Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for pre-intermediate learners. The name of the story is The Brave Little Tailor. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Brave. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Brave. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
I’m not going to talk for very long today because I’m very busy, and I hate being busy. I really don’t like it. But I have had a lot of classes this week! Today I have been singing a lot. I’ve said before I love singing. Um, I think I maybe sang a bit too much and I tried to sing some songs that are a bit too difficult for me, so I might have damaged my voice a bit. So if I sound a bit croaky today, that’s why.
Anyway, some of you might have noticed that I have been uploading videos to YouTube. So my YouTube channel, which you can find if you search “Ariel Goodbody” on YouTube, has some videos from my classes that I teach here in Bath. So I tell stories to the students, just like on the podcast, and I draw pictures to help explain the stories. Some of the stories are even the same ones from the podcast, so I’ve recorded some of those stories and put them on my YouTube channel. It’s mainly for my students so that they can listen to the stories again and understand them better, but you might like listening to them as well, especially if you are a beginner, they could be very useful. So go to YouTube and search “Ariel Goodbody”.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
A tailor is a person who makes clothes. So now we don’t have tailors very often, but in the past, if you had a shirt and your shirt had a hole in it, you would take it to the tailor, and they would fix your shirt. So tailors make clothes and repair clothes, they fix clothes.
A blow. So, [bam], that was a blow on the table, although usually a blow is when you hit a person. So if you kill seven people in one blow, you must be very powerful, as you will find out in this story.
A giant is a big magical creature. So they are not real, but they exist in stories and legends. Giants are like people but very, very big, maybe five times’ bigger. In Harry Potter, Hagrid is a giant.
Squeeze means to press something between your hands. So you might squeeze a lemon to get the lemon juice out. You might squeeze an orange to make orange juice. You might squeeze someone’s hand softly to show that you like them.
Roots are the bottom part of a tree or plant. So the roots go into the ground and the roots drink up all the water in the ground. So the roots are very important. If a tree is very old, it will have nice, big roots on the ground.
A task is a job you have to do. So today I have many tasks to do. As I said, I am very busy. I have lots of tasks. For example, one of the tasks I have to do today is to record and edit this podcast!
A servant is a person who lives in your house and works for you. Servants might do your cooking, they might do your cleaning, they might do your gardening. Nowadays, servants are not very common. The British TV series Downton Abbey is about the lives of servants.
A unicorn is another magical creature. A unicorn is a white horse that has a horn on its head.
So a horn is a sharp bit on an animal’s head that it uses to attack. So deer, male deer specifically, stags, have big, complicated horns that they use to fight other stags. Horses don’t have horns, but a unicorn is like a horse with a horn on its head. And in the old days, in Viking cultures, they used to drink alcohol out of horns. Nowadays, rhino horns are very precious. A lot of people hunt rhinos for their horns, even though this is illegal.
“A piece of cake” is a phrase we say when something is really easy. Like, ‘Oh, that’s a piece of cake! Recording an episode of Easy Stories in English? That’s a piece of cake!’ It’s really easy. No problem. That won’t be hard at all.
Finally, a wild boar, and boar is spelt B-O-A-R, is a type of pig. So they have brown fur and they are bigger than normal pigs and they have big horns coming out of their mouths, which are called tusks. So wild boars are not common nowadays in the UK and if you see one, you should probably run, because they are quite dangerous. They like to attack humans. I have heard that wild boar tastes quite nice, though, if you eat it.
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support us on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5 you get an extra story every month. You can support us at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
A big thank-you to our new patrons: Arif Setiawan, A Chean Huang—uh, I don’t know how to pronounce that, sorry!—Anne Garat and Dominika Jarmołowicz. Thank you so much.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Brave Little Tailor
Once there was a tailor, who was very brave but quite stupid. He lived alone in a small town, and made and sold clothes all by himself. His business never did quite well, but he was happy, although sometimes he thought about leaving the town.
‘After all, there are so few people here. There are more people in the big cities, so I would make more money there!’
One day, he was sitting by his window and making a pair of trousers. An old lady walked past, crying, ‘Jam, fresh jam for sale! Come and get it! Delicious fresh jam!’
The tailor, who had forgotten to eat that morning, suddenly felt hungry. ‘And what would be nicer,’ he said, ‘than a lovely piece of bread with jam on it?’
