The cunning little tailor



There was once on a time a princess who was extremely proud. If a wooer came she gave him some riddle to guess, and if he could not find it out, he was sent contemptuously away. She let it be made known also that whosoever solved her riddle should marry her, let him be who he might. At length, therefore, three tailors fell in with each other, the two eldest of whom thought they had done so many dexterous bits of work successfully that they could not fail to succeed in this also; the third was a little useless land-louper, who did not even know his trade, but thought he must have some luck in this venture, for where else was it to come from? Then the two others said to him, "Just stay at home; thou canst not do much with thy little bit of understanding." The little tailor, however, did not let himself be discouraged, and said he had set his head to work about this for once, and he would manage well enough, and he went forth as if the whole world were his.
They all three announced themselves to the princess, and said she was to propound her riddle to them, and that the right persons were now come, who had understandings so fine that they could be threaded in a needle. Then said the princess, "I have two kinds of hair on my head, of what color is it?" - "If that be all," said the first, "it must be black and white, like the cloth which is called pepper and salt." The princess said, "Wrongly guessed; let the second answer." Then said the second, "If it be not black and white, then it is brown and red, like my father's company coat." - "Wrongly guessed," said the princess, "let the third give the answer, for I see very well he knows it for certain." Then the little tailor stepped boldly forth and said, "The princess has a silver and a golden hair on her head, and those are the two different colors." When the princess heard that, she turned pale and nearly fell down with terror, for the little tailor had guessed her riddle, and she had firmly believed that no man on earth could discover it. When her courage returned she said, "Thou hast not won me yet by that; there is still something else that thou must do. Below, in the stable is a bear with which thou shalt pass the night, and when I get up in the morning if thou art still alive, thou shalt marry me." She expected, however, she should thus get rid of the tailor, for the bear had never yet left any one alive who had fallen into his clutches. The little tailor did not let himself be frightened away, but was quite delighted, and said, "Boldly ventured is half won."

When therefore the evening came, our little tailor was taken down to the bear. The bear was about to set at the little fellow at once, and give him a hearty welcome with his paws: "Softly, softly," said the little tailor, "I will soon make thee quiet." Then quite composedly, and as if he had not an anxiety in the world, he took some nuts out of his pocket, cracked them, and ate the kernels. When the bear saw that, he was seized with a desire to have some nuts too. The tailor felt in his pockets, and reached him a handful; they were, however, not nuts, but pebbles. The bear put them in his mouth, but could get nothing out of them, let him bite as he would. "Eh!" thought he, "what a stupid blockhead I am! I cannot even crack a nut!" and then he said to the tailor, "Here, crack me the nuts." - "There, see what a stupid fellow thou art!" said the little tailor, "to have such a great mouth, and not be able to crack a small nut!" Then he took the pebble and nimbly put a nut in his mouth in the place of it, and crack, it was in two! "I must try the thing again," said the bear; "when I watch you, I then think I ought to be able to do it too." So the tailor once more gave him a pebble, and the bear tried and tried to bite into it with all the strength of his body. But no one will imagine that he accomplished it. When that was over, the tailor took out a violin from beneath his coat, and played a piece of it to himself. When the bear heard the music, he could not help beginning to dance, and when he had danced a while, the thing pleased him so well that he said to the little tailor, "Hark you, is the fiddle heavy?" - "Light enough for a child. Look, with the left hand I lay my fingers on it, and with the right I stroke it with the bow, and then it goes merrily, hop sa sa vivallalera!" - "So," said the bear; "fiddling is a thing I should like to understand too, that I might dance whenever I had a fancy. What dost thou think of that? "Wilt thou give me lessons?" - "With all my heart," said the tailor, "if thou hast a talent for it. But just let me see thy claws, they are terribly long, I must cut thy nails a little." Then a vise was brought, and the bear put his claws in it, and the little tailor screwed it tight, and said, "Now wait until I come with the scissors," and he let the bear growl as he liked, and lay down in the corner on a bundle of straw, and fell asleep.

