Select the desired text size

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 killed him.



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 supper."

       



back to top
Back To Top
next page
Next Page