So he went out to speak to the old lady. She had lots of kinds of jam: strawberry, raspberry, plum, pear—even tomato! The tailor asked to try each and every one, and thought long and hard, before saying, ‘I’ll have half a jar of strawberry jam.’
‘Half a jar?’ said the old woman, suddenly looking unhappy. ‘You can’t buy half a jar! They come in these jars. Full up. That’s it.’
‘Oh no. I don’t need a whole jar! I’m only going to have one slice of bread, after all.’
The old woman complained but did what he wanted, putting half a jar of jam into a jar for him. ‘Here you go. Don’t eat it all in one go.’
‘Thank you, kind lady!’
The tailor ran home at once, pulled a loaf of bread out of his cupboard, and put some jam on it.
‘Ah, how beautiful!’ he said. ‘In fact, this bread and jam is so beautiful that I can’t eat it right away. And anyway, didn’t mother always say that food tastes better after hard work?’
So he put the bread on a plate on the table and went back to the window to work. Every few minutes he looked at the bread, and felt hungrier and hungrier, and was looking forward to eating it very much.
But then, suddenly, some flies came in through the window! And the jam smelled so lovely and sweet that they went straight to the bread.
‘No, no!’ cried the man. ‘That’s my bread!’
He took a towel and waved it in the air, and the flies went away. When he put the towel down, he saw that he had hit and killed seven flies.
‘Seven! They’re fast little things, so killing even one fly is hard. And I killed seven in one blow! I have to tell the world about this!’
And as he was a tailor, he knew the best way to do it. He took a belt and sewed on the words SEVEN IN ONE BLOW.
‘There! Now I shall go out and show the world what I have done.’
He looked around the house for anything useful. All he found was an old cheese, so he put that in his pocket. As he left, he saw a bird caught in a bush in his garden, so he put that it in his pocket as well.
The brave little tailor walked out of town and up a hill, and came across a horrible, mean-looking giant. The tailor waved and said, ‘Good day! I’m going on a journey to show the world what I’ve done.’
‘I don’t care what sad little humans do with their lives,’ said the giant.
‘Are you sure?’ said the tailor. ‘Look!’
And he showed him his belt with the words SEVEN IN ONE BLOW.
The giant gasped. ‘Seven in one blow? That is a lot. I have only killed three in one blow myself. Alright then, let’s see how strong you are.’
The giant picked up a stone and squeezed it in his hands until water came out.
The tailor laughed. ‘That’s easy!’ He pulled the old cheese out of his pocket and squeezed it so hard that some liquid came out. ‘What’s next?’
‘Hmph!’ said the giant. ‘Try this.’ He picked up a rock and threw it far away.
‘Good throw. But look, it landed on the ground. I can do better. I’ll throw a stone so hard that it never touches the ground again!’
The tailor reached into his pocket, took out the bird and threw it into the air. The bird, who was of course happy to be free, flew far away.
The giant was going red now, and said angrily, ‘Fine, you can throw! But let’s see how well you can carry.’ He went over to a huge tree which had fallen down. ‘If you are so strong, help me carry this tree into the woods.’
‘Of course!’ said the tailor. ‘You take the end with the roots. I will take all the branches and leaves, as that part is much bigger, and so is much heavier.’
But really, the tailor just sat on a branch, so that the giant carried all of the weight and he got a nice easy ride. As they went, the tailor sang songs and made jokes, and finally the weight of the tree was too much for the giant and he stopped and fell to the ground.
‘I give up!’ he said.
The tailor jumped out of the tree and laughed. ‘I still have lots of energy!’
‘You are such a brave little man,’ the giant said, ‘so why don’t you come stay the night in our cave? We giants would love to have someone so strong stay with us.’
The tailor said yes, and when they arrived at the cave, they found several giants sitting around the fire, eating whole sheep. The giant showed him a huge stone bed, that was far too big for him and not at all comfortable. So when the giant had left, he got off the bed and went and found a corner to sleep in.
As soon as midnight struck, the giant got up, took a great iron stick and hit the bed, breaking it in two. ‘That’s the end of that annoying little man,’ he muttered, and went back to sleep.
