New History of the Life and Adventures of Tom Thumb
LIFE AND ADVENTURES
PUBLISHED BY S. BABCOCK.
LIFE AND ADVENTURES
When I was a little boy, children’sbooks were not quite as plenty, or ascheap, or as good as they are now.In those days, children did not oftenhave a present of a pretty book withbeautiful pictures; but when theydid get one, it was highly prized.
We had Cock Robin, and Jack theGiant Killer, and Blue Beard, andThe Forty Thieves, and many otheramusing but not very instructive tales.Tom Thumb was one of the number,and was a favorite book of mine, althoughI knew the story was not true,and that there were no such beings asmagicians and fairies. Perhaps mylittle readers would like to knowwhat kind of stories we old folks readwhen we were such little bodies asyou are now. I think I rememberenough of Tom Thumb to be able totell you the story.
Once on a time, Merlin, a famousmagician, was traveling, and beingweary, he stopped at a plowman’scottage to ask for some refreshment.The plowman’s wife kindly broughthim a bowl of milk, and a woodenplate of good brown bread, which sheurged him to partake of.
Merlin could not help seeing, thatthe honest couple looked quite sadand sorrowful; so he asked the cause,and learned that they had no children;the wife declaring, with tearsin her eyes, that she should be happyif she had a son, even if he were nobigger than his father’s thumb!
Merlin was much amused with theidea of a boy no bigger than a man’sthumb, and sending for the queen ofthe fairies, he told her of the desireof the plowman’s wife. The queenwas no less pleased than Merlin, andshe said the wish should be granted.Accordingly, the plowman’s wifehad a son, who was just the size ofhis father’s thumb, and was namedby the queen, Tom Thumb.
One day his mother was making apudding, and that he might see howit was made, Tom climbed on the topof the bowl; but his foot happeningto slip, he fell over head and ears intoit, and his mother not seeing him,she stirred him into the batter, andthen popped the whole into the pot.
The hot water made Tom kickand struggle, and his mother, seeingthe pudding jump up and down inthe pot, thought it was bewitched.A pedlar going by at that moment,she gave him the pudding, which heput in his pack and then walked on.As soon as Tom could get the batterout of his mouth, he began to cry out.This so frightened the pedler that heflung the pudding over a fence, andtook to his heels. The pudding wasbroken by the fall, and poor Tomcrawled out and ran home.
Tom never was any bigger; but ashe grew older he grew cunning andsly. When he played with boys forcherry-stones, and had lost his own,he used to creep into his playmates’bags, fill his pockets, and come out toplay again. One day, as he was doingthis, the owner chanced to see him.“Ah, ha, my little Tom,” said he, “Ihave caught you at last; now I willpunish you for stealing.” So he drewthe bag-string tight about his neck,and then shaking the bag, Tom’s legsand thighs were so sadly bruised, thathe was thrown into a raging fever.
Just at this time the queen of thefairies came in a coach drawn by sixflying mice, and placing Tom by herside, drove through the air to her palacein fairy land, where she kept himtill he was restored to health. Then,taking advantage of a fair wind, sheblew him straight to the court of kingArthur. But just as Tom was aboutto land in the palace-yard, the king’scook happened to pass with a hugebowl of soup, into which Tom fellplump, and splashed the hot soup allin the cook’s face and eyes.
“Oh, dear! Oh, dear!” cried Tom,half scalded and half drowned in hishot bath; “murder! murder! murder!”bellowed the cook, who was across, red-faced old fellow, and supposedTom had done all this mischiefon purpose. Determined to be revengedon the little fellow for the imaginaryinsult, he urged his brother,who was a miller, and as cross andcruel as himself, to take little Tomhome with him, and put him wherehe could do no more mischief.
Accordingly, the miller pocketedTom, and carrying him to his mill,dropped him from a window into theriver. But Tom was not born to bedrowned. A large salmon swimmingby at that moment, caught himin its mouth and swallowed himwithout any trouble.
The salmon was soon caught, andbeing a fine large fish, was presentedto the king, who ordered it to bedressed immediately. When it wascut open, every body was delightedto see little Tom Thumb step out.He soon became the favorite of theking, who knighted him, and gavehim a little golden palace to live in,and also a tiny coach, which wasdrawn by six white mice.
King Arthur one day questionedTom about his parents, and Tom informedhis majesty that they wereworthy people, but very poor. Thenthe king led him into his treasury,and showing him the piles of goldand silver, told him he might pay hisparents a visit, and take with himas much money as he could carry!Accordingly, Tom procured a littlepurse, and putting a sixpence intoit, he with much labor and difficultygot the purse upon his back andstarted for home.
His mother met him at the door,where he arrived almost tired todeath, having traveled nearly half amile, with a huge sixpence on hisback. His parents were delightedto see him, especially as he broughtsuch an amazing sum of money.
Tom remained at home for sometime; but at last getting weary ofhis humble life, he watched for anopportunity to reach king Arthur’scourt again. One day he saunteredout into the fields, and seeing a butterflyseated on the ground, he venturedto get astride of him. Thebutterfly soon took wing, and mountinginto the air with Tom on hisback, flew from field to field, till atlast he reached the king’s court.
The king, queen, and nobles, alltried to catch the butterfly, but couldnot. At last poor Tom, having nosaddle or bridle, slipped off and tumbledinto a watering-pot, where hewas nearly drowned before he couldbe taken out. But he soon recoveredfrom this mishap, and once morebecame the pride and ornament ofking Arthur’s court.
At last, a huge spider one dayattacked him, and though he drew hissword and fought well, yet the spider’spoisonous breath at last overcamehim.
King Arthur and his whole courtwent into mourning for little TomThumb. They buried him under arose-bush, and raised a white marblemonument over his grave, with thisepitaph on it, in letters of gold:
Now, my little readers, which doyou like best,—true stories, moral andinstructive stories, or stories like thewonderful adventures of
No. 3 TOY BOOKS,
MORAL, INSTRUCTIVE, AND
Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.
The words pedler and pedlar both appear in the original. Research has revealed that both spellings were in use at the time of publication, and have therefore been retained as they appear in the original.