ROMÂNĂ

Prichindel

ENGLISH

Tom Thumb


A fost odata un taran sarac si taranul asta sta intr-o seara in fata vetrei si dregea focul alaturi de nevasta lui care torcea. si-n tacerea ce se asternuse in odaie se auzi deodata glasul barbatului:
- Ce rau e ca n-avem si noi copii! Casa noastra e atat de pustie si de trista, pe cata vreme in casele altora e numai forfota si veselie...
- Asta asa-i, raspunse femeia, oftand. De-am avea macar unul singur si chiar de-ar fi micut cat degetul cel mare de la mana si inca as fi multumita si l-as iubi din toata inima.
La catava vreme dupa aceea, se intampla ca femeia ramase grea si, dupa sapte luni, dadu nastere unui prunc. Copilul, cum sa va spun, avea infatisare omeneasca la fel ca orice copil, numai ca era tare mic, cat un deget... Dar altfel era bine facut, ca un voinic de-o schioapa.
Parintii nu-si mai incapeau in piele de bucurie si-si ziceau mereu:
- S-a nimerit s-avem un copil taman dupa cum ne-a fost dorinta; flacaul asta o sa fie bucuria vietii noastre si ne-o fi drag mai mult decat orice pe lume!

Si din pricina ca era asa micut de statura ii zisera Prichindel. Copilasul nu ducea lipsa de nimic, dar cu toate ca i se dadea sa manance din belsug, nu crescu deloc, nici un piculet, ci ramase ca-n ceasul cand s-a nascut. Dar dupa cum cata la toate cu ochisorii lui vioi si neastamparati, se vedea cat colo ca era istet nevoie mare si pe ce punea mana ii iesea din plin, fiind cuminte si indemanatic la toate.
Intr-o zi, taica-sau tocmai se pregatea sa se duca in padure sa taie niste lemne. si cum ascutea securea, nu stiu cum zise el, mai mult pentru sine:
- Eh, bine-ar fi fost de-as fi avut pe cineva care sa vina cu caruta dupa mine!
- De asta nu-ti fie grija, taica, striga Prichindel, ca-ti aduc eu caruta. si sa stii ca la vremea hotarata sunt cu ea in padure.
Auzindu-l ce zice, taranul incepu sa rada.
- Ei dracie, dau cum ar fi cu putinta o treaba ca asta?! se mira el. Ca doar esti prea micsor ca sa poti tine haturile...
- Pai asta nu-i nici o piedica, taica. Mama o sa-mi inhame calul, iar eu o sa ma var in urechea lui si de-acolo o sa-i poruncesc tot timpul incotro s-o ia.
- Daca zici tu asa, asa sa fie! se invoi taica-sau. O data om putea incerca...
Cand socoti c-ar fi tocmai timpul potrivit pentru plecare, femeia inhama calul la caruta si-l aseza pe Prichindel in urechea acestuia.

