Tom Thumb

Folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther Type 700
translated and/or edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2021-2023

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.


  1. I Had a Little Husband (England).

  2. The Famous History of Tom Thumb (England, 1775).

  3. The Comical and Merry Tricks of Tom Thumb (Scotland, ca. 1820).

  4. Tom Thumb (Ireland).

  5. A Story (Ireland).

  6. New History of the Life and Adventures of Tom Thumb (USA -- Connecticut).

  7. Thomas of the Thumb (Scotland).

  8. Thumthick (Germany).

  9. Thumbling's Travels (Germany).

  10. A Story about Palecek, "Little Thumb" ) (Czech Republic).

  11. Thumbikin (Norway).

  12. Svend Tomling (Denmark).

  13. Little Lasse (Finland).

  14. John Bit-of-a-Man (France).

  15. Little Thumb (France).

  16. Little Blue Riding Hood (France).

  17. Jean des Pois Verts (France).

  18. Little Chick-Pea (Italy).

  19. Robber Nut (Albania).

  20. The Little Spirit, or Boy-Man (Native American).

  21. The Transformation of Issunboshi (Japan).

  22. A Man Who Was Only a Finger and a Half in Stature (Bangladesh / India).

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

I Had a Little Husband


I had a little husband,
No bigger than my thumb,
I put him in a pint pot,
And there I bade him drum.

I bought a little horse,
That galloped up and down;
I bridled him, and saddled him,
And sent him out of town.

I gave him some garters,
To garter up his hose,
And a little handkerchief,
To wipe his pretty nose.

The Famous History of Tom Thumb

England, 1775

Of the Parentage, Birth, and Education of Tom Thumb; with all the merry Pranks he played in his Childhood

In Arthur's court Tom Thumb did live,
A man of miccle might,
Who was the best of the table round,
And eke a worthy knight.

In stature but an inch in height,
Or quarter of a span,
How think you that this worthy knight
Was prov'd a valiant man?

His father was a ploughman plain;
His mother milk'd the cow,
And yet the way to get a son
This couple knew not how.

Until the time the good old man
To learned Merlin goes,
And there to him in deep distress,
In secret manner shews,

How in his heart he'd wish to have
A child in time to come,
To be his heir, tho' it might be
No bigger than his thumb.

Of this old Merlin then foretold
How he his wish should have,
And a son of stature small,
This charm unto him gave:

No blood nor bones in him should be,
His shape, at being such,
That he should hear him speak, but not
His wandering shadow touch.

But unseen to overcome,
Whereas it pleased him,
Begat and born in half an hour,
For to fit his father's will.

And is four minutes grew so fast,
When he became as tall,
As was the ploughman's thumb in length,
And so she did him call

Tom thumb, the which the fair queen
Did give him to his name,
Who with her train of goblins grim,
Unto the christening came.

When they cloathed him so fine and gay,
In garments rich and fair,
All which did serve him many years,
In seemly sort to wear.

His hat made of an oaken loaf,
His shirt a spider's web,
Both light and soft for his fine limbs,
Which were so smally bred.

His hose and doublet thistle down,
Together weav'd full fine,
And stockings of the apple green,
Made out of the outer rhine.

His garters were two little hairs,
Pluck'd from his mother's eye,
His shoes made of a mouse's skin,
And tann'd most curiously.

Thus like a valiant gallant, he
Did venture forth to go,
With other children in the street;
His pretty pranks to shew.

Where for counters, pins, and points,
And cherry stones did play,
Till he amongst the gamesters young
Had lost his stock away.

Yet he could not the same renew,
When as most nimbly he,
Would dive into their cherry bags,
So their partakers be.

Unseen or felt by any one,
Until a scholar shut
The nimble youth into a box,
Wherein his pins were put.

Of whom to be reveng'd he took,
In mirth and pleasant game,
Black pots and glasses, which he hung
Upon a light sun beam.

The other boys did do the same,
In pieces tore him quite,
For which they were severely whipt,
For which he laugh'd outright.

And so Tom Thumb restrained was
From this his sport and play,
And by his mother after that
Compell'd at home to stay.

Where about Christmas time
His mother a hog had kill'd,
And Tom would see the pudding made,
For fear it fhould be spoil'd.

Of Tom's falling into the Pudding Bowl, and his Escape out of the Tinker's Budget

He set the candle for to light
Upon the pudding bowl,
Of which there is unto this day
A pretty story told.

For Tom fell in, and could not be
For some time after found,
For in the blood and batter he
Was lost, and almost drown'd.

And she not knowing of the same,
Directly after that,
Into the pudding stir'd her son,
Instead of minced fat,

Now this pudding of the largest size,
Into the kettle thrown,
Made all the rest to jump about,
As with a whirlwind blown.

Bue it so tumbled up and down,
Within the liquor there,
As if the devil had been boil'd,
Such was the mother's fear.

That up she took the pudding strait,
And gave it at the door
Unto a tinker, which from thence
He in his budget bore.

But as the Tinker climb'd the stile,
He chanc'd to let a crack,
How! good old man, cry'd Tom Thumb,
Still hanging at his back.

At which the tinker began to run,
He would no longer stay,
But cast both bag and pudding too
Over the hedge way.

From whence poor Tom got loose at last,
He home return'd again,
And from great dangers long
In safety did remain.

Until fuch time his mother went
A milking of her kine,
Where Tom unto a thistle fast
She linked with a line.

Of Tom Thumb's being tied to a Thistle, and of his Mother's Cow eating him up; with his strange Deliverance out of the Cow's Belly

A thread that held him to the same,
For fear the blustring wind
Would blow him thence, so as she might
Her son in safety find.

But mark the hap, a cow came by,
And up the thistle eat,
Poor Tom withal, who on a dock,
Was made the red cow's meat.

But being miss'd his mother went,
Calling him every where,
Where art thou Tom, where art thou?
Quoth he, here mother, here;

In the red cow's belly here,
Your son is swallow'd up,
All which within her fearful heart
Much woeful dolar put.

Mean time the cow was troubl'd sore
In this her rumbling womb,
All which within her fearful heart
Had backwards cast Tom Thumb.

Now all besmeared as he was,
His mother took him up,
Now home to bear him hence, poor lad,
She in her apron put.

Tom Thumb is carried away by a Raven, and swallowed up by a Giant, with several other strange Things that befel him.

Now after this, in sowing time,
His father would him have
Into the field to drive the plough
And therewithal him gave

A whip made of a barley straw,
For to drive the cattle on,
There in a furrow'd land new sown,
Poor Tom was lost and gone.

Now by a raven of great strength
Away poor Tom was born,
And carried in a carrion's beak,
Just like a grain of corn,

Unto a giant's castle top,
Whereon he let him fall,
And soon the giant swallow'd up
His body, cloaths, and all.

But in his belly did Tom Thumb
So great a rumbling make,
That neither night nor day he could
The smallest quiet take,

Until the giant him had spew'd
Full three miles in the sea,
Where a large fish soon took him up,
And bore him thence away.

The lusty fish was after caught,
So to King Arthur sent,
Where Tom was kept, being a dwarf,
Until his time was spent.

Long time he liv'd in jollity,
Beloved of the court,
And none like Tom was so esteem'd
Among the better sort.

Tom Thumb, by the Command of King Arthur, dances a Galliard upon the Queen's left Hand.

Among the deeds of courtship done
His highness did command,
That he should dance a galliard brave,
Upon the queen's left hand.

All which he did, and for the same,
Our king his signet gave,
Which Tom about his middle wore,
Long time a girdle brave.

Behold it was a rich reward,
And given by the King,
Which to his praise and worthiness
Did lasting honour bring.

For while he lived in the court,
His pleasant pranks were seen,
And he, according to report,
Was favour'd by the queen.

Tom rides a hunting with the King.

Now after that the King he would
Abroad for pleasure go,
Yet still Tom Thumb must be with him,
Plac'd on his saddle bow.

And on a time when as it rain'd,
Tom Thumb most nimbly crept
Into his button-hole, where
He in his bosom slept.

And being near his Highness's heart,
Did crave a wealthy boon,
A noble gift, the which the King
Commanded should be done.

For to relieve his father's wants,
And mother's, being old,
It was as much of silver coin
As well his arms could hold.

And so away goes lusty Tom,
With three pence at his back,
A heavy burthen, which did make
His very bones to crack.

So travelling two days and nights,
In labour and great pain,
He came unto the house whereat
His parents did remain..

Which was but half a mile in space
From good King Arthur's court,
All this in eight and forty hours
He went in weary sort.

But coming to his father's door,
He there such entrance had,
As made his both rejoice,
And he thereat was glad.

So his mother in her apron put
Her gentle son in haste,
And by the fire side within
A wallnut shell him plac'd.

And then they feasted him three days
Upon a hazel nut,
On which he rioted long,
And them to charges put.

And thereupon grew wonderous sick,
In eating so much meat,
That was sufficient for a month
For this great man to eat.

So when his business call'd him forth,
King Arthur's court to see,
From which no longer Tom, 'tis said.
He could a stranger be.

But a few moist April drops,
That settled on the way,
His long and weary journey
Did hinder and so stay,

Until this careful mother took
A birding trunk in sport,
And with one blaft blew this her son
Into King Arthur's court.

Of Tom's running a Tilt, with other Exercises performed by him.

Thus he at tilt and tournament
Was entertained so,
That all the rest of Arthur's knights
Did him much pleasure shew.

And good Sir Launcelot du Lake,
Sir Tristram and Sir Guy,
Yet none compar'd to brave Tom Thumb,
In acts of cavalry

In honour of which noble day,
And for his Lady's sake,
A challenge in King Arthur's court
Tom Thumb did bravely make.

Gainst whom the noble knights did run,
Sir Kihon and the rest,
But yet Tom Thumb with all his might
Did bear away the best.

Sir Launcelot du Lake at last
In manly sort came in,
So with this stout and hardy knight
A battle did begin.

Which made the courtiers all aghaft,
For there this valiant man,
Thro' Lancelot's steed, before them all,
With nimble manner ran.

Yea horse and all, with spear and shield,
As hardly e'er was seen,
Bur only by King Arthur's self,
And his beloved Queen,

Who from her finger took a ring,
Thro' which he did make away.
Not touching it in simple sort,
As it had been in play.

He also cleft the smallest hair,
From the fair lady's head,
From hurting her whose even hand
Him lasting honours bred.

Such were his deeds, and noble acts
In Arthur's court were shewn,
The like in all the world beside
Before was never seen.

Tom is taken Sick, and dies.

Thus at his sports Tom toil'd himself,
That he a Sickness took,
Thro' all which manly exercise
His strength had him forsook.

Where lying on a bed sore sick,
King Arthur's doctors came,
By cunning skill and physic's art,
To ease and cure the same.

He being both slender and tall,
The cunning doctors took
A fine perspective glass, with which
They took a careful look,

Into his sickly body down,
And there they saw that death
Stood ready in his wasted guts,
To seize his vital breath.

His arms and legs consum'd as small
As was a spider's web,
Thro' which his dying hours flew,
And all his limbs were dead.

His face no bigger than an ant's,
Which hardly could be seen,
The loss of this renowned knight
Much griev'd the king and Queen.

And so with grief and quietness
He left the earth below,
And up into the fairy land,
His fading ghost did go.

Where the fairy queen receiv'd
With heavy mournful cheer,
The body of this valiant Knight,
Whom she esteem'd so dear.

For with her flying nymphs in green,
She took him from his bed,
With music sweet and melody,
As soon as life was fled.

For whom King Arthur and his Knights
Full forty years did mourn,
In the remembrance of his name,
That strangely thus was born.

He built a tomb of marble grey,
And year by year did come,
To celebrate the mournful day,
And burial of Tom Thumb.

Whose fame lives here in England still,
Amongst the country sort,
Of whom the wives and children dear
Tell pretty tales in sport.

But here's a wonder come at last,
Which some will scarce believe,
After two hundred years were past,
He did new life receive.

The fair Queen she lov'd him so,
As you shall understand,
That once again she let him go
Down from the fairy land.

The very time that he return'd
Unto the court again,
It was, as we are well assur'd,
In good King Arthur's reign.

Where in the presence of the King
He many wonders wrought,
Recited in the Second Part,
Which now is to be bought

In Long-lane, Smithfield,
They sell fine Histories many,
With pleasant tales as e'er were told,
For purchase of One Penny.

The Comical and Merry Tricks of Tom Thumb

Scotland, 1820

This is an amusing little history, abounding with so many ludicrous incidents, that it almost never fails to excite the merriment and risible faculties of the young reader. Tales of enchantments and transformations by fairies and magicians, being mere chimeras of the brain, are believed by no one; and although the wonderful achievements of the renowned Tom Thumb are of this description, yet the many laughable adventures which our hero goes through makes the story be eagerly sought after and greedily devoured by juvenile readers of both sexes.

It is said, that in the days of the celebrated Prince Arthur, who was king of Britain in the year 516, there lived a great magician, called Merlin, the most learned and skilful enchanter in the world at that time.

This famous magician, who could assume any form he pleased, was travelling in the disguise of a poor beggar, and being very much fatigued, he stopped at the cottage of an honest ploughman to rest himself, and asked for some refreshment.

The countryman gave him a hearty welcome, and his wife, who was a very good-hearted, hospitable woman, soon brought him some milk in a wooden bowl, and some coarse brown bread on a platter. Merlin was much pleased with this homely repast, and the kindesss of the ploughman and his wife; but he could not help observing, that though every thing was neat and comfortable in the cottage, they seemed both to be very dispirited and unhappy. He therefore questioned them on the cause of their melancholy, and learned that they were miserable, because they had no children.

The poor woman declared, with tears in her eyes, that she should be the happiest creature in the world, if she had a son; and although he was no bigger than her husband's thumb, she would be quite satisfied.

Merlin was so much amused with the idea of a boy no bigger than a man's thumb, that he determined to pay a visit to the queen of the fairies, and request her to gratify the wishes of the poor woman. When he had accomplished his journey, Merlin thought on the kind treatment he had received at the cottage, and the comical whim of the little man again suggested itself; and, being on an intimate footing with Queen Mab, he told her the purpose of his visit, and requested her to grant the desire of the countryman's wife.

The droll fancy of such a little personage among the human race pleased the queen of the fairies exceedingly and she told Merlin that the wish of the poor woman should be granted. Accordingly, in a short time after, the ploughman's wife was safely delivered of a son, who, wonderful to relate! was not a bit bigger than his father's thumb.

