ONCE upon a time there was a tailor, and, whenever he hadn't a job, he used to spend his time mending stockings. One day after dinner the table was covered with flies. The tailor struck at them with a stocking and killed nine of them at a blow.
As he hadn't any job in hand, he started out to see the world, and his belt had written on it "Nine at a blow." On his way he met a boy, who asked him to buy a finch from him. He bought it, put it in his knapsack, and went on his way. Then he came to a farm where the farmer's wife was making cheese. He asked her for something to eat, so she gave him some sour milk and a piece of Yorkshire cheese. The tailor drank the milk and put the cheese in his knapsack and went on his way. At last he reached a town. It was a hot day, so he lay down and fell asleep. Now, a giant happened to pass that way, and he saw written in golden letters: "Nine at a blow."
So he waked the tailor and asked him: "Have you really killed nine at a blow?"
The tailor answered that he had, and the giant said: "Let's have a trial which of us is the stronger. I'll cast a stone, and it will be an hour before it comes down."
The tailor said: "I'll cast a stone that won't come down at all."
So the giant cast a stone, and it was a full hour before it came down again. Instead of casting a stone, the tailor let the finch go, and, of course, it didn't come back again.
So the giant said: "Let's have another try. I'll crush a stone to powder."
The tailor said: "I'll squeeze water from a stone."
So the giant took a pebble and crushed it to powder. The tailor took the cheese and squeezed it till the water oozed out of it.
The giant gave in, and acknowledged that the tailor was the stronger of the two. So they went on together till they came to a cherry-tree growing near a meadow, and the cherries were ripe. They wanted to pick some of the cherries for themselves. So the tailor climbed the tree, but the giant simply bent down the top of the tree and began to pluck the cherries. When he had finished he let go, and the tailor was flung onto a heap of dry grass piled up in the meadow. So the tailor said: "If it hadn't been for my skill in flying, I should have broken my neck," and he promised to teach the giant how to fly.
So they went on their way again, and they came to a town. The town was all in mourning. They asked the reason, and they were told that a dragon had taken up his headquarters in the church and was killing the people. The king would give a thousand pounds to whoever could kill the dragon. So they told the king that they would kill the dragon.
They ordered a big hammer and a big pair of tongs to be made for them. When they were made, the giant took the tongs and he gave the hammer to the tailor to carry. But the tailor said: "Wouldn't it shame you if people should see us, each carrying such a trifle? Take both the things yourself."
When they came near the church door, the giant gave the hammer to the tailor, who stuck fast to it. Then the dragon came dashing out, and flung the tailor behind him, but the giant split him in twain. But the tailor protested:
"A nice mess you've made of it. I meant to take the dragon alive. We should have got more money for him so." Then he said: "Now I will teach you how to fly."
So they climbed up the church steeple, and the tailor said: "When I say 'One, two, three,' you must jump." And the giant jumped and broke his neck.
The tailor told the king that the dragon had killed the giant, so he pocketed the thousand pounds for himself.