The History of Tom Thumb

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The History of Tom Thumb
The Adventures of Jack the Giant-Killer

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The History of Tom Thumb 1

In the days of the great King Arthur 2 there lived a magician,, called Merlin. He was the most wonderful magician the world has ever seen.

This famous magician, who could take any form he wanted, was once travelling about as a poor beggar. One day he got very tired and stopped to rest at the house of a farmer. He knocked at the door and begged for some food.

The countryman invited him to come in, and his wife, who was a very kind woman, soon brought him some milk in a wooden bowl, and some brown bread on a plate.

Merlin was much pleased with the kindness of the farmer and his wife, but he noticed that though everything was tidy and comfortable in the house, they both looked unhappy. He asked them why they were so sad, and learned that they were unhappy because they had no children.

The poor woman said, with tears in her eyes, "I should be the happiest woman 3 in the world if I had a son. Even if he was no bigger than my husband's thumb, I would be pleased." 4

Merlin was so much amused with the idea of a boy no bigger than a man's thumb, that he decided to carry out the poor woman's wish. Some time after, the farmer's wife had a son, who (wonderful to tell!) was not bigger than his father's thumb.

The queen of the fairies wished to see the little boy. She came in at the window while the happy mother was sitting up in the bed looking at the boy. The queen kissed the child, gave it the name of Tom Thumb, and sent for some of the fairies. She gave orders to the fairies to dress the little boy, and the fairies dressed the little boy in this way: 5

An oak-leaf hat he had for his crown:

His shirt of web by spiders spun;

His jacket wove of thistle's down:

His trousers were of feathers done.

His stockings, of apple-rind, they tie

With eyelash from his mother's eye:

His shoes were made of mouse's skin,

Tann'd with the downy hair within. 6

Tom never grew any bigger than his father's thumb, which was an ordinary finger; but as he got older, he became very cunning and full of tricks. 7 When he was old enough to play with other boys,, and had lost all his own cherrystones, 8 he usually crept into the bags of his friends and filled his pockets. No one noticed him as he got out. Then he joined in the game again.

One day as he was getting out of a bag of cherry-stones, the boy to whom it belonged saw him. "Ah, ah! my little Tommy," said the boy, "so you've stolen my cherry-stones again. I've caught you at last." And the boy gave the bag such a shake that poor little Tom's legs and body were badly hurt, and Tom screamed with pain, 9 and promised never to steal again.

 

 

 

A short time afterwards his mother was making a batter pudding. 10 Tommy wanted to see how it was made and climbed up to the edge of the bowl. But his foot slipped, 11 and he fell into the batter. His mother didn't notice him, and put the batter into the pudding-bag. Then she put it in the pot to boil.

The batter filled Tom's mouth, and he could not cry. But when he felt the hot water, he began to struggle so much in the pot that his mother thought that the pudding was magic. So she pulled it out of the pot and threw it outside the door. A poor workman, who was passing by, lifted up the pudding, and walked off. As Tom had now cleared his mouth of the batter, he began to scream. The workman was so frightened that he threw down the pudding and ran away. The pudding was broken to pieces, Tom crept out with the batter all over him, and walked home. His mother, who was very sorry to see her dear son in such a bad state, 12 put him into a teacup, and soon washed off the batter. After that she kissed him, and put him to bed.

Soon after the adventure of the pudding, Tom's mother went to milk her cow in the meadow, and she took the boy along with her. As the wind was very strong, she tied him to a thistle with a piece of thread. The cow soon saw Tom's oak-leaf hat, and at once poor Tom and the thistle were in her mouth. Tom was afraid of her great teeth, and he roared out as loud as he could, "Mother! Mother!"

"Where are you, Tommy, my dear Tommy?" Tom's mother asked.

"Here, Mother," he answered, "in the red cow's mouth."

His mother began to cry; but the cow, surprised at the strange noise in her mouth,, opened it and dropped Tom. His mother caught him in her apron as he was falling to the ground. Then she took Tom in her hand and ran home with him.

Tom's father made him a whip of a barley straw to drive the cattle with. 13 One day Tom went into the fields, but his foot slipped and he fell down. A bird, which was flying over the field, picked him up, and flew with him over the sea, and then dropped him.