Si baiatul prinse a striga intruna, indemnand bidiviul: "Hi, hi, murgule!," ca s-o ia numai incotro trebuia. si calul se indemna la drum si gonea intins spre padure, de parca ar fi fost condus de un vizitiu priceput.
Dupa catava vreme, Prichindel ajunse cu caruta la marginea padurii. in clipa cand fu sa coteasca la capatul unei cararui si-n timp ce striga din toti rarunchii: "Hi, hi, murgule!" ii iesira in cale doi straini.
- Mai, ce-o mai fi si asta! striga unul din ei, mirandu-se strasnic. Ia te uita: caruta merge singura, dar cineva trebuie ca mana calul, numai ca de vazut nu se vede nimeni... Unde o fi carutasul, naiba sa-l ia?!
- Sa stii ca asta nu-i lucru curat! raspunse celalalt. Ia hai sa ne luam dupa caruta, sa vedem unde are sa se opreasca.
Caruta se afunda in padure si se opri intr-un luminis, taman pe locul unde era stivuita o gramada de lemne taiate. si de cum il zari pe taica-sau, Prichindel ii striga:
- Vezi, tata, c-am venit cu caruta, dupa cum ne-a fost vorba? Acu' vino de ma da jos!
Tata-sau apuca cu mana stanga calul de capastru, in timp ce cu dreapta il scoase pe Prichindel din urechea calului. Flacaul se aseza vesel pe un pai, sa se mai hodineasca nitelus. Cand il vazura pe Prichindel, cei doi straini ramasera incremeniti de uimire si nu mai stiura ce sa spuna. Dar intr-un tarziu isi venira in fire si unul dintre ei il lua pe celalalt deoparte si-i sopti la ureche:
- Asculta, fratioare, stii tu cum ne-am pricopsi cu prichindelul asta, de l-am arata multimii pe la balciuri, in targurile mari? Hai sa vedem de nu-l putem cumpara, ca buna afacere ar fi...
Se indreptara apoi spre tatal baiatului si, intrand in vorba cu el, ii zisera:
- Ia asculta, omule, n-ai vrea sa ne vinzi noua prichindelul asta? si sa n-ai nici o grija, c-o s-o duca mai bine ca acasa.
- Nici prin gand nu-mi trece, raspunse taranul, ca doar un singur copil am si mi-e drag ca sufletul. Nu-l dau pentru tot aurul din lume!

In aceasta vreme, auzind spusele drumetilor, Prichindel se urca in pripa pe cutele hainelor lui taica-sau, pana ce-i ajunse pe umeri si-i sopti la ureche:
- Vinde-ma, tatuca, si nu-ti fie teama, ca ma intorc eu degraba inapoi!
Taica-sau asculta de flacau, ca-l stia istet, si, vanzandu-l celor doi straini, lua paralute bune pe el.
- Unde vrei sa sezi, ca sa-ti fie mai la indemana? il intrebara ei, dupa ce se incheie targul.
- Asezati-ma pe palaria unuia din voi, da' asa, mai inspre margine, ca acolo am loc destul sa ma preumblu si-o sa privesc la locurile pe unde treceam, fara teama c-am sa pic jos.
Ii facura pe plac omuletului si, dupa ce Prichindel isi lua ramas bun de la taica-sau, pornira la drum. Mersera ei asa pana incepu a se lasa amurgul si, dupa o vreme, numai ce-l auzira pe Prichindel ca le striga cat il tineau puterile:
- Dati-ma jos, dati-ma jos degraba, ca m-au apucat nevoile!
- Ba ramai colo sus unde esti si fa-ti treaba linistit, raspunse omul pe palaria caruia sedea. Nu te sinchisi de fel, ca n-am sa ma supar pentru un fleac ca asta; doar se intampla ca si pasarile cerului sa scape cate ceva pe palaria mea, si ce, ma supar de asta?!
- Nu, nu vreau! striga Prichindel. stiu eu singur ce se cade si ce nu. Dati-ma repede jos!
Omul isi scoase palaria si-l lasa pe Prichindel pe un ogor, la marginea cararii ce taia campul. Prichindel incepu sa sara printre brazde si sa se preumble printre bulgarii de pamant, despicati de taisul plugului. si deodata, pe nesimtite, se strecura intr-o gaura de soarece, pe care o dibuise de cum fusese dat jos.
- Noapte buna, boierilor! le arunca Prichindel in bataie de joc... si mai duceti-va acasa si fara mine...
Dupa ce-o stersese, isi mai radea si de ei! Cei doi pisicheri erau catraniti rau si alergara intr-acolo, intr-un suflet. Varara un bat in gaura de soarece ca sa dea de el; scotocira-ncoace, scotocira-ncolo, dar truda le fu zadarnica. Prichindel se vara tot mai afund si cum intre timp se intunecase de-a binelea, oamenii trebuira sa se lase pagubasi si sa-si caute de drum. si ramasera cu punga goala, dar cu sufletul plin de obida...

