The Dragon Fly 🐸

Written by Mrs. Alfred Gatty


“I wonder what becomes of the Frog when he climbs up out of this world, and disappears so that we do not see even his shadow; till, plop! he is among us again. Does anybody know where he goes to?”
Thus chattered the grub of a Dragonfly as he darted about with his companions in and out among the plants at the bottom of a beautiful pond in the centre of a wood.
“Who cares what the Frog does?” answered one who overheard the Grub’s question, “what is it to us?”
“Look out for food for yourself and let the other people’s business alone,” cried another. “But I would like to know,” said the grub. “I can see all of you when you pass by me among the plants in the water here, and when I don’t see you any longer I wonder where you have gone. I followed the Frog just now as he went upwards, and all at once he went to the side of the water, then he began to disappear and presently he was gone. Did he leave this world? And where did he go?”
“You silly fellow,” cried another. “See what a good bite you have missed with your wonderings about nothing.” So saying he seized an insect which was flitting right in front of the Grub.

Suddenly there was a heavy splash in the water and a large yellow Frog swam down to the bottom among the grubs.
“Ask the Frog himself,” suggested a minnow as he darted by overhead.
Such a chance of satisfying himself was not to be lost, and after taking two or three turns round the roots of a water-lily, the grub gathered up his courage and, approaching the Frog, asked, “Is it permitted to a very unhappy creature to speak?”
The Frog turned his gold edged eyes upon him in surprise and answered, “Very unhappy creatures had better be silent. I never talk but when I’m happy.”
“But I shall be happy if I may talk,” said the Grub.
“Talk away then,” said the Frog.
“But it is something I want to ask you.”
“Ask away,” exclaimed the Frog.
“What is there beyond the world?” inquired the Grub in a very quiet way.
“What world do you mean—this pond?” asked the Frog, rolling his goggle eyes round and round.
“I mean the place we live in whatever way you may choose to call it. I call it the world,” said the Grub.

“Do you, sharp little fellow? Then what is the place you don’t live in?”
“That’s just what I want you to tell me,” replied the little Grub.
“Oh, indeed, little one. I shall tell you, then. It is dry land.”
“Can one swim about there?” inquired the Grub.
“I should think not,” chuckled the Frog.
“Dry land is not water. That is just what it is not. Dry land is something like the sludge at the bottom of this pond, only it is not wet because there’s no water.”
“Really! What is there then?”
“That’s the difficulty,” exclaimed Froggy.
“There is something, of course, they call it air, but how to explain it I don’t know. Now just take my advice and ask no more silly questions. I tell you the thing is not worth your troubling yourself about. But I admire your spirit,” continued the Frog. “I will make you an offer. If you choose to take a seat on my back I will carry you up to dry land and you can judge for yourself what is there and how you like it.”
“I accept with gratitude, honoured Frog,” said the little Grub.
“Drop yourself down on my back, then, and cling to me as well as you can. Come now, hold fast.”

The little Grub obeyed and the Frog, swimming gently upwards, soon reached the bulrushes by the water’s side.
“Hold fast,” repeated the Frog, and then, raising his head out of the pond, he clambered up the bank and got upon the grass.
“Now, then, here we are,” exclaimed the Frog. “What do you think of dry land?”
But no one answered.
“Hello! Gone? That’s just what I was afraid of. He has floated off my back, silly fellow. But perhaps he has made his way to the water’s edge here after all, and then I can help him out. I’ll wait about and see.”
And away went Froggy with a leap along the grass by the edge of the pond glancing every now and then among the bulrushes to see if he could spy his little friend, the dragonfly grub.

But what had become of the little grub? He had really clung to the Frog’s back with all his might; but the moment the mask of his face began to issue from the water, a shock seemed to strike his frame and he reeled from his resting place back into the pond panting and struggling for life.
“Terrible,” he cried as soon as he came to himself. “The Frog has deceived me. He cannot go there, at any rate.” And with these words, the little Grub moved away to his old companions to talk over with them what he had done and where he had been.
“It was terrible, terrible. But the sun is beginning to set and I must take a turn around the pond in search for food.” And away went the little dragon fly grub for a ramble among the water plants.

