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O NCE upon a time a great magician went out to take a walk, aid
becoming very tired, stopped at a laborer's cottage, and asLed
permission to sit down and rest. The laborer and his wife brought fod
and drink to the weary man, who, wishing to reward them for their
kindness, asked them what they would most like to have.
Well, sir," said the laborer, scratching his head, we're mighty
sorry that we have no children. Why, if I had a son that was-well, no
bigger than my thumb, I'd love him heartily, and be very proud of him."
You shall have your wish," said the magician, and then he bade
them farewell and departed, going straight to the Queen of the Fairies
to tell her what the peasant had said, and to ask her aid and advice.
The fairies thought it would be a fine joke to take the man at his
word, and give him exactly what he wished for.
So one day, when the peasant came home from his work, he found
that a child had been born to him; and great was his surprise at seeing
his son and heir, for the little chap was just as big as his father's
thumb! and as he never grew any bigger, the poor father often wished he
had merely asked for a son, without saying anything at all about his thumb.
He was afraid the little fellow would get into trouble with the big
boys, and not be able to defend himself from their attacks. But what
Tom lacked in strength he made up in cunning, and so was a match for
any urchin in the whole place.
Now Master Tom used to play at cherry-stones with the other boys,
The Baldwin Library
and when he had lost all his property, would creep into the bags of the
fortunate winners, and steal back all his losings.
At last he was caught in the act, and the owner of the bag from which
he was filling his, an ugly boy, cried out, Aha! Master Tom Thumb,
I've caught you at last!" and he drew the strings of the bag so tightly
around Tom's neck as almost to strangle him.
But the boy let Tom go after giving the bag a good shake, and knock-
ing the cherry-stones against Tom's legs till they were all black and blue;
and Tom ran home, promising to play fair" the next time. But the
boys saved him all trouble by refusing to play with him any more at all.
The next scrape Tom got into was a rather serious one. His mother
was one day making a batter-pudding, and Tom, who was always poking
his nose into everything, climbed to the edge of the bowl to see that it was
being mixed right. This time, however, he put his nose in a little too far,
for his feet slipped and he fell into the batter head foremost! His mother
happened to be looking round at that time, and did not see Tom's dis-
aster, so he was stirred into the batter, which was put on the fire to boil.
As soon as the water began to grow hot, Tom began to kick and
plunge with all his might, and his mother couldn't imagine what made the
pudding bump so against the sides of the pot. She lifted the lid to see,
Sand when she beheld the pudding bobbing up and down, she was certain
it was bewitched, and determined to give it away to the first person who
She had not long to wait, for in about a quarter of an hour a travel-
ing tinker came along, crying "Pots, kettles, and pans to mend, oh!
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Pots, kettles, and pans to mend, oh!" and Tom's mother beckoned to
him, and gave him the pudding. The tinker was glad enough to get
such a fine batter-pudding for his dinner, and he put it in his wallet and
trudged merrily onwards.
The tinker had not gone far before he felt a funny sort of motion-
bump-bump-bump -in his wallet. At first he thought a rat must
have got in there, and opened his bag to see. To his horror he heard a
voice cry out most distinctly, Let me out, I say! Let me out! Let
me out! Let me ou-u-t!" and then the pudding began to kick and
dance in a most alarming manner. The tinker was so frightened that
he flung the pudding out of his wallet right over the hedge, and took to
his heels, and ran as hard as he could for a mile or more, without once
stopping to look behind him.
As for the pudding, it fell with a plunkn" into the ditch, and was
broken into five or six pieces. Tom crawled out of the pudding in a
battered condition, and managed to get home by creeping along as a fly
creeps when it has just been rescued from the cream jug. His mother
was only too glad to see him, and she washed the batter off him with a
great deal of trouble, and put him to bed.
Not long after he went out with his mother to milk the cow, and as
it was a windy day his mother tied him to a thistle with a bit of thread,
for fear he should be blown away. But the cow took a fancy to the
very thistle to which Tom was tied, and all at once he found himself in
a great red cave, with two rows of white pillars going champ! champ!
all round him in an alarming manner.
TOM THUM B.
Tom cried out with fright when he saw where he was, and roared at
the top of his little voice for his mother.
Where are you, my dear son-my own precious little Tommy ?" cried
the good woman in great alarm.
Here, mother!" screamed Tom. Here, in the red cow's mouth!"
The mother wept and wrung her hands, for she was sure her boy
would be crushed to death; but the cow, being as much surprised as any-
body, opened her mouth and dropped Master Tom out upon the grass.
His mother was only too glad to clap him up in her apron and run home
Tom's father used to take the boy with him now and then when he
went to plow, and Tom had a whip of barley-straw with which to drive
along the horses. He felt very grand, and would halloo and crack his
whip in fine style; but as he couldn't strike higher than the horse's hoof,
it is doubtful if he was of much use.
One day, however, as he stood on a clod of earth to aim a mighty
blow at the horses, his foot slipped and he fell down into a furrow. A
raven, hovering near, picked up the barley-straw whip and Tom together.
Up through the air the poor little man was whisked so swiftly as almost to
take his breath away; but luckily the raven stopped to rest on the terrace
of Giant Gumbo's castle, and dropped Tom, who was glad to be set
down, and very much flurried by the speed at which he had been forced
Presently old Gumbo came on the terrace for a walk, and when he
spied Master Tom perched on a stone and looking contentedly around
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him, the voracious monster snapped him up and swallowed him, clothes
and all, as if he had been a pill.
