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The History of Tom Thumb and Other Stories.   By:

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In the days of King Arthur, Merlin, the famous enchanter, was out on a journey, and stopped one day at the cottage of an honest ploughman to ask for refreshment. The ploughman's wife brought him some milk in a wooden bowl, and some brown bread on a wooden platter.

Merlin could not help observing that, although everything within the cottage was particularly neat and in good order, the ploughman and his wife had the most sorrowful air, so he questioned them about the cause of their distress, and learned that they were miserable because they had no children. The poor woman declared that she would be the happiest creature in the world if she had but a son, although he were no bigger than his father's thumb. Merlin was very much amused at the thought of a boy no bigger than a man's thumb; and as soon as he returned home he sent for the Queen of the Fairies and related to her the desire of the ploughman and his wife to have a son the size of his father's thumb.


The Queen of the Fairies promised that their wish should be granted. And so it happened one day that the ploughman's wife had a son exactly of the size of his father's thumb. While the mother was sitting up in bed, admiring the child, the Queen of the Fairies appeared, and kissed the infant, giving it the name of Tom Thumb, and summoned several fairies to clothe her little favorite.

Tom never grew any bigger; but, as he grew older, he became very cunning and sly, which his mother did not sufficiently correct him for; so that, when he was old enough to play with the boys for cherry stones, and had lost all his own, he used to creep into the other boys' bags, fill his pockets, and come out again to play. But one day, as he was getting out of a bag of cherry stones, the boy to whom it belonged chanced to see him.


"Ah, ah! my little Tom Thumb," said the boy, "have I caught you at your bad tricks at last? Now I will pay you off well for thieving."

Then drawing the string tight round his neck, and shaking the bag heartily, the cherry stones bruised Tom's limbs and body sadly, which made him beg to be let out, and promise never to be guilty of such doings any more.

Shortly afterwards Tom's mother was making a batter pudding, and, that he might see how she mixed it, he climbed up to the edge of the bowl, but his foot happening to slip he fell over head and ears into the batter, and his mother not observing him, stirred him into the pudding and popped it all into the pot to boil. The hot water made Tom kick and struggle; and his mother, seeing the pudding jump up and down, thought it was bewitched. A tinker was going by just at the time, so she gave him the pudding, and he put it into his budget and walked away. As soon as Tom could get the batter out of his mouth he began to cry aloud; this so frightened the poor tinker that he flung the pudding over the hedge. The pudding being broken by the fall Tom was released, and walked home to his mother, who gave him a kiss and put him to bed.

Tom Thumb's mother once took him with her when she went to milk the cow; it being a very windy day, she tied him with a needleful of thread to a thistle. The cow, liking his oak leaf hat, took him and the thistle up at one mouthful. While the cow was chewing the thistle, Tom, terrified at her great teeth, cried out, "Mother! mother!"


"Where are you, Tommy, my dear Tommy?" said the mother.

"Here, mother; here in the red cow's mouth."

The mother began to cry and wring her hands; but the cow, surprised at such odd noises in her throat, opened her mouth and let him drop out. His mother clapped him into her apron and ran home with him.


Tom's father made him a whip of barley straw to drive the cattle with, and one day in the field Tom slipped into a deep furrow. A raven flying over picked him up with a grain of corn, and flew with him to the top of the giant's castle by the seaside, where he left him... Continue reading book >>

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