Within the flower, upon the green velvet stamens, sat a very delicate and graceful little maiden. She was scarcely half as long as a thumb, and they gave her the name of ...."Thumbelina"
One night, while she lay in her pretty bed, a large, ugly, wet toad crept through a broken pane of glass in the window, and leaped right upon the table where Thumbelina lay sleeping under her rose-leaf quilt."What a pretty little wife this would make for my son," said the toadShe took up the walnut-shell in which little Thumbelina lay asleep, and jumped through the window with it into the garden.
A group of graceful butterflies constantly fluttered round her, and at last alighted on the leaf. Thumbelina pleased them, and she was glad of it, for now the toad could not possibly reach her, and the country through which she sailed was beautiful.The sun shone upon the water, till it glittered like liquid gold.She took off her, split the ends and let the butterflies take hold of the ends. The other end of the ribbon she fastened around her little arm as she held on tight to the leaf, which now glided on much faster than ever.Taking little Thumbelina with it as she stood.
In the middle of the floor lay a dead swallow, his beautiful wings pulled close to his sides, his feet and his head drawn up under his feathers; the poor bird had evidently died of the cold.It made little Thumblina very sad to see it, she did so love the little birds; all the summer they had sung and twittered for her so beautifully.She stooped down and stroked aside the soft feathers which covered the head, and kissed the closed eyelids. "Perhaps this was the one who sang to me so sweetly in the summer," she said;"and how much pleasure it gave me, you dear, pretty bird."
"Cold winter is coming," said the swallow, "and I am going to fly away into warmer countries. Will you go with me? You can sit on my back, and fasten yourself on with your sash. Then we can fly away from the ugly mole and his gloomy rooms, - far away, over the mountains, into warmer countries, where the sun shines more brightly than here; where it is always summer, and the flowers bloom in greater beauty. Fly now with me, dear little Thumbelina; you saved my life when I lay frozen in that dark passage.""Yes, I will go with you," said Thumbelina; and she seated herself on the bird's back, with her feet on his outstretched wings, and tied her girdle to one of his strongest feathers.Then the swallow rose in the air, and flew over forest and over sea, high above the highest mountains, covered with eternal snow.At length they reached the warm countries, where the sun shines brightly, and the sky seems so much higher above the earth.At last they came to a blue lake, and by the side of it, shaded by trees of the deepest green, stood a palace of dazzling white marble, built in the olden times.
...But how surprised she was to see in the middle of the flower, a tiny little man, as white and transparent as if he had been made of crystal! He had delicate wings at his shoulders, and was not much larger than Thumbelina herself. He was the angel of the flower; for a tiny man and a tiny woman dwell in every flower; and this was the king of them all."Oh, how beautiful he is!" whispered Tiny to the swallow.The little prince was at first quite frightened at the bird, who was like a giant, compared to such a delicate little creature as himself; but when he saw Thumbelina, he was delighted, and thought her the prettiest little maiden he had ever seen.He took the gold crown from his head, and placed it on hers, and asked her name, and if she would be his wife, and queen over all the flowers.Then there was much rejoicing, and the little swallow who sat above them, in his nest, was asked to sing a wedding song, which he did as well as he could."Farewell, farewell," said the swallow at the end, with a heavy heart as he left the warm countries to fly back into Denmark. There he had a nest over the window of a house in which dwelt the writer of fairy tales. The swallow sang, "Tweet, tweet," and from his song came the whole story.
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