THE HISTORY OF TOM THUMB
AND OTHER STORIES
THE HISTORY OF TOM THUMB
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
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. Old Grumbo, the giant, came
out soon afterwards, to walk upon his terrace, and Tom,
frightened out of his wits, managed to creep up his sleeve.
Tom's motions made the giant uncomfortable, and with a jerk
of his arm, he threw him into the sea. A great fish then
swallowed him. The fish was soon after caught, and sent as a
present to King Arthur. When it was cut open, everybody was
delighted with little Tom Thumb, who was found inside. He
became the favorite of the whole court, and by his merry
pranks often amused the King and Queen.
The King, when he rode on horseback, frequently took Tom in
his hand; and if a shower of rain came on, the tiny dwarf
used to creep into the King's waistcoat pocket and sleep till
the rain was over. The King now questioned him concerning his
parents; and when Tom informed his majesty they were very
poor people, the King led him into his treasury, and told him
he should pay them a visit and take with him as much money as
he could carry.
Tom soon got rested at his mother's house, but could not
travel because it had rained; his mother therefore took him
in her hand and carried him back to King Arthur's court.
There Tom entertained the King and Queen and nobility at
tilts and tournaments, at which he exerted himself so much
that he brought on a fit of sickness. At this juncture the
Queen of the Fairies came in a chariot drawn by flying mice,
and placing Tom by her side she drove through the air till
they arrived at her palace. After restoring him to health,
the Queen commanded a fair wind, and, placing Tom before it,
blew him straight back to the court of King Arthur. But just
as Tom should have alighted in the courtyard, the cook
happened to pass with the King's great bowl of his favorite
dish, furmenty, and poor Tom fell plump into the middle of
it, and splashed the hot furmenty into the cook's eyes. Down
went the bowl. "Oh, dear," cried Tom. "Murder! murder!"
bellowed the cook; and away ran the King's nice furmenty into
the kennel. The cook was a cross fellow and swore to the King
that Tom had done it out of some evil design; so he was tried
for high treason and sentenced to be beheaded. When the judge
delivered this dreadful sentence it happened that a miller
was standing by with his mouth wide open, so Tom took a good
spring and jumped down his throat, unperceived by all, even
by the miller himself. As Tom could not be found the court
broke up, and away went the miller to his mill. But Tom did
not leave him long at rest, he began to roll and tumble
about, so that the miller thought himself bewitched, and sent
for a doctor. When the doctor came, Tom began to dance and
sing. The doctor was as much frightened as the miller, and
sent in great haste for five more doctors.
While all these were talking the miller began to yawn, and
Tom, taking the opportunity, made another bold jump and
alighted on his feet in the middle of the table. The miller,
provoked to be thus tormented by such a little creature,
caught hold of Tom and threw him out of the window into the
river. A large salmon swimming by snapped him up in a moment.
The salmon was soon caught and sold in the market to the
steward of a great lord. The grandee, thinking it an
uncommonly fine fish, made a present of it to the King, who
ordered it to be dressed immediately. When the cook cut open
the salmon he found poor Tom inside, and ran with him
directly to the King; but the King being busy, desired that
he might be brought another day.
The cook was resolved to keep him safely this time, so
clapped him into a mouse-trap. There he was shut up for a
whole week, when the King sent for him, forgave him for
throwing down the furmenty, and ordered him new clothes, gave
him a spirited mouse for a hunter, and knighted him.
Thus dressed and mounted, he rode a hunting with the King and
As they were riding by a farmhouse one day, a cat jumped from
behind the door, seized the mouse and little Tom, ran off
with them both, and was just going to devour the mouse when
Tom boldly drew his sword and attacked the cat with great
spirit. The King and his nobles, seeing Tom in danger, went
to his assistance, and one of the lords bravely saved him
just in time, but poor Tom was sadly scratched by the claws
of the cat.