The fairy queen, who had taken an interest in the little fellow, came in at the window while the mother was sitting up in the bed admiring him. The queen kissed the child, and, giving it the name of Tom Thumb, sent for some of the fairies, who dressed her little favourite according to the instructions she gave them:

An oak-leaf hat he had for his crown;
His shirt of web by spiders spun;
With jacket wove of thistle's down;
His trowsers were of feathers done.
His stockings, of apple-rind, they tie
With eyelash from his mother's eye:
His shoes were made of mouse's skin,
Tann'd, with the downy hair, within.

It is remarkable, that Tom never grew any larger than his father's thumb, which was only of an ordinary size; but as he got older he became very cunning, and full of tricks. When he was old enough to play with the boys, and had lost all his own cherry-stones, he used to creep into the bags of his playfellows, fill his pockets and, getting out unobserved, would again join in the game.

One day, however, as he was coming out of a bag of cherry-stones, where he had been pilfering as usual, the boy to whom it belonged chanced to see him.

"Ah, ha! my little Tommy," said the boy, "so I have caught you stealing my cherry-stones at last, and you shall be rewarded for your thievish tricks."

On saying this, he drew the string tight round his neck, and gave the bag such a hearty shake, that poor little Tom's legs, thighs and body, were sadly bruised. He roared out with pain, and begged to be let out, promising never to be guilty of such bad practices again.

A short time afterwards, his mother was making a batter-pudding, and Tom, being very anxious to see how it was made, climbed up to the edge of the bowl; but, unfortunately, his foot slipped, and he plumped over head and ears into the batter, unobserved by his mother, who stirred him into the pudding bag, and put him in the pot to boil.

The batter had filled Tom's mouth, and prevented him from crying; but, on feeling the hot water, he kicked and struggled so much in the pot, that his mother thought that the pudding was bewitched, and, instantly pulling it out of the pot, she threw it to the door.

A poor tinker, who was passing by, lifted up the pudding, and, putting it into his budget, he then walked off. As Tom had now got his mouth cleared of the batter, he then began to cry aloud, which so frightened the tinker, that he flung down the pudding, and ran away. The pudding being broke to pieces by the fall, Tom crept out covered over with the batter, and with difficulty walked home. His mother, who was very sorry to see her darling in such a woful state, put him into a tea-cup, and soon washed off the batter; after which she kissed him, and laid him in bed.

Soon after the adventure of the pudding, Tom's mother went to milk her cow in the meadow, and she took him along with her. As the wind was very high, for fear of being blown away, she tied him to a thistle with a piece of fine thread. The cow soon observed the oak-leaf hat, and, liking the appearance of it, took poor Tom and the thistle at one mouthful.

While the cow was chewing the thistle, Tom was afraid of her great teeth, which threatened to crush him in pieces, and he roared out as loud as he could, "Mother, mother!"

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

"Here, mother," replied he, "in the red cow's mouth."

His mother began to cry and wring her hands; but the cow, surprised at the odd noise in her throat, opened her mouth, and let Tom drop out. Fortunately his mother caught him in her apron as he was falling to the ground, or he would have been dreadfully hurt. She then put Tom in her bosom and ran home with him.

Tom's father made him a whip of a barley-straw to drive the cattle with, and having one day gone into the fields, he slipped a foot and rolled into the furrow. A raven, which was flying over, picked him up, and flew with him to the top of a giant's castle that was near the sea-side, and there left him.

Tom was in a dreadful state, and did not know what to do; but he was soon more dreadfully frightened; for old Grumbo the giant came up to walk on the terrace, and observing Tom, he took him up and swallowed him like a pill.

The giant had no sooner swallowed Tom, than he began to repent what he had done; for Tom began to kick and jump about so much, that he felt very uncomfortable, and at last threw him up again into the sea. A large fish swallowed Tom the moment he fell into the sea, which was soon after caught, and bought for the table of King Arthur.

When they opened the fish in order to cook it, every one was astonished at finding such a little boy, and Tom was quite delighted at regaining his liberty. They carried him to the king, who made Tom his dwarf, and he soon grew a great favourite at court; for, by his tricks and gambols, he not only amused the king and queen, but also all the knights of the Round Table. It is said, that when the king rode out on horseback, he frequently took Tom along with him; and if a shower came on, he used to creep into his majesty's waistcoat-pocket, where he slept till the rain was over.

King Arthur one day interrogated Tom about his parents, wishing to know if they were as small as him, and what circumstances they were in. Tom told the king that his father and mother were as tall as any of the persons about court, but in rather poor circumstances. On hearing this, the king carried Tom to his, treasury, the place where he kept all bis money, and told him to take as much money as he could carry home to his parents, which made the poor little fellow caper with joy. Tom went immediately to procure a purse, which was made of a water-bubble, and then returned to the treasury, where he received a silver threepenny-piece to put into it.

Our little hero had some difficulty in lifting the burden upon his back; but he at last succeeded in getting it placed to his mind, and set forward on his journey. However, without meeting with any accident, and after resting himself more than a hundred times by the way, in two days and two nights he reached his father's house in safety.

Tom had travelled forty-eight hours with a huge silver piece on his back, and was almost tired to death, when his mother ran out to meet him, and carried him in to the house.

Tom's parents were both happy to see him, and the more so, as he had brought such an amazing sum of money with him; but the poor little fellow was excessively wearied, having travelled half a mile in forty-eight hours, with a huge silver threepenny-piece on his back. His mother, in order to recover him from the fatigue he bad undergone, placed him in a walnut-shell by the fireside, and feasted him for three days on a hazel-nut, which made him very sick; for a whole nut used to serve him a month.

Tom soon recovered; but as there had been a fall of rain, and the ground very wet, he could not travel back to King Arthur's court; therefore his mother, one day when the wind was blowing in that direction, made a little parasol of cambric paper, and tying Tom to it, she gave him a puff into the air with her mouth, which soon carried him to the king's palace. The king, queen, and all the nobility, were happy to see Tom again at court, where he delighted them by his dexterity at tilts and tournaments; but his exertions to please them cost him very dear, and brought on such a severe fit of illness that his life was despaired of.

However, the queen of the fairies, hearing of his indisposition came to court in a chariot drawn by flying mice, and placing Tom by her side, drove through the air without stopping till they arrived at her palace. After restoring him to health and permitting him to enjoy all the gay diversion of Fairy-Land, the queen commanded a strong current of air to arise, on which she placed Tom, who floated upon it like a cork in the water, and sent him instantly to the royal palace of King Arthur.

Just at the time when Tom came flying across the court-yard of the palace; the cook happened to be passing with the king's great bowl of furmenty, which was a dish his majesty was very fond of; but unfortunately the poor little fellow fell plump into the middle of it and splashed the hot furmenty about the cook's face.

The cook, who was an ill-natured fellow, being in a terrable rage at Tom for frightening and scalding him with the furmenty, went straight to the king, and represented that Tom had jumped into the royal furmenty, and thrown it down out of mere mischief. The king was so enraged when he heard this, that he ordered. Tom to be seized and tried for ligh treason; and there being no person who dared to plead for him, he was condemned to be beheaded immediately.

On hearing this dreadful sentence pronounced, poor Tom fell a-trembling with fear, but, seeing no means of escape, and observing a miller close to him gaping with his great mouth, as country boobies do at a fair, he took a leap, and fairly jumped down his throat. This exploit was done with such activity, that not one person present saw it, and even the miller did not know the trick which Tom had played upon him. Now, as Tom had disappeared, the court broke up, and the miller went home to his mill.

When To? heard the mill at work, he knew he was clear of the court, and therefore he began to tumble and roll about, so that the poor miller could get no rest, thinking he was bewitched; so he sent for a doctor. When the doctor came, Tom began to dance and sing; and the doctor being as much frightened as the miller, sent in haste for five other doctors and twenty learned men.

When they were debating upon the cause of this extraordinary occurrence, the miller happened to yawn, when Tom embracing the opportunity, made another jump, and alighted safely upon his feet on the middle of the table.

The miller, who was very much provoked at being tormented by such a little pigmy creature, fell into a terrible rage, and, laying hold of Tom, he then opened she window, and threw him into the river. At the moment the miller let Tom drop a large salmon, swimming along at the time, saw him fall, and snapped him up in a minute. A fisherman caught the salmon, and sold it in the market to the steward of a great lord. The nobleman, on seeing the fish, thought it so uncommonly fine, that he made a present of it to King Arthur, who ordered it to be dressed immediately. When the cook cut open the fish, he found poor Tom, and run to the king with him; but his majesty being engaged with state affairs, ordered him to be taken away, and kept in custody till he sent for him.

The cook was determined that Tom should not slip out of his hands this time, so he put him into a mousetrap, and left him to peep through the wires. Tom had remained in the trap a whole week, when he was sent for by King Arthur, who pardoned him for throwing down the furmenty, and took him again into favour. On account of his wonderful feats of activity Tom was knighted by the king, and went under the name of the renowned Sir Thomas Thumb. As Tom's clothes had suffered much in the batter-pudding, the furmenty, and the insides of the giant, miller, and fishes, his majesty ordered him a new suit of clothes, and to be mounted as a knight:

Of butterfly's wings his shirt was made,
His boots of chicken's hide;
And by a nimble fairy blade,
Well learned in the tailoring trade,
His clothing was supplied. --
A needle dangled by his side;
A dapper mouse he used to ride,
Thus strutted Tom in stately pride!

It was certainly very diverting to see Tom in this dress, and mounted on the mouse, as he rode out a hunting with the king and nobility, who were all ready to expire with laughter at Tom and his fine prancing charger.

One day, as they were riding by a farm-house, a large cat, which was lurking about the door, made a spring, and seized both Tom and his mouse. She then ran up a tree with them, and was beginning to devour the mouse; but Tom boldly drew his sword, and attacked the cat so fiercely, that she let them both fall, when one of the nobles caught him in his hat, and laid him on a bed of down, in a little ivory cabinet.

The queen of the fairies came soon after to pay Tom a visit, and carried him back to Fairy-Land, where he remained several years. During his residence there, King Arthur, and all the persons who knew Tom, had died; and as he was desirous of being again at court, the fairy queen, after dressing him in a suit of clothes, sent him flying through the air to the palace, in the days of King Thunstone, the successor of Arthur. Every one flocked round to see him, and being carried to the king, he was asked who he was -- whence he came -- and where he lived?

Tom answered:

My name is Tom Thumb,
From the fairies I've come.
When King Arthur, shone,
This court was my home.
In me he delighted,
By him I was knighted;
Did you never hear of Sir Thomas Thumb?

The king was so charmed with this address, that he ordered a little chair to be made, in order that Tom might sit upon his table, and also a palace of gold, a span high, with a door an inch wide, to live in. He also gave him a coach, drawn by six small mice.

The queen was so enraged at the honours conferred on Sir Thomas, that she resolved to ruin him, and told the king that the little knight had been saucy to her.

The king sent for Tom in great haste but being fully aware of the danger of royal anger, he crept into an empty snail shell, where he lay for a considerable time, until he was almost starved with hunger; but at last he ventured to peep out, and perceiving a fine large butterfly on the ground, near the place of his concealment, he approached very cautiously, and getting himself placed astride on it, was immediately carried up into the air. The butterfly few with him from tree to tree and from field to field, and at last returned to the court, where the king and nobility all strove to catch him; but at last Tom fell from his seat into a wateringpot, in which he was almost drowned.

When the queen, saw him, she was in a rage, and said he should be beheaded; and he was again put into a mousetrap until the time of his execution. However, a cat observing something alive in the trap, patted it about till the wires broke, and set Thomas at liberty.

The king received Tom again into favour, which he did not live to enjoy; for a large spider one day attacked him, and although he drew his sword and fought well, yet the spider's poisonous breath at last overcame him:

He fell dead on the ground where he stood, And the spider suck'd every drop of his blood.

King Thunstone and his whole court where so sorry at the loss of their little favourite, that they went into mourning, and raised a fine white marble monument over his grave, with the following epitaph:

Here lyes Tom Thrimb, King Arthur's knight,
Who died by a spider's cruel bite.
He was well known in Arthur's court,
Where he afforded gallant sport;
He rode at tilt and tournament,
And on a mouse a hunting went.
Alive he filled the court with mirth;
His death to sorrow soon gave birth.
Wipe, wipe your eyes, and shake your head,
And cry, -- Alas! Tom Thumb is dead!


Tom Thumb


A long time ago there lived a poor farmer and his wife. They had a little boy who was strong and healthy but who was no bigger than your thumb. Because of his tiny size they called him "Tom Thumb."

One day Tom's mother was making a pudding and to see how she mixed it Tom climbed up on the edge of the bowl. His foot slipped and he fell into the batter. His mother not noticing this stirred him into the pudding and put it into the oven. Tom soon grew hotter and hotter until he could stand it no longer, and began to yell and jump up and down. When Tom's mother saw the pudding behave in such a strange manner, she thought it was bewitched and flung it out of the window. The pudding being broken to pieces by the fall, Tom was released and walked in to his mother.

Another day a crow saw him and picked him up and flew with him to the top of a giant's castle. The giant saw him and picked him up and put him in his mouth to eat him. Tom tickled his tongue so that the giant took him out and threw him into the river. A large fish then swallowed him. The fish was soon caught for the king. When it was cut open there was Tom.

Everybody was delighted with the little fellow. The king liked him so much that he made him his dwarf and Tom became the favourite of the whole court. One day Tom was jumping off a wall when the cook was passing with a bowl of hot milk for the king. Poor Tom jumped into the middle of it and it splashed into the cook's eyes. Down went the bowl to the ground. The cook who was very cross swore to the king that Tom had done it out of mischief. So Tom was tried and sentenced to be put in jail. When the little fellow heard this he felt very bad. With one spring he jumped down the throat of a miller who stood by.

Tom being lost the court broke up and the miller went back to his mill. But when he got there Tom did not leave him long at rest. He began to roll and tumble about so that the miller soon had to have a doctor. When the doctor came Tom began to dance and sing and the doctor was as much frightened as the miller was. He sent in great haste for six more doctors; while all those doctors were talking about what they should do the miller yawned and Tom gave a jump and landed in the middle of the table. Then he turned around and made a low bow to each and went home to the king.

Tom did not live very long after to enjoy the king's favour. He was always ready to help others in trouble. One day, after trying to rescue a fly from a spiders web, the spider attacked him fiercely and he was so badly wounded that he died soon afterwards.

The king and his court missed the cheerful little fellow. In his memory they erected a beautiful monument on which was recorded all the wonderful deeds of Tom Thumb.

Patrick Brogan, Lettermore N. S. , Drimagra, Frosses, Inver, Co. Donegal. 21-9-1938.

I read this story in a little book that I got a long time ago.

