Once upon a time . . . there lived a giant who had quarreled with a very greedy wizard over sharing a treasure. After the quarrel, the giant said menacingly to the wizard: "I could crush you under my thumb if I wanted to! Now, get out of my sight!"
The wizard hurried away, but from a safe distance, he hurled his terrible revenge. "Abracadabra! Here I cast this spell! May the son, your wife will shortly give you, never grow any taller than my own thumb!"
After Tom Thumb was born, his parents were at their wits' end. They could never find him, for they could barely see him. They had to speak in whispers for fear of deafening the little boy.
Tom Thumb preferred playing with the little garden creatures, to the company of parents so different from himself. He rode piggyback on the snail and danced with the ladybugs.
Tiny as he was, he had great fun in the world of little things. But one unlucky day, he went to visit a froggy friend. No sooner had he scrambled onto a leaf than a large pike swallowed him up. But the pike too was fated to come to a very bad end.
A little later, he took the bait cast by one of the King's fishermen, and before long, found himself under the cook's knife in the royal kitchens. And great was everyone's surprise when, out of the fish's stomach, stepped Tom Thumb, quite alive and little the worse for his adventure.
"What am I to do with this tiny lad?" said the cook to himself. Then he had a brain wave. "He can be a royal pageboy! He's so tiny, I can pop him into the cake I'm making. When he marches across the bridge, sounding the trumpet everyone will gasp in wonder!
Never had such a marvel been seen at Court. The guests clapped excitedly at the cook's skill and the King himself clapped loudest of all. The King rewarded the clever cook with a bag of gold.
Tom Thumb was even luckier. The cook made him a pageboy, and a pageboy he remained, enjoying all the honours of his post. He had a white mouse for a mount, a gold pin for a sword and he was allowed to eat the King's food.
In exchange, he marched up and down the table at banquets. He picked his way amongst the plates and glasses amusing the guests with his trumpet.
What Tom Thumb didn't know was that he had made an enemy. The cat which, until Tom's arrival, had been the King's pet, was now forgotten. And, vowing to have its revenge on the newcomer, it ambushed Tom in the garden. When Tom saw the cat, he did not run away, as the creature had intended. He whipped out his gold pin and cried to his white mouse mount: "Charge! Charge!"
Jabbed by the tiny sword, the cat turned tail and fled. Since brute force was not the way to revenge, the cat decided to use guile. Casually pretending to bump into the King as he walked down the staircase, the cat softly meowed: "Sire! Be on your guard! A plot is being hatched against your life!" And then he told a dreadful lie. "Tom Thumb is planning to lace your food with hemlock. I saw him picking the leaves in the garden the other day. heard him say these very words!"
Now, the King had once been kept in bed with very bad tummy pains, after eating too many cherries and he feared the thought of being poisoned, so he sent for Tom Thumb. The cat provided proof of his words by pulling a hemlock leaf from under the white mouse's saddle cloth, where he had hidden it himself.
Tom Thumb was so amazed, he was at a loss for words to deny what the cat had said. The King, without further ado, had him thrown into prison. And since he was so tiny, they locked him up in a pendulum clock.
The hours passed and the days too. Tom's only pastime was swinging back and forth, clinging to the pendulum, until the night when he attracted the attention of a big night moth, fluttering round the room.
"Let me out!" cried Tom Thumb, tapping on the glass. As it so happens, the moth had only just been set free after being a prisoner in a large box, in which she had taken a nap. So she took pity on Tom Thumb and released him. "I'll take you to the Butterfly Kingdom, where everyone's tiny like yourself. They'll take care of you there!" And that is what happened.
To this day, if you visit the Butterfly Kingdom, you can ask to see the Butterfly monument that Tom Thumb built after this amazing adventure.
And Tom lived happily ever after with the little people ! :-)
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