Early in the morning the giants all went hunting and forgot about the tailor. The tailor woke up, found he was alone, and went back into the woods. On the way, he saw the giants coming back from the hunt, and when they saw him, alive and smiling, they all thought he was coming to kill them, and ran away shouting.
‘Hey! Where are you going, friends?’ cried the tailor. ‘Oh well. They weren’t much fun anyway.’
The little tailor walked all day, and finally came to a great city and a castle. He walked right into the castle, but feeling very tired, he lay down in the garden and fell asleep. While he slept, various people came and saw him, and read his belt: SEVEN IN ONE BLOW. ‘My word!’ they said. ‘He is a true soldier. He must have come to serve the King!’ So they went and told the King about him.
When the tailor woke up, he found a man standing right next to him. ‘The King asks you to join his army,’ he said, ‘since you are such a strong soldier.’
‘Well, why not?’ said the tailor. ‘That sounds like a wonderful idea.’ It was certainly a better job than being a tailor.
So the tailor joined the army, but all the other soldiers were afraid of him. ‘What shall we do?’ they said. ‘If we get into an argument with him, he’ll kill us all in a few blows.’ And one by one, the soldiers quit their job, until the tailor was the only soldier left. And as you might expect, he was not a particularly good one, either.
‘I must get rid of this darn soldier!’ the King said. ‘But carefully… he could kill all of my men if he wanted.’
So the King gave him an impossible task. ‘In the woods,’ he said, ‘there are two giants, who are always stealing, killing and setting things on fire. And worst of all, they attack travellers on their way to visit me! If you go and kill the two giants, I will let you marry my daughter, and you shall have half of all the riches in the kingdom. In fact, I will even send one hundred men to help you.’
Killing seven men in one blow was one thing, but killing two giants was another. So the King was very surprised when the tailor said, ‘Yes, why not? A lovely wife and piles of gold would be very nice. And don’t worry, I don’t need one hundred men. A man who can kill seven in one blow can do it alone!’
Still, the King sent his trusted servant with the tailor, to make sure he did not lie.
They walked to the forest, and then the tailor said, ‘Wait here, and I shall go and kill the two giants.’
So the tailor went into the forest and found the two giants. He waited until they fell asleep, filled his pockets with stones and climbed a tree above them. He took a stone and dropped it onto the stomach of one of the giants, who woke up immediately.
‘Hey!’ he said. ‘Why are you hitting me?’
‘You’re dreaming. I haven’t touched you,’ said the other.
They went back to sleep, and the tailor dropped a few stones onto the other giant.
‘Oi!’ he shouted. ‘Now you’re hitting me!’
‘I’m not doing anything! I’m just sleeping!’ They argued for a while, but finally went back to sleep.
This time, the tailor took a nice heavy stone and threw it hard onto the stomach of the first giant.
‘Alright, that’s it!’ roared the giant, and hit the other giant in the face. The other hit him back, and it quickly broke into a horrible fight. They hit each other until they went purple, then they pulled trees out of the ground and hit each other with those.
Eventually, the giants hit each other so hard that they got tired and fell to the ground. The tailor climbed down and finished them off.
He went and found the servant, and told him he was finished.
‘Really?’ said the servant. ‘You really killed both giants?’
‘Go and look yourself!’ said the tailor.
So the servant went and found the two giants, beaten and bloody. ‘I don’t believe it!’ he said to the tailor. ‘And you are not even hurt!’
‘Of course not!’ said the tailor. ‘Now, I have a princess to get to…’
But when he returned to the castle, the King did not offer up the Princess, and indeed, did not seem happy at all that the tailor had returned.
‘In fact,’ said the King, ‘I have one more task for you to do. Before you can marry my daughter and have half the riches in my kingdom, you must go into the forest and catch the unicorn who lives there. It has been attacking travellers and making all sorts of problems.’
‘That’s a piece of cake!’ said the tailor. ‘A unicorn isn’t even as scary as one giant, and I just killed two! After all, I can kill—’
‘—seven in one blow, yes, I know,’ said the King.
So the tailor went into the forest, once again with the servant. ‘Sorry for pulling you into this,’ he said, ‘it must be quite boring.’
‘No, no!’ said the servant. ‘I am really quite interested. When I was young, I wanted to be a brave soldier, just like you.’
‘Shh! Do you hear that? It is the unicorn!’