Cand Prichindel baga de seama c-au plecat, iesi indata afara din ascunzatoare.
"Mare primejdie te paste de mergi pe ogor pe intunecimea asta! isi zise el. Lesne iti poti frange gatul in vreo hartoapa..."
Dar, spre norocul lui, in drum dadu peste o gaoace de melc.
- Slava tie, Doamne, ca am unde sa man peste noapte fara nici o grija! striga el, bucuros, si se cuibari in gaoace.
Cand era aproape sa-l fure somnul, numai ce auzi doi oameni trecand pe acolo. si unul din ei zicea:
- Cum am putea face noi ca sa punem mana pe banii si argintaria popii, ca-i putred de bogat?
- Las' ca te-nvat eu cum! ii raspunse Prichindel, intrerupandu-l din vorbire.
- Ce fu si asta, frate-miu? striga speriat unul din hoti. Parca am auzit pe cineva vorbind!
Hotii se oprira pe loc si ascultara cu luare-aminte. Atunci Prichindel grai iarasi:
- Luati-ma cu voi si n-o sa va para rau, c-o sa va ajut.
- Da' unde esti, ma, omule?
- Cautati cu atentie pe jos, raspunse Prichindel, da' numai inspre partea de unde mi se aude glasul.

In cele din urma cei doi hoti dadura peste voinicelul nostru si-l ridicara in sus.
- Bine, ma, nichipercea, te lauzi tu c-ai putea sa ne-ajuti pe noi! Pai in ce chip anume?
- Ba nu ma laud deloc! si uite cum am sa fac: o sa ma strecor printre gratiile de fier, in camara popii, si-apoi o sa va dau de-acolo tot ce-o sa va pofteasca inima.
- Aferim! incuviintara cu bucurie hotii. si acu' hai la treaba, sa te vedem ce poti!

Cand ajunsera ei la casa popii, Prichindel se strecura in camara si incepu sa strige cat il tinea gura:
- Ma, vreti sa va dau tot ce e pe-aici?
Hotii se inspaimantara rau si cautara sa-l domoleasca:
- Ci vorbeste, bre, mai incetisor, nu cumva sa trezesti pe cineva!
Dar Prichindel se prefacu ca nu-i intelesese si incepu sa strige cu si mai multa tarie:
- Ce vreti, ma? Vreti tot ce e pe-aici?
Bucatareasa, care se odihnea in odaia de alaturi, auzind tot ce spusese flacaul, se ridica in capul oaselor si asculta mai departe cu luare-aminte.
Cand il auzira racnind, pe hoti ii cuprinse iar frica si, luandu-si picioarele la spinare, fugira o buna bucata de drum, pe unde se nimeri. Dar in cele din urma prinsera iar inima si-si zisera ca omuletul e un ghidus si ca-i place pesemne sa glumeasca in felul asta. Se intoarsera si-i soptira printre dinti:
- Hai, lasa-te de sotii si arunca afara ceva de pe-acolo!
Atunci Prichindel incepu sa strige din rasputeri:
- Va dau tot ce e pe-aici, da' intindeti numai mainile!
Bucatareasa, care tragea cu urechea, deslusi de data asta fiecare cuvintel si, sarind din pat, dadu buzna in camara. Auzind lipait de pasi, hotii o luara la sanatoasa de parca i-ar fi gonit Scaraotchi din urma.
Slujnica nu se dumerea defel ce se intamplase, si cum orbecaia si nu deslusea nimic din pricina intunericului, se grabi sa aduca din camera ei o lumanare aprinsa. Cand veni indarat cu lumina, Prichindel se furisa in sura, fara ca femeia sa-l fi putut zari. Biata sluga se culca din nou, socotind ca poate a visat cu ochii deschisi...
Prichindel urca pe gramezile de fan si-si cauta un loc potrivit pentru culcus. Gandea sa-si odihneasca oasele, cuibarit in patuceanul asta moale, pana-n revarsatul zorilor, si-apoi sa se reintoarca acasa, la parintii lui. Dar vezi ca i-a fost harazit sa mai patimeasca si sa mai treaca prin nenumarate belele, ca multe necazuri si nenorociri trebuie sa intampine omul pe lumea asta... Cum se crapa de ziua, slujnica se scula sa dea de mancare la vite. Mai intai intra in sura, de unde lua un brat de fan, si se nimeri ca tocmai in fanul acela sa-si fi aflat Prichindel culcusul. Dar flacaiasul nostru era atat de adancit in somn incat nu prinse de veste si nu se trezi decat cand fu in gura unei vaci, care-l inghitise o data cu fanul.
- Ah, Doamne, se minuna el, cum de ajunsei in moara asta!?
Dar isi dadu numaidecat seama unde se afla si se feri cu grija, sa nu-l macine vaca intre masele. Dar in cele din urma se pomeni alunecand in pantecele vacii.
"Ce intuneric e in incaperea asta! Pesemne ca a uitat sa faca ferestre, isi zise Prichindel, si d-aia n-are pe unde patrunde soarele... si barem de-as avea la indemana vreo lumanare, dar de unde sa-ti faci rost pe aici de asa ceva!"
De altfel adapostul nu-i era catusi de putin pe plac si ceea ce il supara si mai mult era fanul care venea in gramezi, sporind necontenit, astfel ca locul cu pricina se stramtora din ce in ce mai mult. De frica, Prichindel incepu sa strige cat il tinea gura:
- Nu-mi mai dati fan! Nu-mi mai dati fan!