On his return who should he see sitting calmly on a stone at the bottom of the pond but his friend the yellow Frog.
“You here!” cried the startled Grub. “You never left this world at all then. How you deceived me, Frog!”
“Clumsy fellow,” replied the Frog. “Why did you not sit fast as I told you?”
The little Grub soon told his story while the Frog sat staring at him in silence out of his great goggley eyes.
“And now,” said the Grub, “since there is nothing beyond this world, all your stories of going there must be mere inventions. As I have no wish to be fooled by any more of your tales, I will bid you a very good evening.”
“You’ll do no such thing,” said the Frog, “until you have heard my story.”
“As you wish,” answered the Grub.

Then the Frog told him how he had lingered by the edge of the pond in hope of seeing the little Grub again, how he had hopped about in the grass, how he had peeked among the bulrushes.
“And at last,” he continued, “though I did not see you yourself, I saw a sight which has more interest for you than for any other creature that lives,” and then the Frog stopped speaking.
“What was it?” asked the inquisitive little Grub.
“Up the polished green stalk of one of those bulrushes I saw a little dragon-fly grub slowly and gradually climb till he had left the water behind him. As I continued to look, I noticed that a small hole seemed to come in your friend’s body. I cannot tell you in what way the thing happened, but after many struggles, there came from it one of those beautiful creatures who float through the air and dazzle the eyes of all who catch glimpses of them as they pass—a glorious Dragon-fly!
“As if just waking from a dream he lifted his wings out of the covering. Though shrivelled and damp at first they stretched and expanded in the sunshine till they glistened as if with fire. I saw the beautiful creature at last hold himself for a second or two in the air before he took flight. I saw the four gauzy wings flash back the sunshine that was poured on them. I heard the clash with which they struck the air and I saw his body give out rays of glittering blue and green as he darted along and away over the water in circles that seemed to know no end. Then I plunged below to find you out and tell you the good news.”

“It’s a wonderful story,” said the little Grub.
“A wonderful story, indeed,” repeated the Frog.
“And you really think, then, that the glorious creature you saw was once a—”
“Silence,” cried the Frog. “All your questions have been answered. It is getting dark here in your world. I must return to my grassy home on dry land. Go to rest, little fellow, and awake in hopes.”
The Frog swam close to the bank and clambered up its side while the little Grub returned to his companions to wait and hope.

Rapunzul 👸🏻

Written by The Brothers Grimm


There were once a man and a woman who had long in vain wished for a child. At length the woman hoped that her wish was about to come true. These people had a little window at the back of their house from which a splendid garden could be seen, which was full of the most beautiful flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to go into it because it belonged to an enchantress, who had great power and was dreaded by all the world.

One day the woman was standing by this window and looking down into the garden, when she saw a bed which was planted with the most beautiful rampion, and it looked so fresh and green that she longed for it, she quite pined away, and began to look pale and miserable. Then her husband was alarmed, and asked: ‘What’s wrong, dear wife?’ ‘Ah,’ she replied, ‘if I can’t eat some of the rampion, which is in the garden behind our house, I shall never eat anything again.’ The man, who loved her, thought: ‘Sooner than let your wife fade away, bring her some of the rampion yourself, let it cost what it will.’

At twilight, he clambered down over the wall into the garden of the enchantress, quickly clutched a handful of rampion, and took it to his wife. She at once made herself a salad of it, and ate it greedily. It tasted so good to her—so very good, that the next day she longed for it three times as much as before. If he was to have any rest, her husband must once more descend into the garden.

In the gloom of evening therefore, he let himself down again; but when he had clambered down the wall he was terribly afraid, for he saw the enchantress standing before him. ‘How can you dare,’ said she with an angry look, ‘descend into my garden and steal my rampion like a thief? You shall suffer for it!’ ‘Ah,’ he answered, ‘let mercy take the place of justice, I only made up my mind to do it out of necessity. My wife saw your rampion from the window, and felt such a longing for it that she would have faded away if she had not got some to eat.’
Then the enchantress allowed her anger to be softened, and said to him: ‘If the case be as you say, I will allow you to take away with you as much rampion as you will, only I make one condition, you must give me the child which your wife will bring into the world; it shall be well treated, and I will care for it like a mother.’