And the tailor ran off, leaving the servant behind. He found the unicorn running around the forest, and the animal was indeed very fast and dangerous. “If I’m not careful,” he thought, “it will kill me with its horn.”
And then he had an idea. The tailor ran in front of the unicorn, shouting, ‘Cooey, cooey! I’m over here!’
The unicorn ran after him, and the tailor ran away, stopping in front of a tree.
‘Oh no! The big scary unicorn is going to get me!’
The unicorn ran at him, but just before it caught him, he jumped out of the way, and the animal’s horn went deep into the tree, so deep that it couldn’t get out.
‘Piece of cake!’ the tailor said. He tied up the unicorn so it could not move, and then called the servant.
‘Wow!’ said the servant, who had been watching from a distance. ‘You really are a true hero!’
‘Oh, stop!’ said the tailor. ‘Now help me carry this back to the castle.’
Once again, the King looked more annoyed than glad to see the tailor with the unicorn, and once again he said, ‘Before I can give you my daughter and my riches, there is one more task to do.’
‘Oh, come on!’ said the tailor. ‘Why does there always have to be three tasks?’
‘In the same forest there is a wild boar, who has been—’
‘—making problems? Attacking travellers? Eating buildings? Big surprise. You really need to do something about this forest. I mean, giants, unicorns and boars? I’m surprised they haven’t come and attacked the castle. Alright, let’s go. Come on, Mr. Servant.’
So the tailor and the servant went back to the forest, and sang songs as they went. They were good friends now, and the servant looked up to him like a hero. The tailor enjoyed that a lot.
This time, the tailor waited for the boar to run at him, and then ran into an old church nearby. The quick little tailor climbed up the wall and jumped out of the window, which of course the boar could not do, and before the animal realised what was happening, the tailor ran around and shut the door behind it. Now the boar was stuck inside the church.
‘Let’s go call the hunters,’ he said to the servant, and they did just that.
When the boar was killed, and the tailor returned to the King, the old man looked very red indeed.
‘There is, uh, a duck…’
‘No there isn’t!’ said the tailor. ‘There isn’t a duck or a dragon or a frog or any animal or man a hundred miles around here who is making any problems. I stopped them all. Now, can I finally get married?’
The King had no option but to say yes, and give the tailor his daughter’s hand in marriage and half the riches of the kingdom. They had a wonderful wedding, although the King did not enjoy it, and all the people of the city sang songs about the tailor and brought him lovely presents.
‘Seven in one blow! Seven in one blow!’ they sang, all throughout the wedding.
The tailor’s new wife, the young Queen, was just as unhappy as her father, who had told her to be careful of this man.
‘He came from nowhere, and he has completed all my tasks in a most strange way… Something is wrong with this “hero”, and I want you to find out.’
One night, the Queen woke up in her sleep and heard the tailor talking to himself.
‘No, you idiot!’ he muttered. ‘You asked me for a pair of trousers, not a cake. I made you the trousers like you wanted. I’m a tailor, after all.’
The Queen gasped. “But he is just a tailor!” she thought. And a common tailor was no good match for a queen.
The next morning she went to her father at once and told him what had happened.
‘Fantastic!’ he said. ‘This is just what we needed… Tonight, leave your bedroom door open. My guard will stand outside, and when he is asleep, the guards will come and tie him up. We’ll put him on a ship and send him halfway across the world, and no-one will see the brave little tailor ever again! Ah, here comes the servant with my breakfast! Run off now, dear, and don’t tell a word of this to your husband.’
But the servant had heard everything, and as he liked the tailor very much, he told him about the King’s plan.
‘Hmph! We’ll see about that,’ said the tailor.
That night, the tailor went to bed as usual, and when his wife thought he was asleep, she went and opened the door and then went back to bed. The little tailor, who was not at all asleep, said, ‘You asked me for a pair of trousers, not a cake. I made you the trousers like you wanted. I’m a tailor, after all. Don’t lie to me! I have killed seven men in one blow, killed two giants, and caught a unicorn and a wild boar. Do you really think I will be afraid of the men standing outside my room?’
And when they heard the tailor say this, the guards felt very scared indeed, and ran away. Nobody in the castle would ever attack him, and so the tailor remained a king as long as he lived.
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