In clipa aceea slujnica tocmai mulgea vaca si auzind glas de om si nevazand pe nimeni si fiindca recunoscuse ca era tot glasul care o trezise din somn peste noapte, se inspaimanta intr-atat ca aluneca de pe scaunel si rasturna laptele, care se risipi pe jos. Alerga ea apoi in fuga la stapanul sau si-i zise, abia tragandu-si sufletul:
- Valeu, parinte, vaca noastra vorbeste!
- Pesemne ca ti-ai pierdut mintile, femeie!, o infrunta popa. Totusi se duse in grajd, sa vada ce s-o fi petrecand pe acolo.
Dar de indata ce ajunse in prag, Prichindel incepu sa strige din nou:
- Nu-mi mai dati fan! Nu-mi mai dati fan!
Popa incremeni de spaima si, crezand c-a intrat necuratul in vaca, porunci sa fie taiata numaidecat. Dupa ce-o taiara, slugile aruncara burta vacii la gunoi. si Prichindel izbuti cu mare greutate sa-si faca drum de iesire, ca sa scape de acolo. Dar abia isi scoase capul la lumina, ca o alta nenorocire se abatu asupra lui. Un lup hamesit de foame, care se furisase prin ograda in cautarea unei bucaturi, zari tocmai atunci ceea ce cauta si inghiti pe data toata burta, dintr-o hapaitura. Dar Prichindel nu-si pierdu curajul.
"Poate c-o fi vreo faptura de inteles lupul asta!," gandi el. si din bezna in care se afla, incepu sa strige din toate puterile:
- Draga lupusorule, stiu eu un loc unde ai putea gasi un ospat pe cinste, sa te-nfrupti numai cu bunatati!
- Asa?! si unde e locul cu pricina? intreba lupul.
- in cutare si cutare loc, ii deslusi pe indelete glasul.

Si n-ai alta de facut decat sa te vari in camara printr-o borta din perete. O sa dai acolo peste ce nici nu gandesti: carnati, slanina si cozonaci si totul din belsug, sa mananci cat iti pofteste inima!
Dar lupul de unde era sa stie ca Prichindel gandea sa-l duca tocmai la casa tatalui sau?! Nu se lasa mult rugat si o porni in goana intr-acolo. Peste noapte se strecura prin borta in camara si incepu sa infulece bucuros din toate bunatatile. Dupa ce se satura, vru sa-si ia talpasita tot pe unde venise, dar de mult ce se ghiftuise, i se umflase burduhanul, incat nu-i mai fu cu putinta sa iasa prin borta.
Pe asta isi bizuise si Prichindel socoteala, din capul locului, si incepu de indata sa faca o larma strasnica din burta lupului, tipand si urland cat il tineau puterile.
- Da' mai astampara-te si taci o data, c-ai sa scoli lumea din somn! se rasti la el lupul.
- Ce-mi pasa, de s-or trezi! raspunse flacaul. De ospatat tu te-ai ospatat pe indestulate, acum e randul meu sa petrec, si petrec dupa cum mi-e voia!