A Story


Once upon a time there lived a little boy name Micklen, who was only the size of my thumb. One evening his mother sent him for the cows. It made a shower of rain and he sat under a thistle for shade. One of the cows came along and ate Micklen and the thistle. His mother was very uneasy about him, but one day when she was milking the cows she heard Micklen whistling within in the cow, so the cow had to be opened to let him out. A few days later he was walking along the sea-shore when a blast of wind blew him into the sea. A fish came along and ate Micklen. About a week later his mother bought fish and when she opened the fish who lepped out but Micklen.

Got from: My father Mick, age 53 years, Benmore, Bullaun.

By: Nellie Wade, same address, on the 11 July 1938.

New History of the Life and Adventures of Tom Thumb

USA -- Connecticut

His shirt was made of a butterfly's wing,
His boots were made of a mouse's skin,
His coat was wove of thistle down,
An oak-leaf hat he had for his crwn,
A tailor's needle hung by his side,
And a mouse for a horse he used to ride.

When I was a little boy, children's books were not quite as plenty, or as cheap, or as good as they are now. In those days, children did not often have a present of a pretty book with beautiful pictures; but when they did get one, it was highly prized.

We had Cock Robin, and Jack the Giant Killer, and Blue Beard, and The Forty Thieves, and many other amusing but not very instructive tales. Tom Thumb was one of the number, and was a favorite book of mine, although I knew the story was not true, and that there were no such beings as magicians and fairies. Perhaps my little readers would like to know what kind of stories we old folks read when we were such little bodies as you are now. I think I remember enough of Tom Thumb to be able to tell you the story.

Once on a time, Merlin, a famous magician, was traveling, and beincr weary, he stopped at a plowman's cottage to ask for some refreshment. The plowman's wife kindly brought him a bowl of milk, and a wooden plate of good brown bread, which she urged him to partake of.

Merlin could not help seeing, that the honest couple looked quite sad and sorrowful; so he asked the cause, and learned that they had no children; the wife declaring, with tears in her eyes, that she should be happy if she had a son, even if he were no bigger than his father's thumb!

Merlin was much amused with the idea of a boy no bigger than a man's thumb, and sending for the queen of the fairies, he told her of the desire of the plowman's wife. The queen was no less pleased than Merlin, and she said the wish should be granted. Accordingly, the plowman's wife had a son, who was just the size of his father's thumb, and was named by the queen, Tom Thumb.

One dav his mother was making a pudding, and that he might see how it w r as made, Tom climbed on the top of the bowl; but his foot happening to slip, he fell over head and ears into it, and his mother not seeing him, she stirred him into the batter, and then popped the whole into the pot.

The hot water made Tom kick and struggle, and his mother, seeing the pudding jump up and down in the pot, thought it w r as bewitched. A pedlar going by at that moment, she gave him the pudding, which he put in his pack and then walked on.

As soon as Tom could get the batter out of his mouth, he began to cry out. This so frightened the pedler that he flung the pudding over a fence, and took to his heels. The pudding was broken by the fall, and poor Tom crawled out and ran home.

Tom never was any bigger; but as he grew older be grew cunning and sly. When he played with boys for cherry-stones, and had lost his own, he used to creep into his playmates' bags, fill his pockets, and come out to play again.

One day, as he was doing this, the owner chanced to see him. "Ah, ha, my little Tom," said he, "I have caught you at last; now I will punish you for stealing."

So he drew the bag-string tight about his neck, and then shaking the bag, Tom's legs and thighs were so sadly bruised, that he was thrown into a raging fever.

Just at this time the queen of the faires came in a coach drawn by six flying mice, and placing Tom by her side, drove through the air to her palace in fairy land, where she kept him till he was restored to health. Then, taking advantage of a fair wind, she blew him straight to the court of King Arthur. But just as Tom was about to land in the palace-yard, the king's cook happened to pass with a huge bowl of soup, into which Tom fell plump, and splashed the hot soup all in the cook's face and eyes.

"Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" cried Tom, half scalded and half drowned in his hot bath.

"Murder! murder! murder!" bellowed the cook, who was a cross, red-faced old fellow, and supposed Tom had done all this mischief on purpose. Determined to be revenged on the little fellow for the imaginary insult, he urged his brother, who was a miller, and as cross and cruel as himself, to take little Tom home with him, and put him where he could do no more mischief.

Accordingly, the miller pocketed Tom, and carrying him to his mill, dropped him from a window into the river. But Tom was not born to be drowned. A large salmon swimming by at that moment, caught him in its mouth and swallowed him without any trouble.

The salmon was soon caught, and being a fine large fish, was presented to the king, who ordered it to be dressed immediately. When it was cut open, every body was delighted to see little Tom Thumb step out. He soon became the favorite of the king, who knighted him, and gave him a little golden palace to live in, and also a tiny coach, which was drawn by six white mice.

King Arthur one day questioned Tom about his parents, and Tom informed his majesty that they were worthy people, but very poor. Then the king led him into his treasury, and showing him the piles of gold and silver, told him he might pay his parents a visit, and take with him as much money as he could carry! Accordingly, Tom procured a little purse, and putting a sixpence into it, he with much labor and difficulty got the purse upon his back and started for home.

His mother met him at the door, where he arrived almost tired to death, having traveled nearly half a mile, with a huge sixpence on his back. His parents were delighted to see him, especially as he brought such an amazing sum of money.

Tom remained at home for some time; but at last getting weary of his humble life, he watched for an opportunity to reach King Arthur's court again. One day he sauntered out into the fields, and seeing a butterfly seated on the ground, he ventured to get astride of him. The butterfly soon took wing, and mounting into the air with Tom on his back, flew from field to field, till at last he reached the king's court.

The king, queen, and nobles, all tried to catch the butterfly, but could not. At last poor Tom, having no saddle or bridle, slipped off and tumbled into a watering-pot, where he was nearly drowned before he could be taken out. But he soon recovered from this mishap, and once more became the pride and ornament of King Arthur's court.

At last, a huge spider one day attacked him, and though he drew his sword and fought well, yet the spider's poisonous breath at last overcame him.

King Arthur and his whole court went into mourning for little Tom Thumb. They buried him under a rose-bush, and raised a white marble monument over his grave, with this epitaph on it, in letters of gold:

Here lies Tom Thumb, a gallant knight,
Who died by a cruel spider's bite.
He was well known in King Arthur's court,
Where he afforded pleasant sport;
He rode at tilt and tournament,
And on a mouse a hunting went.
Alive, he filled the court with mirth;
His death to general grief gave birth.
Good people, tears of sorrow shed,
And cry, Alas! Sir Tom is dead!

Now, my little readers, which do you like best, -- true stories, moral and instructive stories, or stories like the wonderful adventures of


Thomas of the Thumb


There was one before now whose name was Tómas na h òrdaig, and he was no bigger than the thumb of a stalwart man. Tómas went once to take a walk, and there came a coarse shower of hailstones, and Tómas went in under a dock leaf; and there came a great drove of cattle past, and there was a great brindled bull amongst them, and he was eating about the docken, and he ate Tómas of the Thumb.

His mother and his father missed him, and they went to seek him. They were going past the brindled bull, and quoth Tómas na h òrdaig"

Ye are there a seeking me,
Through smooth places, and moss places;
And here am I a lonely one,
Within the brindled bull.

Then they killed the brindled bull, and they sought Tómas na h òrdaig amongst the paunches and entrails of the bull, but they threw away the great gut in which he was.

There came a carlin the way, and she took the great gut, and as she was going along she went over a bog.

Tómas said something to her, and the old wife threw away the great gut from her in a fright.

There came a fox the way, and he took with him the gut, and Tómas shouted: "Bies taileù! the fox. Bis taileù! the fox."

Then the dogs ran after the fox, and they caught him, and they ate him; and though they ate the gut they did not touch Tómas na h òrdaig.

Tómas went home, where his mother and his father were, and he it was indeed that had the queer story for them.

This varies from the book adventures of our old friend Tom Thumb, who is now supposed to have been the dwarf of King Arthur. The story comes from Glenfalloch, which is not far from Dumbarton, which was, according to family tradition, the birth-place of King Arthur's son. It was told to Dewar by a girl who took charge of him when a child, and it is known to one other man whom I know.

I used to hear the adventures of "Comhaoise Ordaig" (Thumb's co-temporary), from my piper nurse myself, but I was so young at the time that I have forgotten all but the name.

The cry of "bis taileu" may still be heard in the mouths of herd laddies addressing their collies, and it maybe the same as "tally-ho!" for which a French derivation has been sought and found --"tallis hors." I would rather imagine King Arthur, and his knights, and his dwarf, shouting an old Celtic hunting cry, and red-coated sportsmen keeping it up till now, than trace it to Norman-French; but in any case, here is something like tally-ho in the mouth of Tom Thumb, and in a glen where tally-ho has never been heard.



Once there was a poor peasant who would sit at the hearth poking the fire every evening, while his wife sat nearby spinning. Once he said, "It is sad that we have no children. It is so quiet here, while it is so loud and cheerful in other houses."

"Yes," answered the wife with a sigh, and said, "I would be satisfied even if there were just one, and even if it were ever so small -- no larger than a thumb. We would still love it."

And then it happened that the wife took ill, and seven months later she gave birth to a child. All of his parts were perfectly formed, but he was no larger than a thumb. Then they said, "Yes, he is what we asked for. He will be our dear child."

And because of his size they named him Thumbthick. They gave him good things to eat, but the child still did not grow any larger, remaining just as he had been in his first hour. But he had an intelligent look in his eyes, and he soon proved to be a clever and quick little thing, succeeding in everything that he undertook.

One day while the peasant was making preparations to go into the forest to cut wood, he said to himself, "I wish that I had someone to follow me up with the wagon."

"Oh, father," shouted Thumbthick, "I'll take care of that. The wagon will be in the forest whenever you say."

The man laughed and said, "How can that be? You are much too small to guide the horse with the reigns."

"That doesn't matter, father. If mother will hitch up the horse, I'll sit in his ear and tell him which way to go."

"Well," said the father, "we can try it once."

When the time came, the mother hitched the horse to the wagon and set Thumbthick in his ear. The little one shouted which way the horse was to go, "Gee! Haw! Giddap! Whoa!" Everything went as it should, and they followed the right trail into the forest.

Now it happened that just as they were rounding a bend, with the little one shouting, "Haw! Haw!"

Two strange men came by. "What is that?" said the one. "There is a wagon with a driver calling to the horse, but there is no one to be seen!"

"That can't be," said the other. "Let's follow the cart and see where it stops."

The wagon continued on into the forest to the place where the wood was being cut.

When Thumbthick saw his father, he called out, "See, father, I'm here with the wagon. Lift me down."

The father held the horse with his left arm, and with his right arm lifted his little son down from the ear, who then cheerfully sat down on a piece of straw.

When the two strangers saw Thumbthick, they were so amazed that they didn't know what to say. The one took the other one aside and said, "Listen, that little fellow could be our fortune, if we could just get him to a big city where there is money. Let's buy him."

They went to the peasant and said, "Sell us the little man. He'll be well off with us."

"No," answered the father. "My pride and joy is not for sale at any price."

However, when Thumbthick heard what was going on, he climbed up the crease in his father's jacket and onto his shoulder, then said into his ear, "Father, let me go. I'll come right back to you." So, for a pretty piece of money, the father let the two men have him.

"Where do you want to sit?" they asked him.

"Oh, put me on the brim of your hat so I can walk back and forth like on a balcony and observe the scenery."

They did as he asked, and as soon as Thumbthick had taken leave from his father, they set forth with him. They walked on until evening, and as it was getting dark the little one said, "Put me down. I have to go."

"Just stay up there," said the man whose head he was sitting on. "It doesn't matter to me. The birds let things drop on me from time to time too."

"No," said Thumbthick. "I know what's proper. Lift me down right now."

The man took off his hat and set the little one in a field next to the path. He jumped and crawled back and forth between the clods, and then slipped down a mouse hole that he found.

"Good evening, gentlemen," he called out, "you no longer have me!"

They ran up and poked sticks into the opening, but it was wasted effort. Thumbthick crawled further and further back until it was pitch dark. Full of anger, but with empty purses, the two men made their way home.

When Thumbthick saw that they had gone, he crawled from the underground passageway. "It is dangerous to walk across this field in the dark," he said. "I could easily break my neck and a leg!" Fortunately he came upon an empty snail shell. "Praise God! Here is a safe place to spend the night!" and he crawled inside.

A little later, just as he was about to fall asleep, he heard two men passing by. One said to the other, "How are we going to get that rich priest's gold and silver?"

"I could tell you how," interrupted Thumbthick.

"What was that!" cried out the one thief, frightened, "I heard someone talking."

They stopped and listened, and Thumbthick spoke up again, "Take me along, and I'll help you."

"Where are you?"

"Just look here on the ground, and you'll see where the voice is coming from," he answered. The thieves finally found him and picked him up.

"You little rascal, how can you help us?" they said.

"Look," he answered, "I'll crawl between the iron bars into the priest's storeroom and reach out to you everything that you want."

"Well," they said, "let's see what you can do."

They went to the rectory, and Thumbthick crept into the storeroom, then shouted out with all his might, "Do you want everything that's here?"

The frightened thieves said, "Speak softly, and don't wake anyone up."

Thumbthick, pretending that he didn't understand them, yelled out, "What do you want? Do you want everything that's here?"

The cook, who was sleeping in the next room, sat up in bed and listened. The frightened thieves, who had run a little way off, gathered their courage, thinking that the little fellow was teasing them, and came back and whispered to him, "Be serious now, and reach something out to us."

Then Thumbthick again shouted as loudly as he could, "I'll give you everything. Just reach your hands inside." The maid, who was listening carefully, heard this very clearly, jumped out of bed, and staggered in through the door. The thieves took off as though they were running from a fire, while the maid went to light a candle, because she could not see a thing. She came back with a light, but Thumbthick made his way out into the barn without being seen. The maid, after having searched in every corner without finding anything, finally went back to bed, thinking that she had been dreaming with open eyes and ears.

Thumbthick climbed about in the hay and found a good place to sleep. He wanted to rest until morning and then return to his parents, but what happened to him instead? Yes, there is so much suffering and need in the world! As usual, the maid got up at dawn to feed the cattle. First off she went to the barn and gathered up an armful of hay, and precisely that bundle of hay where Thumbthick was lying fast asleep. He was sleeping so soundly, that he was not aware of anything, and he did not wake up until he was in the mouth of the cow that had eaten him with the hay.

"Oh, God," he cried, "how did I fall into the fulling mill?" But soon he discovered where he was. He took care to not be crushed by her teeth, but he could not escape sliding down into her stomach.

"They forgot the windows," he said. "The sun does not shine here at all. I wish that I had a light."

