A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm
A certain tailor who was great at boasting but ill at doing,
took it into his head to go abroad for a while, and look about
the world. As soon as he could manage it, he left his
work-shop, and wandered on his way, over hill and dale,
sometimes hither, sometimes thither, but ever on and on. Once on
his way he perceived in the blue distance a steep hill, and behind
it a tower
reaching to the clouds, which rose up out of a wild dark forest.
"Thunder and lightning," cried the tailor, "what is that?" and as he
was strongly goaded by curiosity, he went boldly towards it. But
how he did gaze and gape when he came near it, for the tower had
legs, and leapt in one bound over the steep hill, and was now
standing as an all-powerful giant before him.
"What do you want here,
you tiny fly's leg?" cried the giant, with a voice as if it were
thundering on every side.
The tailor whimpered, "I want just to
look about and see if I can earn a bit of bread for myself, in
"If that is what you are after," said the giant,
"you may have a place with me."
"If it must be, why not? What wages
shall I receive?"
"You will hear what wages you shall have. Every
year, three hundred and sixty-five days, and when it is leap-year,
one more into the bargain. Does that suit you?"
replied the tailor, and thought, in his own mind, "a man must cut
his coat according to his cloth. I shall try to get away as fast as
At this the giant said to him, "Go, little ragamuffin, and fetch
me a jug of water."
"Had I not better bring the well itself
at once, and the spring too?" asked the boaster, and went with the
pitcher to the water.
"What, the well and the spring too," growled
the giant in his beard, for he was somewhat of a silly dolt, and
to be afraid. That knave is not a fool, he has a mandrake in
his body. Be on your guard, old Hans, this is no serving-man for
When the tailor had brought the water, the giant bade
him go into the forest, and cut a couple of blocks of
wood and bring them back.
"Why not the whole forest, at once,
with one stroke?"
"The whole forest, young and old, with
all that is there, both gnarled and smooth, and the well and its
spring too," growled the credulous giant in his beard, and was still
more terrified. The knave can do much more than bake apples, and
has a mandrake in his body. Be on your guard, old Hans, this is
no serving-man for you.
When the tailor had brought the wood, the
him to shoot two or three wild boars for supper.
rather a thousand at one shot, and bring them all here?" inquired
the insolent tailor.
"What!" cried the timid giant in great terror.
"Let well alone to-night, and lie down to rest."
The giant was so terribly alarmed that he could not close an
eye all night long for thinking what would be the best way to
get rid of this accursed sorcerer of a servant. Time
brings counsel. Next morning the giant and the tailor went to a
marsh, round which stood a number of willow-trees. Then said
the giant, "Listen, tailor, seat yourself on one of the
willow-branches. I long of all things to see if you are big enough
to bend it down." All at once the tailor was sitting on it, holding
his breath, and making himself heavy, so heavy that the bough
bent down. When, however, he was compelled to draw breath, it
hurled him - for unfortunately he had not put his goose in his
pocket - so high into the air that he never was seen again, and
this to the great delight of the giant. If the tailor has not
fallen down again, he must still be hovering about in the air.