A Dozen At A Blow

: Europa's Fairy Book

A little tailor was sitting cross-legged at his bench and was

stitching away as busy as could be when a woman came up the street

calling out: "Home-made jam, home-made jam!"

So the tailor called out to her: "Come here, my good woman, and give

me a quarter of a pound."

And when she had poured it out for him he spread it on some bread and

butter and laid it aside for his lunch. But, in the sum
er-time, the

flies commenced to collect around the bread and jam.

When the tailor noticed this, he raised his leather strap and brought

it down upon the crowd of flies and killed twelve of them

straightway. He was mighty proud of that. So he made himself a

shoulder-sash, on which he stitched the letters: A Dozen at One Blow.

When he looked down upon this he thought to himself: "A man who could

do such things ought not to stay at home; he ought to go out to

conquer the world."

So he put into his wallet the cream cheese that he had bought that day

and a favourite blackbird that used to hop about his shop, and went

out to seek his fortune.

He hadn't gone far when he met a giant, and went up to him and said:

"Well, comrade, how goes it with you?"

"Comrade," sneered the giant, "a pretty comrade you would make for


"Look at this," said the tailor pointing to his sash.

And when the giant read, "A Dozen at a Blow," he thought to himself:

"This little fellow is no fool of a fighter if what he says is true.

But let's test him."

So the giant said to the tailor: "If what you've got there is true, we

may well be comrades. But let's see if you can do what I can do."

And he bent down in the road and took up a large stone and pressed it

with his hand till it all crushed up and water commenced to pour out

from it.

"Can you do that?" said the giant.

The tailor also bent down in the road, but took out from his wallet

the piece of cheese and pretended to pick it up.

When he took it in his hand he pressed and pressed till the cream

poured forth from it.

The giant said: "Well, you can do that fairly well. Let's see if you

can throw."

He took another stone and threw it till it went right across the river

by which they were standing.

So the little tailor took his blackbird in his hand and pretended to

throw it, and of course when it felt itself in the air it flew away

and disappeared.

The giant said: "That wasn't a bad throw. You may as well come home

and stop with us giants, and we'll do great things together."

As they went along the giant said: "We want some twigs for our night

fires. You may as well help me carry some home." And he pointed to a

tree that had fallen by the wayside and said: "Help me carry that,

will you?"

So the tailor said, "Why certainly," and went to the top of the tree,

and said: "I'll carry these branches which are the heavier; you carry

the trunk which has no branches."

And when the giant got the trunk on his shoulders the tailor seated

himself on one of the branches and let the giant carry him along.

After a time the giant got tired and said: "Ho there, wait a minute,

I'm going to drop the tree and rest awhile."

So the tailor jumped down and caught the tree around the branches

again and said: "Well, you are easily tired."

At last they got to the giant's castle and there the giant spoke to

his brothers and told them what a brave and powerful fellow this

little tailor was. They spoke together and determined to get rid of

him lest he might do them some harm. But they determined to kill him

in the night because he was so strong and might kill twelve of them at

a blow.

But the tailor saw them whispering together, and guessing that

something was wrong went out into the yard and got a big bladder which

he filled with blood and put it in the bed which the giants pointed

out to him.

Then he crept under it, and during the night they brought their big

clubs and hit the bed over and over again till the blood spurted out

onto their faces.

Then they thought the tailor was dead and went back to sleep.

But in the morning there was the tailor as large as life. And they

were so surprised to see him that they asked him if he had not felt

anything during the night.

"Oh, I don't know, there seemed to be plenty of fleas in that bed,"

said the tailor. "I do not think I would care to sleep there again."

And with that he took his leave of the giants and went on his way.

After a time he came to the King's court and fell asleep under a tree.

And some of the courtiers passing by saw written upon his sash, "A

Dozen at One Blow."

They went and told the King who said: "Why, he's just the man for us;

he will be able to destroy the wild boar and the unicorn that are

ravaging our kingdom. Bring him to us."