He did not like these quarters at all. The worst thing was that more and more fresh hay was coming in at the door, and there was less and less space for him.

Finally he shouted out with fear and as loudly as he could, "Don't bring me anything more to eat! Don't bring me anything more to eat!"

The maid was just milking the cow when she heard someone talking without seeing anyone. It was the same voice that she had heard in the night, and it so frightened her, that she fell off her stool and spilled the milk.

She ran with great haste to her master, and said, "Oh God, father, the cow is talking."

The priest answered the maid, "You are crazy!" and then went to the barn to see for himself what was the matter.

He had scarcely set his foot inside when Thumbthick shouted anew, "Don't bring me anything more to eat! Don't bring me anything more to eat!"

The terrified priest thought that it must be an evil spirit, and ordered that the cow be killed.

So the cow was slaughtered. The stomach with Thumbthick inside was thrown onto the manure pile. Thumbthick attempted to free himself, but it was not easy.

Finally he succeeded in making a little room for himself, but just as he was about to stick his little head out, a wolf came by and downed the entire stomach with a single hungry gulp.

Thumbthick did not lose his courage. "Perhaps," he thought, "I can talk to the wolf," and he called to him from inside his paunch, "Wolf, I know where you can get a great feast."

"Where?" said the wolf.

"In thus and such a house. You can get in through the drain hole, and there you will find cakes and bacon, and sausage, as much as you can eat."

He exactly described his father's house. The wolf did not have to be told twice. That night he squeezed his way through the drain hole into the storage room, and ate to his heart's content. When he was full, he wanted to leave, but he had become so fat that he could not get back out the same way. Thumbthick had counted on this, and now he began to make a mighty noise from within the wolf's body. He stormed and shouted as loudly as he could.

"Be quiet!" said the wolf. "You'll wake the people up."

"So what?" answered the little one. "You've eaten your fill, and now I want to have a good time too!"

He began anew to scream with all his strength. This woke up his father and mother. They ran to the storage room and peered in through a crack. When they saw that a wolf was inside, they were horrified. The man fetched an ax and the woman a scythe.

"Stay behind me," said the man, as they stepped into the room. "I'll hit him first, but if that doesn't kill him, you cut him to pieces."

Then Thumbthick heard his father's voice and called out, "Father dear, here I am. I'm inside the wolf!"

The father spoke with joy, "Praise God! Our dearest child has found his way back!"

He told his wife to put the scythe away, in order not to injure him. Then he struck the wolf a blow to the head, and he fell down dead. They found a knife and scissors, cut open his belly, and pulled out their dear child.

"Oh," said the father, "we were so worried about you!"

"Yes, father, I've seen a lot of the world now, and thank God that once again I can get a breath of fresh air."

"Where all have you been?"

"Oh, father, I was in a mouse hole, in a cow's belly, and in a wolf's paunch, and now I am going to stay here with you."

"And we will never again sell you, not for all the riches in the world."

Thumbling's Travels


A tailor had a son who was small, no bigger than a thumb. For that reason he was called Thumbling.

He was, however, quite brave, and he said to his father, "Father, I want to and must go out into the world."

"That's right, my son," said the old man. He took a long darning-needle and with a candle made a knob of sealing-wax on it. "Here is a sword to take with you on your way."

The little tailor wanted to have one more meal with at home, so he hopped into the kitchen to see what his mother had cooked for the last time. The meal was ready to eat, and in a dish on the hearth.

He said, " Mother, what is there to eat today?"

"See for yourself," said his mother.

So Thumbling jumped onto the hearth, and looked into the dish. However, he stretched his neck too far out, and the steam from the food caught hold of him and carried him up the chimney. He rode about on the steam for a while in the air, until at last he sank down to the ground again.

The little tailor was now outside in the wide world. He traveled about, finally finding work with a master tailor. However, the food was not good enough for him.

"Mistress," said Thumbling to the master's wife, "if you don't give me better food, I'll go away, and early tomorrow morning I'll write with chalk on your front door: 'Too much potatoes, too little meat! Good-bye, Potato-King.'"

"Just what do you want, grasshopper?" said the master's wife. She grew angry, picked up a rag, and was about to hit him with it. However, my little tailor slipped nimbly under a thimble, peeked out from beneath it, and stuck his tongue out at the master's wife. She picked up the thimble and tried to get hold of him, but little Thumbling jumped into the rag. The master's wife untangled the rag, looking for him, but he escaped into a crack in the table.

"Ho, ho, lady mistress," he shouted, sticking his head out. When she began to hit him, he jumped down into a drawer. But she finally caught hold of him and drove out of the house.

The little tailor journeyed onward and came to a great forest where he happened onto a band of thieves. They were planning to steal the king's treasure. Seing the little tailor, they thought, "A little fellow like that can crawl through a keyhole be a picklock for us."

"Hey there," cried one of them, "you giant Goliath, do you want to go to the treasure chamber with us? You can slip in and throw out the money."

Thumbling reflected for a while, and finally said "yes." He then went the treasure chamber with them. He looked at the door from top to bottom to see if there was any crack in it. He soon found a crack wide enough to let him through. He was about slip in when one of the two guards standing there observed him.

He and said to the other guard, "What kind of an ugly spider is that? I'll step on it and kill it."

"Leave the poor creature alone," said the other. "It has never done you any harm."

Thus Thumbling got safely through the crack and into the treasure chamber. He opened the window beneath which the thieves were standing, and threw one taler after another down to them. The little tailor was in the middle of his work when he heard the king coming to inspect his treasure chamber. He quickly hid himself. The king noticed that several talers were missing, but he could not perceive who could have stolen them, for the locks and bolts were in good condition, and everything seemed to be well protected.

He went away again, saying to the guards, "Be on the alert! Someone is after the money."

When Thumbling resumed his work the guards heard the money being moved about with sound of clink, clank, clink, clank. They swiftly ran in to capture the thief, but the little tailor heard them coming and was swifter than they were. He jumped into a corner and covered himself with a taler, so that nothing could be seen of him. Then he began teasing the guards, crying out, "Here I am!"

The guards ran toward him, but when they got there, he had already jumped into another corner under a taler, and was shouting, "Hey! I'm over here!"

The guards hurred there, but Thumbling had long long since hidden himself in a third corner, and was shouting, "Hey! I'm over here!"

Thus he made fools of them. He drove them to and fro about the treasure chamber so long that they grew tired and went away. Then one at a time he threw all the talers out. He tossed the last one with all his might, hopped nimbly onto it, and flew down with it through the window.

The thieves praised him heartily. "You are a great hero," they said. "Do you want to be our captain?"

Thumbling thanked them, but said he wanted to see the world first. They divided the loot, but the little tailor asked for only one kreuzer because he could not carry any more.

He buckled on his sword once again, said farewell to the robbers, and went on his way.

At first he apprenticed himself to a few different masters, but did not like the work, so finally he hired himself out as a servant in an inn. However, the maids did not like him, for he saw all that they did secretly, without their seeing him. He he told their master and mistress what they had stolen off the plates and from the cellar, carrying it off for their own use.

They said, "Just wait! We'll get even with you!"

Together the plotted to play a trick on him. Soon afterwards one of the maids was cutting grass in the garden when she saw Thumbling jumping about and creeping up and down among the plants. She quickly gathered him up with the cut grass, tied it all in a large cloth, and secretly threw it to the cows. One of the cows was a large black one, who swallowed him down with the grass without hurting him. He did not like it down below, for it was quite dark, with not so much as a burning candle.

When the cow was being milked he cried out:

Strip, strap, strull.
Will the bucket soon be full?

The sound of milking kept him from being understood. Afterward the master of the house came into the cow-barn and said, "That cow there shall be slaughtered tomorrow."

This so frightened Thumbling that he cried out in a clear voice, "First let me out! I'm here inside."

The master heard that quite well, but he did not know where the voice came from. "Where are you?" he asked.

"In the black one," answered Thumbling, but the master did not understand what that meant, and went away.

The cow was slaughtered the next morning. Fortunately Thumbling escaped being hit as the meat was being sliced and chopped. But he ended up in the sausage meat.

The butcher came in and began his work, and Thumbling cried out with all his might, "Don't chop too deep, don't chop too deep. I'm stuck inside here."

No one heard him because of the noise of the chopping knife. Now poor Thumbling was in danger, but danger leads to speed, and he jumped about so quickly between the blows that none of them touched him, and he escaped unharmed. But he still could not get away. He had to let himself be pushed into a blood sausage with bits of fat. His quarters there were very tight, and furthermore he was hung up in the chimney to be smoked. This was a terribly dreary and cramped situation.

He was finally taken down in winter, because the blood sausage was to be served to a guest. When the hostess was cutting it into slices, he was careful not to stretch his head too far out, or it could have been cut off. He finally saw his opportunity, cleared a way for himself, and jumped out.

The little tailor did not want to stay any longer in a house where he had been so badly treated, so once again he set forth on his travels.

His feedom did not last long. In an open field he met up with a fox who, without thinking, snapped him up.

"Hey there, Mr. Fox," cried the little tailor, "I'm stuck in your throat. Set me free again."

"You're quite right," answered the fox. "You are nothing at all for me, but if you will promise me the chickens in your father's barnyard I'll let you go."

"With all my heart," replied Thumbling. "I promise that you shall have all the chickens."

Then the fox released Thumbling, and even carried him home. When the father saw his dear son once again, he gladly gave the fox all the chickens that he had.

"For this I am bringing you a goodly sum of money," said Thumbling, and gave his father the kreuzer that he had earned on his travels.

"But why did the fox get the poor chickens to eat?"

"Oh, you goose, your father would surely love his child more than the chickens in his barnyard!"

A Story about Palecek, "Little Thumb"

Czech Republic

Once upon a time, there was a man and his wife, who had no children. They were very lonely and unhappy. Then they determined to pray to God for a little son. Perhaps He would hear them, if they prayed with all their hearts.

"Dear God," they prayed, "You know how much we long for a little boy to be the joy and comfort of our old age. We pray you to have pity on us and send us a son."

The man felt sure that God would listen and went to his work in a contented frame of mind. One day the man went off to the fields to plow. While he was away, a little son was born, no larger than a thumb. His mother called him "Little Thumb." Hardly had he been born, before he was all over the house, hopping, skipping and running. He was full of joy and singing all the time.

What was the mother's surprise when the little fellow said that noon, "Mother, give me father's dinner, so that I can take it to him in the field."

The mother made the sign of the cross. She was superstitious and did not know what to make of the boy. She had never in all her life ever heard of a boy like him. Really she was afraid to give him the basket, heavy with the father's dinner, for he was such a tiny mite. He insisted and insisted. Amused at his funny antics, as he gave her no peace, she packed the dinner in the basket and gave it to the boy.

Wonder of wonders! He took the basket on his head and ran with it to the fields. He could not be seen for the basket which covered him completely. It was such a funny sight to see this basket go along all by itself, as it were. The dust in the road was as high as his waist and almost smothered the little man, but do you think that he would give up? No sir! He trudged along, sneezing and puffing like a little engine.

After a while he came to the brook over which there was no bridge. Now what was he going to do? He was a wise, clever little chap and remembered that there was a big wooden spoon in the basket, so he reached for it and placing it on the water, it bacame a little boat on which he gaily crossed over, towing the basket after him.

When he came to the field where his father was plowing, he bagan to call from far off, "Father, father, here I am with your dinner."

But the father did not hear the thin little voice. Besides he did not even know that a son had been born to him that morning, and then he would not have believed that a newly born son could take his father's dinner to him that same day.

Palecek kept on calling. When he stood at his father's feet, the father turned to see where that buzzing sound came from. Then he saw the basket behind him, but did not see Palecek. The father stared at the wonderful basket that had come to the field all alone, as he thought. Then for the first time, he saw a little boy no bigger than a thumb. Imagine his surprise to see such a little boy. Had anybody ever seen one like him before? And then to hear him talk. It was such a cunning sound.

He could not believe his ears when Palecek said, "I am your son!"

"Born this morning and bringing my dinner! You are a wonder, a very miracle of a son," laughed the father, as sitting down he began to eat his dinner.

While his father was eating, Palecek said that he would like to plow a bit for him. He also asked for the whip to drive the oxen.

"How can you drive the oxen, my little son, when you can't even carry the whip?" laughed the father,

"I will make them go without a whip," answered the boy, as with one bound, he jumped on the nearest ox and crept into his ear. As he did so, he cried as loud as he could, "Hoi! Heiso! Hwi!"

The boy's voice sounded like thunder in the ear of that ox, as he started off in a mad race, dragging his mate with him. The oxen ran up and down, over that field so fast, that Palecek plowed more that noon than the father had the whole morning.

Around the field where Palecek was plowing, wound the main road. About that time a rich merchant, who had been to market, was on his way home. When he saw the oxen plowing alone, he was greatly astonished. He could hardly believe his eyes and went up closer to see what it all meant. Then for the first time, he heard the voice of Little Thumb urging them on. With amazement he listened to see where the voice came from.

Then he heard it say, "Here I am in the ear of the ox."

Looking in the ear of the ox, there he spied Palecek. He was delighted with the little chap and wished that he might have him for his own.

"Ha, ha," he said, "that's the lad for me. He's so small that he won't eat very much." That suited him, for he was a very stingy man.

"Will you enter my service," he asked Little Thumb?

"Why not, if my father is willing," he replied.

Then he sprang like a shot from the ear of the ox, and running to his father, whispered, "Father, the merchant wants to hire me, but don't let him have me too cheap. Have no fear for me. I shall return to you very soon, but you must be sure to follow us as soon as he takes me."

When the merchant came to the father to ask if he could hire the clever little chap, the father asked, "How much will you pay?"

"How much do you want?"

"Twenty-one ducats is the wages," said the father.

The merchant at once consented and paid the price. Then he caught up Palecek carefully and put him in his pocket and off they went. The father followed them afar off, as Palecek had urged. He soon learned why, for all along the road he found one piece of money after another that had fallen from the merchant's pockets. Little Thumb, as soon as the merchant had put him so carefully in his pocket, had bitten a hole in it, so that all the money ran out. Then he slipped through the hole himself and hurrying on to meet his father, they went home rejoicing.

The merchant arriving home, called out to his wife before he had readied the gate, "Come and see the marvel I have brought you!"

"What is it?" she said, as she ran out to meet him."

"A wonderful little man, who can do magic work for us. He is worth much gold."

The wife looked around, wondering where he could be. Not seeing any one, "Where is he?" she asked.

Then the merchant thrusting his hand in his pocket to pull out Palecek, found alas, no Little Thumb, nothing but a great big hole! Not only was Palecek gone, but all his money too.

