Wednesday, June 4, 2014

THE BRAVE LITTLE TAILOR

Adapted from the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm

Once upon a time there was a poor tailor who lived on his own in a little shop in the village. Poor though he was, he was a happy little tailor and had just enough steady customers to keep a roof over his head and food in his tummy, though he knew he would never be wealthy, and he was fine with that. He took great pleasure in the simple things in life such as singing songs, telling stories, laughing with friends, and, of course…

“Jam!” Yes, the tailor’s great weakness was for jam. It was his very favorite thing in the world. He ate it on sandwiches, on toast, on bagels, and sometimes right out of the jar. So when his Friendly Neighborhood Jam Purveyor came by his shop, he immediately went out and bought three jars: blackberry, boysenberry and gorkaberry.

(You’ve probably never heard of gorkaberries, but that’s not surprising as they are the rarest berries in the world and only grew in the remote kingdom where our story takes place)

One day, as the tailor was sitting down to a meal of jams on breads, he heard a faint buzzing sound and saw that his jam had attracted flies. A lot of flies, in fact. A veritable swarm. Not wanting them to get anywhere near his precious jams, he took up a flyswatter and started trying to swat the flies out of the air. It wasn’t working, so he picked up his second flyswatter (as a jam aficionado, he’d had some experience dealing with flies) and, holding one in each hand, he waited for just the right moment, when the swarm was all bunched together and…

SMACK!!!

He brought the two flyswatters together and crushed all the flies at once. The tailor looked at the dead flies and counted them up. “Wow!” he said to no one in particular. “Seven! And I did it with one blow!” Eager to boast of his accomplishment, he immediately (well, right after eating his jam) set to work on a sash on which he sewed the words “SEVEN WITH ONE BLOW” so that when he wore it about town everyone would know of his astounding feat.

But nobody in his hometown seemed to care all that much about flies. Nobody wanted to hear the heroic tale of how he vanquished seven whole flies with only two swatters and one blow. So he decided to go out into the Wide World to find somebody who was impressed. He packed a few things in his pack including his sewing kit and his recently acquired jars of jam and set out on his adventure.


The tailor passed through a forest where the first person he met was an enormous giant. “Hey, Giant!” said the tailor. “Take a look at this!” And he showed the giant his sash. Of course, the giant misunderstood. He thought the tailor was saying he had killed seven people with one blow and took this as a threat.

“So, it’s a fight you want? I’ll show you!” So saying, the giant pounded the earth with his fist. Fortunately, this was a quick little tailor and he jumped out of the way before the blow was struck. Then, he jumped on top of the giant’s fist and ran up his sleeve. “Hey, you! Get out of there!” The giant reached into his sleeve with his other arm to try and catch the tailor. But the tailor had already taken out his scissors and cut a hole further up the sleeve and climbed out. The giant stuck his hand through this hole and, quick as a wink, the tailor stitched it up again. Now the giant’s left arm was stuck in his right sleeve. His hands were, quite literally, tied.

While the giant struggled to get his hands free, the tailor started climbing down the giant’s body to the ground where he took a particularly long and sturdy piece of thread and tied it around both of the giant’s feet. Then all he had to do was give one mighty tug and the giant fell to the ground. 

“Enough!” cried the giant. “Enough! I give up!”

Well, of course, the tailor had no intention of hurting the giant. But now that he had proved himself, he and the giant decided to become friends and traveled together from that day on. They walked on together for many days, the giant picking delicious fruit from the top branches of the trees, the tailor mashing it with stones to turn it into jam. At night they would sing and tell stories and laugh together. They were becoming better and better friends every day.


Finally, their travels took them to the castle of the king who was facing a very real problem. He had issued a proclamation that anyone who could help him solve his problem would win the hand of his daughter, the fair princess. 

“I’ll bet we could solve his problem,” said the tailor.

“Yes, but which of us will marry the princess if we succeed?” asked the giant.

“I’ll make you a deal: If she’s under six feet, I’ll marry her. Over six feet, she’s all yours. Fair?”

“Yeah, that sounds okay.” 

And so they presented themselves to the king who, upon seeing the tailor’s sash as well as the giant traveling with him, also misunderstood. “He not only killed seven at one blow,” thought the king, “but he took one hostage!”

“I believe you are just the man to help me,” said the king. “You see, for centuries the unicorn has been the symbol of our land. And my prized possession was my pet unicorn who lived in the palace with us. But two nights ago, he vanished. I don’t know what would have made him run away, but who could have stolen him from our castle? We must have him back! Can you help me, tailor?”

“I can certainly try, your majesty.” With that, he bowed to the king and went out to join his friend, the giant.

The tailor felt certain that he and the giant would be able to find the unicorn simply because of the giant’s height. Being so tall, the giant could see for miles, and with the tailor sitting on his shoulder looking behind him, it was very much like having eyes in the back of his head. They spent the rest of the day walking around the forest without seeing any sign of the unicorn.

“We’d better stop for the night,” said the tailor. “We’ll never spot him in the dark anyway. Let’s just settle down in this clearing until morning.”

So the tailor and the giant settled in to rest for the night. But first, the tailor took out his jams to share a midnight snack with his friend, the giant. The giant, being so much bigger, had already eaten all the blackberry and boysenberry jam. All that was left was the gorkaberry, which the tailor had been saving for last since it was his favorite. He opened the jar and the sweet smell of the gorkaberries filled his nostrils.

Just then, they heard hoofbeats running toward them. And a minute later, the king’s unicorn had run up to them and had stuck his nose in the gorkaberry jam!

Apparently, what had happened was the princess, who used to give the unicorn tasty treats from time to time, had gotten her hands on some gorkaberries, which neither she nor the unicorn had ever had before. The taste of the gorkaberries drove the unicorn mad and he set out at once to find some more. When the tailor opened the jar and the unicorn smelled the gorkaberries, he made a beeline straight for them.

Or a unicornline, which is what the expression used to be, but it didn’t catch on for obvious reasons.

The king was overjoyed to have his beloved unicorn back. And, knowing of the animal’s taste for gorkaberries, resolved to plant a garden of bushes where he would grow his own, half of which would go to the unicorn, while the other half would be made into jam as a thank you for his new son-in-law, the tailor.

Yes, as luck would have it, the princess did come in under six feet (by a full eight inches, no less) so she married the tailor. The giant didn’t mind, and he and the tailor stayed friends for the rest of their lives. As for the tailor, he and his new bride moved into a castle not far from the king’s where, though they were now wealthy and powerful, they continued to enjoy the simple things like singing songs, telling stories, laughing with friends and, of course, jam.

“All this,” said the tailor on their first night together, “from a few houseflies.”

“A few what?” asked his wife.

“Flies. I killed seven of them in one blow and the next thing I knew…”

“Wait, wait…Flies? Seven flies? That’s what this was all about?”

“Yeah. Crazy, huh?”

The princess smiled. “Yeah,” she said at last, putting her arms around her husband. “Pretty crazy, all right.”


If you enjoyed this fairy tale, why not buy my book, Once Upon a Time and Long Ago? You can buy a copy HERE from the Amazon Kindle store and read it on your tablet, smartphone or computer.

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