Thursday’s Tale: The Strange Visitor by Joseph Jacobs

The Strange Visitor
English Fairy Tales, Jacobs, J., 1895 New York : Grosset & Dunlap (2nd edition?) Boston Public Lib

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This tale struck me as the perfect one to tell to a group of kids around a campfire, especially with Halloween on its way.

In the “Strange Visitor,” retold by Joseph Jacobs in English Fairy Tales, an old woman is sitting at her spinning wheel one night. She is sitting and spinning and feeling lonely. She wishes for company. But, once again, be careful what you wish for.

In comes a pair of feet that sit down by the fireside. The old woman keeps working and wishing. Then in comes a pair of legs, followed by knees and thighs. Piece by piece a person comes in and sits by the fireside. Finally, after the whole body is assembled, the old woman speaks to it.

“How did you get such broad broad feet?” quoth the woman.

“Much tramping, much tramping” (_gruffly_).

“How did you get such small small legs?”

“Aih-h-h!-late–and wee-e-e–moul” (_whiningly_).

“How did you get such thick thick knees?”

“Much praying, much praying” (_piously_).

“How did you get such thin thin thighs?”

“Aih-h-h!–late–and wee-e-e–moul” (_whiningly_).

And on it goes until the last two questions, which end the story.

“How did you get such a huge huge head?”

“Much knowledge, much knowledge” (_keenly_).

“What do you come for?”

“FOR YOU!” (_At the top of the voice, with a wave of the arm and a stamp of the feet._)

You can read the whole story several places on-line, including at SurLaLune Fairy Tales, which is the version I read. It is from Joseph Jacobs English Fairy Tales, published 1890. I think it’s one I’ll print out and try to remember. It’s never a bad thing to have a lightly spooky, easy to tell story up your sleeve.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.

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