Ta­per Tom Makes the Princess Laugh

The Borneo Post - Good English - - Front Page - by Peter Chris­ten As­b­jørnsen & Jør­gen Enge­bret­sen Moe

ONCE on a time there was a King who had a daugh­ter, and she was so lovely that her good looks were well known far and near. But she was so sad and se­ri­ous she could never be got to laugh, and be­sides, she was so high and mighty that she said “No” to all who came to woo her. She would have none of them, were they ever so grand—lords or princes,—it was all the same.

The King had long ago be­come tired of this, for he thought she might just as well marry; she, too, like all other peo­ple. There was no use in wait­ing; she was quite old enough, nor would she be any richer, for she was to have half the king­dom,—that came to her as her mother’s heir.

So he had word sent through­out the king­dom, that any­one who could get his daugh­ter to laugh should have her for his wife and half the king­dom be­sides. But, if there was any­one who tried and could not, he was to have a sound thrash­ing. And sure it was that there were many sore backs in that king­dom, for lovers and woo­ers came from north and south, and east and west, think­ing it noth­ing at all to make a King’s daugh­ter laugh. And gay fel­lows they were, some of them too, but for all their tricks and ca­pers there sat the Princess, just as sad and se­ri­ous as she had been be­fore.

Now, not far from the palace lived a man who had three sons, and they, too, had heard how the King had given it out that the man who could make the Princess laugh was to have her to wife and half the king­dom.

The el­dest was for set­ting off first. So he strode off, and when he came to the King’s grange, he told the King he would be glad to try to make the Princess laugh.

“All very well, my man,” said the King, “but it’s sure to be of no use, for so many have been here and tried. My daugh­ter is so sor­row­ful it’s no use try­ing, and it’s not my wish that any­one should come to grief.”

But the lad thought he would like to try. It couldn’t be such a very hard thing for him to get the Princess to laugh, for so many had laughed at him, both gen­tle and sim­ple, when he en­listed for a sol­dier and was drilled by Cor­po­ral Jack.

So he went off to the court­yard, un­der the Princess’s win­dow, and be­gan to go through his drill as Cor­po­ral Jack had taught him. But it was no good, the Princess was just as sad and se­ri­ous and did not so much as smile at him once. So they took him and thrashed him well, and sent him home again.

Well, he had hardly got home be­fore his sec­ond brother wanted to set off. He was a school­mas­ter, and the fun­ni­est fig­ure one ever laid eyes upon; he was lop­sided, for he had one leg shorter than the other, and one mo­ment he was as lit­tle as a boy, and in an­other, when he stood on his long leg, he was as tall and long as a gi­ant. Be­sides this he was a pow­er­ful preacher.

So when he came to the king’s palace, and said he wished to make the Princess laugh, the King thought it might not be so un­likely af­ter all. “But mercy on you,” he said, “if you don’t make her laugh. We are for lay­ing it on harder and harder for ev­ery one that fails.”

Then the school­mas­ter strode off to the court­yard, and put him­self be­fore the Princess’s win­dow, and read and preached like seven par­sons, and sang and chanted like seven clerks, as loud as all the par­sons and clerks in the coun­try round.

The King laughed loud at him, and the Princess al­most smiled a lit­tle, but then be­came as sad and se­ri­ous as ever, and so it fared no bet­ter with Paul, the school­mas­ter, than with Peter the sol­dier—for you must know one was called Peter and the other Paul. So they took him and flogged him well, and then they sent him home again.

Then the youngest, whose name was Ta­per Tom, was all for set­ting out. But his broth­ers laughed and jeered at him, and showed him their sore backs, and his fa­ther said it was no use for him to go for he had no sense. Was it not true that he nei­ther knew any­thing nor could do any­thing? There he sat in the hearth, like a cat, and grubbed in the ashes and split ta­pers. That was why they called him “Ta­per Tom.” But Ta­per Tom would not give in, and so they got tired of his growl­ing; and at last he, too, got leave to go to the king’s palace to try his luck.

When he got there he did not say that he wished to try to make the Princess laugh, but asked if he could get work there. No, they had no place for him, but for all that Ta­per Tom would not give up. In such a big palace they must want some­one to carry wood and wa­ter for the kitchen maid,—that was what he said. And the king thought it might very well be, for he, too, got tired of his teas­ing. In the end Ta­per Tom stayed there to carry wood and wa­ter for the kitchen maid.

So one day, when he was go­ing to fetch wa­ter from the brook, he set eyes upon a big fish which lay un­der an old fir stump, where the wa­ter had eaten into the bank, and he put his bucket softly un­der the fish and caught it. But as he was gong home to the grange he met an old woman who led a golden goose by a string.

“Good-day, god­mother,” said Ta­per Tom, “that’s a pretty bird you have, and what fine feath­ers! If one only had such feath­ers one might leave off split­ting fir ta­pers.”

The goody was just as pleased with the fish Tom had in his bucket and said, if he would give her the fish, he might have the golden goose. And it was such a cu­ri­ous goose. When any one touched it he stuck fast to it, if Tom only said, “If you want to come along, hang on.” Of course, Ta­per Tom was will­ing enough to make the ex­change. “A bird is as good as a fish any day,” he said to him­self, “and, if it’s such a bird as you say, I can use it as a fish hook.” That was what he said to the goody, and he was much pleased with the goose.

Now, he had not gone far be­fore he met an­other old woman. As soon as she saw the lovely golden goose she

spoke pret­tily, and coaxed and begged Tom to give her leave to stroke his lovely golden goose.

“With all my heart,” said Ta­per Tom, and just as she stroked the goose he said, “If you want to come along, hang on.”

The goody pulled and tore, but she was forced to hang on whether she would or not, and Ta­per Tom went on as though he alone were with the golden goose.

