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Nix Naught Nothing

Once upon a time there lived a King and a Queen who didn't differ much from all the other kings and queens who have lived since Time began. But they had no children, and this made them very sad indeed. Now it so happened that the King had to go and fight battles in a far country, and he was away for many long months. And, lo and behold! while he was away the Queen at long last bore him a little son. As you may imagine, she was fair delighted, and thought how pleased the King would be when he came home and found that his dearest wish had been fulfilled. And all the courtiers were fine and pleased too, and set about at once to arrange a grand festival for the naming of the little Prince. But the Queen said, "No! The child shall have no name till his father gives it to him. Till then we will call him 'Nix! Naught! Nothing!' because his father knows nothing about him!"

So little Prince Nix Naught Nothing grew into a strong, hearty little lad; for his father did not come back for a long time, and did not even know that he had a son.

But at long last he turned his face homewards. Now, on the way, he came to a big rushing river which neither he nor his army could cross, for it was flood-time and the water was full of dangerous whirlpools, where nixies and water-wraiths lived, always ready to drown men.

So they were stopped, until a huge giant appeared, who could take the river, whirlpool and all, in his stride; and he said kindly, "I'll carry you all over, if you like." Now, though the giant smiled and was very polite, the King knew enough of the ways of giants to think it wiser to have a hard and fast bargain. So he said, quite curt, "What's your pay?"

"Pay?" echoed the giant, with a grin, "what do you take me for? Give me Nix Naught Nothing, and I'll do the job with a glad heart."

Now the King felt just a trifle ashamed at the giant's generosity; so he said, "Certainly, certainly. I'll give you nix naught nothing and my thanks into the bargain."

So the giant carried them safely over the stream and past the whirlpools, and the King hastened homewards.

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