a little better,
The giant did not know what to say, and could not believe it of the
little man. Then the giant picked up a stone and threw it so high that the
eye could scarcely follow it.
"Now, little mite of a man, do that likewise."
"Well thrown," said the tailor, "but after all the stone came down to
earth again, I will throw you one which shall never come back at all." And
he put his hand into his pocket, took out the bird, and threw it into the
air. The bird, delighted with its liberty, rose, flew away and did not come
back. "How does that shot please you, comrade?" asked the tailor.
"You can certainly throw," said the giant, "but now we will see if you
are able to carry anything properly." He took the little tailor to a mighty
oak tree which lay there felled on the ground, and said, "if you are strong
enough, help me to carry the tree out of the forest."
"Readily," answered the little man, "take the trunk on your shoulders,
and I will raise up the branches and twigs, after all, they are the
The giant took the trunk on his shoulder, but the tailor seated himself
on a branch, and the giant who could not look round, had to carry away the
whole tree, and the little tailor into the bargain, he behind, was quite
merry and happy, and whistled the song, "Three tailors rode forth from the
gate," as if carrying the tree were child's play. The giant, after he had
dragged the heavy burden part of the way, could go no further, and cried,
"Hark you, I shall have to let the tree fall." The tailor sprang nimbly
down, seized the tree with both arms as if he had been carrying it, and said
to the giant, "You are such a great fellow, and yet can not even carry the
They went on together, and as they passed a cherry-tree, the giant laid
hold of the top of the tree where the ripest fruit was hanging, bent it
down, gave it into the tailor's hand, and bade him eat. But the little
tailor was much too weak to hold the tree, and when the giant let it go, it
sprang back again, and the tailor was tossed into the air with it. When he
had fallen down again without injury, the giant said, "What is this? Have
you not strength enough to hold the weak twig?"
"There is no lack of strength," answered the little tailor. "Do you think
that could be anything to a man who has struck down seven at one blow? I
leapt over the tree because the huntsmen are shooting down there in the
thicket. Jump as I did, if you can do it."
The giant made the attempt, but could not get over the tree, and remained
hanging in the branches, so that in this also the tailor kept the upper
The giant said, "If you are such a valiant fellow, come with me into our
cavern and spend the night with us."
The little tailor was willing, and followed him. When they went into the
cave, other giants were sitting there by the fire, and each of them had a
roasted sheep in his hand and was eating it. The little tailor looked round
and thought, "It is much more spacious here than in my workshop."
The giant showed him a bed, and said he was to lie down in it and sleep.
The bed, however, was too big for the little tailor, he did not lie down in
it, but crept into a corner. When it was midnight, and the giant thought
that the little tailor was lying in a sound sleep, he got up, took a great
iron bar, cut through the bed with one blow, and thought he had finished off
the grasshopper for good. With the earliest dawn the giants went into the
forest, and had quite forgotten the little tailor, when all at once he
walked up to them quite merrily and boldly. The giants were terrified, they
were afraid that he would strike them all dead, and ran away in a great
The little tailor went onwards, always following his own pointed nose.
After he had walked for a long time, he came to the courtyard of a royal
palace, and as he felt weary, he lay down on the grass and fell asleep.
Whilst he lay there, the people came and inspected him on all sides, and
read on his girdle, "Seven at one stroke."
"Ah," said they, "what does the great warrior here in the midst of peace?
He must be a mighty lord."
They went and announced him to the king, and gave it as their opinion
that if war should break out, this would be a weighty and useful man who
ought on no account to be allowed to depart. The counsel pleased the king,
and he sent one of his courtiers to the little tailor to offer him military
service when he awoke. The ambassador remained standing by the sleeper,
waited until he stretched his limbs and opened his eyes, and then conveyed
to him this proposal.
"For this reason have I come here," the tailor replied, "I am ready to
enter the king's service." He was therefore honorably received and a special
dwelling was assigned him.
The soldiers, however, were set against the little tailor, and wished him
a thousand miles away. "What is to be the end of this?" they said among
themselves. "If we quarrel with him, and he strikes about him, seven of us
will fall at every blow, not one of us can stand against him." They came
therefore to a decision, betook themselves in a body to the king, and begged
for their dismissal. "We are not prepared," said they, "to stay with a man
who kills seven at one stroke."
The king was sorry that for the sake of one he should lose all his
faithful servants, wished that he had never set eyes on the tailor, and
would willingly have been rid of him again. But he did not venture to give
him his dismissal, for he dreaded lest he should strike him and all his
people dead, and place himself on the royal throne. He thought about it for
a long time, and at last found good counsel. He sent to the little tailor
and caused him to be informed that as he was such a great warrior, he had
one request to make of him. In a forest of his country lived two giants who
caused great mischief with their robbing, murdering, ravaging, and burning,
and no one could approach them without putting himself in danger of death.
If the tailor conquered and killed these two giants, he would give him his
only daughter to wife, and half of his kingdom as a dowry, likewise one
hundred horsemen should go with him to assist him.
"That would indeed be a fine thing for a man like me," thought the little
tailor. "One is not offered a beautiful princess and half a kingdom every
day of one's life."
"Oh, yes," he replied, "I will soon subdue the giants, and do not require
the help of the hundred horsemen to do it; he who can hit seven with one
blow has no need to be afraid of two."
The little tailor went forth, and the hundred horsemen followed him. When
he came to the outskirts of the forest, he said to his followers, "Just stay
waiting here, I alone will soon finish off the giants."