Si incepu iar sa strige cat il lua gura. In vremea asta, de atata zarva, parintii lui Prichindel se trezira din somn si alergara spre camara de unde venea glasul. Se uitara inauntru printr-o crapatura si, cand vazura lupul, detera fuga de luara omul, toporul, iar femeia, coasa.
- Ramai tu in urma! zise barbatul catre nevasta-sa in clipa cand se pregatea sa intre pe usa. Daca nu moare, dupa ce l-oi izbi eu in moalele capului cu toporul, infige si tu coasa in el si cauta de-i spinteca burta.
Auzind glasul lui taica-sau, Prichindel incepu sa strige:
- Taica draga, eu sunt aici, in burta lupului!
- Slava Domnului ca ne-am regasit copilul, ca ne e mai drag decat sufletul!, rosti omul, nemaiincapandu-si in piele de bucurie.
Apoi ii spuse femeii sa lase coasa deoparte, ca nu cumva sa-l vatame pe Prichindel si, ridicand toporul, il izbi pe lup drept in moalele capului, de cazu acesta trasnit la pamant. Dupa aceea adusera un cutit si-o foarfeca si, spintecandu-i burta, il scoasera de acolo pe fiul lor cel iubit.
- De-ai sti cat de mult ti-am dus grija! zise taica-sau.
- Mult mi-a fost dat sa mai colind si eu prin lume, da' acu', slava Domnului, pot rasufla in voie, ca mi-e ingaduit sa vad iarasi lumina zilei!
- Da' pe unde-ai tot umblat, dragu' tatii?
- Mai bine intreaba-ma pe unde n-am fost... Ah, tata, am nimerit mai intai intr-o gaura de soareci, apoi in pantecele unei vaci si-n cele din urma am ajuns in burta lupului. Dar de-acu' raman pentru totdeauna cu voi.
- Iar noi n-o sa te mai vindem nici pentru toate bogatiile din lume! zisera parintii lui Prichindel si prinsera sa-l sarute si sa-l dragaleasca.

Il ospatara apoi cu ce aveau ei mai bun in casa si-i facura imbracaminte noua, ca cea veche se ponosise de cat o purtase pe drumurile cele lungi si grele.
There was once a poor countryman who used to sit in the chimney-corner all evening and poke the fire, while his wife sat at her spinning-wheel. And he used to say, "How dull it is without any children about us; our house is so quiet, and other people's houses so noisy and merry!" - "Yes," answered his wife, and sighed, "if we could only have one, and that one ever so little, no bigger than my thumb, how happy I should be! It would, indeed, be having our heart's desire." Now, it happened that after a while the woman had a child who was perfect in all his limbs, but no bigger than a thumb. Then the parents said, "He is just what we wished for, and we will love him very much," and they named him according to his stature, "Tom Thumb." And though they gave him plenty of nourishment, he grew no bigger, but remained exactly the same size as when he was first born; and he had very good faculties, and was very quick and prudent, so that all he did prospered.