When the princess heard the bear growling so fiercely during the night, she believed nothing else but that he was growling for joy, and had made an end of the tailor. In the morning she arose careless and happy, but when she peeped into the stable, the tailor stood gaily before her, and was as healthy as a fish in water. Now she could not say another word against the wedding because she had given a promise before every one, and the King ordered a carriage to be brought in which she was to drive to church with the tailor, and there she was to be married. When they had got into the carriage, the two other tailors, who had false hearts and envied him his good fortune, went into the stable and unscrewed the bear again. The bear in great fury ran after the carriage. The princess heard him snorting and growling; she was terrified, and she cried, "Ah, the bear is behind us and wants to get thee!" The tailor was quick and stood on his head, stuck his legs out of the window, and cried, "Dost thou see the vise? If thou dost not be off thou shalt be put into it again." When the bear saw that, he turned round and ran away. The tailor drove quietly to church, and the princess was married to him at once, and he lived with her as happy as a woodlark. Whosoever does not believe this, must pay a thaler.
从前有位公主非常骄傲,每当有人前来向她求婚,她总要出个谜语让他猜,如果猜不中,她就傲慢地把他们赶走。 她还出了告示,无论是谁,只要猜中谜语,她都会嫁给他。 最后一起来了三个裁缝,两个大的以为他们一生做过那么多灵巧的活儿,这次一定能成功。 另外一个却是位身材矮小、无所作为的小玩童,他学艺不精,却抱着侥幸的心理,也想来碰碰运气。 只听那两个对他说:"你还是呆在家里算了,凭你那点小聪明是成不了气候的。"可这小裁缝并不泄气,说他已拿定了主意,且会好自为之的。 于是他也出发了,一付世界就是他的样子。
他们三人来到了公主面前自报了家门,然后要她出谜语。 他们声称自己天资聪明,心细如针,只有他们才能猜出谜语。 公主说:"我的头上有两种头发,它们分别是什么颜色?""就这个?"第一个说,"那一定是黑白两色,像芝麻点料子布一样。"公主说:"猜错了,让第二个来猜吧。"于是第二个说:"要不是黑白两色,那肯定是棕红两色,像我父亲节日礼服一样。""猜错了,"公主说,"让第三个来回答,看他那样子肯定知道。"于是小裁缝大胆地站了出来,说:"公主头上有一种银发和一种金发,它们的颜色正好不一样。"公主听完,脸色苍白,吓得险些摔倒在地。 小裁缝猜对了,而她曾自信世上无人知道这秘密呢。 她镇静下来后,她说:"你猜中了,但我还不能嫁给你,你还得去干件事,下面的栏里有头熊,今晚你得在那里过一夜,明天早上等我起来你还活着,你就可以娶我。"她心想,这样就可打发掉那小裁缝,因为凡是落入熊爪的人,至今还没有一个人逃脱过死。 小裁缝毫无惧意,还十分愉快地说:"不入虎穴,焉得虎子。"
到了晚上,我们的小裁缝被带到了熊的身旁。 熊立刻就要扑向小伙子,用双爪给他一顿热烈的欢迎。 "别动!别动!"小裁缝说,"我很快就会教你安静的。"于是他装出若无其事的样子,从口袋中掏出一把坚果,咬开壳,吃起果仁来。 熊见了,也要吃坚果。 裁缝把手伸进口袋,掏出了满满的一把塞在了熊爪里,这其实不是坚果,而是卵石。 熊把石子塞入口中,无论怎么咬也咬不开,它想:"唉!我真是个大笨蛋,我连个坚果都咬不烂!"于是它对裁缝说:"给,帮我咬一下。""瞧,你真笨!"裁缝说,"嘴那么大,连个小小坚果都咬不烂。"于是他接过石子,却机灵地把一个坚果塞进口中,咔嚓一声,咬成了两瓣。 "我得再试试,"熊说,"看到你这样咬,我想我也能咬烂。"于是裁缝又给了它一颗石子,熊使劲地咬啊,咬啊,你简直难以想象它竟咬开了。 然后,裁缝从衣服里抽出一把小提琴,独自演奏起来,熊听到音乐声,情不自禁地跳起舞来。 它跳了一会儿,觉得这小玩艺儿很有趣,便对小裁缝说:"喂,拉琴难吗?""太容易了,连三岁小孩都会。瞧,我左手指握在琴上,右手拉弓,拉起来得心应手。""好!"熊说,"我也要学会拉琴,这样我什么时候想跳舞就可以跳,你看怎么样?你可以教我吗?""非常乐意,"裁缝说,"不过那得看你天赋如何。让我先瞧瞧你的爪子,它们太长了,我得先给你修修指甲。"于是他拿出一把虎钳,让熊把爪子伸了进去,小裁缝把虎钳使劲地扭紧,说:"呆着别动,等我拿把剪刀来。"于是他把熊丢开不管了,任它放声咆哮,他自己却在角落的一堆稻草上呼呼地睡起大觉来。
熊就这样放声哀嗥了一整夜,公主听到后,还以为熊已结果了小裁缝,现在正在高兴地嗥叫呢,早上公主起来时便显得漫不经心而又十分的高兴。 可当她向栏里一瞧时 ,发现裁缝竟安然无恙地站在她面前,脸上还露出得意的神色。 现在她别无选择了,因为她有言在先,只得同意举行婚礼。 于是国王派出了一辆马车,把她和裁缝送往教堂,让他们在那里举行婚礼。 当他俩爬上马车时,另外两个裁缝对小裁缝的幸福嫉妒不已,心怀恶意地走进木栏,放出了那头熊。 只见那熊带着满腔愤怒拼命追赶马车,边喘气边嗥啕。 公主听到这声音可吓坏了,尖叫道:"啊!熊在后面想抓你!"裁缝灵机一动,头立在下,双脚伸出窗外,叫道:"瞧见虎钳了吧!如果还不走我就再把你夹进去!"熊一见那家伙,立刻转过身来就跑。 于是裁缝和公主平平安安到了教堂,立即举行了婚礼,从此他们俩过上了幸福美满的日子。

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