The man in his fear consented to everything, and when the woman was brought to bed and ready to have her child, the enchantress appeared at once, gave the child the name of Rapunzel, and took it away with her.

Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful child under the sun. When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her up into a tower, which lay in a forest, and had neither stairs nor door, but quite near the top was a little window. When the enchantress wanted to go in, she placed herself beneath it and cried:
‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair to me.’

Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when she heard the voice of the enchantress she unfastened her braided tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window above, and then the hair fell twenty stories down, and the enchantress climbed up by it.

After a year or two, it came to pass that the king’s son rode through the forest and passed by the tower. Then he heard a song, which was so charming that he stood still and listened. This was Rapunzel, who in her solitude passed her time in letting her sweet voice resound. The king’s son wanted to climb up to her, and looked for the door of the tower, but none was to be found. He rode home, but the singing had so deeply touched his heart, that every day he went out into the forest and listened to it.

Once when he was standing behind a tree, he saw that an enchantress came there, and he heard how she cried:
‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair to me.’

Then Rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the enchantress climbed up to her. ‘If that is the ladder by which one mounts, I too will try my fortune,’ he said, and the next day when it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried:
‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair to me.’

Immediately the hair fell down and the king’s son climbed up.

At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man, such as her eyes had never yet seen, came to her; but the king’s son began to talk to her quite like a friend, and told her that his heart had been so stirred that it had let him have no rest, and he had been forced to see her. Then Rapunzel lost her fear, and after some time when he asked her if she would take him for her husband, and she saw that he was young and handsome, she thought: ‘He will love me more than old Dame Gothel does’; and so she said yes, and laid her hand in his. She said: ‘I will willingly go away with you, but I do not know how to get down. Bring with you a skein of silk every time that you come, and I will weave a ladder with it, and when that is ready I will descend, and you will take me with you on your horse.’

They agreed that until that time he should come and visit every evening, for the old woman came by day. The enchantress remarked nothing of this, until once Rapunzel said to her: ‘Tell me, Dame Gothel, how it happens that you are so much heavier for me to draw up than the young king’s son—it takes me no time at all to pull him up.’ ‘Ah! you wicked child,’ cried the enchantress. ‘What do I hear you say! I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have deceived me!’

In her anger she clutched Rapunzel’s beautiful tresses, wrapped them twice round her left hand, seized a pair of scissors with the right, and snip, snap, they were cut off, and the lovely braids lay on the ground. And as she was so cruel, she took poor Rapunzel into a desert where she had to live in great grief and misery.

On the same day that she cast out Rapunzel, however, the enchantress fastened the braids of hair, which she had cut off, to the hook of the window, and when the king’s son came and cried:
‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair to me.’

she let the hair down. The king’s son climbed up, but instead of finding his dearest Rapunzel, he found the enchantress, who gazed at him with wicked and dangerous looks. ‘Aha!’ she cried mockingly, ‘you would fetch your dearest, but the beautiful bird sits no longer singing in the nest; the cat has got it, and will scratch at you. Rapunzel is lost to you; you will never see her again.’

The king’s son was beside himself with pain, and in his sadness and need to get away he leapt down from the tower. He escaped the enchantress, but the thorns into which he fell had scratched his eyes. He then wandered quite blind about the forest, ate nothing but roots and berries, and did nothing but sob and weep over the loss of his dearest Rapunzel.

Thus he roamed about in misery for some years, and at length came to the desert where Rapunzel, with the twins she had had, a boy and a girl, lived in sorrow and unhappiness. He heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards it, and when he approached, Rapunzel knew him and fell on his neck and wept. Two of her tears wetted his eyes and they grew clear again, and he could see with them as before. He led her to his kingdom where they were joyfully received, and they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and content.

Bonus: The Pink and Blue Eggs 🥚

Written By Abbie Phillips Walker


“I tell you I saw them with my own eyes,” said old White Hen, standing on one foot with her neck outstretched and her bill wide open. “One was pink and the other was blue. They were just like any other egg as far as size, but the color–think of it–pink and blue eggs. Whoever could have laid them?” Old White Hen looked from one to the other of the group of hens and chickens as they stood around her.

“Well, I know that I didn’t,” said Speckled Hen.
“You needn’t look at me,” said Brown Hen. “I lay large white eggs, and you know it, every one of you. They are the best eggs in the yard, if I do say it.”