The Queen of the Fairies came and took him again to
Fairyland, where she kept him some years; after which,
dressing him in bright green, she sent him flying once more
through the air to the earth. King Thunstone now reigned in
the place of King Arthur. The people flocked far and near to
look at Tom Thumb, and the King, before whom he was carried,
asked him who he was and where he lived. Tom answered:
"My name is Tom
From the fairies I
When King Arthur
This court was my
In me he
By him I was
Did you ever hear
The King was so charmed with this address that he ordered a
little chair to be made, and also a palace of gold a span
high, with a door an inch wide, for little Tom to live in. He
also gave him a coach, drawn by six small mice. This made the
Queen angry, because she had not a new coach too; therefore,
resolving to ruin Tom, she complained to the King that he had
behaved very insolently to her. The King sent for him in a
rage. Tom, to escape his fury, crept into a large, empty
snail-shell, and there lay for some time, when, peeping out
of the shell, he saw a fine butterfly on the ground. He
ventured forth and got astride the butterfly, which took
wing, and mounted into the air with little Tom on his back.
Away he flew straight to the King's court.
The King, Queen, and nobles all strove to catch the
butterfly. At length poor Tom slipped from his seat, and fell
into a sweet dish called white-pot, where he was found,
almost drowned. The Queen vowed he should be punished, and he
was secured once more in a mouse-trap, when the cat, seeing
something stir, and supposing it to be a mouse, patted the
trap about till she broke it and set Tom at liberty.
Soon afterwards a spider, taking poor Tom for a big fly, made
a spring at him. Tom drew his sword and fought valiantly, but
the spider's poisonous breath overcame him.
King Thunstone and his whole court went into mourning for
little Tom Thumb. They buried him under a rose-bush, and
raised a nice, white marble monument over his grave.
THE LION AND THE FOX
There was once a fox who had never seen a lion; and so, when
he saw a lion for the first time, this fox was so scared that
he did not know what to do.
The lion did him no harm: and the fox crept off out of the
way, and ran to his hole, and there hid. He stayed in his
hole a long while, until he found he must go in search of
food, and then he crept out.
Ella and May are the girls you see on this page. Ella is
older than May, and can read, but May cannot.
But Ella is kind, and will read to May a long time, if May
will do as she is bid, and sit still on her lap.
And Ella will show May how to read herself.
In a country called Holland, storks are very kindly treated,
for so many frogs live in the marshes there, that if the
storks did not eat them, the people would hardly know what to
do. The storks are very clever at catching the poor froggies;
they snatch them up in their long bills, and go flying off,
with their great wings spread and their long legs stretched
out behind them, carrying off two or three at once.
Two little boys were running through the meadows as hard as
they could go. "What are you doing there?" said a man who was
"Catching blackbirds?" said Willie. "Have you caught any?"
said the man.
"No, not yet," said Willie. "But grandpa is going to give me
five dollars when I catch one. He wants one."
Willie's grandpa did happen to say to him that morning, "You
catch me a blackbird, and I will give you five dollars." He
said it just out of fun. He did not think that Willie would
ever try to do it.
Do you see the dog and the hen? The dog bit the hen, and she
was mad. My dog bit a fox on the hip. One day the fox bit the
dog on the lip and ran off. Tom and I had a gun, and we set
off to get the fox; but the sun was so hot we did not go far,
but sat on the hay, and had fun.
A LETTER TO FRANK.
DEAR FRANK,—One day a rabbit came out of the woods to
see if he could find any clover. Some boys saw him, and tried
to catch him. He ran under the barn; then came out, sprang
through the fence, and so got clear.
I will tell you of a smart thing
that my red cow does. When she goes for a drink and finds
the trough empty, she takes hold of the handle with her
horns, and pumps the water.
While I was waiting for a train at the station, the other
day, a boy with a little dog came in to wait also. The poor
dog was afraid, and tried very hard to get away; but the boy
held him fast by a stout string.
There is one very selfish little chicken in my barn. When the
other chickens are just going to sleep, this selfish little
chick pecks them, and drives them down from the roost. He is
very naughty, and wants the roost all to himself.