Then the merchant knew that Palecek had outwitted him.



Once on a time there was a woman who had an only son, and he was no taller than your thumb; and so they called him Thumbikin.

Now, when he had come to be old enough to know right and wrong, his mother told him to go out and woo him a bride, for now she said it was high time he thought about getting a wife. When Thumbikin heard that, he was very glad; so they got their driving gear in order and set off, and his mother put him into her bosom. Now they were going to a palace where there was such an awfully big princess, but when they had gone a bit of the way, Thumbikin was lost and gone. His mother hunted for him everywhere, and bawled to him, and wept because he was lost, and she couldn't find him again.

"Pip, Pip," said Thumbikin, "here I am;" and he had hidden himself in the horse's mane.

So he came out, and had to give his word to his mother that he wouldn't do so any more. But when they had driven a bit farther on, Thumbikin was lost again. His mother hunted for him, and called him and wept; but gone he was, and gone he stayed.

"Pip, Pip," said Thumbikin at last; and then she heard how he laughed and tittered, but she couldn't find him at all for the life of her.

"Pip, Pip, why, here I am now!" said Thumbikin, and came out of the horse's ear.

So he had to give his word that he wouldn't hide himself again; but they had scarce driven a bit farther before he was gone again. He couldn't help it. As for his mother, she hunted, and wept, and called him by name; but gone he was, and gone he stayed; and the more she hunted, the less she could find him in any way.

"Pip, Pip, here I am then," said Thumbikin.

But she couldn't make out at all where he was, his voice sounded so dull and muffled.

So she hunted, and he kept on saying, " Pip, here I am," and laughed and chuckled, that she couldn't find him; but all at once the horse snorted, and it snorted Thumbikin out, for he had crept up one of his nostrils.

Then his mother took him and put him into a bag; she knew no other way, for she saw well enough he couldn't help hiding himself.

So, when they came to the palace the match was soon made, for the princess thought him a pretty little chap, and it wasn't long before the wedding came on too.

Now, when they were going to sit down to the wedding-feast, Thumbikin sat at the table by the princess's side; but he had worse than no seat, for when he was to eat he couldn't reacli up, to the table; and so, if the princess hadn't helped him up on to it, he wouldn't have got a bit to eat.

Now it went good and well so long as he had to eat off a plate, but then there came a great bowl of porridge -- that he couldn't reach up to; but Thumbikn soon found out a way to help himself; he climbed up and sat on the lip of the bowl. But then there was a pat of melting butter right in the middle of the bowl, and that he couldn't reach to dip his porridge into it, and so he went on and took his seat at the edge of the melting butter; but just then who should come but the princess, with a great spoonful of porridge to dip it into the butter; and, alas! she went too near to Thumbikin, and tipped him over; and so he fell over head and ears, and was drowned in the melted butter.

Svend Tomling


There was a couple here in Jutland who had a good farm, but they had no children. The wife was very distressed about this. She thought it was terrible that in their old age she and her husband should be cared for by outsiders.

One day a beggarwoman came and said, "I think that you are troubled. What is wrong with you?"

"Oh, I'm very concerned, because we have no children."

"I'll give you some good advice," said the beggarwoman. "You should cut off your big toe, wrap it in cotton, and put it in a black pot, and then tomorrow you shall have a son. He will stay very small, but small and clever is much better than a big and stupid."

The strange woman went away, and the next day the couple had a little son. He was very small, and his mother gave him the name Svend Tomling.

When the child was eight days old, his mother was making pancakes for her husband who was out in the field plowing.

"May I take the pancakes out to my father?" asked Svend from his bed.

"What! Can you talk, my boy? You've learned to talk very early; but no, you're still too little to go out to the field."

But it was no use. Svend wanted to go out. He took the pancakes and a bottle of beer in his hand and walked out to the field to his father. The man was very surprised when he saw his son coming with food.

"You stay here in the grass until I go home," he said, "because you are too little to come into the plowed furrows. You would get completely lost in the soil."

"No, I want to sit up in the horse's ear. That is a good place for me," said Svend Tomling.

Then he got up there and shouted, "Giddyup, giddyup! Forward!"

A fine gentleman came driving by on the road, and he had his driver stop. He asked the plowman about the strange horse he had that was able to talk.

"It's not the horse," said the man. "It's my little son. He's sitting in the horse's ear."

"Can I buy that son?" asked the gentleman.

"No, I want to keep him."

"Sell me, father! Sell me, father!" shouted Svend.

So his father sold him, and he got a good price for him.

Svend sat in the back of the carriage on a chest that was filled with money. As they drove on, he began to throw the money out of the chest, one coin after the other, and Svend's father ran behind and picked them up.

When there was no more money in the chest, Svend jumped out of it onto the road. He could not find his way home, so he just lay there on the road.

That night some thieves came by, talking about how they wanted to steal some cheese from the deacon.

"Take me with you! Take me with you!" shouted Svend.

The thieves were startled, but then they found him, and one thief picked him up and put him in his vest pocket. When they got to the deacon's, Svend went up into the loft to take the cheeses down.

"Do you want them hard or soft, sour or sweet?" shouted Svend Tomling.

The shouting awakened the deacon. He came out, and the thieves ran away. The deacon went up into the loft, and Svend was also frightened. He hid in a bundle of straw.

The next morning the deacon took the bundle of straw where Svend was hiding, and fed it to the cow. Later, the deacon's maidservent was milking the cow, but she came running in saying that there was a ghost in the cow, because it could talk.

The deacon could not believe this, and said that he himself would milk the cow.

When the deacon started milking, Svend Tomling shouted, "Steady now, steady now! Keep trying, and the bucket will soon be full!"

This startled the deacon, and he swore that the cow should be slaughtered. This was done, and the entrails were thrown out onto the manure pile.

That night a fox came and started to eat the entrails.

"Will you soon be finished, Reynard?" cried Svend.

This scared the fox, and it ran away. Then a mangy old dog came by and began to drag off the entrails.

Svend shouted again, "Keep trying, you old snowman."

This frightend the dog, and it dropped the entrails. And then Svend ran home to his father.

Little Lasse


There was once upon a time a boy named Lars, and because he was so very little he was called "Little Lasse." He was a plucky boy, for once he travelled all round the world in a pea-pod boat. It was Summer-time, when the peas grew green and tall in the garden. Little Lasse crept into the pea-bed between the rows of peas, where the pea-stalks reached high above his cap, and broke off seventeen large pods, the biggest and straightest he could possibly have wished for. Little Lasse thought that no one saw him, and that was stupid, for God's eyes for God's eyes are every where. Then the Gardener came past with his gun upon his shoulder and heard some thing rustle among the peas.

"I think it must be Sparrows," he called out.

"'Sh! 'sh!" but no Sparrow flew out, for Little Lasse had no wings, only two little legs.

"Stop a a moment; I shall load my gun and shoot the Sparrows, " said the Gardener. Then Little Lasse got frightened and crept out from the rows of peas.

"I am so sorry, Gardener, dear," he said; "I was only seeking some nice boats."

"That excuse may do for this time, " said the Gardener, " but in future Little Lasse must ask leave if he wishes to search for ships in the pea-beds."

"I'll do that," answered Lasse, and off he was to the shore. There he split up his pods with a pin, slit them quite evenly, and broke up some small twigs for rowing benches. Then he took the peas which had been in the pods, and laid them as cargo in the boats. Some of the pods broke, some remained whole, and when all were ready Little Lasse had twelve boats, but they were they were never boats, they were large war-vessels. He had three ships of the line, three frigates, three brigs, and three schooners.

The biggest ship of the line was called Hercules, and the smallest schooner was called The Flea. Little Lasse placed all twelve in the water, and they floated in such a stately manner that no real ship ever danced more proudly on the ocean's billows. Now the ships were to travel round the world. The big island far away there was Asia; the large stone was Africa; the little island was America; the small stones were Polynesia, and the shore from where the ships sailed was Europe.

The whole fleet started and floated slowly away to the different parts of the world. The ships of the line sailed straight for Asia; the frigates sailed to Africa, the brigs to America, and the schooners to Polynesia. Little Lasse remained behind in Europe and threw small stones into the world's ocean.

On the shore of Europe there was a real boat, papa's own, beautiful, white painted boat, and Little Lasse climbed into it. The pea-boats had sailed so far away, that to the eye they seemed like mere stalks of grass on the water. Little Lasse suddenly conceived a desire to row out into the world. That Papa and Mamma had certainly forbidden, but he never thought of that.

"I shall row a little bit -- just a little bit out," thought he. "I shall catch up the ship Hercules near the coast of Asia, and then row back to Europe again."

Little Lasse only shook the chain by which the boat was attached, so it was rather a wonder that it became unloosed.

"Ritsch, ratsch, a man is a man," and Little Lasse shot out the boat.

Now he had to row, and row he could, for he had rowed so often on the stair at home, with the stair for a boat and Papa's big stick as an oar. But when little Lasse wished to row he found there were no oars in the boat; these were kept in the boat-house, and Little Lasse had never noticed that the boat was empty. It is not so easy as one may think to row to Asia without oars.

What was Little Lasse to do? The boat was now some distance out on the water, and the wind which blew from the shore was always driving it further. Little Lasse got frightened and began to cry; no one was on the shore, so no one heard him. Only a big crow sat by himself in the big birch-tree, beneath which crept the Gardener's black cat and lay in wait for the crow. No one was in the least concerned about Little Lasse, who was drifting out to sea. Ah, how sorry Little Lasse now was that he had been disobedient and got into the boat, doing what his Father and Mother had so often forbidden! Now it is too late! He will never reach land again; perhaps he may perish in the vast sea. What was he to do?

When he had cried himself hoarse, and no one heard him, he clasped his little hands and said: "Good God, do not be angry with Little Lasse!" and then he slept.

In spite of the fact that it was now broad daylight, old Nukki Matti sat on the shore of Featherbed Island fishing with his long net for little children. He heard the soft words which Little Lasse had uttered; quickly he drew the boat towards him, and laid Little Lasse to sleep upon the rose-leaf beds, saying to one of his Dreamers: "Play with Little Lasse that he may not weary!"

This was addressed to a little Dream-boy, so very, very little that he was less than Lasse himself. He had blue eyes, fair hair, a red cap with silver band, and a white jacket with a pearl-trimmed collar.

He came to Lasse, and said: "Would you like to travel all round the world?"

"Yes," said Lasse in his sleep; "certainly I would."

"Come then, " said the Dream-boy, "let us sail in your pea-ships. You shall sail in Hercules, and I'll travel on The Flea."

So they sailed away from Featherbed Island, and in a short time Hercules and The Flea were on the shores of Asia, far away at the end of the world, where the White Sea flows through Behring Straits and joins the Pacific Ocean. Far away through the winter fogs, Nordenskiold is seen, with the steamship Vega trying to find a passage through the ice.

Here it was very, very cold; the mighty icebergs glistened so marvellously, the big whales were housed beneath them and tried in vain to make holes in the ice with their clumsy heads. All around the bleak shores was snow as far as the eye could reach; upon it little grey men walked about, clad in skins and drove in small sledges through the drifts, and dogs were harnessed to the sledges.

"Shall we land here?" asked the Dream-boy.

"No," said Lasse. "I am afraid of being swallowed up by the big whales, and the big dogs might bite us. Let us rather travel to another part of the world."

"All right," said the Dream-boy with the red cap and silver band; "we are not far from America," -- and at that moment they were there.

The sun shone, and it was very hot. Tall palm-trees stood in long rows on the shore, bearing cocoanuts on their tops. Men as red as copper rode at a gallop across the vast green plains and threw their spears at buffaloes, which turned on them with their sharp horns. An enormous boaconstrictor had crept up the highest palm and threw itself down on a llama which was eating grass at the foot of the palm. In a twinkling it was all over with the little deer.

"Shall we land here?" asked the Dream-boy.

"No," said Lasse. "I am so afraid of being gored by the big buffaloes; and the big snake might swallow us up. Let us go to some other part of the world."

"All right," said the Dream-boy in the white jacket. "We are only a short way from Polynesia" -- and as he said so, they were there.

Here it was still hotter -- as hot as a Russian bath, when water has just been poured upon the stone. Here there grew upon the shore the richest spices, pepper trees, cinnamon, ginger, saffron, coffee and tea shrubs. Brown men, with long ears and thick lips and their faces hideously painted, hunted a yellow-spotted tiger among the tall bamboos on the shore, and the tiger turned round and planted its claws in one of the brown men. Then all took to flight.

"Are we going to land here?" asked the Dream-boy.

"No," said Little Lasse. "Don't you see the tiger over there among the pepper trees? Let us go to another part of the world."

"That's not difficult to do," said the Dream-boy with the blue eyes. "We are not far from Africa" -- and as he said that they were there.

They anchored at the mouth of a large river, whose banks were as green as the greenest velvet. A short distance from the river there stretched a vast sandy desert. The air was yellow, the sun burned as fiercely as if it were going to burn the earth to ashes, and the inhabitants were as black as the blackest ink. They rode on tall camels through the desert, the lions panted with thirst, and huge crocodiles with their big lizard-like heads gaped with their sharp white teeth out of the river.

"Shall we land here?" asked the Dream-boy.

"No," said Little Lasse. "The sun would burn us up, and the lions and crocodiles hurt us. Let us go to another part of the world."

"We must just sail back again to Europe," said the Dream-boy with the light hair -- and at that moment they were there.

They reached a shore; it was all so cool, so familiar, so homelike. There stood the tall birch with its drooping leaves. On the top of it sat the old crow, and at the foot of it crept the Gardener's black cat. Not far off was a house which Lasse had seen before. Beside the house was a garden, and in the garden grew some rows of peas with long pea-pods. There was the old Gardener with his gardener's green hat, and he wondered if the cucumbers were ripe. There was Fylax barking on the steps, and when he saw Lasse he wagged his tail. There was old Stina milking the cows in the farmyard. There was a well-known lady, in her checked woollen shawl, watching the linen webs bleach on the green grass. There was an equally well-known gentleman in a yellow summer coat, with a long pipe in his mouth, watching the harvest workers reap the rye in the fields.

There were a boy and girl jumping about on the shore, and calling out: "Little Lasse! Little Lasse! Come in and have bread and butter!"

"Shall we land here?" asked the Dream-boy, winking so roguishly with his blue eyes.

"Come with me, and I'll ask Mamma to give you a piece of bread and butter and a glass of milk, " said Little Lasse.

"Wait a bit," said the Dream-boy.

And now Little Lasse saw that the kitchen door stood open, and through it there issued a soft delightful hissing, as if one were pouring yellow batter from a spoon into a hot frying-pan.

"Perhaps we should return to Polynesia," whispered the merry Dream-boy.

