Once upon a time, in the days of King Arthur, there lived a very wise wizard named Merlin. He knew all the fairies, and even the fairy queen was a friend of his.
One day Merlin knocked at the door of a small cottage and asked for some food. He looked so hungry that the farmer and his wife took pity on him. They not only gave him a bowl of milk with some tasty bread, but they said he could spend the night in their home.
Merlin saw that the farmer and his wife were very sad.
“Why are you so sad?” asked Merlin.
“Oh!” said the woman, “we are unhappy because we have no children. I would be the happiest woman in the world if I had a son. Why, even if he were no bigger than my husband's thumb, we would love him dearly.”
“That would be a very unique kind of child,” said Merlin, “but I hope your wish comes true.”
Then Merlin went on his way to visit the queen of the fairies. When he came to her castle, he told the fairy the wish of the farmer's wife. The queen of the fairies said, “The good woman shall have her wish. I will give her a son the size of her husband's thumb.”
Soon after this the farmer's wife had a son — exactly the size of his father's thumb.
People came from far and wide to see the famous tiny boy. One day the fairy queen and some other fairies came to see him. The queen kissed the little boy and named him Tom Thumb.
Tom never grew any larger than a man's thumb, but he got into quite a bit of mischief. One day his mother was mixing a cake. Tom leaned over the edge of the bowl to see and fell in, headfirst. His mother did not see him fall, and she kept stirring. Tom kicked and kicked inside the batter, and it moved and tossed about.
His mother was afraid. “There must be gremlins in it,” she said.
She went to the window to throw the batter out. Just then a poor beggar was passing by.
“Here is some batter you may have, if you like,” said Tom's mother.
The beggar thanked her and took it. He had not gone very far, when Tom got his head out of the batter and shouted, “Take me out! Take me out!” The poor beggar was so frightened that he dropped the batter and ran off.
Tom crawled out of the batter and ran home where his mother scrubbed him thoroughly and put him to bed.
Another time, Tom's mother took him with her when she went to milk the cow. So she wouldn't lose him, she tied him to a piece of hay. When Tom's mother was not looking, the cow took the wisp of hay into her mouth. She began to chew and chew.
Tom began to jump and shout. He frightened the cow, so she opened her great mouth and Tom jumped out. Then Tom's mother took him in her apron and ran with him to the house, but, fortunately, he was not hurt.
One day Tom was in the field helping his father.
“Let me drive the horse home,” said Tom.
“You drive the horse?” said the father. “How could you hold the reins?”
“I could stand in the horse's ear and tell him which way to go,” said Tom. So his father put him in the horse's ear, and he got them home safely.
“Mother! Mother!” cried Tom. But when Tom's mother came out, she could see no one. She began to be afraid.
“Where are you, Tom?” she cried.
“Here I am in the horse's ear. Please take me down,” said Tom. His mother lifted him gently down, kissed him, and gave him a plump blueberry for supper.
Tom's father made him a whip out of a straw. Tom tried to drive the cows, but he fell into a deep ditch. There a great bird saw him and thought he was a mouse. The bird seized Tom in her claws and carried him toward her nest.
As they were passing over the sea, Tom got away and fell into the water, where a great fish swallowed him. Soon after this, the fish was caught, and it was such a big one that it was sent at once to King Arthur.
When the cook cut open the fish, out jumped Tom Thumb. Tom was brought before the king and he told his story.
The king grew very fond of Tom and took Tom with him wherever he went. If it began to rain, Tom would creep into the king's pocket. In the hot sun, he also found shade in the king's pockets.
The king had a new suit made for Tom and gave him a needle for a sword. A mouse was trained for Tom to ride. The king and queen never tired of seeing him ride his little mouse-horse and bravely wave his sword.
One day, as they were going hunting, a cat jumped out and caught Tom's mouse. Tom drew his needle-sword and tried to drive the cat away. The king ran to help poor Tom, and the cat ran away. Tom was scratched and bitten badly, but he did not die.
Soon he was well again, and fought many brave battles and did many brave deeds to please the king. And, several times a year, the king took Tom to see his parents, for he always loved his dear mother and father.