从前有一个贫穷的樵夫，夫妻两个一直没有孩子。 一天晚上他坐在自家小屋的火边想着心事，妻子坐在他身边纺着线。 樵夫说道："我们坐在这儿，没有孩子嘻闹逗乐，这是多么的孤独啊，看别人家有孩子，家庭显得多么幸福欢乐！"
"你说的不错，"妻子发出了同感，叹了一口气，转动着纺车继续说，"如果我们有自己的孩子，那怕只有一个，也将是多么的幸福啊！即使这个孩子很小，我们也会全心全意地爱护他的。"过了一段时间，这位善良妇女的愿望真的实现了。 就如她所期盼的一样，她生下了一个小男孩，孩子生下后身体相当健康强壮，但个头却比大拇指大不了多少。 可他们还是说："真棒！尽管他这么小，但我们的愿望毕竟实现了，我们要用我们全部的热情来爱护他。"因为他太小，所以他们叫他大拇指汤姆。
出发的时间到了，妈妈把马套在了车上，将汤姆放进马的耳朵里。 小人儿在里面坐好后，便开始指挥马匹上路。 当他要走时就喊"喔驾！"要停时就叫"吁--！"所以马车有目的地向树林走去，就像樵夫自己在赶车一样。 走了一会儿，车跑得快了一点，汤姆马上喊道："喔，喔！"就在这时，过来了两个陌生人，他们看到这情形，一个说："竟有这种怪事！一辆马车自己在走，又听见车夫在叫喊，却看不到人。"另一个说："是有点奇怪，我们跟着马车走，看它到底会到哪儿去。"这样他们跟着马车走进了树林，最后来到了樵夫所在的地方。 大姆指汤姆看见他爸爸，马上喊道："爸爸，来看呀！我在这里，我把马车安安稳稳地赶来了，现在把我拿下来吧。"他爸爸一手挽住马，一手将儿子从马耳朵里拿出来，把他放在麦秆上面，汤姆坐在上面高兴极了。
走到黄昏的时候，小人儿说："我困了，让我下来吧。"这人把他的帽子取了下来，将他放在路边田地里的一团土块上面。 汤姆却在犁沟间到处跑来跑去，最后溜进了一个老鼠废弃了的洞内，叫道："主人们，晚安！我走了，下一次可要留点神，小心地看着我呀。"他们马上路过来，用手杖捅进老鼠洞，折腾了好一阵子，但一切都是徒劳，因为汤姆已经爬到里面去了。 不久，天完全黑了，他们只得空着两手垂头丧气地走了。
当他们来到财主的房屋时，汤姆悄悄地爬过窗栏，溜进了房子里，然后尽力大声喊道："这儿所有的东西你们都要吗？"听到他的叫喊声，两个小偷大吃一惊，急忙说道："嘘！轻点，说得小声一点，你会把屋里的人叫醒的。"但汤姆却装作没有理解他们的话，继续大声叫道："你们要多少？要我把所有的东西都扔出来吗？"这回，他的说话声被睡在隔壁房间里的厨娘听到了，她从床上坐起来，张着耳朵凝神细听。 这时，两个小偷听到他又大声说话，更加慌了，撒腿就往回跑。 跑了一段，又觉得有点不甘心，于是又鼓起了勇气，说道："这小家伙是把我们当笨蛋来作弄，我们不要被他吓住了。"所以，他们又回来轻轻地对他说："现在不是和我们开玩笑的时候，快把钱财扔出来吧。"汤姆又敞开嗓门叫道："好的，你们把手伸过来接吧。"厨娘这回听得相当清楚，马上从床上跳起来，冲过去将门打开，两个小偷就像夹着的尾巴的狼一样急忙逃走了。
厨娘四下里瞧了瞧，什么也没发现，又走进去点了一盏灯。 等她返回来时，汤姆已经溜进谷仓里去了。 厨娘将屋子的每一个角落都仔细察看了一遍，还是没有发现异常情况，她以为自己是睁着眼睛在做梦，便又回到床上睡觉去了。
