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:HOP-O'-MY-THUMB.:,.-, *.,..E NCE upon a time there lived on-the edge of a great forest a poor woodman and hiswife, who had a large family of little children whom they could scarcely feed andclothe; and when a great famine fell on the land, they were reduced to utter poverty,and could not even buy bread. As-they sat one night, after the children were in bed, talking oftheir troubles, the husband said, "My dear wife, there is only one way left. We must take ourchildren into the wood and lose them there. Some kind traveller may find them, perhaps, andfeed them; at any rate we cannot; and we shall not be able to bear their cries of hunger when ourlast loaf shall be eaten." The wife would not hear of such a deed at first; she said, "Wolveswould devour her poor little ones before travellers found them," and she cried bitterly. Butherr husband coaxed her and reasoned with her, and seemed so sure that a traveller wouldfind' the children, that at last she agreed to do as he wished. They decided to tell theirboys the next morning that they were going to take them to cut wood in the forest, meaningto leave them in the midst of it. Of course they thought no one heard them; but Hop-o'-my-Thumb, their youngest little boy, was listening all'the time behind them. Thoughie was the very smallest boy ever seen; he was very clever and sharp, and understood allthey said. When he thought they had done talking, he crept back to bed, and lay thinkingover all he had heard. The next day, getting up very early, he went down to the brook andI
HOP-O'-MY-THUMB.:0:-filled his little pockets with smooth round pebbles as white as milk. By-and-bye the wood-man and his wife took the children into the wood as they had settled, and told them to pickup all the small sticks they could find. While they were doing so, these cruel parents stoleaway and left them all alone. When the sun was quite low, the little ones missed their father-and mother, and ran about the wood looking for them everywhere. When they could not findthem they began to cry; but Hop-o'-my-Thumb said, "Don't cry, dear brothers; I know thepath that leads home. I strewed white pebbles all the way we came. We must look forthem, and they will lead us right." So the children, taking hold of hands, followed Hop-o'-my-Thumb, who looked for his pebbles, and by their help led them safely back to thewoodman's hut.Meantime that cruel man and his wife, on their return home, found that the Baron, theirmaster, had sent a servant with a great piece of deer's flesh-venison-and a dozen loaves ofbread, "For," said the man, "he knows how the poor who, have children are suffering, andhe sends you a good help because you have six fine boys."The cruel woodman and his wife, when they heard these words and saw the food, were verysorry that they had left their children to die in the forest. But they did not tell the servantwhat they had done; they only begged he would thank the Baron for them. Then the wifecut off a steak of venison and fried it for her husband's supper, and as she set it on the table,she sobbed and cried, "Oh that my boys were here to eat with us " " Here we are, mother!"cried six little voices at the door, and with a cry of delight she clasped her children in herarms. The woodman too was glad to see them; but he made them tell him how they foundtheir way home, and wondered at little Hop-o'-my-Thumb's sense. They all lived happilytill -the meat and bread were eaten; by that time the famine was worse than ever, and the2
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HOP-O'-MY-THUMB.' :----0:;- "Baron could not give his.poor pe:le fod.' Once more the woodman took his children intothe-wood to lose them ;' and' this' time he took care that Hop-o'-myThumb had nothing inhis pockets; but he gave. each child a slice of bread. Poor Hop-o'-my-Thumb, who feltcertain that they were to be lost again, thought bread must do instead of pebbles, and brokehis slice into large crumbs, which he threw by the wayside'as they walked. .But, alas! whenonce more the father left them, and Hop-o'-my-Thumb tried. to find the way back by thecrumbs, he could see none. The birds had eaten them all'up The children did not know.what to do'; it was growing dark, and they could already hear the howling of the wolves.Hop-o'-my-Thumb said they must make haste out of the wood at once, so they set out andwalked as fast as their little feet would take them; and. by-and-bye they came to a very largehouse just on the edge of the wood opposite to their own home. They knocked at the-door,and it was opened by a kind-looking woman, who seemed quite frightened when she sawthem. Hop-o'-my-Thumb at once asked her if she: could take them in, as they had been lostin the wood-. But she shook her head, and said, "Ah, poor little ones, a cruel Ogre whoiets children lives here. You would be safer in the forest than in this house." But Hop-o'-,;iy-Thumb said, " The-wolves will eat .us there; couldn't you hide us just for one night,please?" "Well, perhaps' I might," she answered, "at least, I will try. Come in." So shetook them in, gave them some bread and milk,-for her husband the Ogre was not at home,- 'andl then hid them in a closet near the fireplace." By-and-bye the Ogre came home, and thefirst thing: hesaid was, "Fee-fo-fi-fo-fum, I smell the breathof a man " " No, no," said theWife, "it is the sheep which is roasting that you smell."'But 'the Ogre was -not to be-so easily deceived-: he searched for and found the children, andwas so pleased .at the thought of the feast they would make,- that he forgot to scold his wife3