One day his father made ready to go into the forest to cut wood, and he said, as if to himself, "Now, I wish there was some one to bring the cart to meet me." - "O father," cried Tom Thumb, "I can bring the cart, let me alone for that, and in proper time, too!" Then the father laughed, and said, "How will you manage that? You are much too little to hold the reins." - "That has nothing to do with it, father; while my mother goes on with her spinning I will sit in the horse's ear and tell him where to go." - "Well," answered the father, "we will try it for once." When it was time to set off, the mother went on spinning, after setting Tom Thumb in the horse's ear; and so he drove off, crying, "Gee-up, gee-wo!" So the horse went on quite as if his master were driving him, and drew the waggon along the right road to the wood. Now it happened just as they turned a corner, and the little fellow was calling out "Gee-up!" that two strange men passed by. "Look," said one of them, "how is this? There goes a waggon, and the driver is calling to the horse, and yet he is nowhere to be seen." - "It is very strange," said the other; "we will follow the waggon, and see where it belongs." And the wagon went right through the wood, up to the place where the wood had been hewed. When Tom Thumb caught sight of his father, he cried out, "Look, father, here am I with the wagon; now, take me down." The father held the horse with his left hand, and with the right he lifted down his little son out of the horse's ear, and Tom Thumb sat down on a stump, quite happy and content. When the two strangers saw him they were struck dumb with wonder. At last one of them, taking the other aside, said to him, "Look here, the little chap would make our fortune if we were to show him in the town for money. Suppose we buy him." So they went up to the woodcutter, and said, "Sell the little man to us; we will take care he shall come to no harm." - "No," answered the father; "he is the apple of my eye, and not for all the money in the world would I sell him." But Tom Thumb, when he heard what was going on, climbed up by his father's coat tails, and, perching himself on his shoulder, he whispered in his ear, "Father, you might as well let me go. I will soon come back again." Then the father gave him up to the two men for a large piece of money. They asked him where he would like to sit, "Oh, put me on the brim of your hat," said he. "There I can walk about and view the country, and be in no danger of falling off." So they did as he wished, and when Tom Thumb had taken leave of his father, they set off all together. And they travelled on until it grew dusk, and the little fellow asked to be set down a little while for a change, and after some difficulty they consented. So the man took him down from his hat, and set him in a field by the roadside, and he ran away directly, and, after creeping about among the furrows, he slipped suddenly into a mouse-hole, just what he was looking for. "Good evening, my masters, you can go home without me!"cried he to them, laughing. They ran up and felt about with their sticks in the mouse-hole, but in vain. Tom Thumb crept farther and farther in, and as it was growing dark, they had to make the best of their way home, full of vexation, and with empty purses.

When Tom Thumb found they were gone, he crept out of his hiding-place underground. "It is dangerous work groping about these holes in the darkness," said he; "I might easily break my neck." But by good fortune he came upon an empty snail shell. "That's all right," said he. "Now I can get safely through the night;" and he settled himself down in it. Before he had time to get to sleep, he heard two men pass by, and one was saying to the other, "How can we manage to get hold of the rich parson's gold and silver?" - "I can tell you how," cried Tom Thumb. "How is this?" said one of the thieves, quite frightened, "I hear some one speak!" So they stood still and listened, and Tom Thumb spoke again. "Take me with you; I will show you how to do it!" - "Where are you, then?" asked they. "Look about on the ground and notice where the voice comes from," answered he. At last they found him, and lifted him up. "You little elf," said they, "how can you help us?" - "Look here," answered he, "I can easily creep between the iron bars of the parson's room and hand out to you whatever you would like to have." - "Very well," said they, ff we will try what you can do." So when they came to the parsonage-house, Tom Thumb crept into the room, but cried out with all his might, "Will you have all that is here?" So the thieves were terrified, and said, "Do speak more softly, lest any one should be awaked." But Tom Thumb made as if he did not hear them, and cried out again, "What would you like? will you have all that is here?" so that the cook, who was sleeping in a room hard by, heard it, and raised herself in bed and listened. The thieves, however, in their fear of being discovered, had run back part of the way, but they took courage again, thinking that it was only a jest of the little fellow's. So they came back and whispered to him to be serious, and to hand them out something. Then Tom Thumb called out once more as loud as he could, "Oh yes, I will give it all to you, only put out your hands." Then the listening maid heard him distinctly that time, and jumped out of bed, and burst open the door. The thieves ran off as if the wild huntsman were behind them; but the maid, as she could see nothing, went to fetch a light. And when she came back with one, Tom Thumb had taken himself off, without being seen by her, into the barn; and the maid, when she had looked in every hole and corner and found nothing, went back to bed at last, and thought that she must have been dreaming with her eyes and ears open.

