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Fairy-Tales.biz . . . for fairy tales and fables . . .
 

Fabulous Fairy Tales for children and adults. From our vast collection of old traditional fairy tales and fables.

Little Tiny Or Thumbelina

THERE was once a woman who wished very much to have a
little child, but she could not obtain her wish. At last she
went to a fairy, and said, 'I should so very much like to have
a little child; can you tell me where I can find one?'

'Oh, that can be easily managed,' said the fairy. 'Here is
a barleycorn of a different kind to those which grow in the
farmer's fields, and which the chickens eat; put it into a
flower-pot, and see what will happen.'

'Thank you,' said the woman, and she gave the fairy twelve
shillings, which was the price of the barleycorn. Then she
went home and planted it, and immediately there grew up a
large handsome flower, something like a tulip in appearance,
but with its leaves tightly closed as if it were still a bud.
'It is a beautiful flower,' said the woman, and she kissed the
red and golden-colored leaves, and while she did so the flower
opened, and she could see that it was a real tulip. Within the
flower, upon the green velvet stamens, sat a very delicate and
graceful little maiden. She was scarcely half as long as a
thumb, and they gave her the name of 'Thumbelina,' or Tiny,
because she was so small. A walnut-shell, elegantly polished,
served her for a cradle; her bed was formed of blue
violet-leaves, with a rose-leaf for a counterpane. Here she
slept at night, but during the day she amused herself on a
table, where the woman had placed a plateful of water. Round
this plate were wreaths of flowers with their stems in the
water, and upon it floated a large tulip-leaf, which served
Tiny for a boat. Here the little maiden sat and rowed herself
from side to side, with two oars made of white horse-hair. It
really was a very pretty sight. Tiny could, also, sing so
softly and sweetly that nothing like her singing had ever
before been heard. One night, while she lay in her pretty bed,
a large, ugly, wet toad crept through a broken pane of glass
in the window, and leaped right upon the table where Tiny lay
sleeping under her rose-leaf quilt. 'What a pretty little wife
this would make for my son, said the toad, and she took up the
walnut-shell in which little Tiny lay asleep, and jumped
through the window with it into the garden.

In the swampy margin of a broad stream in the garden lived
the toad, with her son. He was uglier even than his mother,
and when he saw the pretty little maiden in her elegant bed,
he could only cry, 'Croak, croak, croak.'

'Don't speak so loud, or she will wake,' said the toad,
'and then she might run away, for she is as light as swan's
down. We will place her on one of the water-lily leaves out in
the stream; it will be like an island to her, she is so light
and small, and then she cannot escape; and, while she is away,
we will make haste and prepare the state-room under the marsh,
in which you are to live when you are married.'

Far out in the stream grew a number of water-lilies, with
broad green leaves, which seemed to float on the top of the
water. The largest of these leaves appeared farther off than
the rest, and the old toad swam out to it with the
walnut-shell, in which little Tiny lay still asleep. The tiny
little creature woke very early in the morning, and began to
cry bitterly when she found where she was, for she could see
nothing but water on every side of the large green leaf, and
no way of reaching the land. Meanwhile the old toad was very
busy under the marsh, decking her room with rushes and wild
yellow flowers, to make it look pretty for her new
daughter-in-law. Then she swam out with her ugly son to the
leaf on which she had placed poor little Tiny. She wanted to
fetch the pretty bed, that she might put it in the bridal
chamber to be ready for her. The old toad bowed low to her in
the water, and said, 'Here is my son, he will be your husband,
and you will live happily in the marsh by the stream.'

'Croak, croak, croak,' was all her son could say for
himself; so the toad took up the elegant little bed, and swam
away with it, leaving Tiny all alone on the green leaf, where
she sat and wept. She could not bear to think of living with
the old toad, and having her ugly son for a husband. The
little fishes, who swam about in the water beneath, had seen
the toad, and heard what she said, so they lifted their heads
above the water to look at the little maiden. As soon as they
caught sight of her, they saw she was very pretty, and it made
them very sorry to think that she must go and live with the
ugly toads. 'No, it must never be!' so they assembled together
in the water, round the green stalk which held the leaf on
which the little maiden stood, and gnawed it away at the root
with their teeth. Then the leaf floated down the stream,
carrying Tiny far away out of reach of land.