“Oh, I would not say that,” said White Hen. “You seem to forget that the largest egg ever seen in this yard was laid by me, and it was a little on the brown color; white eggs are all well enough, but give me a brown tone for quality.”

“You never laid such a large egg as that but once,” replied Brown Hen, “and everybody thought it was a freak egg, so the least said about it the better, it seems to me.”

“It is plain to understand how you feel about that egg,” said White Hen, “but it does not help us to find out who laid the blue and pink eggs.”
“Where did you see them?” asked Speckled Hen.

“On the table, by the window of the farm-house,” said old White Hen. “I flew up on a barrel that stood under the window, and then I stretched my neck and looked in the window, and there on the table, in a little basket, I saw those strange-looking eggs.”

“Perhaps the master had bought them for some one of us to sit on and hatch out,” said Brown Hen.
“Well, I, for one, refuse to do it,” said White Hen. “I think it would be an insult to put those gaudy things into our nests.”

“I am sure I will not hatch them,” said Speckled Hen. “I would look funny hiking around here with a blue chick and a pink chick beside me, and I, a speckled hen. No! I will not mother fancy-colored chicks; the master can find another hen to do that.”

“You do not think for a minute that I would do such a thing, I hope,” said Brown Hen. “I only mentioned the fact that the master might have such an idea, but as for mixing up colors, I guess not. My little yellow darlings shall not be disgraced by a blue and pink chick running with them.”

“Perhaps White Hen is color-blind,” said Speckled Hen. “The eggs she saw may be white, after all.”
“If you doubt my word or my sight, go and look for yourselves,” said White Hen, holding her head high. “You will find a blue and a pink egg, just as I told you.”

Off ran Speckled Hen and Brown Hen, followed by many others, and all the chicks in the yard.
One after another they flew to the top of the barrel and looked in the window at the eggs White Hen had told them of. It was all too true; the eggs were blue and pink.
“Peep, peep, peep, peep, we want to see the blue and pink eggs, too,” cried the chickens. “We never saw any and we want to look at them.”

“Oh dear! why do I talk before them?” said Brown Hen. “They will not be quiet unless they see, and how in the world shall I get them up to that window?”
“Did it ever occur to you not to give them everything they cry for?” said White Hen. “Say ‘No’ once in a while; it will save you a lot of trouble.”

“I cannot bear to deny the little darlings anything,” said Brown Hen, clucking her little brood and trying to quiet them.
“Well, you better begin now, for this is one of the things you will not be able to do.” said White Hen, strutting over to the dog-house to tell the story of the blue and pink eggs to Towser the dog.

“Wouldn’t it be just too awful if the master puts those eggs in one of our nests?” asked White Hen, when she had finished her story.
“Oh–oh!” laughed Towser, “that is a good joke on you; don’t know your own eggs when you see them.”

“Don’t tell me I laid those fancy-colored eggs,” said White Hen, looking around to see if any of her companions were within hearing distance. “I know I never did.”
“But you did,” said Towser, laughing again. “I heard the master say to my little girl, ‘If you want eggs to color for Easter take the ones that White Hen laid; they are not so large as the others, and I cannot sell them so well.'”

“Towser, if you will never mention what you have just told me I will tell you where I saw a great big bone this morning,” said White Hen. “I was saving it for myself. I like to pick at one once in a while, but you shall have it if you promise to keep secret what you just told me.”

Towser promised, and White Hen showed where it was hidden.
A few days after Brown Hen said: “I wonder when master is going to bring out those fancy eggs. If he leaves them in the house much longer no one will be able to hatch them.”

“Oh! I forgot to tell you that those eggs were not real eggs, after all,” said White Hen, “but only Easter eggs for the little girl to play with, so we had all our worry for nothing. Towser told me, but don’t say a word to him, for I did not let on that we were worried and didn’t know they were only make-believe eggs; he thinks he is so wise, you know, it would never do to let him know how we were fooled.”

Tom Thumb 🤏

Written by The Brothers Grimm


A poor woodman sat in his cottage one night, smoking his pipe by the fireside, while his wife sat by his side spinning. ‘How lonely it is, wife,’ he said, as he puffed out a long curl of smoke, ‘for you and me to sit here by ourselves, without any children to play about and amuse us while other people seem so happy and merry with their children!’