HOP-O'-MY- THUMB.----:o:---for deceiving him. He did not, however, eat the children at once. He was going to havesome Ogre friends to dinner the next day, so he told his wife to give the children a good mealand put them to bed. "I will have them for dinner to-morrow," he said. The good wifewas very sorry, but she could not help them; so she took them up to the nursery, where theogre's six little daughters were all asleep in one bed, and told the boys to'get into anotherlarge one on the opposite side of the room. The six little Ogresses had each a gold crownon her head, though in bed and asleep. The Ogress put a nightcap on each of the boys.Now, Hop-o'-my-Thumb was afraid the Ogre might change his mind, and eat them in thenight; so as soon as the woman was gone he got out of bed, took off the sleeping girls'crowns, put the nightcaps on their heads instead, and placed the crowns on his brothers'heads and his own; then he crept back to bed.That which he expected happened. The Ogre could not sleep for thinking of the next day'sfeast. He fancied the boys would be more tender food then, if they had been killed a fewhours; so he got up and went to the nursery, resolved to cut off their heads. He did nottake a light, for he thought he could tell which were his own children by the crowns. Sowhen he came into the room he went over to Hop-o'-my-Thumb's bed, and felt the boys'heads,-they all pretended to be very fast asleep,-and finding the crowns on them, he wentover to the other bed, and cut off all the six little Ogresses' heads at one sweep of his greatsword. Then he went back to bed. As soon as Hop-o'-my-Thumb heard him snoring, whichwas very soon, he made his brothers get up and follow him downstairs. Here luckily theyfound the back door left unfastened; they opened it softly, stole out, and ran down the gardenand out into the road as fast as they could. When the Ogre got up the next morning he toldhis wife to "dress the children," and she-thinking he meant "put on their clothes"-hurried4
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HOP-O'-MY- THUMB.----:0:---up to the nursery, hoping he would let them go. But when she saw that they were gone, andthat the Ogre's children, her stepdaughters, were dead, she gave a very loud cry, which broughtthe Ogre to the room. His rage, when he found his mistake, was really terrible. He declaredthat he would find those wicked boys and make mincemeat of them, and he bade his wifebring him his seven-league boots, that he might go after them at immense speed. So ithappened, that though Hop-o'-my-Thumb and his brothers had gone a long way, the Giantsoon overtook them. But Hop-o'-my-Thumb, hearing his heavy tramp coming, made hisbrothers hide in a hole in the earth, which he covered over with leaves and grass, and thenhe hid himself under a dock-leaf,-he was so -tiny it quite concealed him,--and from thence hewatched the Giant when he came to the spot. The Ogre searched everywhere, and, findingnothing, passed by, striding along with great steps; but as Hop-o'-my-Thumb thought hewould come back again, he would not let his brothers move. By-and-bye the Ogre returned ;he had walked miles and miles, and was now so tired and so sad that he lay down on thegrass and went to sleep close to the hole where the children were hidden, and he snored soloud they were quite frightened. Then Hop-o'-my-Thumb crept gently out from his hiding-place, went up to the Giant, and softly drew off his seven-league boots, and put them on hisown tiny feet. To his surprise, when he said softly to himself, "I wish I were a big boy,that they might fit me," he grew quite a fine lad, as big as if he had been twelve years old, andthe boots fitted him quite nicely. Then, as the Giant still slept, Hop-o'-my-Thumb whisperedto his brothers to lie still till the ogre was gone, and then to go to the nearest town, whilehe went off in an opposite direction by himself; for he knew the Ogre, when he woke, wouldsee the print of the boots in the sand, and would' follow him and not the others.And so indeed it happened. Hop-o'-my-Thumb had only gone about two steps-that was,5
