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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.
Nix nought nothing.
From English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)
Start of Story
There once lived a king and a queen as many a one has been. They were
long married and had no children; but at last a baby-boy came to the
queen when the king was away in the far countries. The queen would not
christen the boy till the king came back, and she said, "We will just
call him _Nix Nought Nothing_ until his father comes home." But
it was long before he came home, and the boy had grown a nice little
laddie. At length the king was on his way back; but he had a big river
to cross, and there was a whirlpool, and he could not get over the
water. But a giant came up to him, and said "I'll carry you over." But
the king said: "What's your pay?" "O give me Nix, Nought, Nothing, and
I will carry you over the water on my back." The king had never heard
that his son was called Nix Nought Nothing, and so he said: "O, I'll
give you that and my thanks into the bargain."
When the king got home
again, he was very happy to see his wife again, and his young son. She
told him that she had not given the child any name, but just Nix
Nought Nothing, until he should come home again himself. The poor king
was in a terrible case. He said: "What have I done? I promised to give
the giant who carried me over the river on his back, Nix Nought
Nothing." The king and the queen were sad and sorry, but they said:
"When the giant comes we will give him the hen-wife's boy; he will
never know the difference." The next day the giant came to claim the
king's promise, and he sent for the hen-wife's boy; and the giant went
away with the boy on his back. He travelled till he came to a big
stone, and there he sat down to rest. He said,
"Hidge, Hodge, on my back, what time of day is that?"
The poor little boy said: "It is the time that my mother, the hen-
wife, takes up the eggs for the queen's breakfast."
The Giant was very angry, and dashed the boy's head on the stone and
So he went back in a tower of a temper and this time they gave him the
gardener's boy. He went off with him on his back till they got to the
stone again when the giant sat down to rest. And he said:
"Hidge, Hodge, on my back, what time of day do you make that?"
The gardener's boy said: "Sure it's the time that my mother takes up
the vegetables for the queen's dinner." Then the giant was right wild
and dashed his brains out on the stone.
Then the giant went back to the king's house in a terrible temper and
said he would destroy them all if they did not give him Nix Nought
Nothing this time. They had to do it; and when he came to the big
stone, the giant said: "What time of day is that?" Nix Nought Nothing
said: "It is the time that my father the king will be sitting down to
supper." The giant said: "I've got the right one now;" and took Nix
Nought Nothing to his own house and brought him up till he was a man.
The giant had a bonny daughter, and she and the lad grew very fond of
each other. The giant said one day to Nix Nought Nothing: "I've work
for you to-morrow. There is a stable seven miles long and seven miles
broad, and it has not been cleaned for seven years, and you must clean
it to-morrow, or I will have you for my supper."
The giant's daughter went out next morning with the lad's breakfast,
and found him in a terrible state, for always as he cleaned out a bit,
it just fell in again. The giant's daughter said she would help him,
and she cried all the beasts in the field, and all the fowls of the
air, and in a minute they all came, and carried away everything that
was in the stable and made it all clean before the giant came home. He
said: "Shame on the wit that helped you; but I have a worse job for
you to-morrow." Then he said to Nix Nought Nothing: "There's a lake
seven miles long, and seven miles deep, and seven miles broad, and you
must drain it to-morrow by nightfall, or else I'll have you for my