‘What you say is very true,’ said the wife, sighing, and turning round her wheel; ‘how happy should I be if I had but one child! If it were ever so small—nay, if it were no bigger than my thumb—I should be very happy, and love it dearly.’ Now—odd as you may think it—it came to pass that this good woman’s wish was fulfilled, just in the very way she had wished it; for, not long afterwards, she had a little boy, who was quite healthy and strong, but was not much bigger than my thumb. So they said, ‘Well, we cannot say we have not got what we wished for, and, little as he is, we will love him dearly.’ And they called him Thomas Thumb.

They gave him plenty of food, yet for all they could do he never grew bigger, but kept just the same size as he had been when he was born. Still, his eyes were sharp and sparkling, and he soon showed himself to be a clever little fellow, who always knew well what he was about.

One day, as the woodman was getting ready to go into the wood to cut fuel, he said, ‘I wish I had someone to bring the cart after me, for I want to make haste.’ ‘Oh, father,’ cried Tom, ‘I will take care of that; the cart shall be in the wood by the time you want it.’ Then the woodman laughed, and said, ‘How can that be? you cannot reach up to the horse’s bridle.’ ‘Never mind that, father,’ said Tom; ‘if mother will only harness the horse, I will get into his ear and tell him which way to go.’ ‘Well,’ said the father, ‘we will try for once.’

When the time came the mother harnessed the horse to the cart, and put Tom into his ear; and as he sat there the little boy told the horse how to go, crying out, ‘Go on!’ and ‘Stop!’ as he wanted: and thus the horse went on just as well as if the woodman had driven it himself into the wood.

It happened that as the horse was going a little too fast, and Tom was calling out, ‘Gently! gently!’ two strangers came up. ‘What an odd thing that is!’ said one: ‘there is a cart going along, and I hear someone talking to the horse, but yet I can see no one.’ ‘That is strange, indeed,’ said the other; ‘let us follow the cart, and see where it goes.’ So they went on into the wood, till at last they came to the place where the woodman was. Then Tom Thumb, seeing his father, cried out, ‘See, father, here I am with the cart, all right and safe! now take me down please!’ So his father took hold of the horse with one hand, and with the other took his son out of the horse’s ear, and put him down upon a straw, where he sat as merry as you please.

The two strangers were all this time looking on, and did not know what to say for wonder. At last one took the other aside, and said, ‘That little boy will make our fortune, if we can get him, and carry him about from town to town as a show; we must buy him.’ So they went up to the woodman, and asked him what he would take for the little boy. ‘He will be better off,’ said they, ‘with us than with you.’ ‘I won’t sell him at all,’ said the father; ‘my own flesh and blood is dearer to me than all the silver and gold in the world.’ But Tom, hearing of the bargain they wanted to make, crept up his father’s coat to his shoulder and whispered in his ear, ‘Take the money, father, and let them have me; I’ll soon come back to you.’

So the woodman at last said he would sell Tom to the strangers for a large piece of gold, and they paid the price. ‘Where would you like to sit?’ said one of them. ‘Oh, put me on the rim of your hat; that will be a nice gallery for me; I can walk about there and see the country as we go along.’ So they did as he wished; and when Tom had taken leave of his father they took him away with them.
They journeyed on till it began to get dusky, and then the little man said, ‘Let me get down, I’m tired.’ So the man took off his hat, and put him down on a clod of earth, in a ploughed field by the side of the road. But Tom ran about amongst the furrows, and at last slipped into an old mouse-hole. ‘Good night, my masters!’ he said, ‘I’m off! mind and look sharp after me the next time.’ Then they ran at once to the place, and poked the end of their sticks into the mouse-hole, but all in vain; Tom only crawled farther and farther in; and at last it became quite dark, so that they were forced to go their way without their prize, as sulky as could be.

When Tom found they were gone, he came out of his hiding-place. ‘What dangerous walking it is,’ he said, ‘in this ploughed field! If I were to fall from one of these great clods, I could break a bone.’ At last, by good luck, he found a large empty snail-shell. ‘This is lucky,’ he said, ‘I can sleep here very well’; and in he crept.