When he had gone a bit far­ther, he met a man who had had a quar­rel with the old woman for a trick she had played him. So, when he saw how hard she strug­gled and strove to get free, and how fast she stuck, he thought he would just pay her off the old grudge, and so he gave her a kick with his foot.

“If you want to come along, hang on!” called out Tom, and then the old man had to hop along on one leg, whether he would or not. When he tore and tugged and tried to get loose—it was still worse for him, for he all but fell flat on his back ev­ery step he took.

In this way they went on a good bit till they had nearly reached the King’s palace.

There they met the King’s smith, who was go­ing to the smithy, and had a great pair of tongs in his hand. Now you must know this smith was a merry fel­low, full of both tricks and pranks, and when he saw this string come hob­bling and limp­ing along, he laughed so that he was al­most bent dou­ble.

Then he bawled out, “Surely this is a new flock of geese the Princess is go­ing to have—Ah, here is the gan­der that tod­dles in front. Goosey! goosey! goosey!” A CHEMIST walks into a phar­macy and asks the phar­ma­cist, “Do you have any acetyl­sal­i­cylic acid?”

“You mean as­pirin?” asked the phar­ma­cist. “That’s it! I can never re­mem­ber that word.”

A physi­cist, a bi­ol­o­gist, and a chemist were go­ing to the ocean for the first time. The physi­cist saw the ocean and was fas­ci­nated by the waves. He said he wanted to do some re­search on the fluid dy­nam­ics of the waves and walked into the ocean. Ob­vi­ously he was drowned and never he called, and with that he threw his hands about as though he were scat­ter­ing corn for the geese.

But the flock never stopped—on it went and all that the goody and the man did was to look dag­gers at the smith for mak­ing fun of them. Then the smith went on:

“It would be fine fun to see if I could hold the whole flock, so many as they are,” for he was a stout strong fel­low. So he took hold with his big tongs by the old man’s coat tail, and the man all the while screeched and wrig­gled. But Ta­per Tom only said:

“If you want to come along, hang on!” So the smith had to go along too. He bent his back and stuck his heels into the ground and tried to get loose, but it was all no good. He stuck fast, as though he had been screwed tight with his own vise, and whether he would or not, he had to dance along with the rest.

So, when they came near to the King’s palace, the dog ran out and be­gan to bark as though they were wolves and beg­gars. And when the Princess, look­ing out of the win­dow to see what was the mat­ter, set eyes on this strange pack, she laughed softly to her­self. But Ta­per Tom was not con­tent with that:

“Bide a bit,” he said, “she will soon have to make a noise.” And as he said that he turned off with his band to the back of the palace.

When they passed by the kitchen the door stood open, and the cook was just stir­ring the por­ridge.

But when she saw Ta­per Tom and his pack she came run­ning out at the door, with her broom in one hand and a la­dle full of smok­ing por­ridge in the other, and she laughed as though her sides would split. re­turned.

The bi­ol­o­gist said he wanted to do re­search on the flora and fauna in­side the ocean and walked in­side the ocean. He, too, never re­turned.

The chemist waited for a long time and af­ter­wards, wrote the ob­ser­va­tion, “The physi­cist and the bi­ol­o­gist are sol­u­ble in ocean wa­ter.”

A frog tele­phones the Psy­chic Hot­line. His Per­sonal Psy­chic Ad­vi­sor tells him, “You are go­ing to meet a beau­ti­ful young girl who will want to know ev­ery­thing about you.”

The frog is thrilled! “This is great! Will I meet her at a party?”

“No,” says his ad­vi­sor, “in her bi­ol­ogy class.”

Three statis­ti­cians go hunt­ing for deer. They spot one off in the dis­tance. The first one shoots about a me­tre too high; the sec­ond one, about a me­tre too low; the third one yells, “We got it!”

And when she saw the smith there too, she bent dou­ble and went off again in a loud peal of laugh­ter. But when she had had her laugh out, she too thought the golden goose so lovely she must just stroke it.

“Ta­per Tom! Ta­per Tom!” she called out, and came run­ning out with the la­dle of por­ridge in her fist, “Give me leave to pet that pretty bird of yours’?”

“Bet­ter come and pet me,” said the smith. But when the cook heard that she got an­gry.

“What is that you say?” she cried and gave the smith a box on his ears with the la­dle.

“If you want to come along, hang on,” said Ta­per Tom. So she stuck fast too, and for all her kicks and plunges, and all her scold­ing and scream­ing, and all her riv­ing and striv­ing, she too had to limp along with them.

She opened her mouth wide and laughed.

Soon the whole com­pany came un­der the Princess’s win­dow. There she stood wait­ing for them. And when she saw they had taken the cook too, with her la­dle and broom, she opened her mouth wide, and laughed so loud that the King had to hold her up­right.

So Ta­per Tom got the Princess and half the king­dom, and they say he kept her in high spir­its with his tricks and pranks till the end of her days. The doc­tor tells a woman that she has only six months to live. He ad­vises her to marry a chemist and move to Bagh­dad. The woman asks, “Will this cure my ill­ness?”

“No,” replies the doc­tor, “but it will make six months seem like a very long time.”

A dung bee­tle walks into a bar and says, “Ex­cuse me, is this stool taken?”

A psy­cho­an­a­lyst shows a pa­tient an inkblot and asks him what he sees. The pa­tient says: “A man and woman mak­ing love.”

The psy­cho­an­a­lyst shows him a sec­ond inkblot, and the pa­tient says: “That’s also a man and woman mak­ing love.”

The psy­cho­an­a­lyst says: “You are ob­sessed with sex.”

The pa­tient ar­gues: “What do you mean I’m ob­sessed? You’re the one with all the dirty pic­tures.”

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