A large fish swallowed Tom the moment he fell into the sea. The fish was soon caught and bought for the table of King Arthur. When the cook opened the fish to cook it, everybody in the kitchen was surprised to find a little boy inside the fish, and Tom was happy to be free again. They carried him to the king, who was delighted with him and let him live in the palace. And soon he became a great favourite at court for his tricks and jokes. He amused not only the king and queen, but also all the Knights of the Round Table. 14

 

 

 

When the king rode out on horseback, 15 he often took Tom along with him. If it rained, Tom usually crept into the king's pocket, where he slept till the rain was over.

One day King Arthur asked Tom about the parents, he wished to know if they were as small as Tom was, and if they were poor or rich. Tom told the king that his father and mother were as tall as anybody in the court, but they were not rich. When he heard this, the king carried Tom to the treasury, the place where he kept all his money, and told him to take as much money as he could carry home to his parents. The poor little boy was very happy and at once he went to get a purse. He returned to the treasury with a purse which was made of a soap-bubble. 16 He received a silver three-penny-piece 17 and put it into his purse.

It was difficult for the little boy to lift the purse and put it upon his back. But at last he went on his journey. More than a hundred times he rested by the way, and in two days and two nights he reached his father's house safely.

Tom had travelled forty-eight hours with a great heavy silver-piece on his back. He was almost tired to death, 18 when his mother ran out to meet him, and carried him into the house.

But Tom soon returned to the king's court.

As Tom's clothes were spoilt after the batter-pudding, and the fish, the king ordered to make new clothes for Tom.

He was also given a mouse to ride. He sat on it like a proud knight.

Of Butterfly's wings his shirt was made,

His boots of chicken's hide;

And by a nimble fairy blade,

Well learned in the tailoring trade,

His clothing was supplied.

A needle dangled by his side;

A dapper mouse he used to ride,

Thus strutted Tom in stately pride. 19

So Tom in his fine clothes rode out on his mouse to hunt with the king and his knights. They all liked to look at Tom and laugh as he sat on his fine "horse".

The king loved Tom so much that he ordered his men to make a little chair for him, and now he sat on the king's table when he had his meals. Tom was also given a golden palace to live in and a coach, drawn by six small mice. 20 So Tom lived happily at King Arthur's court until he died.

 

 

1 Tom Thumb — Том — мальчик с пальчик (a thumb — большой палец руки)

2 King Arthur — король Артур (легендарный король древних британцев)

3 I should be the happiest woman — Я была бы самой счастливой женщиной

4 I would be pleased — я была бы довольна

5 in this way — таким образом

6 Ему штанишки сшили из перышек гусиных,

На курточку малютке пошел чертополох,

Рубашку смастерили из тонкой паутины,

Дубовый лист для шляпы, не правда ли, неплох?

Для башмачков изящных мышиной кожи взяли,

Пришили мех пушистый и яркие шнуры,

А красные чулочки ресницей подвязали,

Чулочки из блестящей вишневой кожуры, (Перевод Н. Воронель)

7 he became very cunning and full of tricks — он стал очень хитрым и научился всяким проказам

8 Имеется в виду старинная детская игра, в которой вместо камешков использовались вишневые косточки.

9 Tom screamed with pain — Том закричал от боли

10 a batter pudding — пудинг из взбитого теста (готовится так же, как вареная колбаса: вымытые внутренности (pudding-bag) наполняются начинкой и опускаются в кипяток)

11 But his foot slipped — Но он поскользнулся

12 in such a bad state — в таком плачевном виде

13 a whip of a barley straw to drive the cattle with — кнут из ячменной соломинки, чтобы погонять скотину

14 Knights of the Round Table — рыцари Круглого стола (При дворе короля Артура рыцари собирались за круглым столом, форма стола символизировала равенство всех рыцарей.)

15 When the king rode out on horseback — Когда король выезжал верхом

16 which was made of a soap-bubble — который был сделан из мыльного пузыря

17 a silver three-penny-piece — серебряный трехпенсовик

18 He was almost tired to death — Он устал до смерти

19 И шесть королевских придворных портных

Ему смастерили наряд:

Рубашку из крыльев стрекоз голубых

И пару блестящих сапог верховых

Из кожицы желтых цыплят.

Булавка служила герою мечом,

А серый мышонок — лихим скакуном,

Бесстрашно скакал на мышонке верхом

Отважный наездник Том. (Перевод Н. Воронель)

20 a coach, drawn by six small mice — карету, запряженную шестеркой маленьких мышек

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