Tiny sailed past many towns, and the little birds in the
bushes saw her, and sang, 'What a lovely little creature;' so
the leaf swam away with her farther and farther, till it
brought her to other lands. A graceful little white butterfly
constantly fluttered round her, and at last alighted on the
leaf. Tiny pleased him, and she was glad of it, for now the
toad could not possibly reach her, and the country through
which she sailed was beautiful, and the sun shone upon the
water, till it glittered like liquid gold. She took off her
girdle and tied one end of it round the butterfly, and the
other end of the ribbon she fastened to the leaf, which now
glided on much faster than ever, taking little Tiny with it as
she stood. Presently a large cockchafer flew by; the moment he
caught sight of her, he seized her round her delicate waist
with his claws, and flew with her into a tree. The green leaf
floated away on the brook, and the butterfly flew with it, for
he was fastened to it, and could not get away.

Oh, how frightened little Tiny felt when the cockchafer
flew with her to the tree! But especially was she sorry for
the beautiful white butterfly which she had fastened to the
leaf, for if he could not free himself he would die of hunger.
But the cockchafer did not trouble himself at all about the
matter. He seated himself by her side on a large green leaf,
gave her some honey from the flowers to eat, and told her she
was very pretty, though not in the least like a cockchafer.
After a time, all the cockchafers turned up their feelers, and
said, 'She has only two legs! how ugly that looks.' 'She has
no feelers,' said another. 'Her waist is quite slim. Pooh! she
is like a human being.'

'Oh! she is ugly,' said all the lady cockchafers, although
Tiny was very pretty. Then the cockchafer who had run away
with her, believed all the others when they said she was ugly,
and would have nothing more to say to her, and told her she
might go where she liked. Then he flew down with her from the
tree, and placed her on a daisy, and she wept at the thought
that she was so ugly that even the cockchafers would have
nothing to say to her. And all the while she was really the
loveliest creature that one could imagine, and as tender and
delicate as a beautiful rose-leaf. During the whole summer
poor little Tiny lived quite alone in the wide forest. She
wove herself a bed with blades of grass, and hung it up under
a broad leaf, to protect herself from the rain. She sucked the
honey from the flowers for food, and drank the dew from their
leaves every morning. So passed away the summer and the
autumn, and then came the winter,- the long, cold winter. All
the birds who had sung to her so sweetly were flown away, and
the trees and the flowers had withered. The large clover leaf
under the shelter of which she had lived, was now rolled
together and shrivelled up, nothing remained but a yellow
withered stalk. She felt dreadfully cold, for her clothes were
torn, and she was herself so frail and delicate, that poor
little Tiny was nearly frozen to death. It began to snow too;
and the snow-flakes, as they fell upon her, were like a whole
shovelful falling upon one of us, for we are tall, but she was
only an inch high. Then she wrapped herself up in a dry leaf,
but it cracked in the middle and could not keep her warm, and
she shivered with cold. Near the wood in which she had been
living lay a corn-field, but the corn had been cut a long
time; nothing remained but the bare dry stubble standing up
out of the frozen ground. It was to her like struggling
through a large wood. Oh! how she shivered with the cold. She
came at last to the door of a field-mouse, who had a little
den under the corn-stubble. There dwelt the field-mouse in
warmth and comfort, with a whole roomful of corn, a kitchen,
and a beautiful dining room. Poor little Tiny stood before the
door just like a little beggar-girl, and begged for a small
piece of barley-corn, for she had been without a morsel to eat
for two days.

'You poor little creature,' said the field-mouse, who was
really a good old field-mouse, 'come into my warm room and
dine with me.' She was very pleased with Tiny, so she said,
'You are quite welcome to stay with me all the winter, if you
like; but you must keep my rooms clean and neat, and tell me
stories, for I shall like to hear them very much.' And Tiny
did all the field-mouse asked her, and found herself very
comfortable.

