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formed that a wee knight, of extraordinary height, had come to his Court, and Master Tom met with a very hearty reception. The King made him his dwarf, and he soon gained the favour of the whole Court as the funniest, merriest little fellow who had ever been seen there.
In dancing Tom greatly excelled; and it became a favourite
custom with the King to place his little dwarf on the table, and set him dancing for the diversion of the company. There was not a dance that he did not understand, from the cobbler's hornpipe to the Highland Aling or the Irish jig; and I think when any one can dance the two latter dances well, and without feeling giddy, he has something to boast of.
But his dancing was not the only accomplishment little Tom Thumb could boast. He could run and jump with wonderful agility, and was sometimes known to leap over a thread stretched across the table at the height full 3.1 inches; and once he tried to leap over a reel of cotton that was put up on end on the table ; but that was too much for him, and he fell over it and hurt himself. Such was the skill Tom possessed. He had at least as much cleverness in his head as in his heels—if not more. All the people of the Court thought him a very good little man. The Queen was very fond of him; and as for King Arthur, he scarcely ever went out hunting without having Tom Thumb riding astride
cn his saddle-bow. If it began to rain, the little man would creep into the King's pocket, and lie there snug and warm until the shower was over; and sometimes the King would set him to ride upon his thumb, with a piece of silk cord passed through a ring for a bridle, and a whip made of a tiny
stalk of grass.
King Arthur would frequently question Tom about his parentage and birth, for he was naturally curious to know where his clever little page came from. And Tom capered and laughed, and sang merrily :
“When I was a little boy, my mammy kept me in ;
But now I am a great boy, I'm fit to serve the King ! and the King laughed, and asked him again concerning his gave him
family; and Tom replied that they were poor people, and added that he should be very glad of an opportunity to see his parents. This the good King freely permitted him to do; and that he should not go away empty handed, he an order on the treasury for as much money as he could carry. Tom made choice of a silver threepenny-piece; and though this burden considerably retarded his progress, he managed, by dint of great patience and perseverance, to arrive safe home with it.
There was great rejoicing on the part of his parents when they saw Tom again, for they had entertained great fears for his safety. They were elated and surprised at the large sum of money he had brought with him, and received him with great honour. A walnut-shell was placed for him by the fireside, and in this the little man sat as merry as the day was long. But, in one respect, his parents were not so careful as they might have been. They feasted him on a hazel-nut in such a manner that the whole nut was gone in three days. The consequence was, that little Tommy had to lie three days in bed in the walnut-shell.
When he got well he thought it time to return to his duties at the palace as King Arthur's dwarf; and his mother, though loth to part with him, took him up in her hand, and with one puff blew him quite away into King Arthur's Court.
Here a sad disaster was in store for Tom—a greater one than he had as yet met with. His mother had hoped he might have the same good fortune that had always attended him; for indeed little Tom Thumb had gone through dangers enough to have killed two or three ordinary men. If she had thought of this she would doubtless have brought her son back herself ; but she trusted to chance. And indeed if the wind had been a little stronger, or a little steadier, he
would have alighted in the vicinity of the Court ; but instead of doing so, the little man came down-splash !—into a bowl of fermenty the royal cook was carrying across the courtyard, and which had been prepared for the King's especial enjoy. ment.
The malicious cook artfully represented the accident to the King as gross disrespect to his Majesty, and
little Tom was placed upon his trial for high treason, found guilty, and sentenced to lose his head. Terribly alarmed at the cruel sentence, Tom looked around for a means of escape; and seeing a miller listening to the proceedings with his mouth stretched open far and wide like a great cavem ; for he was
; one of those strange people who can never listen with their lips shut, as they cannot take in any knowledge through their ears alone. Well, as I said, little Tom was glancing sharply round, thinking how he might circumvent the King's guards ; so seeing this large mouth standing conveniently wide open, with a sudden bound Tom sprang down the miller's throat, unseen by all.
The prisoner having escaped, the Court broke up, and the miller, who had got a touch of the hiccups, hastened home. Now Tom, having effected his escape from his stern judges at the Court, was equally desirous to do so from the miller's interior, which reminded him of the former days when he had been swallowed by the red cow. So Tom, ill-pleased with his apartment, began to turn the question over in his mind, and to consider how he should get out; for to stay where he was seemed a waste of time, besides being uncomfortable. He thought the miller ought to know what was in his