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Tom Tit Tot

Once upon a time there was a woman, [1] and she baked five pies. And when they came out of the oven, they were very hard to eat. So she says to her daughter:

Daughter, put the pies on the shelf, and leave them there a little, and they will come again. [2] That is, [3] the crust will become softer.

But the girl says to herself, Well, if they come again, I will eat them now. And she ate them all.

Well, when supper-time came, the woman said, Go and get one of the pies. I think they came again now.

The girl went and looked, and there were only dishes. So she comes back and says, No, they did not come again.

No? says the mother.

No, says the daughter.

Well, said the woman, Ill [4] eat one for supper.

But you cant, [5] if they didnt [6] come, said the girl.

But I can, says she. Go you, and bring the best pie.

Best or worst, says the girl, I ate them all, and you cant eat the pie till it comes again.

Well, the woman was very angry, and she took her spinning to the door, and she began to sing:

My daughter ate five, five pies today.

My daughter ate five, five pies today.

The king was coming down the street, and he heard her song. So he stopped and said:

What were you singing, my good woman?

The woman told him these other words, instead of that: [7]

My daughter span five, five skeins today.

My daughter span five, five skeins today.

Oh! said the king, I never heard of anyone who could do that. Then he said, Listen, I want a wife, and Ill marry your daughter. During eleven months of the year she will have everything that she wants; but the last month of the year she will spin five skeins every day, and if she cant I shall kill her.

All right, says the woman; she thought only about a grand marriage. Her daughter was very happy. Ill marry a king! she thought. And in eleven months the king will forget about skeins.

Well, so they were married. And for eleven months the girl had all she liked to eat, and all the dresses she liked to wear, and all the friends she liked.

When the time came, she began to think about the skeins. But the king did not say any word about them, and she decided that he forgot them.

However, the last day of the last month he takes her to a new room. There was nothing in it but a spinning-wheel and a stool. And he says, Now, my dear, Ill shut you here tomorrow with some food and some flax, and if you do not spin five skeins by the night, your head will be cut. [8] And he went away.

The girl was very frightened, she didnt know how to spin, and what will she show the king tomorrow? Nobody will come to help her. She sat down on a stool in the kitchen, and began to cry.

Suddenly she heard a knock on the door. She stood up and opened it, and she saw a small black impet with a long tail. He looked at her, and asked:

Why are you crying?

Why do you ask? says she.

Tell me, said he, why are you crying.

And he turned his tail around.

So the poor girl told him about the pies, and the skeins, and everything.

Ill help you, says the little black impet, Ill come to your window every morning and take the flax and bring it ready at night.

What do you want for that? says she.

He said, Ill give you three guesses every night to guess my name, and if you dont guess it before the end of the month you will be mine. [9]

Well, she thought, Ill guess his name for sure [10] . All right, says she, I agree.

The next day, her husband took her into the room, and there was the flax and her food.

This is the flax, says he, and if you dont spin it this night, youll lose your head. And then he went out and locked the door.

So the girl heard a knock near the window. She stood up and opened it, and there was the little old impet.

Wheres the flax? says he.

Here it is, says she. And she gave it to him.

When the evening came, the knock came again to the window. The girl stood up and opened it, and there was the little old impet with five skeins of flax on his arm.

Here it is, says he, and he gave it to her.

Now, whats my name? says he.

Is that Bill? says she.

No, it isnt! says he, and he twirled his tail.

Is that Ned? says she.

No, it isnt! says he, and he twirled his tail.

Well, is that Mark? says she.

No, it isnt! says he, and he twirled his tail harder and flew away.

When her husband came in, there were the five skeins ready for him. Well, I shant [11] kill you tonight, my dear, says he; youll have your food and your flax in the morning, says he, and goes away.

Every day he brought the flax and the food, and every day that little black impet came mornings and evenings. And all the day the girl was trying to guess his name in order to [12] say it when the impet came at night. But she did not say the right name. By the end of the month, the impet began to look very angrily, and twirled his tail faster and faster.

Finally the last day came. The impet came at night with the five skeins, and said:

Do you know my name?

Is that Nicodemus? [13] says she.

No, it isnt, he says.

Is that Sammle? [14] says she.

No, it isnt, he says.

Is that Methusalem? [15] says she.

No, no, no! he says.

Then he looks at her and says: Woman, theres only tomorrow night, and then youll be mine! And he flew away.

She was very afraid. But the king came. When he sees the five skeins, he says:

Well, my dear, if I see the skeins ready tomorrow night, I shant kill you. And Ill have supper here. So he brought supper, and another stool for him, and they sat down.

Suddenly he stops and begins to laugh.

Whats up? [16] says she.

Oh, says he, I was hunting today, and I went very far in the wood. And I heard a song. So I got off [17] my horse, and I went forward. I saw a funny little black man. He had a little spinning-wheel, and he was spinning wonderfully fast, and he was twirling his tail. And he was singing:

Nimmy nimmy not

My names Tom Tit Tot.

When the girl heard this, she became very happy, but she didnt say a word.

Next day that little impet looked very maliceful when he came for the flax. And when the night came, she heard the knock. She opened the window, and the impet came into the room. He was grinning, and his tail was twirling very fast.

Whats my name? he asked when he was giving her the skeins.

Is that Solomon? [18] she says.

No, it isnt, he said, and came further into the room.

Well, is that Zebedee? [19] says she again.

No, it isnt, says the impet. And then he laughed and twirled his tail like a wheel.

Take time, [20] woman, he says, next guess, and youre mine. And he lifted his black hands.

The girl smiled and said:


When the impet heard her, he cried awfully and flew away into the dark, and she never saw him any more.

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