HOP-O'-MY- THUMB.in those boots, fourteen leagues-when he heard shouts and cries behind him, and lookingback, he saw the Ogre coming after him at his greatest speed. Hop-o'-my-Thumb instantlysprang forward, for the Ogre was close- behind him. There was a great precipice in front ofthe boy, that is, a steep place which went down hundreds of 'feet to a rocky stream below;but the seven-league-boots took it at one step. Then the Ogre tried to leap across after him,but jumping a little short, fell right down into the abyss, and was dashed to pieces on thesharp rocks below. Hop-o'-my-Thumb was very glad that he had been thus saved from thecruel Ogre, and began to move more slowly, for the boots obeyed his will. By-and-bye hecame to a village, and stopping at a baker's shop, asked a woman at the door if she wouldgive him a piece of bread and a little water. She kindly gave him a roll, and while he waseating it, he heard the people round talking- of the trouble the King was in, and he asked a manwhat it was about. "The King has just heard that the enemies against whom he has sent out.all his soldiers, have stolen on in front and. at the side of them, and that his army, who believethe foe is miles away, will be surrounded and cut off. It is not possible that a warning canreach the General in time." "Take me to the King," said Hop-o'-my-Thumb; "I can reachthe army in time." At first people laughed when the boy said this; but when he told themof his seven-league boots, they.were delighted, and at once led him to the palace. The Kingtold him where to go and what to say, and Hop-o'-my-Thumb set out at once. Steppingover seven leagues at once, he reached the army in time. The General, warned of thedanger,_ was ready to -receive the attack, and the King's enemies were entirely defeated. Theofficers were very glad to have Vop-o'-my-Thumb with them, as he could so easily run allover the country, and bring them tidings of where the enemy was.Meantime the woodman and his wife had been taken up and put into prison. Their neigh-6
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HOP-O'-MY- THUMB.bours had missed the children, and people began to say that the cruel parents had killed andeaten their little boys. The Baron sent his servant to make inquiries; and then the mother,-who had never been happy one hour since the loss of her children,-confessed that they hadleft the little lads in the forest. Of course they were at once carried off to prison, that strictinquiries might be made, and that the wood might be searched for the bodies.The brothers of Hop-o'-my-Thumb, when they saw the Ogre wake up and hasten after theirtiny counsellor, were very much afraid indeed; but they did as Hop-o'-my-Thumb had toldthem. They made haste to the nearest town, and there the people were very kind to them,gave them food and shelter, and promised to inquire about their parents, and persuade themto take the children home. The very day little Hop-o'-my-Thumb returned in triumph withthe victorious army, and entered with them the chief city of the kingdom, the woodman andhis wife had been tried for-the murder of their children, had been condemned to die, andeverybody was talking of them; some saying that they had certainly eaten their childrenothers that they had only lost them. Hop-o'-my-Thumb, with his usual inquisitiveness,asked what people were talking about so eagerly, and was very much shocked when he knew.He begged at once to be taken to the King, and when admitted to the royal presence, he toldhis story just as you have read it, and begged the King to. order his father and mother to beset free."They have deserved to die because they wished to kill their children," said the King;"but I am so much obliged to you for saving my army, that I will perhaps spare themfor your sake." Then he ordered the woodman and his wife to be brought before him. Theywere very much surprised and ashamed to- find their little son kneeling before the King,and begging for their lives. You will see them in the picture you have passed. At Hop-7
HOP-O'-MY- THUMB.---:0:-o'-my-Thumb's earnest entreaties, they were forgiven, after the King had spoken severely tothem of their great wickedness. Then they went home.The King sent to inquire what had become of the Ogre's wife. It was discovered that shehad died the same day as the Ogre, though no one knew the cause of her death, and then, asshe had no heirs-that is, people who ought to have her money-the King gave the Ogre's house"and all his lands and money to Hop-o'-my-Thumb on condition that he would use the seven-league boots in the royal service whenever required. Hop-o'-my-Thumb found his brothers,and took them and his father and mother home with him to his grand house, where theylived very happily together, and where :Hop-o'-my-Thumb took off his seven-league boots,resolved only to use them when duty required that he should. This is ax picture of thewoodman's family in their new home. .,. -:,.There are no seven-league boots to be had now: one doesnr'twant them-:wit theti ralway;but observation, courage, and kindness are quite as valuable in childi'n. nowadays as t;eywere in the time of little HOP-o'-MY-THUMB. :-8.7 '*- -.. :: :. Xi. ; -- : :^''. ,' .. :' .' A' < '' w '0 '0
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