这天天不亮，厨娘就起来了，她要去给牛喂草料。 她径直来到草料堆，抱了一大捆给牛吃。 小汤姆在这捆草里睡得正香，茫然不知所发生的一切。 牛慢慢地吃着，竟连草带小汤姆一起卷进了嘴里，待到他醒来时，他已经到了牛的嘴里。 "呜呼哀哉！"小汤姆叫了起来，"我怎么滚进磨粉机里来了呀？"但现实已容不得他去想了，为了不让自己被卷到牙齿中间给咬碎，他不得不全神贯注地运用自己的聪明和灵巧来躲避，最后与草料一起进了牛胃。 来到牛的肚子里面，他什么也看不到，叹道："这地方太黑了，他们一定是忘记在这房子里设窗户了，太阳光射不进来。可是点一根蜡烛也不赖呀。"
尽管他已经很不幸了，现在又到了这个他一点也不喜欢的地方，更糟糕的是草料进得越来越多，他所能够待的空间越来越少了。 情急之下，他放声大叫道："不要再给我送草料来了！不要再给我送草料来了！"那女仆此刻正在挤牛奶，听到说话声，又看不到人，并且这声音分明就是她昨天晚上听到的同一声音，吓得从凳子上跌了下来，连挤奶的桶也给打翻了，她慌慌张张地跑到她主人那儿说："先生，先生，那牛在说话哩！"可她的主人却说："你这妇道人家，一定是疯了！"随即，他与女仆一同到牛栏里来看到底是怎么回事，他们的脚还只是刚刚伸进门槛，小汤姆又叫道："不要再给我送草料来了！"主人一听也吓了一大跳，他认为这条母牛一定是中邪了，急忙叫人把牛杀了。 牛杀死后，装着大姆指汤姆的牛胃被扔到了外面的粪堆上。
尽管如此，汤姆并没有灰心丧气，他想，狼也许可以边走边与他聊天，所以，他大声叫道："亲爱的朋友，我能带你去一个地方，那儿有好多你爱吃的东西。"狼听了也不管这声音是从哪儿发出的，连忙问道："那地方在哪儿？"汤姆就把他爸爸住的地方一五一十地告诉给狼听，然后又说道："你可以从排水沟爬进厨房里去，在里面你可以找到蛋糕、火腿、牛肉以及你想吃的各种东西。"狼不等他说第二遍，趁着漆黑的夜晚来到了他爸爸的住处，从排水沟钻进了厨房，开开心心地大喝起来。 待狼吃饱喝足之后，再想出去可就不行了。 因为它吃得太多，肚子胀得大大的，再从排水沟出去已经办不到了。 汤姆估计差不多了，就开始放开嗓门大喊大叫起来。 狼急忙说："你安静一点行吗？你这样叫喊会把屋里的人吵醒的。"小人儿说道："我怎么了？你现在吃饱了，快活了，我也想快活快活呀。"说完，再次敞开喉咙又是唱歌又是叫喊。
这一来，樵夫和他的妻子被这声音闹醒了。 他们急忙起来，由厨房的门缝往里一瞧，看见里面竟是一条狼，他俩这下可吓了一大跳。 樵夫赶忙跑去拿了一把斧头，又给他妻子拿了一把长柄的镰刀，对她说："你跟在后面，当我一斧头砍在它的头上后，你就用镰刀割开它的肚子。"汤姆听到这里，连忙喊道："爸爸，爸爸！我在这儿，狼把我吞到肚子里来了。"他爸爸一听，兴奋地说道："谢天谢地，我们又找到我们的宝贝儿子了。"他担心妻子会割伤自己的儿子，马上要她把镰刀扔了，自己拿着斧子，对准狼头狠狠地劈去，正劈在狼的头顶。 狼死了，他们切开狼的肚子，把大拇指放了出来。 "啊！"他爸爸舒了一口气，说道："我们真为你担惊受怕啊！"汤姆回答说："好了，爸爸，我们分别之后，我周游了不少地方，现在我真高兴又呼吸到新鲜空气了。""啊唷，你到了哪些地方呀？"他爸爸问道。 "我钻过老鼠洞，待过蜗牛壳，进过牛的咽喉，最后又到了狼的肚子里。不过我现在已安全完好地待在这儿了。"儿子说完，他们齐声说道："谢谢老天爷，我们再也不把你卖出去了，即使是用世界上所有的财富来换，我们也不卖"说完紧紧地抱起他们的宝贝儿子，亲个不停，并给了他好多好多吃的喝的东西，又拿来新衣服为他换上，因为他原来的衣服在这次历险中已经完全破损了。
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.