Tom Tit Tot
THERE was once a woman who baked five
pies and left them on the shelf to cool. When she came back, she found that
her daughter had eaten all the pies, so there was nothing for supper.
The woman took her spinning-wheel to
the open door, and as she worked, she sang to herself:
"My daughter has eaten five pies
My daughter has eaten five pies."
Just then the king rode by, and he
heard her song, but he couldn't catch all the words, 1 so he
stopped, got off his horse and said:
"What was that you were singing, my
The woman did not want to tell him
what her daughter had done so she changed the words and said:
"My daughter has spun five skeins
My daughter has spun five skeins."
The king was surprised to hear this
"I've never heard of anyone who could
spin five skeins a day. I need a wife and I'll marry your daughter. When we
are married, she will do just what she likes for eleven months of the year,
but in the twelfth month of the year she'll have to spin five skeins a day, or
I'll kill her."
"All right," said the woman. And she
thought to herself, "When the twelfth month comes, he will be so happy that he
will forget all about the spinning."
So they were married and for eleven
months all went well and the new queen was happy. She thought the king had
forgotten about the five skeins because he never spoke about spinning. But
when the last month came, he led her to a little room she had never seen
before. There was nothing in it except a stool and a spinning-wheel and some
"Now spin five skeins by the time
night comes or it's off with your head," 3 said the king, and
The poor girl did not know how to spin
even one skein, and she sat down on the stool and cried very bitterly.
Suddenly she heard a knock at the door and she ran and opened it. Outside
stood a strange little black thing with a long tail.
"Why are you crying?" said the strange
little black thing.
"I'm crying because I have to spin
five skeins a day and I don't know how to spin even one. If I don't spin them
by the time night comes, the king will chop off my head."
"I can help you," said the little
black thing. "I'll come every morning and take away the flax and I'll bring it
back spun into skeins when night comes."
"What do you want for that?" said the
"Oh, very little. You just have to
guess my name. You can have three guesses every night, but if you don't guess
right by the end of the month, you'll have to come away and live with me for
The girl was sure she would guess his
name long before the end of the month, so she let him take the flax away.
Before night he knocked on the window, and she opened it and let him in. He
brought five skeins of flax, beautifully spun.
"Now, what is my name?" he asked.
"No, it isn't."
"No, it isn't."
"No, it isn't."
All the while she was guessing, he
twirled his tail, and after the last wrong guess he twirled it faster and
faster and then flew away out of the window.
When the king came in, he was very
pleased to see the five skeins.
"I shan't have to chop off your head
today, my dear," he said. "You will have some more flax to spin in the
The next day the little black thing
came again for the flax and brought back five skeins long before night. This
time she guessed David and Adam and Matthew. But none of these was the right
Towards the end of the month the girl
was in despair, 4 especially as the little black thing was
glad, and joy shone in his eyes. On the last evening but one 5
she guessed the longest names she could think of, as she had already tried
most of the short ones. She guessed Archibald and Marmaduke and Ferdinand. But
they were not right either, and oh how he twirled his tail, and how horribly
his eyes shone! Now there was only one day left, one chance for her to guess
When the little black thing had gone,
very pleased with himself, the king came to see her. He was delighted with the
five skeins. He ordered his servants to bring supper in so that he and his
wife could eat it together.
"I don't think I shall ever have to
chop your head off, my dear," he said, as the servants brought in the supper
things and another stool.
While the king was eating, he suddenly
stopped and burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?" said the girl, who
felt more like crying than laughing. 6
"I'm laughing at something I saw when
I was out hunting. I was riding past a chalk pit when I heard a loud humming.
So I got off my horse and looked down into the pit to see what it was. There,
in the pit, was the strangest little black thing with a long tail. It was
working away at a little spinning-wheel and twirling its tail all the time. As
the wheel spun round, it sang:
"Nimmy nimmy not
My name's Tom Tit Tot."
When the girl heard this, her heart
jumped for joy, but she said nothing. Now she knew that she would never have
7 to go away and live with the little black thing.
The next day was the last of the
month. In the morning the little black thing came for the flax, and in the
evening knocked on the window and brought back five skeins. He was very
pleased with himself and his eyes shone like red-hot coals 8
when he looked at her.
"What's my name?" he said, as he gave
her the skeins.
"Is it Robin?" "No, it isn't." "Is it
"No, it isn't," and he held out
9 his little black hands and twirled his tail faster than
"Nimmy nimmy not
Your name's Tom Tit Tot."
When he heard this, he gave a dreadful
cry and flew away out of the window and no one ever saw him again.
1 he couldn't catch
all the words — он не мог разобрать всех слов
2 My daughter has spun
five skeins today — Моя дочь спряла пять мотков сегодня
3 it's off with your
head - слетит твоя голова с плеч
4 Towards the end of
the month the girl was in despair — К концу месяца девушка была в отчаянии
5 On the last evening
but one — В предпоследний вечер
who felt more like crying than
laughing — которой больше хотелось плакать,
she would never have
— она никогда не должна будет
8 his eyes shone like
red-hot coals - его глаза сияли, как раскаленные угли
9 he held out — он