Tom Thumb The Great - Moral Stories: Moral Value Based Short Stories


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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Tom Thumb The Great

Tom Thumb The Great

This tale belongs to a time before the birth of English language. A time before England came to be called by that name. A time when the land was ruled over by King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, attended by 100 Round Table Knights. A knight in those days was a man of high social rank who had a duty to fight for his king...

In the days of King Arthur there lived a mighty magician called Merlin. The king depended so much on Merlin's magic and advice for the success of his ventures. Now Merlin could take any form that the moment pleased him.

One day he was travelling about as a beggar. When he felt very tired he stopped at the cottage of a peasant to rest himself. He asked for some food.

Now Beeman the peasant, and Beda his wife, were a very kindly couple. They set before Merlin a wooden bowl of milk, and some coarse brown bread. It was a rather poor meal. But that was all they could serve him.

Merlin was much pleased with the kindness of Beeman and Beda. He asked them why they looked so sad and miserable. Beda told him that they had no children. She added, "I should be the happiest woman in the world if I had a son even though he was only as big as my husband's thumb."

The magician was much amused with the idea of a thumb-big boy. Immediately granted Beda's wish. In the fullness of time the woman gave birth to a son hardly bigger than Beeman's thumb.

The wonderful news reached the fairy world. Mab, the queen of the fairies, couldn't control her curiosity. She flitted down the skies, and fluttered about the window while Beda was sitting up in the bed admiring her frail and fragile infant. Queen Mab kissed the child and named him Tom Thumb. She took a solemn vow to remain his godmother, and to protect him from all probable harm. (By the by, this queen of fairies is said to create and control dreams on earth.)

Tom never grew up. He was always as big as Beeman's thumb. But as he got older he picked up all kinds cunning tricks. He often played with the next-door boys, and lost his own cherry-stones. Then he would creep into the others' bags, fill his pockets with their cherry-stones, and get out without anyone noticing him. And he would again join the game.

One day little Tom was caught stealing from a bag of cherry-stones. The bag was rudely shaken, and his puny body was badly bruised. Tom roared with pain, and begged to be let out. He promised never to steal again.

Another day, Beda was making a pudding. Tom grew curious. He wanted to see how it was made. (Tom was more curious than most boys of his age. It was only natural. For he took that trait from Queen Mab, his fairy godmother.) He climbed up to the edge of the bowl. His foot slipped, and Tom fell headlong into the bowl. Beda didn't notice it.  She emptied the bowl into the pot to boil.
Tom kicked and struggled in the boiling pot. Beda thought that the pudding was bewitched. She threw it outside the door. Tom crept out of it, and walked back home. His mother was very sorry to see her darling little one in such a pitiable state. At once she put him into a teacup, and washed him clean. She kissed him softly, and laid him in bed. And that was the end of Tom's great pudding adventure.

As usual, one day Beda went to milk their red cow, out in the meadow. She took little Tom along with her. A strong wind was blowing. Lest Tom should be blown away, his mother tied him to a small plant with a piece of thread.

While the cow was grazing, the animal took Tom and the plant at one mouthful. Tom was horrified to see the cow chewing teeth. He started to roar out as loud as he could, “Mother, mother!” Thus he drew her attention to the cow's mouth.

But Beda could do nothing about it. She began to cry. The cow was surprised at the strange noise in the woman's throat. She opened her mouth in wonder. And Tom dropped out her mouth. Beda caught him in her apron as he was falling to the ground. She ran home with him, and laid him in bed.

It was ploughing time. Little Tom followed his father to the fields. There he slipped a foot and fell into the furrow. (The furrow is a long ditch made by the plough.)

A large crow was flying over the fields. It picked Tom up, and flew with him over the sea, and dropped him over the waves. Miserable Beeman looked on helplessly. Then he walked home sadly along.

 A fish swallowed Tom the moment he fell into the sea. It so happened that the fish was caught, and bought for the table of King Arthur. When the cook opened the fish, everyone around was astonished to find Tom Thumb inside its belly. The boy was now free to breathe again.

Tom was taken to the king. Soon he became a favourite at the court. His games and tricks amused the king, the queen, and the Knights of the Round Table. When the king rode out on horseback he often took Tom along with him. If it rained, the little one would creep into his pocket. There he would sleep till the shower was over.

One day King Arthur asked Tom about his parents. The 'Thumb' boy told him about their humble circumstances. The kind king urged him to take home as much money as he could carry from the royal treasury. At that, the little boy leaped with joy. He got a purse made of a water-bubble. And all that it could contain was a three-penny-piece.

Tom lifted the bubble burden on his back, and set forward on his homeward journey. It took him two days and two nights to reach his parents' cottage in safety. On the way, the little hero had to rest himself more than two hundred times.

Beeman and Beda wept for joy to see Tom home again. They were thrilled to hear his exploits at the court. But they couldn't stop him long there from seeking the king's company again.
Upon his return, Tom was given a heroic welcome. The king ordered him a new suit of clothes. He made him a knight, and called him 'Sir Thomas'.

(Surely, Sir Thomas wasn't counted among the hundred Round Table Knights.) This small little hero was mounted on a mouse instead of a horse. (No thumb-size horse was available there, then or ever.) A needle took the place of the sword by his side. Thus Sir Thomas rode in stately pride and splendour.

The king was so fond of his small little knight that he built for him a palace of gold, nine inches high, with a door an inch wide. He also had a chair made for him so that Tom might sit upon the king's table.

The queen grew jealous of the honours given to Sir Thomas. She decided to ruin him. So she told the king that Tom behaved improperly to her. The king sent for him at once.

Tom was fully aware of the danger of royal anger. He crept into an empty shell of a snail. At length, hunger drove him out of it.

Then Tom saw a large butterfly there. He jumped astride on it, and was carried up into the air. The butterfly flew with him from tree to tree, and from field to field. At last it came to the king's court.

The queen's rage rose high at the sight of Tom. She said that he should be beheaded. And Tom was kept in a mousetrap until the time of his execution. However, a cat patted the trap about, breaking the wires. Poor Tom was thus free again.

The king received Sir Thomas again into his favour. But the 'thumb-knight' did not live long after that. One day a spider attacked him. Tom drew his needle-sword and fought well, in defence and offence alike. The spider proved too strong for the poor knight. Tom fell dead. (In the face of death, even his fairy godmother couldn't protect him.) And the deadly spider sucked dry every drop of his knightly blood.

King Arthur and the Round Table Knights deeply mourned for Sir Thomas. A marble monument was built over his grave. The following lines were written on a memorial tablet on it.

"Here lies Tom Thumb, King Arthur's knight,
Who died by a spider's cruel bite."

Thus ended the great adventures of Tom Thumb, Merlin's charming gift to Beeman and Beda.

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