Tom Thumb, retold by Laura
Have you ever heard about Little Thumb, or
Tom Thumb as he was sometimes called? Such
a queer little fellow, and such adventures, you
surely must become acquainted with.
’Way back in the days of the good King
Arthur, there lived a poor man and his wife
who had no children. They wanted a child more
than anything else in the world; and one day the
woman said to her husband:
“Husband, if I had a son, even if he were no
bigger than my thumb, I should be the happiest
Now, Merlin, the King’s magician, overheard
this wish; and I suspect he was fond of playing
tricks, for it was not many days before the
woman had a child given her. He was so tiny
that his father burst out laughing when he saw
him, and called him Tom Thumb. But the
parents were as happy as if he had been a large
Tom Thumb had many exciting adventures and
narrow escapes, because he was so small. He
used to drive his father’s horse by standing in
the horse’s ear and calling out “Gee up!” and
“Gee, whoa!” just like his father. When people
saw horse and cart going along at a brisk pace,
and heard the voice but saw no driver, you may
be sure they were surprised.
One day two men saw him, and thought they
might get rich if they could get Tom Thumb,
take him to country fairs, and make him do
funny things to amuse the crowds. They offered
Little Thumb’s father a sum of gold for the tiny
fellow, but the good man said: “I would not take
any sum of money for my dear son.”
Then Tom whispered in his father’s ear:
“Dear father, take the money and let them have
me. I can easily get away and return home.”
Now, if Tom’s father had known what dangers
were before the little fellow he never would have
consented; but it sounded so easy that he took the
gold, and the men took Tom.
Tom rode on the brim of his new master’s
hat for a long time, thinking how he might escape.
Finally he saw a field-mouse’s nest over
a hedge, and he said: “Master, I am cold and
stiff; put me down that I may run about and get
Not suspecting anything, the man put him on
the ground. What was his surprise and anger
when Little Tom darted off through the hedge.
Calling to him to come back, the master with
difficulty climbed over the bushes and started
searching for his small runaway. He looked
behind stones, under clumps of grass, in little
furrows, but never thought of the nest of the
Little Tom stayed very still long after the
angry voice had died away in the distance. When
he came forth it was dark, and he did not know
which way to go. He was still trying to make
up his mind, when he overheard two robbers on
the other side of the hedge.
The first robber said: “There is plenty of gold
and silver in the rector’s house, but his doors
are locked and his windows barred.”
“Yes,” said the other one, “and if we break in
we shall wake up the servants.”
This conversation gave Tom an idea. Stepping
through the hedge he said in a loud voice: “I
can help you. I am so small I can get between
the bars on the window. Then I’ll pass all the
gold and silver out to you, and when I get out
you can divide with me.”
The robbers were pleased with the idea. They
decided between themselves that as soon as they
got the money in their own hands they would
make off and not divide it at all. They never
suspected that Little Thumb was planning to give
Reaching the rector’s home they lifted Tom
up, and he crawled between the bars and out
of reach of the robbers.
Then he called out in a very loud voice, so as
to waken the servants: “Will you have everything
I can get?” The servants came running calling,
“Thief! Thief!” and the two robbers escaped
as fast as their feet would carry them.
Now, the servants were so angry, and told in
such loud voices what they should do if they
caught anyone in the house, that Little Thumb
was very much afraid. So he climbed out through
the window and hid in the barn in the hay.
It is best for little people to stay out of harm’s
way; the queerest things may happen. While our
small adventurer was peacefully sleeping, the
milkmaid came to give the cattle their morning
fodder. As bad luck would have it, she took
the very truss of hay in which Tom lay; and he
awoke with a start to find himself in the cow’s
great mouth, in danger of being crushed at any
minute by her tremendous teeth. He dodged back
and forth in terror; and it was a relief when
the cow gave one big swallow, and he slid down
into her roomy stomach.
It was dark and moist down there, however,
and more hay came down with every swallow; so
Tom called out with all his might: “No more
hay, please! no more hay!”
The milkmaid screamed, and ran to the house,
telling everyone that the cow had been talking
to her just like a man.
“Nonsense,” said the rector; “cows do not
talk.” Nevertheless, he went to the cow-shed. No
sooner had he stepped inside the door than the
cow lifted her head, and a voice called in great
distress: “No more hay, please! no more hay!”
“Alas,” cried the rector, “my beautiful cow is
bewitched! It is best to kill her before she makes
mischief with the other cows.”
So the cow was slaughtered, and the stomach,
with Little Thumb inside, was flung away.
“Now, I will work my way out and run home,”
thought Tom. But he was to have another adventure
first. He had just gotten his head free, when
a hungry wolf, attracted by the smell of the
freshly-killed meat, seized the stomach in its jaws
and sprang away into the forest.
Instead of losing courage, Little Thumb began
to plan a way of escape. He decided on a bold
scheme. In his loudest voice he called: “Wolf,
if you are hungry, I know where you can get
a choice dinner.”
“Where?” asked the wolf.
“There is a house not far away, and I know
a hole through which you can crawl into the
kitchen. Once there you can eat and drink to
your heart’s content.”
The wolf did not know that Tom meant his
own home; but the mention of these good things
to eat made him very hungry, and following Tom’s
directions he quickly reached the house.
Things were exactly as promised. Tom waited
till he was sure the wolf had eaten so much that
he could not get out through the hole he came
in. Then he called from inside the wolf: “Father,
mother, help! I am here—in the wolf’s body.”
It did not take long for the father to finish the
wolf and rescue his dear boy.
“We shall never let you go again, for all the
riches of the world,” said the mother and father.
But Tom was rather pleased with his adventures.
One day, when walking beside the river, he
slipped and fell in. Before he had a chance to
swim out a fish came along and swallowed him.
Tom had escaped so often from such dangers that
he was not much afraid. After a time the fish
saw a dainty worm, and, little thinking that it
was on a hook, took it in its mouth. Before it
realized what had happened it was pulled out of
the water, with Little Thumb still inside.
Now, as luck would have it, this fish was to
be for the King’s dinner. When the cook opened
the fish to clean it and make it ready for broiling,
out stepped Little Thumb, much to the astonishment
and delight of everyone. The King said
he had never seen so tiny and merry a fellow.
He knighted him, and had Sir Thomas Thumb
and his father and mother live in the palace the
rest of their lives.