'We shall have a visitor soon,' said the field-mouse one
day; 'my neighbor pays me a visit once a week. He is better
off than I am; he has large rooms, and wears a beautiful black
velvet coat. If you could only have him for a husband, you
would be well provided for indeed. But he is blind, so you
must tell him some of your prettiest stories.

But Tiny did not feel at all interested about this
neighbor, for he was a mole. However, he came and paid his
visit dressed in his black velvet coat.

'He is very rich and learned, and his house is twenty
times larger than mine,' said the field-mouse.

He was rich and learned, no doubt, but he always spoke
slightingly of the sun and the pretty flowers, because he had
never seen them. Tiny was obliged to sing to him, 'Lady-bird,
lady-bird, fly away home,' and many other pretty songs. And
the mole fell in love with her because she had such a sweet
voice; but he said nothing yet, for he was very cautious. A
short time before, the mole had dug a long passage under the
earth, which led from the dwelling of the field-mouse to his
own, and here she had permission to walk with Tiny whenever
she liked. But he warned them not to be alarmed at the sight
of a dead bird which lay in the passage. It was a perfect
bird, with a beak and feathers, and could not have been dead
long, and was lying just where the mole had made his passage.
The mole took a piece of phosphorescent wood in his mouth, and
it glittered like fire in the dark; then he went before them
to light them through the long, dark passage. When they came
to the spot where lay the dead bird, the mole pushed his broad
nose through the ceiling, the earth gave way, so that there
was a large hole, and the daylight shone into the passage. In
the middle of the floor lay a dead swallow, his beautiful
wings pulled close to his sides, his feet and his head drawn
up under his feathers; the poor bird had evidently died of the
cold. It made little Tiny very sad to see it, she did so love
the little birds; all the summer they had sung and twittered
for her so beautifully. But the mole pushed it aside with his
crooked legs, and said, 'He will sing no more now. How
miserable it must be to be born a little bird! I am thankful
that none of my children will ever be birds, for they can do
nothing but cry, 'Tweet, tweet,' and always die of hunger in
the winter.'

'Yes, you may well say that, as a clever man!' exclaimed
the field-mouse, 'What is the use of his twittering, for when
winter comes he must either starve or be frozen to death.
Still birds are very high bred.'

Tiny said nothing; but when the two others had turned
their backs on the bird, she stooped down and stroked aside
the soft feathers which covered the head, and kissed the
closed eyelids. 'Perhaps this was the one who sang to me so
sweetly in the summer,' she said; 'and how much pleasure it
gave me, you dear, pretty bird.'

The mole now stopped up the hole through which the
daylight shone, and then accompanied the lady home. But during
the night Tiny could not sleep; so she got out of bed and wove
a large, beautiful carpet of hay; then she carried it to the
dead bird, and spread it over him; with some down from the
flowers which she had found in the field-mouse's room. It was
as soft as wool, and she spread some of it on each side of the
bird, so that he might lie warmly in the cold earth.
'Farewell, you pretty little bird,' said she, 'farewell; thank
you for your delightful singing during the summer, when all
the trees were green, and the warm sun shone upon us. Then she
laid her head on the bird's breast, but she was alarmed
immediately, for it seemed as if something inside the bird
went 'thump, thump.' It was the bird's heart; he was not
really dead, only benumbed with the cold, and the warmth had
restored him to life. In autumn, all the swallows fly away
into warm countries, but if one happens to linger, the cold
seizes it, it becomes frozen, and falls down as if dead; it
remains where it fell, and the cold snow covers it. Tiny
trembled very much; she was quite frightened, for the bird was
large, a great deal larger than herself,- she was only an inch
high. But she took courage, laid the wool more thickly over
the poor swallow, and then took a leaf which she had used for
her own counterpane, and laid it over the head of the poor
bird. The next morning she again stole out to see him. He was
alive but very weak; he could only open his eyes for a moment
to look at Tiny, who stood by holding a piece of decayed wood
in her hand, for she had no other lantern. 'Thank you, pretty
little maiden,' said the sick swallow; 'I have been so nicely
warmed, that I shall soon regain my strength, and be able to
fly about again in the warm sunshine.'