So they woke up the little tailor and brought him to the King, who

said to him: "There is a wild boar ravaging our kingdom. You are so

powerful that you will easily be able to capture it."

"What shall I get if I do?" asked the little tailor.

"Well, I have promised to give my daughter's hand and half the kingdom

to the man who can do it, and other things."

"What other things?" said the little tailor.

"Oh, it will be time to learn that when you have caught the boar."

Then the little tailor went out to the wood where the boar was last

seen, and when he came near him he ran away, and ran away, and ran

away, till at last he came to a little chapel in the wood into which

he ran, and the boar at his heels. He climbed up to a high window and

got outside the chapel, and then rushed around to the door and closed

and locked it.

Then he went back to the King and said to him: "I have your wild boar

for you in the chapel in the woods. Send some of your men to kill him,

or do what you like with him."

"How did you manage to get him there?" said the King.

"Oh, I caught him by the bristles and threw him in there as I thought

you wanted to have him safe and sound. What's the next thing I must


"Well," said the King, "there's a unicorn in this country killing

everyone that he meets. I do not want him slain; I want him caught and

brought to me."

So the little tailor said, "Give me a rope and a hatchet and I will

see what I can do."

So he went with the rope and hatchet to the wood, where the unicorn

had been seen. And when he came towards it he dodged it, and he dodged

it, till at last he dodged behind a big tree, till the unicorn, in

trying to pierce, ran his horn into the tree where it stuck fast.

Then the little tailor came forth and tied the rope around the

unicorn's neck, and dug out the horn with his hatchet, and dragged the

unicorn to the King.

"What's the next thing?" said the little tailor.

"Well, there is only one thing more. There are two giants who are

destroying everybody they meet. Get rid of them, and my daughter and

the half of my kingdom shall be yours."

Then the little tailor went to seek the giants and found them sleeping

under some trees in the woods. He filled his box with stones, climbed

up a tree overlooking the giants, and when he had hidden himself in

the branches he threw a stone at the chest of one of the giants who

woke up and said to his brother giant, "What are you doing there?"

And the other giant woke up and said, "I have done nothing."

"Well, don't do it again," said the other giant, and laid down to

sleep again.

Then the tailor threw a stone at the other giant and hit him a whack

on the chin. That giant rose up and said to his fellow giant, "What do

you do that for?"

"Do what?"

"Hit me on the chin."

"I didn't."

"You did."

"I didn't."

"You did."

"Well, take that for not doing it."

And with that the other giant hit him a rousing blow on the head. With

that they commenced fighting and tore up the trees and hit one another

till at last one of them was killed, and the other one was so badly

injured that the tailor had no difficulty in killing him with his


Then he went back to the King and said: "I have got rid of your

giants for you; send your men and bury them in the forest. They tore

up the trees and tried to kill me with them but I was too much for

them. Now for the Princess."

Well, the King had nothing more to say, and gave him his daughter in

marriage and half the kingdom to rule.

But shortly after they were married the Princess heard the tailor

saying in his sleep: "Fix that button better; baste that side gore;

don't drop your stitches like that."

And then she knew she had married a tailor. And she went to her father

weeping bitterly and complained.

"Well, my dear," he said, "I promised, and he certainly showed himself

a great hero. But I will try and get rid of him for you. To-night I

will send into your bedroom a number of soldiers that shall slay him

even if he can kill a dozen at a blow."

So that night the little tailor noticed there was something wrong and

heard the soldiers moving about near the bedroom. So he pretended to

fall asleep and called out in his sleep: "I have killed a dozen at a

blow; I have slain two giants; I have caught a wild boar by his

bristles, and captured a unicorn alive. Show me the man that I need


And when the soldiers heard that they said to the Princess that the

job was too much for them, and went away.

And the Princess thought better of it, and was proud of her little

hero, and they lived happily ever afterwards.