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Scissors

from Europa's Fairy Book





Once upon a time, though it was not in my time nor in your time nor in
anybody else's time, there lived a cobbler named Tom and his wife
named Joan. And they lived fairly happily together, except that
whatever Tom did Joan did the opposite, and whatever Joan thought Tom
thought quite contrary-wise. When Tom wanted beef for dinner Joan
liked pork, and if Joan wanted to have chicken Tom would like to have
duck. And so it went on all the time.

Now it happened that one day Joan was cleaning up the kitchen and,
turning suddenly, she knocked two or three pots and pans together and
broke them all. So Tom, who was working in the front room, came and
asked Joan, "What's all this? What have you been doing?" Now Joan had
got the pair of scissors in her hand, and sooner than tell him what
had really happened she said, "I cut these pots and pans into pieces
with my scissors."

"What," said Tom, "cut pottery with your scissors, you nonsensical
woman; you can't do it!"

"I tell you I did with my scissors!"

"You couldn't."

"I did."

"You couldn't."

"I did."

"Couldn't."

"Did."

"Couldn't."

"Did."

"Couldn't."

"Did."

At last Tom got so angry that he seized Joan by the shoulders and
shoved her out of the house and said, "If you don't tell me how you
broke those pots and pans I'll throw you into the river." But Joan
kept on saying, "It was with the scissors"; and Tom got so enraged
that at last he took her to the bank of the river and said, "Now for
the last time, will you tell me the truth; how did you break those
pots and pans?"

"With the scissors."

And with that he threw her into the river, and she sank once, and she
sank twice, and just before she was about to sink for the third time
she put her hand up into the air, out of the water, and made a motion
with her first and middle finger as if she were moving the scissors.
So Tom saw it was no use to try to persuade her to do anything but
what she wanted. So he rushed up the stream and met a neighbour who
said, "Tom, Tom, what are you running for?"

"Oh, I want to find Joan; she fell into the river just in front of our
house, and I am afraid she is going to be drowned."

"But," said the neighbour, "you're running up stream."

"Well," said Tom, "Joan always went contrary-wise whatever happened."
And so he never found her in time to save her.





Next: Beauty And The Beast

Previous: The King Of The Fishes



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