Tom, finding himself uncomfortable inside of Gumbo, soon began to
jump about and dance in such a way as to make that greedy giant
almost beside himself with pain. The giant kicked and roared and
rubbed himself, and the more he rubbed the more Tom danced, till
finally Gumbo became dreadfully sick, and he opened his mouth, and
his inside passenger came flying out, and flew over the terrace right into
A great big fish that was swimming by at that time, seeing Tom
whirling in the air, thought he was a big May-fly, so he opened his
mouth and swallowed Tom down. Poor Tom was in a worse plight
than ever, for if he had forced the fish to set him free as the giant had
done, he would have been shot out into the sea and drowned. So his
only chance was to wait patiently in hopes that the fish might be caught.
This soon took place, for one day the fish greedily snapped at the
bait at the end of a fishing-line, and in another instant was wriggling
and writhing with the hook in its gills.
The fisherman, seeing what a fine fellow he was, took him as a
present to King Arthur.
The fish was greatly admired in the royal kitchen, and the cook took
a knife and proceeded to open it. But what was her surprise when
Master Tom popped up his head, and politely said:
How d'ye do, ma'am? I hope you're quite well!"
His Majesty was quickly informed that a wee knight had come to
his court, and Master Tom received a hearty reception. The king made
him his dwarf, and he soon gained the favor of the whole court as the
funniest and merriest little fellow that had ever been seen there. The
queen was very fond of him, and King Arthur scarcely ever went out
hunting without having Tom Thumb riding astride his saddle-bow.
The king asked Tom about his parents, and when Tom replied that
they were poor people, and that he should like to see them again, the
king gave him leave of absence, and he went home.
His parents were glad to see their dear son, but they feasted him so
much that he was taken sick, and had to lie in bed in a walnut-shell for
When he was well he thought it time to return to his duties as
King Arthur's dwarf; and his mother, though loth to part with him,
took him up in her hand, and with one puff blew him to King Arthur's
Here a sad disaster was in store for him, for instead of alighting in the
court of his mother hoped he would, the little man came down splash!
in a bowl of broth the royal cook was carrying across the court-yard for
the king's especial enjoyment.
The cross old cook represented to the king that the accident was a
great insult to His Majesty, so Tom was placed on trial for high treason,
found guilty, and sentenced to lose his head. Terribly alarmed at this
cruel sentence, Tom looked around for some means of escape, and seeing
a miller listening to the proceedings with open mouth, with a sudden
bound Tom sprang down the miller's throat unseen by all. The prisoner
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having escaped, the court broke up, and the miller, who had a touch of
hiccups, hurried home.
Tom, being anxious for his freedom, began to dance so many jigs and
cut so many capers inside, that the miller, in a great state of alarm, sent
messengers in every direction for medical aid. While the doctors were
disputing over his case-for none of them knew what was the matter-
the miller gave a great yawn, and Tom sprang out of his mouth, right
through the open window, and into the jaws of a large fish that was
snapping at flies in the river below.
The salmon which had swallowed up Tom was soon caught and
exposed for sale. It was bought by the steward of a great lord, who
sent it as a present to King Arthur. The cross cook had the fish to pre-
pare for dinner, and when he cut it open out jumped his old acquaintance
Tom Thumb! He seized him and carried him at once to the king,
expecting that Arthur would order him to be executed. But the king
had no such idea; but as he was occupied with state dinners he ordered
Tommy brought in some other day.
The cook shut him up in a mouse-trap, and kept him there in prison
for a whole week. At the end of the week the king's anger had all gone,
and he ordered Tom a new suit of clothes and a good-sized mouse to ride
on, by way of a horse.
One day when Tom was riding by a farm-house, a large cat, seeing
the mouse, rushed out upon it. Tom drew his sword and defended him-
self in the bravest possible manner, and kept the cat at bay until King
Arthur and his followers came up. But little Sir Thomas was seriously
wounded in the combat, and notwithstanding he had the best of care and
attention he grew so much worse, that his life was despaired of, and King
Arthur was in great grief on his account.
The Queen of the Fairies bore Tom Thumb away to fairy-land, where
he remained for several years; and by the time he returned to King
Arthur's court that good monarch had died, and Thunstone sat on the
throne in his stead. The people flocked from far and near to see the
wonderful little hero, and King Thunstone welcomed him most cordially.
Here he passed many years as a great favorite, and met with many
wonderful adventures. But I must hasten to tell you how poor little
Tom came by his death. It was in this way:
One day as he went through the palace garden in a merry mood,
not thinking of any danger, he was seized from behind by a pair of
long skinny arms, and a puff of poisonous breath came in his face.
He turned round and drew his sword, and for the next quarter of an
hour fought valiantly against an immense spider.
The combat was long and doubtful; but at last the spider, having had
five of its legs cut off, gave a kick with those that remained-and died.
Tom was declared victor; but his victory was dearly bought. The
spider's poisonous breath had been too much for our brave little hero,
" and he fell into a wasting sickness from which he never recovered.
A neat marble slab was raised to his memory by the king, and
this was part of the epitaph:
Here lies Tom Thumb-King Arthur's knight,
Who died by cruel spider's bite!
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