"No, the pancakes are frying in Europe," said Little Lasse, trying to jump ashore, but could not, for the Dream-boy had bound him with fetters of flowers, so that to move was impossible. And now all the little Dreams surrounded him -- thousands and thousands of tiny children -- and they formed a circle round him, singing this little song:

The world is so big a place,
Bairnie, wee bairnie,
Far bigger than thy thoughts can trace,
Bairnie, wee bairnie.

There are countries warm and cold,
Bairnie, wee bairnie;
God all things doth safely hold,
Bairnie, wee bairnie.

People live there, great and small,
Bairnie, wee bairnie,
Those dear to God are happy all,
Bairnie, wee bairnie.

If God's angel thee do guide,
Bairnie, wee bairnie,
No harm can ever thee betide,
Bairnie, wee bairnie.

Say, where would'st thou like to rest,
Bairnie, wee bairnie?
The world is fair, but home is best,
Bairnie, wee bairnie.

When the Dreams had finished their song, they all hopped off, and Nukki Matti carried Little Lasse back to the boat. For a long time he lay quite still, and seemed to hear the pancakes frizzling over the fire at home. The frizzling became more distinct; Little Lasse seemed to hear it just beside him -- and then he awoke and opened his eyes.

Then he lay in the boat, where he had fallen asleep The wind had changed, and while the boat was drifted out with one wind, it was blown back to shore with the other, while Little Lasse was sleeping. What Lasse had imagined to be the frying of pancakes was in reality the gentle ripple of the waves as they lapped against the pebbly beach.

Little Lasse rubbed his sleepy eyes, and looked around him. All was as before the crow in the birch, the cat upon the grass, and the pea-pod fleet by the shore. Some of the ships had been wrecked, and some had drifted back to land. Hercules had arrived with his cargo from Asia; The Flea had returned from Polynesia, and all the divisions of the world were precisely where they were before.

Little Lasse never knew exactly how it all happened. He had been so often to Featherbed Island, and yet he never knew how playful Dreams can be. He never troubled his head further to find out, but gathered his boats together, and marched up to the house.

His brothers and sisters came to meet him, calling out at a dis tance: "Where have you been all this time, Lasse? Come in and get bread and butter!"

But the kitchen door stood open, and he heard a mysterious frying. The Gardener stood at the gate giving an evening watering to the parsley, dill, carrots, and turnips.

"Well," said he, "where have you been all this time?"

Little Lasse tossed his head, looked dignified, and answered "I have sailed all round the world in a pea-pod boat."

"Oh ho," said the Gardener. As for him, he had forgotten all about Featherbed Islands!

But you haven't forgotten them; you know that they exist; you know their shining grotto. The glittering walls never rust, the shimmering diamonds never lose their lustre, and never does music sound so sweet as that which is heard in the grotto in the balmy evening twilight. As the bright stars never grow old, neither do the light airy Dreams in the halls of Feather bed Island. Perhaps you have caught a glimpse of their delicate wings as they flew around your pillow?

Perhaps you have met the same Dream-boy with the blue eyes and the fair hair, he who wears a red cap with silver band, and the white jacket with pearls on the collar? Perhaps he has also shown you the different countries and peoples in the world, the chilly wastes and burning deserts, the many-coloured men and wild animals in forest and sea, so that you may learn something; but return gladly to your home? Yes, who knows? Perhaps you also have travelled all round the world in a pea-pod boat?

John Bit-of-a-Man


A Story of the District of Metz

Once there was a woman who had a little son who was extremely small; so very small that she named him John Bit-of-a-Man.

One day she called him to her and said, "Come, take this to your father who is working down there in the fields, and when you get to him, say: 'See father! here is your buttered roll!'"

"I will, mother," said John Bit-of-a-Man; and all along the way he repeated the words so as not to forget them: "See, father! here is your buttered roll; see, father! here is your buttered roll!"

When he reached his father who was occupied in repairing the ditches, he took up his refrain: "See, father! here is your buttered roll."

The good man, hearing some one speak, looked around him on every side, but saw no one; at last, however, he spied little John Bit-of- a-man in the grass at his feet.

"Ah!" said he, "it is you, is it? What do you want?"

"I have brought you a buttered roll," said John Bit-of-a-Man.

"You are very good, my child, to bring me this buttered roll;" and taking it in his hands he ate it all up, without offering John Bit-of-a-Man a mite.

"The glutton! he did not give me any! The glutton! he did not give me any!" groaned John Bit-of-a-Man.

Some time after that, a lord passed by. He called to the laborer, "You have a pretty little boy; will you sell him to me?"

"I will, gladly."

"How much will you take?"

"A hundred crowns."

"A hundred crowns you shall have."

The bargain concluded, the lord put John Bit-of-a-Man in his pocket and went on his way. At the end of an hour, the child put his head out of the pocket and begged his master to put him down on the ground for a moment as he felt faint. The lord was good enough to listen to him, and in a moment John Bit-of-a-Man glided under a heap of leaves and his master could not find him. John Bit-of-a-Man being free once more, went back to his father.

A few days after that, the lord again passed by the laborer, who was still repairing the ditches. "You have a pretty little boy there," said he; "will you sell him to me?"

"I will, gladly."

"How much will you take?"

"A hundred crowns."

"A hundred crowns you shall have."

The bargain concluded, the lord clapped John Bit-of-a-Man into his pocket. At the end of an hour the child put his head out of the pocket and begged his master to put him down on the ground awhile as he felt cramped.

"Well, stay in my pocket and be cramped!" said the lord, who remembered how he had been caught before.

When he reached his castle, he took John Bit-of-a-Man out of his pocket and put him in a basket which he suspended from the kitchen ceiling, and told him to watch everything he saw going on, and tell him faithfully all that he saw.

John Bit-of-a-Man agreed to do this, and each day he told his master all that he saw and heard.

One day our hero leaned his little head over the edge of the basket, so he could see around him, and a servant saw him and said to him, "So it is you who watch us, you little wretch! It is you who tell the master all that happens! Very well! You shall pay for it!"

Amid the applause of his companions, the servant took down the basket, seized the poor little fellow by the hair, and threw him into the horse-trough. That same day an ox went there to drink, and swallowed him whole.

At the end of a week, the lord had the ox killed for a great feast that he made; the entrails were thrown out into the road.

An old woman passing by saw the entrails. "Oh! what splendid entrails! What a pity to throw them away!" and so saying, she clapped them into the basket which she carried on her back.

She had not taken many steps, when she heard a noise that came from her basket saying:

Toc! toc!
The devil's imp is in your basket!
Toc! toc!
The devil's imp is in your basket!

The old woman threw down her basket, and ran away frightened.

A hungry wolf came along who seized on the entrails with avidity, and John Bit-of-a-Man was once more swallowed alive.

As the wolf was crossing the plain, he heard a voice which came from the inside of his body cry out, "Help! shepherd! help! Here is the wolf that devours your sheep."

"Be quiet! you cursed stomach; be quiet! cursed stomach!" said the wolf in desperation.

"I will not hold my tongue until you have put me down at my father's door," answered John Bit-of-a-Man.

"Very well; I will go there," said the wolf.

When they got there, John Bit-of-a-Man got out of the wolf's stomach, and ran quickly into the house, passing by the cat's hole; at the same moment, seizing the wolf by the tail, he cried, "Come, father, come, I have got the wolf by the tail."

His father ran to him, killed the wolf with one stroke of his axe, and sold his skin.

Restored to his home again, John Bit-of-a-Man lived ever after happy and peaceful.

Little Thumb


Once there was a couple who had many children. One of them was a little boy who was no taller than a thumb. He was called Little Thumb.

One day his mother said to him, "I am going to the meadow. You will stay here and take care of house.

"Mom," he said, "I want to go with you."

"No, our Thumb, you must stay here."

Little Thumb pretended to obey; but, when his mother left, he followed her without her noticing. When he reached the meadow, he hid himself in the first armful of grass that his mother had cut. She unwittingly put him in her basket. The grass was given to the cow, and thus Little Thumb was swallowed.

That evening, the mother wanted to milk the cow. "Turn around, Blackie."

"No, I'll not turn around." The astonished woman ran to fetch her husband.

"Turn around, Blackie."

"No, I'll not turn around."

Tired of this battle, they called the butcher, who said that the beast should be slaughtered. Thus the cow was therefore killed and butchered. The stomach was thrown into the street, where an old woman picked it up and put it in her basket. On leaving the village she had too much to carry and had to stop halfway up a hill. She left the cow's stomach on the road.

A hungry wolf came by and swallowed the stomach together with Little Thumb. The wolf continued to prowl and came to a flock of sheep.

Little Thumb cried out, "Shepherd, look out for your flock! Shepherd, look out for your flock!"

This frightened the wolf ---- and Little Thumb suddenly found himself on the ground. He cleaned himself as best he could and went back to his parents.

His mother said to him, "There you are, our Thumb!" I thought that you were lost."

"I was in the grass, but you didn't see me."

"No, I didn't. I really thought that you were lost."

"Well, mom! I'm here now."

Little Blue Riding Hood


One day a farmer and his wife went out to harvest. They left their little boy at home, telling him to come to the field at noon to bring them their soup. The boy was called Little Blue Riding Hood because he always wore a hood of that color. As noon approached the little boy poured the soup into a pot and proceeded to take it to his parents. As he passed by the barn he saw that the cow had nothing to eat. He set his pot next to her and went to get some fodder. Unfortunately the cow kicked the pot, and all the soup spilled on the floor. This upset the boy greatly, so he hid himself in a haystack.

When he did not arrive at the parents, they returned home. They called to him and looked everywhere for him, but Little Blue Riding Hood was nowhere.

The hungry cow began to bellow, and they gave her the hay where the boy was hiding. The cow swallowed the child with the hay.

A little later they wanted to renew the litter, but the cow would not move aside. They pushed her and hit her, but nothing helped.

"Move cow, move!"

"I will not move!"

Hearing the cow speak, people were astonished to hear the cow speak and believed that she was bewitched. They did not know that it was Little Blue Riding Hood who answered for her.

They ran and fetched the mayor.

"Move cow, move!"

"I will not move!"

Finally they fetched the parish priest, who said to the cow in French, "Move cow, move!"

"I don't understand French; I will not move!"

Not knowing what else to do, the farmer sent for the butcher. The beast was killed and butchered.

The stomach was thrown out and picked up by an old woman, who carried it away in her basket. She was scarcely outside the village when the little boy began to sing: "Walk on, walk on, old fool! I'm here in your basket."

The frightened old woman walked on faster without daring to look behind her. She passed a flock of sheep, and the little boy shouted out, "Shepherd, shepherd, look out for your sheep! Here comes a wolf."

The old woman, half mad with fear, felt herself and said: "I am not a wolf! What can that mean?"

When she got home, she closed the door, put her basket on the floor, and slit open the cow's stomach. As soon as she turned her head, the little boy came out of his prison and hid behind the cupboard.

The old woman prepared the tripe for her supper. She was just beginning to recover from her fright and thought only of enjoying herself, when suddenly the little boy began to cry out "Bon appétit, old woman!"

This time the poor woman thought that the devil was there with her, and she began to tremble in all over.

"Listen up," the little boy said to her then without leaving his hiding place. "Promise me not to tell anyone where you found me and to take me where I tell you. I'll then gladly leave you alone, and you won't be sorry to be rid of me."

The old woman promised everything, and Little Blue Riding Hood showed himself to her. She took him back to his parents, who were very happy to see him again.

Jean des Pois Verts


A woman had no children. One day she heard one of her neighbors say that one could have children by planting peas in soil prepared in a certain way.

"If I tried," she said to herself, "maybe I could get one! I'll plant a bushel of peas."

She dug a patch in her garden and planted the peas in it. She watered them every day until she saw thousands of little children's heads appearing above the ground. The next day little boys, at most half an inch tall, were running around. The peasant woman was embarrassed. She decided to go see a fairy, her godmother, to ask for her advice.

The fairy took all the children except one and turned them into elves who flew off in all directions. This is why there are so many goblins, gremlins, sprites, and imps. They are jealous of not being human and thus have no greater pleasure than to mislead travelers and play all kinds of tricks on them.

The little child kept was called Jean des Pois Verts [Jean of the Green Peas]. He always remained very small. The fairy presented him with a carriage and magnificent clothes.

The carriage was made of a ladybug wing; the horses were two dragonflies; the driver, a little wasp; and the footmen, two black ants. His dress coat was a spider's web, and his garters were two strands of gossamer.

He was living happily with his mother when thieves attacked the house. They were about to kill him when their chief stopped them, telling them that he would be useful to them in a burglary that he was planning. They let Jean live, but he was taken prisoner.

The brigands then went to plunder a church. The door was locked. Jean was forced to enter through the keyhole and pull back the bolts. The bandits grabbed the gold and precious items and fled into the countryside. Jean des Pois Verts was placed in the chief's pocket, who did not worry about him any longer.

The child sneaked out, hid in the undergrowth, and kept his eye on the thieves. He watched them deposit their loot in a cave, and then set out again for a new expedition.

Jean des Pois Verts entered the cave and carried away all the riches. Before long he arrived at his house. His mother opened the door and received her son with joy. They were now rich and and led happy lives.

When Jean des Pois Verts died, the fairy carried him to heaven on a thistle blossom.

Little Chick-Pea


Once upon a time there was a husband and wife who had no children. The husband was a carpenter, and when he came home from his shop he did nothing but scold his wife because she had no children, and the poor woman was constantly weeping and despairing. She was charitable, and had festivals celebrated in the church; but no children.

One day a woman knocked at her door and asked for alms; but the carpenter's wife answered: "I will not give you any, for I have given alms and had masses said, and festivals celebrated for a long time, and have no son."

"Give me alms and you will have children."

"Good! in that case I will do all you wish."

"You must give me a whole loaf of bread, and I will give you something that will bring you children."

"If you will, I will give you two loaves."

"No, no! now, I want only one; you can give me the other when you have the children."

So she gave her a loaf, and the woman said: "Now I will go home and give my children something to eat, and then I will bring you what will make you have children."

"Very well."

The woman went home, fed her children, and then took a little bag, filled it with chick-peas, and carried it to the carpenter's wife, and said: "This is a bag of peas; put them in the kneading-trough, and tomorrow they will be as many sons as there are peas."

There were a hundred peas, and the carpenter's wife said: "How can a hundred peas become a hundred sons?"

"You will see tomorrow."

The carpenter's wife said to herself: "I had better say nothing about it to my husband, because if by any mischance the children should not come, he would give me a fine scolding."

Her husband returned at night and began to grumble as usual; but his wife said not a word and went to bed repeating to herself: "Tomorrow you will see!"

