The History of Tom Thumb
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
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."
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.
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
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
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
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
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
But Tom soon returned to the king's
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
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.
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.
— Том — мальчик с пальчик (a
thumb — большой палец руки)
— король Артур (легендарный король древних британцев)
should be the happiest woman — Я была бы
самой счастливой женщиной
4 I would be pleased —
я была бы довольна
this way — таким образом
6 Ему штанишки сшили из перышек
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.
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.
Tom screamed with pain
— Том закричал от боли
a batter pudding
— пудинг из взбитого теста (готовится так же, как вареная колбаса: вымытые
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
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
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)
drawn by six small mice
— карету, запряженную шестеркой маленьких мышек