ONCE on a time there was a woman who had an only son, and he was no taller than your thumb; and so they called him Thumbikin.
Now, when he had come to be old enough to know right and wrong, his mother told him to go out and woo him a bride, for now she said it was high time he thought about getting a wife. When Thumbikin heard that, he was very glad; so they got their driving gear in order and set off, and his mother put him into her bosom. Now they were going to a palace where there was such an awfully big Princess, but when they had gone a bit of the way, Thumbikin was lost and gone. His mother hunted for him everywhere, and bawled to him, and wept because he was lost, and she couldn't find him again.
"Pip, pip," said Thumbikin, "here I am," and he had hidden himself in the horse's mane.
So he came out, and had to give his word to his mother that he wouldn't do so any more. But when they had driven a bit farther on, Thumbikin was lost again. His mother hunted for him, and called him and wept; but gone he was, and gone he stayed.
"Pip, pip," said Thumbikin at last; and then she heard how he laughed and tittered, but she couldn't find him at all for the life of her.
"Pip, pip, why, here I am now!" said Thumbikin, and came out of the horse's ear.
So he had to give his word that he wouldn't hide himself again; but they had scarce driven a bit farther before he was gone again. He couldn't help it. As for his mother, she hunted, and wept, and called him by name; but gone he was, and gone he stayed; and the more she hunted, the less she could find him in any way.
"Pip, pip, here I am then," said Thumbikin.
But she couldn't make out at all where he was, his voice sounded so dull and muffled.
So she hunted, and he kept on saying, "Pip, here I am," and laughed and chuckled, that she couldn't find him; but all at once the horse snorted, and it snorted Thumbikin out, for he had crept up one of his nostrils.
Then his mother took him and put him into a bag; she knew no other way, for she saw well enough he couldn't help hiding himself.
So when they came to the palace the match was soon made, for the Princess thought him a pretty little chap, and it wasn't long before the wedding came on too.
Now, when they were going to sit down to the wedding-feast, Thumbikin sat at the table by the Princess's side; but he had worse than no seat, for when he was to eat he couldn't reach up to the table; and so, if the Princess hadn't helped him up on to it, he wouldn't have got a bit to eat.
Now it went good and well so long as he had to eat off a plate, but then there came a great bowl of porridge—that he couldn't reach up to; but Thumbikin soon found out a way to help himself; he climbed up and sat on the lip of the bowl. But then there was a pat of melting butter right in the middle of the bowl, and that he couldn't reach to dip his porridge into it, and so he went on and took his seat at the edge of the melting butter; but just then who should come but the Princess, with a great spoonful of porridge to dip it into the butter; and, alas! she went too near to Thumbikin, and tipped him over; and so he fell over head and ears, and was drowned in the melted butter.