'Oh,' said she, 'it is cold out of doors now; it snows and
freezes. Stay in your warm bed; I will take care of you.'

Then she brought the swallow some water in a flower-leaf,
and after he had drank, he told her that he had wounded one of
his wings in a thorn-bush, and could not fly as fast as the
others, who were soon far away on their journey to warm
countries. Then at last he had fallen to the earth, and could
remember no more, nor how he came to be where she had found
him. The whole winter the swallow remained underground, and
Tiny nursed him with care and love. Neither the mole nor the
field-mouse knew anything about it, for they did not like
swallows. Very soon the spring time came, and the sun warmed
the earth. Then the swallow bade farewell to Tiny, and she
opened the hole in the ceiling which the mole had made. The
sun shone in upon them so beautifully, that the swallow asked
her if she would go with him; she could sit on his back, he
said, and he would fly away with her into the green woods. But
Tiny knew it would make the field-mouse very grieved if she
left her in that manner, so she said, 'No, I cannot.'

'Farewell, then, farewell, you good, pretty little
maiden,' said the swallow; and he flew out into the sunshine.

Tiny looked after him, and the tears rose in her eyes. She
was very fond of the poor swallow.

'Tweet, tweet,' sang the bird, as he flew out into the
green woods, and Tiny felt very sad. She was not allowed to go
out into the warm sunshine. The corn which had been sown in
the field over the house of the field-mouse had grown up high
into the air, and formed a thick wood to Tiny, who was only an
inch in height.

'You are going to be married, Tiny,' said the field-mouse.
'My neighbor has asked for you. What good fortune for a poor
child like you. Now we will prepare your wedding clothes. They
must be both woollen and linen. Nothing must be wanting when
you are the mole's wife.'

Tiny had to turn the spindle, and the field-mouse hired
four spiders, who were to weave day and night. Every evening
the mole visited her, and was continually speaking of the time
when the summer would be over. Then he would keep his
wedding-day with Tiny; but now the heat of the sun was so
great that it burned the earth, and made it quite hard, like a
stone. As soon, as the summer was over, the wedding should
take place. But Tiny was not at all pleased; for she did not
like the tiresome mole. Every morning when the sun rose, and
every evening when it went down, she would creep out at the
door, and as the wind blew aside the ears of corn, so that she
could see the blue sky, she thought how beautiful and bright
it seemed out there, and wished so much to see her dear
swallow again. But he never returned; for by this time he had
flown far away into the lovely green forest.

When autumn arrived, Tiny had her outfit quite ready; and
the field-mouse said to her, 'In four weeks the wedding must
take place.'

Then Tiny wept, and said she would not marry the
disagreeable mole.

'Nonsense,' replied the field-mouse. 'Now don't be
obstinate, or I shall bite you with my white teeth. He is a
very handsome mole; the queen herself does not wear more
beautiful velvets and furs. His kitchen and cellars are quite
full. You ought to be very thankful for such good fortune.'

So the wedding-day was fixed, on which the mole was to
fetch Tiny away to live with him, deep under the earth, and
never again to see the warm sun, because he did not like it.
The poor child was very unhappy at the thought of saying
farewell to the beautiful sun, and as the field-mouse had
given her permission to stand at the door, she went to look at
it once more.

'Farewell bright sun,' she cried, stretching out her arm
towards it; and then she walked a short distance from the
house; for the corn had been cut, and only the dry stubble
remained in the fields. 'Farewell, farewell,' she repeated,
twining her arm round a little red flower that grew just by
her side. 'Greet the little swallow from me, if you should see
him again.'

'Tweet, tweet,' sounded over her head suddenly. She looked
up, and there was the swallow himself flying close by. As soon
as he spied Tiny, he was delighted; and then she told him how
unwilling she felt to marry the ugly mole, and to live always
beneath the earth, and never to see the bright sun any more.
And as she told him she wept.