Just as he was falling asleep, he heard two men passing by, chatting together; and one said to the other, ‘How can we rob that rich person’s house of his silver and gold?’ ‘I’ll tell you!’ cried Tom. ‘What noise was that?’ said the thief, frightened; ‘I’m sure I heard someone speak.’ They stood still listening, and Tom said, ‘Take me with you, and I’ll show you how to get the person’s money.’ ‘But where are you?’ they said. ‘Look about on the ground,’ answered him, ‘and listen where the sound comes from.’ At last the thieves found him out, and lifted him up in their hands. ‘You little urchin!’ they said, ‘what can you do for us?’ ‘Why, I can get between the iron window-bars of the person’s house, and throw you out whatever you want.’ ‘Hmmm! That’s a good thought,’ said the thieves; ‘come along, we shall see what you can do.’

When they came to the person’s house, Tom slipped through the window-bars into the room, and then called out as loud as he could yell, ‘Will you have all that is here?’ At this the thieves were frightened, and said, ‘Softly, softly! Speak low, that you may not awaken anybody.’ But Tom seemed as if he did not understand them, and yelled out again, ‘How much will you have? Shall I throw it all out?’ Now the cook lay in the next room; and hearing a noise she raised herself up in her bed and listened.

Meantime the thieves were frightened, and ran off a little way; but at last they plucked up their courage, and said, ‘The little urchin is trying to make fools of us.’ So they came back and whispered softly to him, saying, ‘Now let us have no more of your roguish jokes; but throw us out some of the money.’ Then Tom called out as loud as he could, ‘Very well! hold your hands! here it comes.’

The cook heard this quite plain, so she sprang out of bed, and ran to open the door. The thieves ran off as if a wolf was at their tails: and the maid, having groped about and found nothing, went away for a light. By the time she came back, Tom had slipped off into the barn; and when she had looked about and searched every hole and corner, and found nobody, she went to bed, thinking she must have been dreaming with her eyes open.

The little man crawled about in the hay-loft, and at last found a snug place to finish his night’s rest in; so he laid himself down, meaning to sleep till daylight, and then find his way home to his father and mother. But alas! how woefully he was undone! what crosses and sorrows happen to us all in this world!

The cook got up early, before daybreak, to feed the cows; and going straight to the hay-loft, carried away a large bundle of hay, with the little man in the middle of it, fast asleep. He still, however, slept on, and did not awake till he found himself in the mouth of the cow; for the cook had put the hay into the cow’s trough, and the cow had taken Tom up in a mouthful of it. ‘Good lack-a-day!’ he said, ‘how came I to tumble into the mill?’ But he soon found out where he really was; and was forced to have all his wits about him, that he might not get between the cow’s teeth.
At last down he went into her stomach. ‘It is rather dark,’ he said; ‘they forgot to build windows in this room to let the sun in; a candle would be no bad thing.’

Though he made the best of his bad luck, he did not like his quarters at all; and the worst of it was, that more and more hay was always coming down, and the space left for him became smaller and smaller. At last he cried out as loud as he could, ‘Don’t bring me any more hay! Don’t bring me any more hay!’

The maid happened to be just then milking the cow; and hearing someone speak, but seeing nobody, and yet being quite sure it was the same voice that she had heard in the night, she was so frightened that she fell off her stool, and tipped over the milk-pail. As soon as she could pick herself up out of the dirt, she ran off as fast as she could to her master, the person who owned the house, and said, ‘Sir, sir, the cow is talking!’ But the man said, ‘Woman, you are surely mad!’ However, he went with her into the cow-house, to try and see what was the matter.

Scarcely had they set foot on the threshold, when Tom called out, ‘Don’t bring me any more hay!’ Then the man himself was frightened; and thinking the cow was surely bewitched, told his man to get rid of the cow on the spot. So the cow was gotten rid of, but Tom had crawled up onto the hay and out of the cow’s mouth and fell into the dunghill as they led the cow away.

Tom soon set himself to work to get out, which was not a very easy task; but at last, just as he had made room to get his head out, when more bad luck found him. A hungry wolf sprang out, swallowed him whole, and ran away.

