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no longer than my husband's thumb, I should be the happiest woman in the world!”
Now Merlin was much amused at the thought of a boy no bigger than a man's thumb, and, as soon as he got home, he sent for the queen of the fairies, who was a great friend of his, and told her of the night he spent at the ploughman's hut, and of the strange wish of the poor woman, and he asked her to grant her the tiny child she so earnestly wished. The thought amused the queen, and she promised that his wish should be granted.
And so it turned out that the ploughman's wife had a son, who, to the wonder of all the country people, was just the size of his father's thumb. One day, while the happy mother was sitting up in bed, smiling on its pretty face, and feeding it out of the cup of an acorn, the queen came in at the window, and kissing the child, gave it the name of Tom Thumb. She then told the other fairies to dress her favorite.
An oak-leaf he had for his crown,
His stockings of apple-rind, they tie
Tom never grew bigger than his father's thumb; but, as he grew older, he became very cunning and full of mischievous tricks. Thus, when he was old enough to play cherry-stones with other boys, and had lost his own, he used to creep into other boys' bags, fill his pockets, and come out again to play. But one day as he was getting out of a bag, the owner chanced to see him. “Ah ha! my little Tom Thumb," said the boy, “so I have
I caught you at your tricks at last; now I will pay you off for your thieving.” Then drawing the string around his neck, he shook the bag so heartily that 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. He was soon let off, but this cured him of pilfering
One day Tom's mother was beating up a batter pudding, and she placed him in an egg-shell to be out of harm's way. Tom crept out, however, and climbed to the edge of the bowl, when his foot slipped, and he fell over head and ears into the batter. His mother, not seeing him, stirred him into the pudding, which she next put into the pot to boil. Tom soon felt the scalding water, which made him kick and struggle. His mother, seeing the pudding turn round and round in the pot in such a furious manner, thought it was bewitched; and as a tinker came by just at the time, she quickly gave him the pudding, which he put into his budget, and went away.
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, and ran away as fast as he could. The pudding being broken by the fall, Tom was set free, so he
, walked home to his mother, who kissed him and put him to bed.
Another time, Tom Thumb's mother took him with her when she went to milk the cow, and as it was a very windy day, she tied him with a needleful of thread to a thistle, that he might not be blown away.
The cow, liking his oak-leaf hat, picked him and the thistle up at one mouthful. When the cow began to chew the thistle, Tom was dreadfully frightened at her great teeth, and cried out, “Mother! mother!”
“Where are you, Tommy, my dear Tommy ?” cried the mother, in great alarm.
“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 caught him in her apron, and ran home with him.
One day, as Tom Thumb's father was in the fields with him, Tom begged to be allowed to take home the horse and cart. The father laughed at the thought of little Tom driving a horse, and asked him how he would hold the reins. “Oh," said Tom, “I will sit in the horse's ear, and call out which way he is to go.” The father consented, and off Tom set, seated in the ear of the horse. “Yeo hup! yeo hup!” cried Tom, as he passed some country people, who, not seeing Tom, and thinking the horse was bewitched, ran off very fast. Tom's mother was greatly surprised when she saw the horse arrive at the cottage door, with no one to guide it, and she ran out to look after it; but Tom called out, “Mother, mother, take me down, I am in the
, horse's ear!” Tom's mother was very glad that her little son could be so useful, and she lifted him gently down, and gave him half a blackberry for his dinner.
After this, Tom's father made him a whip of barley-straw, that he might sometimes drive the cattle; and as he was driving them home one day, he fell into a deep furrow. A raven picked up the straw, with Tom too, and carried him to the top of a giant's castle, by the sea-side, and there left him. Soon afterwards old Grumbo, the giant, came out to walk on the terrace. Grumbo took the child up between his finger and thumb, and, opening his great mouth, he tried to swallow Tom like a pill. But Tom so danced in the red throat of the giant, that he soon cast him into the sea, where a large fish swallowed him in an instant. This fish was soon after caught, and sent as a present to King Arthur.
When it was cut open, everybody was delighted with the sight of Tom Thumb, who was found inside. The king made him his dwarf, and he was soon a very great favorite; for his tricks and gambols, and lively words amused the queen and the Knights of the Round Table.
When the king rode out, he frequently took Tom in his hand, and if rain fell, he used to creep into the king's pocket, and sleep till the