'Cold winter is coming,' said the swallow, 'and I am going
to fly away into warmer countries. Will you go with me? You
can sit on my back, and fasten yourself on with your sash.
Then we can fly away from the ugly mole and his gloomy rooms,-
far away, over the mountains, into warmer countries, where the
sun shines more brightly- than here; where it is always
summer, and the flowers bloom in greater beauty. Fly now with
me, dear little Tiny; you saved my life when I lay frozen in
that dark passage.'

'Yes, I will go with you,' said Tiny; and she seated
herself on the bird's back, with her feet on his outstretched
wings, and tied her girdle to one of his strongest feathers.

Then the swallow rose in the air, and flew over forest and
over sea, high above the highest mountains, covered with
eternal snow. Tiny would have been frozen in the cold air, but
she crept under the bird's warm feathers, keeping her little
head uncovered, so that she might admire the beautiful lands
over which they passed. At length they reached the warm
countries, where the sun shines brightly, and the sky seems so
much higher above the earth. Here, on the hedges, and by the
wayside, grew purple, green, and white grapes; lemons and
oranges hung from trees in the woods; and the air was fragrant
with myrtles and orange blossoms. Beautiful children ran along
the country lanes, playing with large gay butterflies; and as
the swallow flew farther and farther, every place appeared
still more lovely.

At last they came to a blue lake, and by the side of it,
shaded by trees of the deepest green, stood a palace of
dazzling white marble, built in the olden times. Vines
clustered round its lofty pillars, and at the top were many
swallows' nests, and one of these was the home of the swallow
who carried Tiny.

'This is my house,' said the swallow; 'but it would not do
for you to live there- you would not be comfortable. You must
choose for yourself one of those lovely flowers, and I will
put you down upon it, and then you shall have everything that
you can wish to make you happy.'

'That will be delightful,' she said, and clapped her
little hands for joy.

A large marble pillar lay on the ground, which, in
falling, had been broken into three pieces. Between these
pieces grew the most beautiful large white flowers; so the
swallow flew down with Tiny, and placed her on one of the
broad leaves. But how surprised she was to see in the middle
of the flower, a tiny little man, as white and transparent as
if he had been made of crystal! He had a gold crown on his
head, and delicate wings at his shoulders, and was not much
larger than Tiny herself. He was the angel of the flower; for
a tiny man and a tiny woman dwell in every flower; and this
was the king of them all.

'Oh, how beautiful he is!' whispered Tiny to the swallow.

The little prince was at first quite frightened at the
bird, who was like a giant, compared to such a delicate little
creature as himself; but when he saw Tiny, he was delighted,
and thought her the prettiest little maiden he had ever seen.
He took the gold crown from his head, and placed it on hers,
and asked her name, and if she would be his wife, and queen
over all the flowers.

This certainly was a very different sort of husband to the
son of a toad, or the mole, with my black velvet and fur; so
she said, 'Yes,' to the handsome prince. Then all the flowers
opened, and out of each came a little lady or a tiny lord, all
so pretty it was quite a pleasure to look at them. Each of
them brought Tiny a present; but the best gift was a pair of
beautiful wings, which had belonged to a large white fly and
they fastened them to Tiny's shoulders, so that she might fly
from flower to flower. Then there was much rejoicing, and the
little swallow who sat above them, in his nest, was asked to
sing a wedding song, which he did as well as he could; but in
his heart he felt sad for he was very fond of Tiny, and would
have liked never to part from her again.

'You must not be called Tiny any more,' said the spirit of
the flowers to her. 'It is an ugly name, and you are so very
pretty. We will call you Maia.'

'Farewell, farewell,' said the swallow, with a heavy heart
as he left the warm countries to fly back into Denmark. There
he had a nest over the window of a house in which dwelt the
writer of fairy tales. The swallow sang, 'Tweet, tweet,' and
from his song came the whole story.


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