Short Story - The Valiant Tailor
Once upon a time there lived a princess who was excessively proud. She proposed a puzzle to everyone who came to her palace. If a person did not solve it, then the person was sent away scornfully. This behavior of the princess was talked about everywhere and it was said that whoever was lucky enough to solve the riddle would marry the princess.
One day three tailors came to the city. The two elders of them were quite intelligent and had heard about the princess’s riddle. But the third tailor was an idle, good-for-nothing fellow who did not understand his own trade. But still he thought that he could solve the riddle. He was interested in learning everything.
The three tailors came to the palace and stood before the princess. The princess told them the riddle, “I have a hair upon my head of two colours. What are they?” “This is your riddle!”
The first tailor said. “It is black and white.”
“Wrong!” said the princess, “Now, the second man try!”
“It is not black and white but brown and red”, said he with a great smile.
“Wrong again!” said the princess,” Now try the third man who I think will be able to guess correctly!”
The third tailor stepped forward and said, “The princess has a gold and silver hair on her head and those are the two colours.” When the princess heard this she turned pale and fell down to the ground with fright…because the tailor had guessed her riddle which she believed nobody in the world could solve.
As soon as she recovered herself, she said to the tailor, “That is not all you have to do. There is a bear in the stable and you have to spend the night with it. If you are alive in the morning, I will marry you.”
The tailor agreed to this and went away. The princess thought herself quite safe, because the bear had spared no one who came into the stable.
As soon as evening came, the little tailor was taken to the stable where the bear lay. As he entered the stable, the bear sprang on him.
“Softly, softly!” said the tailor, “I must teach you manners!”
Then he put his hand in his pocket and took out some nuts and cracked them between the teeth. The bear saw this and wanted to do what the tailor was doing. The tailor gave the bear a handful of nuts which were really pebbles. The bear put them into his mouth…but he could not crack them.
“What a blockhead I am!” the bear said to himself, “I couldn’t crack a few nuts!”
Then the bear said to the tailor, “Will you crack them for me?”
On hearing this, the tailor said. “What a fellow you are! With such a big mouth you couldn’t crack these small nuts!”
With these words he cunningly changed a nut for the pebble which the bear gave him and soon cracked it.
“I must try once more!” said the bear, “It looks so easy!”
And the bear with its full strength tried to crack the pebbles but all in vain. Soon the bear became tired. Then the tailor took a pipe out of his coat and played a tune. When the bear heard this, he began to dance to the tune. In a little while he stopped and asked the tailor whether it was easy to learn the art of playing the pipe.
“Easy as child’s play!” said the tailor, “You have to keep your fingers on the holes and blow the air into it.”
“Oh! Well that is playing the pipe”, said the bear, “I may as well learn that and then I can dance as often as I like. What do you think? Will you give me any instruction?”
“With all my heart!” replied the tailor, “If you are clever enough…but let me see your claws, they are very long and I must cut them a bit!”
By chance a knife was lying in one corner and the bear laid his paws when the tailor screwed them fast. “Now wait till I come with the scissors”, said he and leaving the bear groaning and growling, he laid himself down in a corner on a bundle of straw and went to sleep.
Meanwhile the princess was rejoicing at the thought she had got rid of the tailor and especially when she heard the bear growling, she thought it was with the satisfaction of having eaten its prey. In the morning she went down to the stable. But as soon as she looked in she saw the tailor as fresh and lively as he was the day before. She was in great astonishment and she refused to marry the tailor. But it was of no use for her word had been openly pledged to the marriage. The king, her father ordered a carriage to be brought in which she and the tailor went away to the palace where the wedding was to take place. Just as they had set off the two other tailors who were very envious of their brother’s fortune went into the stable and released the bear.
The bear ran after the carriage which contained the bridal party. The princess heard the beast growling and groaning and became very much frightened and cried to the tailor, “Oh, the bear is behind, coming to kill us!”
The tailor looked out of the carriage and said, “Do you remember the knife? If you do not go away you shall have to lose all your claws!”
The bear thought about it and then turned its tail and ran back. The tailor happily drove on to the palace with the princess and married her. They were very happy after the marriage as merry as larks and to the end of their lives they lived in contentment.
MORAL : Fortune favors the brave.