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Tom Thumb

Tom Thumb
An English Fairy Tale

In the days of King Arthur, there lived a wise man named Merlin.

He knew all the fairies and where they lived.

Even the fairy queen was a friend of his.

Once, while he was traveling, night overtook him in a deep forest.

He rapped at the door of a small cottage and asked for some food.

Merlin looked so hungry and poor that the farmer and his wife took pity on him.

They not only gave him a bowl of milk with some brown bread, but they said he might stay through the night.

Merlin saw that, in spite of their pleasant cottage, both the farmer and his wife were very sad.

"Why are you sad?" asked Merlin.

"You seem to have a good farm, a pleasant cottage, and many things to make you happy."

"Ah!" said the woman, "we are unhappy because we have no child.

I should be the happiest woman in the world if I had a son.

Why, even if he were no bigger than my husband's thumb, we should love him dearly."

"That would be indeed a very strange kind of child," said Merlin, "but I hope you may have your wish."

Now, Merlin was on his way to call on the queen of the fairies.

When he came to her castle the next day, he told the fairy queen the wish of the farmer's wife.

The queen of the fairies said, "The good woman shall have her wish. I will give her a son no larger than her husband's thumb."

Soon after this the good farmer's wife had a son. He was, indeed, just the size of his father's thumb.

People came from far and wide to see the tiny boy.

One day the fairy queen and some other fairies came to see him.

The queen kissed the little boy and named him Tom Thumb.

Each of the other fairies made Tom a gift.

He had a shirt made of silk from a spider's web, a coat of thistledown, a hat made from the leaf of an oak, tiny shoes made from a mouse's skin, and many other gifts besides.

Tom never grew any larger than a man's thumb, but he could do many clever tricks.

One day his mother was mixing a pudding.

Tom leaned over the edge of the bowl to see how it was made.

He slipped, and in he went, head first.

His mother did not see him fall, and kept stirring and stirring the pudding.

Tom could not see nor hear, but he kicked and kicked inside the pudding.

The pudding moved and tossed about.

His mother was afraid.

"There must be witches in it," she said.

She went to the window to throw the pudding out.

Just then a poor beggar was passing by the house.

"Here is a pudding you may have, if you like," said Tom's mother.

The beggar thanked her and put it into his basket.

He had not gone very far, when Tom got his head out of the pudding and shouted in a shrill voice:

"Take me out! take me out!"

The poor beggar was so frightened that he dropped his basket, pudding and all, and ran off as fast as he could.

Tom crawled out of the pudding, climbed out of the basket, and ran home.

His mother washed him and put him to bed.

Not long after this Tom's mother took him with her when she went to milk the cow.

That he might not get lost, she tied him to a wisp of hay.

When Tom's mother was not looking, the cow took the wisp of hay into her mouth.

She began to chew and chew.

Tom began to jump about and shout.

He frightened the cow so that she opened her great mouth and out Tom jumped.

Then Tom's mother took him in her apron and ran with him to the house, but he was not hurt in the least.

One day Tom was in the field helping his father.

"Let me drive the horse home," said Tom.

"You drive the horse!" said the father.

"How could you hold the reins?"

"I could stand in the horse's ear and tell him which way to go," said Tom.

So his father put him in the horse's ear, and he drove safely home.

"Mother! mother!" cried Tom.

But when Tom's mother came out, she could see no one.

She began to be afraid.

"Where are you Tom?" she cried.

"Here I am in the horse's ear. Please take me down," said Tom.

His mother lifted him gently down, kissed him, and gave him a blackberry for supper.

Tom's father made him a whip out of a straw.

Tom tried to drive the cows, but he fell into a deep ditch.

There a great bird saw him and thought he was a mouse.

The bird seized Tom in her claws and carried him toward her nest.

As they were passing over the sea, Tom got away and fell into the water, where a great fish swallowed him at one mouthful.

Soon after this the fish was caught, and it was such a big one that it was sent at once to King Arthur.

When the cook cut open the fish, out jumped Tom Thumb. Tom was brought before the king and his story told.

The king grew very fond of Tom and his wise sayings. He took Tom with him wherever he went.

If it began to rain, Tom would creep into the king's pocket and sleep until the rain was over.

The king had a new suit made for Tom, and gave him a needle for a sword.

A mouse was trained for Tom to ride.

The king and queen never tired of seeing him ride his queer little horse and bravely wave his sword.

One day, as they were going hunting, a cat jumped out and caught Tom's mouse.

Tom drew his sword and tried to drive the cat away.

The king ran to help poor Tom, and the cat ran away. Tom was scratched and bitten.

Tom was put to bed, but he did not die.

No indeed! he was soon well again, and fought many brave battles and did many brave deeds to please the king.

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