“Why are you sad?” asked Merlin.
“You seem to have a good farm, a pleasant cottage, and many things to make you happy.”
“Ah!” said the woman, “we are unhappy because we have no child.
I should 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 should love him dearly.”
“That would be indeed a very strange kind of child,” said Merlin, “but I hope you may have your wish.”
Now Merlin was on his way to call on the queen of the fairies.
When he came to her castle the next day, he told the fairy queen 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 no larger than her husband’s thumb.”
Soon after this the good farmer’s wife had a son. He was, indeed, just the size of his father’s thumb.
People came from far and wide to see the 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.
Each of the other fairies made Tom a gift.
He had a shirt made of silk from a spider’s web, a coat of thistledown, a hat made from the leaf of an oak, tiny shoes made from a mouse’s skin, and many other gifts besides.
Tom never grew any larger than a man’s thumb, but he could do many clever tricks.
One day his mother was mixing a pudding.
Tom leaned over the edge of the bowl to see how it was made.
He slipped, and in he went, head first.
His mother did not see him fall, and kept stirring and stirring the pudding.
Tom could not see nor hear, but he kicked and kicked inside the pudding.
The pudding moved and tossed about.
His mother was afraid.
She did not know what to think.
“There must be witches in it,” she said.
She went to the window to throw the pudding out.
Just then a poor beggar was passing by the house.
“Here is a pudding you may have, if you like,” said Tom’s mother.
The beggar thanked her and put it into his basket.
He had not gone very far, when Tom got his head out of the pudding and shouted in a shrill voice:
“Take me out! take me out!”
The poor beggar was so frightened that he dropped his basket, pudding and all, and ran off as fast as he could.
Tom crawled out of the pudding, climbed out of the basket, and ran home.
His mother washed him and put him to bed.
Not long after this Tom’s mother took him with her when she went to milk the cow.
That he might not get lost, she tied him to a wisp of hay.