Tom Tit Tot

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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 today,

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 good woman?"

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 today, 2

My daughter has spun five skeins."

The king was surprised to hear this and said:

"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 flax.

"Now spin five skeins by the time night comes or it's off with your head," 3 said the king, and left her.

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 girl.

"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 ever."

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.

"It's John."

"No, it isn't."

"It's Bill."

"No, it isn't."

"It's Dick."

"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 morning."

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 one.

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 his name.

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 Bruce?"

"No, it isn't," and he held out 9 his little black hands and twirled his tail faster than ever.

"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

6 who felt more like crying than laughing — которой больше хотелось плакать, чем смеяться

7 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 протянул

 

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