Then he bounded into the forest and looked about right and left. After a
while he perceived both giants. They lay sleeping under a tree, and snored
so that the branches waved up and down. The little tailor, not idle,
gathered two pocketsful of stones, and with these climbed up the tree. When
he was half-way up, he slipped down by a branch, until he sat just above the
sleepers, and then let one stone after another fall on the breast of one of
For a long time the giant felt nothing, but at last he awoke, pushed his
comrade, and said, "Why are you knocking me?"
"You must be dreaming," said the other, "I am not knocking you."
They laid themselves down to sleep again, and then the tailor threw a
stone down on the second.
"What is the meaning of this?" cried the other. "Why are you pelting me?"
"I am not pelting you," answered the first, growling.
They disputed about it for a time, but as they were weary they let the
matter rest, and their eyes closed once more. The little tailor began his
game again, picked out the biggest stone, and threw it with all his might on
the breast of the first giant.
"That is too bad!" cried he, and sprang up like a madman, and pushed his
companion against the tree until it shook. The other paid him back in the
same coin, and they got into such a rage that they tore up trees and
belabored each other so long, that at last they both fell down dead on the
ground at the same time. Then the little tailor leapt down.
"It is a lucky thing," said he, "that they did not tear up the tree on
which I was sitting, or I should have had to spring on to another like a
squirrel, but we tailors are nimble." He drew out his sword and gave each of
them a couple of thrusts in the breast, and then went out to the horsemen
and said, "The work is done, I have finished both of them off, but it was
hard work. They tore up trees in their sore need, and defended themselves
with them, but all that is to no purpose when a man like myself comes, who
can kill seven at one blow."
"But you are not wounded?" asked the horsemen.
"You need not concern yourself about that," answered the tailor, "they
have not bent one hair of mine."
The horsemen would not believe him, and rode into the forest, there they
found the giants swimming in their blood, and all round about lay the
torn-up trees. The little tailor demanded of the king the promised reward.
He, however, repented of his promise, and again bethought himself how he
could get rid of the hero.
"Before you receive my daughter, and the half of my kingdom," said he to
him, "you must perform one more heroic deed. In the forest roams a unicorn
which does great harm, and you must catch it first."
"I fear one unicorn still less than two giants. Seven at one blow, is my
kind of affair."
He took a rope and an axe with him, went forth into the forest, and again
bade those who were sent with him to wait outside. He had not long to seek.
The unicorn soon came towards him, and rushed directly on the tailor, as if
it would gore him with its horn without more ado. "Softly, softly, it can't
be done as quickly as that," said he, and stood still and waited until the
animal was quite close, and then sprang nimbly behind the tree. The unicorn
ran against the tree with all its strength, and struck its horn so fast in
the trunk that it had not strength enough to draw it out again, and thus it
was caught. "Now, I have got the bird," said the tailor, and came out from
behind the tree and put the rope round its neck, and then with his axe he
hewed the horn out of the tree, and when all was ready he led the beast away
and took it to the king.
The king still would not give him the promised reward, and made a third
demand. Before the wedding the tailor was to catch him a wild boar that made
great havoc in the forest, and the huntsmen should give him their help.
"Willingly," said the tailor, "that is child's play."
He did not take the huntsmen with him into the forest, and they were well
pleased that he did not, for the wild boar had several times received them
in such a manner that they had no inclination to lie in wait for him.
When the boar perceived the tailor, it ran on him with foaming mouth and
whetted tusks, and was about to throw him to the ground, but the hero fled
and sprang into a chapel which was near, and up to the window at once, and
in one bound out again. The boar ran in after him, but the tailor ran round
outside and shut the door behind it, and then the raging beast, which was
much too heavy and awkward to leap out of the window, was caught. The little
tailor called the huntsmen thither that they might see the prisoner with
their own eyes. The hero, however went to the king, who was now, whether he
liked it or not, obliged to keep his promise, and gave him his daughter and
the half of his kingdom. Had he known that it was no warlike hero, but a
little tailor who was standing before him it would have gone to his heart
still more than it did. The wedding was held with great magnificence and
small joy, and out of a tailor a king was made.
After some time the young queen heard her husband say in his dreams at
night, "Boy, make me the doublet, and patch the pantaloons, or else I will
rap the yard-measure over your ears."
Then she discovered in what state of life the young lord had been born,
and next morning complained of her wrongs to her father, and begged him to
help her to get rid of her husband, who was nothing else but a tailor.
The king comforted her and said, "Leave your bedroom door open this
night, and my servants shall stand outside, and when he has fallen asleep
shall go in, bind him, and take him on board a ship which shall carry him
into the wide world."
The woman was satisfied with this, but the king's armor-bearer, who had
heard all, was friendly with the young lord, and informed him of the whole
"I'll put a screw into that business," said the little tailor. At night
he went to bed with his wife at the usual time, and when she thought that he
had fallen asleep, she got up, opened the door, and then lay down again. The
little tailor, who was only pretending to be asleep, began to cry out in a
clear voice, "Boy, make me the doublet and patch me the pantaloons, or I
will rap the yard-measure over your ears. I smote seven at one blow. I
killed two giants, I brought away one unicorn and caught a wild boar, and am
I to fear those who are standing outside the room."
When these men heard the tailor speaking thus, they were overcome by a
great dread, and ran as if the wild huntsman were behind them, and none of
them would venture anything further against him. So the little tailor was
and remained a king to the end of his life.