So Tom Thumb crept among the hay, and found a comfortable nook to sleep in, where he intended to remain until it was day, and then to go home to his father and mother. But other things were to befall him; indeed, there is nothing but trouble and worry in this world! The maid got up at dawn of day to feed the cows. The first place she went to was the barn, where she took up an armful of hay, and it happened to be the very heap in which Tom Thumb lay asleep. And he was so fast asleep, that he was aware of nothing, and never waked until he was in the mouth of the cow, who had taken him up with the hay. "Oh dear," cried he, "how is it that I have got into a mill!" but he soon found out where he was, and he had to be very careful not to get between the cow's teeth, and at last he had to descend into the cow's stomach. "The windows were forgotten when this little room was built," said he, "and the sunshine cannot get in; there is no light to be had." His quarters were in every way unpleasant to him, and, what was the worst, new hay was constantly coming in, and the space was being filled up. At last he cried out in his extremity, as loud as he could, "No more hay for me! no more hay for me!" The maid was then milking the cow, and as she heard a voice, but could see no one, and as it was the same voice that she had heard in the night, she was so frightened that she fell off her stool, and spilt the milk. Then she ran in great haste to her master, crying, "Oh, master dear, the cow spoke!" - "You must be crazy," answered her master, and he went himself to the cow-house to see what was the matter. No sooner had he put his foot inside the door, than Tom Thumb cried out again, "No more hay for me! no more hay for me!" Then the parson himself was frightened, supposing that a bad spirit had entered into the cow, and he ordered her to be put to death. So she was killed, but the stomach, where Tom Thumb was lying, was thrown upon a dunghill. Tom Thumb had great trouble to work his way out of it, and he had just made a space big enough for his head to go through, when a new misfortune happened. A hungry wolf ran up and swallowed the whole stomach at one gulp. But Tom Thumb did not lose courage. "Perhaps," thought he, "the wolf will listen to reason," and he cried out from the inside of the wolf," My dear wolf, I can tell you where to get a splendid meal!" - "Where is it to be had?" asked the wolf. "In such and such a house, and you must creep into it through the drain, and there you will find cakes and bacon and broth, as much as you can eat," and he described to him his father's house. The wolf needed not to be told twice. He squeezed himself through the drain in the night, and feasted in the store-room to his heart's content. When, at last, he was satisfied, he wanted to go away again, but he had become so big, that to creep the same way back was impossible. This Tom Thumb had reckoned upon, and began to make a terrible din inside the wolf, crying and calling as loud as he could. "Will you be quiet?" said the wolf; "you will wake the folks up!" - "Look here," cried the little man, "you are very well satisfied, and now I will do something for my own enjoyment," and began again to make all the noise he could. At last the father and mother were awakened, and they ran to the room-door and peeped through the chink, and when they saw a wolf in occupation, they ran and fetched weapons - the man an axe, and the wife a scythe. "Stay behind," said the man, as they entered the room; "when I have given him a blow, and it does not seem to have killed him, then you must cut at him with your scythe." Then Tom Thumb heard his father's voice, and cried, "Dear father; I am here in the wolfs inside." Then the father called out full of joy, "Thank heaven that we have found our dear child!" and told his wife to keep the scythe out of the way, lest Tom Thumb should be hurt with it. Then he drew near and struck the wolf such a blow on the head that he fell down dead; and then" he fetched a knife and a pair of scissors, slit up the wolf's body, and let out the little fellow. "Oh, what anxiety we have felt about you!" said the father. "Yes, father, I have seen a good deal of the world, and I am very glad to breathe fresh air again." - "And where have you been all this time?" asked his father. "Oh, I have been in a mouse-hole and a snail's shell, in a cow's stomach and a wolfs inside: now, I think, I will stay at home." - "And we will not part with you for all the kingdoms of the world," cried the parents, as they kissed and hugged their dear little Tom Thumb. And they gave him something to eat and drink, and a new suit of clothes, as his old ones were soiled with travel.




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