The next morning the hundred peas had become a hundred sons. One cried: "Papa, I want to drink."

Another said: "Papa, I want to eat."

Another: "Papa, take me up."

He, in the midst of all this tumult, took a stick and went to the trough and began to beat, and killed them all. One fell out (imagine how small they were!) and ran quickly into the bedroom and hid himself on the handle of the pitcher.

After the carpenter had gone to his shop his wife said: "What a rascal! He has grumbled so long about my not having children and now he has killed them all!"

Then the son who had escaped said: ''Mamma, has papa gone?"

She said: "Yes, my son. How did you manage to escape? Where are you?"

"Hush! I am in the handle of the pitcher; tell me: has papa gone?"

"Yes, yes, yes, come out!"

Then the child who had escaped came out and his mamma exclaimed: "Oh! how pretty you are! How shall I call you?"

The child answered: "Cecino [Little Chick-Pea]."

"Very well, bravo, my Cecino! Do you know, Cecino, you must go and carry your papa's dinner to him at the shop."

"Yes, you must put the little basket on my head, and I will go and carry it to papa."

The carpenter's wife, when it was time, put the basket on Cecino's head and sent him to carry her husband's dinner to him. When Cecino was near the shop, he began to cry: "O papa! come and meet me; I am bringing you your dinner."

The carpenter said to himself: "Oh! did I kill them all, or are there any left?"

He went to meet Cecino and said: "O my good boy! how did you escape my blows?"

"I fell down, ran into the room, and hid myself on the handle of the pitcher."

"Bravo, Cecino! Listen. You must go around among the country people and hear whether they have anything broken to mend."


So the carpenter put Cecino in his pocket, and while he went along the way did nothing but chatter; so that every one said he was mad, because they did not know that he had his son in his pocket.

When he saw some countrymen he asked: "Have you anything to mend?"

"Yes, there are some things about the oxen broken, but we cannot let you mend them, for you are mad."

"What do you mean by calling me mad? I am wiser than you. Why do you say I am mad?"

"Because you do nothing but talk to yourself on the road."

"I was talking with my son."

"And where do you keep your son?"

"In my pocket."

"That is a pretty place to keep your son."

"Very well, I will show him to you;" and he pulls out Cecino, who was so small that he stood on one of his father's fingers.

"Oh, what a pretty child! You must sell him to us."

"What are you thinking about! I sell you my son who is so valuable to me!"

"Well, then, don't sell him to us."

What does he do then? He takes Cecino and puts him on the horn of an ox and says: "Stay there, for now I am going to get the things to mend."

"Yes, yes, don't be afraid; I will stay on my horn."

So the carpenter went to get the things to mend.

Meanwhile two thieves passed by, and seeing the oxen, one said: "See those two oxen there alone. Come, let us go and steal them."

When they drew near, Cecino cried out: "Papa, look out! There are thieves here! They are stealing your oxen!"

"Ah! where does that voice come from?"

And they approached nearer to see; and Cecino, the nearer he saw them come, the more he called out: "Look out for your oxen, papa; the thieves are stealing them!"

When the carpenter came the thieves said to him: "Good man, where does that voice come from?"

"It is my son."

"If he is not here, where is he?"

"Don't you see? There he is, up on the horn of one of the oxen."

When he showed him to them, they said: "You must sell him to us; we will give you as much money as you wish."

"What are you thinking about! I might sell him to you, but who knows how much my wife would grumble about it! "

"Do you know what you must tell her? That he died on the way."

They tempted him so much that at last he gave him to them for two sacks of money. They took their Cecino, put him in one of their pockets, and went away.

On their journey they saw the king's stable. "Let us take a look at the king's stable and see whether we can steal a pair of horses."

"Very good."

They said to Cecino: "Don't betray us."

"Don't be afraid, I will not betray you."

So they went into the stable and stole three horses, which they took home and put in their own stable.

Afterwards they went and said to Cecino: "Listen. We are so tired! save us the trouble, go down and give the horses some oats."

Cecino went to do so, but fell asleep on the halter and one of the horses swallowed him.

When he did not return, the thieves said: "He must have fallen asleep in the stable."

So they went there and looked for him and called: "Cecino, where are you? "

"Inside of the black horse." Then they killed the black horse; but Cecino was not there.

" Cecino, where are you?"

"In the bay horse." So they killed the bay horse; but Cecino was not there.

"Cecino, where are you?" But Cecino answered no longer. Then they said: "What a pity! that child who was so useful to us is lost." Then they dragged out into the fields the two horses that they had cut open.

A famished wolf passed that way and saw the dead horses. "Now I will eat my fill of horse," and he ate and ate until he had finished and had swallowed Cecino.*

[*It appears from this that Cecino had been in one of the horses all the time, but the thieves had not seen him because he was so small.]

Then the wolf went off until it became hungry again and said: "Let us go and eat a goat."

When Cecino heard the wolf talk about eating a goat, he cried out: "Goat-herd, the wolf is coming to eat your goats!"

[The wolf supposes that it has swallowed some wind that forms these words, hits itself against a stone, and after several trials gets rid of the wind and Cecino, who hides himself under a stone, so that he shall not be seen.]

Three robbers passed that way with a bag of money. One of them said: "Now I will count the money, and you others be quiet or I will kill you!"

You can imagine whether they kept still! for they did not want to die. So he began to count: "One, two, three, four, and five."

And Cecino: "One, two, three, four, and five." (Do you understand? He repeats the robber's words.)

"I hear you! You will not keep still. Well, I will kill you; we shall see whether you will speak again."

He began to count the money again: "One, two, three, four, and five."

Cecino repeats: "One, two, three, four, and five."

"Then you will not keep quiet! now I will kill you!" and he killed one of them.

"Now we shall see whether you will talk; if you do I will kill you too."

He began to count: "One, two, three, four, and five."

Cecino repeats: "One, two, three, four, and five."

"Take care, if I have to tell you again I will kill you!"

"Do you think I want to speak? I don't wish to be killed."

He begins to count: "One, two, three, four, and five."

Cecino repeats: "One, two, three, four, and five."

"You will not keep quiet either; now I will kill you!" and he killed him.

"Now I am alone and can count by myself and no one will repeat it."

So he began agin to count: "One, two, three, four, and five."

And Cecino: "One, two, three, four, and five."

Then the robber said: "There is some one hidden here; I had better run away or he will kill me."

So he ran away and left behind the sack of money.

When Cecino perceived that there was no one there, he came out, put the bag of money on his head, and started for home.

When he drew near his parents' house he cried: ''Oh, mamma, come and meet me; I have brought you a bag of money!"

When his mother heard him she went to meet him and took the money and said: "Take care you don't drown yourself in these puddles of rain-water."

The mother went home, and turned back to look for Cecino, but he was not to be seen. She told her husband what Cecino had done, and they went and searched everywhere for him, and at last found him drowned in a puddle.

Robber Nut


Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman to whom God had given no children.

They asked about this here and there, and finally someone said to them: "If you want to have children there is no other way but to take a bladder and blow into it for twenty days and twenty nights. If you do so, you will find a child in the bladder."

They did just that, and after twenty days they found a boy in the bladder. He was just as large as a nut.

They took him out, dressed him, and fed him, but he did not grow any larger. At the age of fifteen he was still the size of a nut.

One day they sent him out to the field to plow with the oxen. He jumped onto the front of the plow and steered the oxen.

Three robbers came by. Thinking that the oxen were unattended (for they didn't see the boy), they began to remove their yoke. The boy hit their hands with his goad. At first they were frightened, but then they paid closer attention and saw him sitting on the plow. They took him with them and went to steal the priest's oxen.

Arriving at the priest's house they let the boy through a crack in the door, for he was only as large as a nut. Once inside he opened the door for them. They took the oxen and escaped.

He too became a robber, and no other robber was his equal. He was called Robber Nut, and the whole world was afraid of him. However, in the end he drowned in a river.

The Little Spirit, or Boy-Man

Native American

In a little lodge at a beautiful spot on a lake shore, alone with his sister, lived a boy remarkable for the smallness of his stature. Many large rocks were scattered around their habitation, and it had a very wild and out-of-the-way look.

The boy grew no larger as he advanced in years, and yet, small as he was, he had a big spirit of his own, and loved dearly to play the master in the lodge. One day in winter he told his sister to make him a ball to play with, as he meant to have some sport along the shore on the clear ice. When she handed him the ball, his sister cautioned him not to go too far.

He laughed at her, and posted off in high glee, throwing his ball before him and running after it at full speed, and he went as fast as his ball. At last his ball flew to a great distance; he followed as fast as he could. After he had run forward for some time, he saw what seemed four dark spots upon the ice, straight before him.

When he came up to the shore he was surprised to see four large, tall men, lying on the ice, spearing fish. They were four brothers, who looked exactly alike.

As the little boy-man approached them, the nearest looked up, and in his turn he was surprised to see such a tiny being, and turning to his brothers, he said: "Tia! look! see what a little fellow is here."

The three others thereupon looked up too, and seeing these four faces, as if they had been one, the little spirit or boy-man said to himself: "Four in one! What a time they must have in choosing their hunting-shirts!"

After they had all stared for a moment at the boy, they covered their heads, intent in searching for fish.

The boy thought to himself: "These four-faces fancy that I am to be put off without notice because I am so little, and they are so broad and long. They shall find out. I may find a way to teach them that I am not to be treated so lightly."

After they were covered up, the boy-man, looking sharply about, saw that among them they had caught one large trout, which was lying just by their side. Stealing along, he slyly seized it, and placing his fingers in the gills, and tossing his ball before him, he ran off at full speed.

They heard the pattering of his little steps upon the ice, and when the four looked up all together, they saw their fine trout sliding away, as if of itself, at a great rate, the boy being so small that he could not be distinguished from the fish.

"See!" they cried out, "our fish is running away on the dry land!"

When they stood up they could just see, over the fish's head, that it was the boy-man who was carrying it off. The little spirit reached the lodge, and having left the trout at the door, he told his sister to go out and bring in the fish he had brought home.

She exclaimed, "Where could you have got it? I hope you have not stolen it."

"Oh," he replied, "I found it on the ice. It was caught in our lake. Have we no right to a little lake of our own? I shall claim all the fish that come out of its waters."

"How," the sister asked again," could you have got it there?"

"No matter," said the boy; go and cook it."

It was as much as the girl could do to drag the great trout within doors. She cooked it, and its flavor was so delicious that she asked no more questions as to how he had come by it.

The next morning the little spirit or boy-man set off as he had the day before.

He made all sorts of sport with his ball as he frolicked along -- high over his head he would toss it, straight up into the air; then far before him, and again, in mere merriment of spirit, he would send it bounding back, as if he had plenty of speed and enough to spare in running back after it. And the ball leaped and bounded about, and glided through the air as if it were a live thing, and enjoyed the sport as much as the boy-man himself.

When he came within hail of the four large men, who were fishing there every day, he cast his ball with such force that it rolled into the ice-hole about which they were busy.

The boy, standing on the shore of the lake, called out: "Four-in-One, pray hand me my ball.

"No, indeed," they answered, setting up a grim laugh which curdled their four dark faces all at once, "we shall not;" and with their fishing-spears they thrust the ball under the ice.

"Good!" said the boy-man, "we shall see."

Saying which he rushed upon the four brothers and thrust them at one push into the water. His ball bounded back to the surface, and, picking it up, he ran off, tossing it before him in his own sportive way. Outstripping it in speed he soon reached home, and remained within till the next morning.

The four brothers, rising up from the water at the same time, dripping and wroth, roared out in one voice a terrible threat of vengeance, which they promised to execute the next day. They knew the boy's speed, and that they could by no means overtake him.

By times in the morning, the four brothers were stirring in their lodge, and getting ready to look after their revenge.

Their old mother, who lived with them, begged them not to go. "Better," said she, "now that your clothes are dry, to think no more of the ducking than to go and all four of you get your heads broken, as you surely will, for that boy is a monedo or he could not perform such feats as he does."

But her sons paid no heed to this wise advice, and, raising a great war-cry, which frightened the birds overhead nearly out of their feathers, they started for the boy's lodge among the rocks. The little spirit or boy-man heard them roaring forth their threats as they approached, but he did not appear to be disquieted in the least. His sister as yet had heard nothing; after a while she thought she could distinguish the noise of snow-shoes on the snow, at a distance, but rapidly advancing.

She looked out, and seeing the four large men coming straight to their lodge she was in great fear, and running in, exclaimed: "He is coming, four times as strong as ever!" for she supposed that the one man whom her brother had offended had become so angry as to make four of himself in order to wreak his vengeance.

The boy-man said, "Why do you mind them? Give me something to eat."

"How can you think of eating at such a time?" she replied.

"Do as I request you, and be quick."

She then gave little spirit his dish, and he commenced eating Just then the brothers came to the door.

"See!" cried the sister, "the man with four heads!"

The brothers were about to lift the curtain at the door, when the boy-man turned his dish upside down, and immediately the door was closed with a stone; upon which the four brothers set to work and hammered with their clubs with great fury, until at length they succeeded in making a slight opening. One of the brothers presented his face at this little window, and rolled his eye about at the boy-man in a very threatening way.

The little spirit, who, when he had closed the door, had returned to his meal, which he was quietly eating, took up his bow and arrow which lay by his side, and let fly the shaft, which, striking the man in the head, he fell back. The boy-man merely called out "Number one" as he fell, and went on with his meal.

In a moment a second face, just like the first, presented itself; and as he raised his bow, his sister said to him: "What is the use? You have killed that man already."

Little spirit fired his arrow -- the man fell -- he called out "Number two," and continued his meal.

The two others of the four brothers were dispatched in the same quiet way, and counted off as "Number three" and "Number four."

After they were all well disposed of in this way, the boy-man directed his sister to go out and see them.

She presently ran back, saying: There are four of them."

"Of course," the boy-man answered, "and there always shall be four of them."

Going out himself, the boy-man raised the brothers to their feet, and giving each a push, one with his face to the East, another to the West, a third to the South, and the last to the North, he sent them off to wander about the earth; and whenever you see four men just alike, they are the four brothers whom the little spirit or boy-man dispatched upon their travels.

But this was not the last display of the boy-man's power.

When spring came on, and the lake began to sparkle in the morning sun, the boy-man said to his sister: "Make me a new set of arrows, and a bow."

Although he provided for their support, the little spirit never performed household or hard work of any kind, and his sister obeyed. When she had made the weapons, which, though they were very small, were beautifully wrought and of the best stuff the field and wood could furnish, she again cautioned him not to shoot into the lake.

"She thinks," said the boy-man to himself, "I can see no further into the water than she. My sister shall learn better."

Regardless of her warnings, he on purpose discharged a shaft into the lake, waded out into the water till he got into its depth, and paddled about for his arrow, so as to call the attention of his sister, and as if to show that he hardily braved her advice.

She hurried to the shore, calling on him to return; but instead of heeding her, he cried out: "You of the red fins, come and swallow me!"

Although his sister did not clearly understand whom her brother was addressing, she too called out: "Don't mind the foolish boy!"

The boy-man's order seemed to be best attended to, for immediately a monstrous fish came and swallowed him.

Before disappearing entirely, catching a glimpse of his sister standing in despair upon the shore, the boy-man hallooed out to her: "Me-zush-ke-zin-ance!"

She wondered what he meant. At last it occurred to her that it must be an old moccasin. She accordingly ran to the lodge, and bringing one, she tied it to a string attached to a tree, and cast it into the water.

The great fish said to the boy-man under water: "What is that floating?"

To which the boy-man replied: "Go, take hold of it, swallow it as fast as you can; it is a great delicacy."

The fish darted toward the old shoe and swallowed it, making of it a mere mouthful. The boy-man laughed in himself, but said nothing, till the fish was fairly caught, when he took hold of the line and began to pull himself in his fish-carriage ashore.

The sister, who was watching all this time, opened wide her eyes as the huge fish came up and up upon the shore; and she opened them still more when the fish seemed to speak, and she heard from within a voice, saying, "Make haste and release me from this nasty place."

It was her brother's voice, which she was accustomed to obey; and she made haste with her knife to open a door in the side of the fish, from which the boy-man presently leaped forth. He lost no time in ordering her to cut it up and dry it; telling her that their spring supply of meat was now provided.

The sister now began to believe that her brother was an extraordinary boy; yet she was not altogether satisfied in her mind that he was greater than the rest of the world. They sat, one evening, in the lodge, musing with each other in the dark, by the light of each other's eyes -- for they had no other of any kind -- when the sister said, "My brother, it is strange that you, who can do so much, are no wiser than the Ko-Ko, who gets all his light from the moon; which shines or not, as it pleases."

"And is not that light enough?" asked the little spirit.

"Quite enough," the sister replied. "If it would but come within the lodge and not sojourn out in the tree-tops and among the clouds."

"We will have a light of our own, sister," said the boy-man; and, casting himself upon a mat by the door, he commenced singing:

Fire-fly, fire-fly, bright little thing,
Light me to bed and my song I will sing;
Give me your light, as you fly o'er my head,
That I may merrily go to my bed.

Give me your light o'er the grass as you creep,
That I may joyfully go to my sleep;
Come, little fire-fly, come little beast,
Come! and I'll make you tomorrow a feast.

Come, little candle, that flies as I sing,
Bright little fairy-bug, night's little king;
Come and I'll dream as you guide me along;
Come and I'll pay you, my bug, with a song.

As the boy-man chanted this call, they came in at first one by one, then in couples, till at last, swarming in little armies, the fire-flies lit up the little lodge with a thousand sparkling lamps, just as the stars were lighting the mighty hollow of the sky without.

The faces of the sister and brother shone upon each other, from their opposite sides of the lodge, with a kindly gleam of mutual trustfulness; and never more from that hour did a doubt of each other darken their little household.

The Transformation of Issunboshi


A Prayer to the Empress Jingo

An old married couple went to the shrine of the deified Empress Jingo, and prayed that they might be blessed with a child, even if it were no bigger than one of their fingers. A voice was heard from behind the bamboo curtain of the shrine, and the old people were informed that their wish would be granted.

In due time the old woman gave birth to a child, and when she and her husband discovered that this miniature piece of humanity was no bigger than a little finger, they became extremely angry, and thought that the Empress Jingo had treated them very meanly indeed, though, as a matter of fact, she had fulfilled their prayer to the letter.

"One-Inch Priest"

The little fellow was called Issunboshi ("One-Inch Priest"), and every day his parents expected to see him suddenly grow up as other boys; but at thirteen years of age he still remained the same size as when he was born. Gradually his parents became exasperated, for it wounded their vanity to hear the neighbours describe their son as Little Finger, or Grain-of-Corn. They were so much annoyed that at last they determined to send Issunboshi away.

The little fellow did not complain. He requested his mother to give him a needle, a small soup-bowl, and a chop-stick, and with these things he set off on his adventures.

Issunboshi becomes a Page

His soup-bowl served as a boat, which he propelled along the river with his chop-stick. In this fashion he finally reached Kyoto. Issunboshi wandered about this city until he saw a large roofed gate. Without the least hesitation he walked in, and having reached the porch of a house, he cried out in a very minute voice: "I beg an honourable inquiry!"

Prince Sanjo himself heard the little voice, and it was some time before he could discover where it came from. When he did so he was delighted with his discovery, and on the little fellow begging that he might live in the prince's house, his request was readily granted. The boy became a great favourite, and was at once made the Princess Sanjo's page. In this capacity he accompanied his mistress everywhere, and though so very small, he fully appreciated the honour and dignity of his position.

An Encounter with Oni

One day the Princess Sanjo and her page went to the Temple of Kwannon, the Goddess of Mercy, "under whose feet are dragons of the elements and the lotuses of purity" As they were leaving the temple two oni (evil spirits) sprang upon them. Issunboshi took out his needle-sword from its hollow straw, and loudly denouncing the oni, he flourished his small weapon in their evil-looking faces.

One of the creatures laughed. "Why," said he scornfully, "I could swallow you, as a cormorant swallows a trout, and what is more, my funny little bean-seed, I will do so."

The oni opened his mouth, and Issunboshi found himself slipping down a huge throat until he finally stood in the creature's great dark stomach. Issunboshi, nothing daunted, began boring away with his needle-sword. This made the evil spirit cry out and give a great cough, which sent the little fellow into the sunny world again.

The second oni, who had witnessed his companion's distress, was extremely angry, and tried to swallow the remarkable little page, but was not successful. This time Issunboshi climbed up the creature's nostril, and when he had reached the end of what seemed to him to be a very long and gloomy tunnel, he began piercing the oni's eyes. The creature, savage with pain, ran off as fast as he could, followed by his yelling companion.

Needless to say, the princess was delighted with her page's bravery, and told him that she was sure her father would reward him when he was told about the terrible encounter.

The Magic Mallet

On their way home the princess happened to pick up a small wooden mallet.

"Oh!" said she, "this must have been dropped by the wicked oni, and it is none other than a lucky mallet. You have only to wish and then tap it upon the ground, and your wish, no matter what, is always granted. My brave Issunboshi, tell me what you would most desire, and I will tap the mallet on the ground."

After a pause the little fellow said: "Honourable Princess, I should like to be as big as other people."

The princess tapped the mallet on the ground, calling aloud the wish of her page. In a moment Issunboshi was transformed from a bijou creature to a lad just like other youths of his age.

These wonderful happenings excited the curiosity of the emperor, and Issunboshi was summoned to his presence. The emperor was so delighted with the youth that he gave him many gifts and made him a high official. Finally, Issunboshi became a great lord and married Prince Sanjo's youngest daughter.

A Man Who Was Only a Finger and a Half in Stature

Bangladesh / India

There was once a certain wood-cutter, the barrenness of whose wife was a constant source of distress to him, the more so as all the neighbours pointed at the couple as especially cursed by Heaven. The husband and wife made the richest presents and the sincerest vows to the goddess Shoshti, the giver of children; and she one day appeared before the wood-cutter in the shape of an old lady, and gave him a cucumber, saying that his wife should eat it entire, without leaving the skin even, on the seventh day from that day.

The wood-cutter gave it to his wife with these instructions, but she, in her impatience, ate it up the very next day, even forgetting Shoshti's instructions as to the skin. After the usual period of conception, a male child was born; but the mother was well punished for her disobedience to the goddess. There was hardly anything natural about the child. It was born as a fully developed man, but was only a finger and a half tall, with a tuft of hair behind its head three fingers in length. He could talk and walk from his very birth; and when not even an hour old he started in search of his father, who had gone out woodcutting.

He passed through many thoroughfares and through the forest, dispersing at one stroke of his feet the grasshoppers and other insects that waylaid him, till he reached a palace gate, where his father was toiling with great drops of perspiration on the forehead. The boy asked him to go home but he said that having witnessed his child's birth and seen what had happened, he had left home in disgust, and sold himself to the king as a slave, and that therefore it was impossible for him to leave his work. At this, the son went to the king, and asked him to liberate his father. The king was annoyed at the diminutive figure before him, and said that the wood-cutter could be set free only on the payment of cowries (money) as his ransom.

Mr. "One-Finger-and-Half," as his name was, ran out like a ball set in motion to procure the cowries, and in the course of his journey came to a canal which to him seemed impassable. He was thinking how to cross it, when he felt someone pulling from behind at his tuft of hair. By one jerk he freed it from the stranger's grasp, and looking behind saw a frog, which, being interrogated, said that it had for its father the king of frogs, and that its name was Rung Soondar.

At this the wood-cutter's son burst into a laugh of scorn, and was about to punish the young frog by dismembering it, when it said, "By certain mystical powers I know you to be a wood-cutter's son. Now it does not look well for you to be without an axe. You will get one from a blacksmith yonder, on paying a single cowrie."

To which the young man answered, "O brother, I am a child, where shall I get a cowrie? For want of cowries I could not liberate my father. I have nothing in the world, and shall ever remain obliged if you can lend me something."

The frog, startled at the request, said he had only a single cowrie, and that one with a hole in it. The suggestion of possessing himself of an axe was pleasing to the dwarf, and thinking little of the impediment, he directed his steps towards the blacksmith's, whom he found to be a man of the stature of two fingers and a half, and with a beard longer by half a finger. He was making an axe and a sickle, each half a finger in length.

The boy, without the required cowrie, did not at first know how to proceed. But he hit off a clever plan. He approached the smith with stealthy steps, and, unperceived, tied the tuft of hair on his own head to the beard of the latter. Then he jumped on the smith's back. The latter, taken by surprise, called on his gods, wondering if he were in the clutches of a ghost or hobgoblin.

His aggressor, with sides bursting with laughter, got down, and introduced himself as his best friend. But soft words were useless. The smith in a rage asked if the cowrie, the usual fee for admission into the house, had been brought, and being answered in the negative, clutched his antagonist by the throat, and was on the point of throttling him, when one of the hairs of the latter, still tied to the beard of the former, was torn. The wood-cutter's son threw himself on this account into a frenzy, and demanded of the smith the restoration of the hair, threatening him, in case of refusal, with a legal process.

The smith, agitated with great terror, pleaded for mercy, which was granted on his consenting to give up the axe and the sickle when finished.

A lasting friendship was then contracted between the parties, and the boy left the place. He came back to the young frog, and was asked by it to cut with his axe a young tamarind tree in the hollow of which its mate was shut up. He complied with the request; but the frog inside, having lost, through long want of exercise, the use of its legs, could not leave the hollow.

Master "One-Finger-and-a-Half," with admirable presence of mind, put his tuft of hair into the hole and drew the frog out. Rung Soondar out of gratitude presented him with the one cowrie it possessed, which it said would suffice to liberate his father; and its mate gave him a few drops of its spittle, saying that with them he could heal the blindness of the daughter of the king whose slave his father was, and so gain her for his wife.

He accordingly left the frogs, and journeyed towards the country where his father was. The cowrie the frog had given him multiplied on the way into as many cowries as would amount to a round sum of money, and he went to the king and insolently demanded of him the liberty of his father.

The king, counting the cowries and satisfied with their value, promised to meet the demand, but not omitting to give the impertinent upstart a few slaps on the cheek, and a violent pull at his tuft of hair.

But he was not one to be so easily disposed of. He persisted in remaining in the king's presence, and boldly asked him if he had a blind daughter, and if he would marry her to him.

The king replied that for certain reasons she could not be married, save in the presence of the corpses of seven thieves separated from his kingdom by thirteen rivers. The dwarf, leaving his father behind, started for the country of the thieves, and after many adventures, reached an ant-hill near it. He could proceed no further, and tired with the long journey, and worn out with hunger and thirst, he fell asleep by the ant-hill.

Midnight came, and the thieves of whom he had come in search were out on a pilfering expedition. One of them stumbled upon him, and being awakened, he asked them who they were and where they were going. They told him that they were thieves, and that their present object was to break into the house of his old friend the blacksmith. Anxious for his friend's safety, and for the furtherance of his own ends, he suggested that they would find it more profitable to present themselves before the king living across the thirteen rivers flowing by their country, who intended to give one of them his daughter as wife with a fit dowry.

They yielded to the deception, and full of anticipation at the prospect before them, they followed the dwarf as their leader. The thirteen rivers were crossed; and the thieves when about to get down from the last ferry-boat stole some cowries lying hid in one corner of it. The ferry-man and the wood-cutter's son both saw the theft committed, but winked at it for the time being, though in nods and low whispers they communicated to each other their desire for revenge later on.

No sooner had the dwarf reached the palace with the thieves, than the ferry-man presented himself before the king and prosecuted them for the theft of his cowries. They were convicted of the offence, and executed. Whereupon master "One-Finger-and-a-Half" urged his claims to the hand of the blind princess.

The king, the queen, and the princess herself were loud in their lamentations at the demand of this deformed creature; but the matter could not be helped. The king, according to the conditions he himself laid down, was bound to give away his daughter to that ugly little specimen of humanity. All he could do was to put off the wedding day. It was within a short time after this that the friends of the seven thieves, getting intelligence of their execution, in a swarm besieged the kingdom, and plundered not only the palace, but all the other houses, reducing the king to the direst poverty imaginable.

The dwarf who had enticed their friends into the kingdom and had had them executed, was the object of their keenest search, but he hid himself in a dense patch of grass, and came out only when the coast was clear. He again urged his suit for the princess's hand, and was again put off till the extermination of the race of thieves had been accomplished.

For the achievement of this object the dwarf rode away, mounted on a tom-cat, into their country. On the way he made friends with hornets, wasps, and bees, with whom he began an attack which lasted continually for three days, until the thieves, smarting under the poisonous stings of the insects, left the country for good, taking with them their wives and children.

Triumphantly returning to the king, he asked him for his father's release and for the hand of the princess. The king could not say "no" any longer, and the dwarf was re-named Pingal Kumara. His father was brought into the palace on a decorated chariot with flowers, and he himself was rewarded with the princess's hand, whose sight he restored with the help of the frog's spittle.

The wood-cutter's wife was brought into the palace, and lived there as happily as the day was long. Years passed over their heads, until at last the king retired into the forest to prepare himself for death, leaving his dominions to his worthy son-in-law.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised January 20, 2023.