Tom, however, was still not disheartened; and thinking the wolf would not dislike having someone chat with him as he was going along, he called out, ‘My good friend, I can show you a famous treat.’ ‘Where’s that?’ said the wolf. ‘In such and such a house,’ said Tom, describing his own father’s house. ‘You can crawl through the drain into the kitchen and then into the pantry, and there you will find cakes, ham, beef, cold chicken, roast pig, apple-dumplings, and everything that your heart can wish.’

The wolf did not want to be asked twice; so that very night he went to the house and crawled through the drain into the kitchen, and then into the pantry, and ate and drank there to his heart’s content. As soon as he had had enough he wanted to get away; but he had eaten so much that he could not go out by the same way he came in.

That was just what Tom had hoped would happen; and now he began to set up a great shout, making all the noise he could. ‘Will you be easy?’ said the wolf; ‘you’ll awaken everybody in the house if you make such a clatter.’ ‘What’s that to me?’ said the little man; ‘you have had your frolic, now I’ve a mind to be merry myself’; and he began, singing and shouting as loud as he could.

The woodman and his wife, being awakened by the noise, peeped through a crack in the door; but when they saw a wolf was there, you may well suppose that they were sadly frightened; and the woodman ran for his axe. ‘Do stay behind,’ said the woodman, ‘and when I have knocked him on the head you tie him up.’

Tom heard all this, and cried out, ‘Father, father! I am here, the wolf has swallowed me.’ And his father said, ‘Heaven be praised! we have found our dear child again’; and he told his wife to be careful so she did not hurt him. Then he struck the wolf on the head, they quickly tied him up, and set Tommy free.

‘Ah!’ said the father, ‘what fears we have had for you!’ ‘Yes, father,’ answered Tom; ‘I have travelled all over the world, I think, in one way or another, since we parted; and now I am very glad to come home and get fresh air again.’ ‘Why, where have you been?’ said his father. ‘I have been in a mouse-hole—and in a snail-shell—and down a cow’s throat—and in the wolf’s belly; and yet here I am again, safe and sound.’

‘Well,’ said they, ‘you are come back, and we will not sell you again for all the riches in the world.’

Then they hugged and kissed their dear little son, and gave him plenty to eat and drink, for he was very hungry; and then they fetched new clothes for him, for his old ones had been quite spoiled on his journey. So Master Thumb stayed at home with his father and mother, in peace; for though he had been so great a traveller, and had done and seen so many fine things, and was fond enough of telling the whole story, he always agreed that, after all, there’s no place like HOME!

The Fisherman and His Wife 🎣

Written by The Brothers Grimm


There was once a fisherman who lived with his wife in a pigsty, close by the seaside. The fisherman used to go out all day long a-fishing; and one day, as he sat on the shore with his rod, looking at the sparkling waves and watching his line, all of a sudden his float was dragged away deep into the water: and in drawing it up he pulled out a great fish. But the fish said, ‘Pray let me live! I am not a real fish; I am an enchanted prince: put me in the water again, and let me go!’

‘Oh, ho!’ said the man, ‘you need not make so many words about the matter; I will have nothing to do with a fish that can talk: so swim away, sir, as soon as you please!’

Then he put him back into the water, and the fish darted straight down to the bottom, leaving a long white streak behind him on the wave.

When the fisherman went home to his wife in the pigsty, he told her how he had caught a great fish, and how it had told him it was an enchanted prince, and how, on hearing it speak, he had let it go again.

‘Did you not ask it for anything?’ said the wife, ‘we live very wretchedly here, in this nasty dirty pigsty; go back and tell the fish we want a snug little cottage.’

The fisherman did not much like the business: however, he went to the seashore; and when he came back there the water looked all yellow and green. And he stood at the water’s edge, and said:

‘O man of the sea!
Hearken to me!
My wife Ilsabill
Will have her own will,
And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

Then the fish came swimming to him, and said, ‘Well, what is her will? What does your wife want?’

‘Ah!’ said the fisherman, ‘she says that when I had caught you, I ought to have asked you for something before I let you go; she does not like living any longer in the pigsty, and wants a snug little cottage.’

‘Go home, then,’ said the fish; ‘she is in the cottage already!’ So the man went home, and saw his wife standing at the door of a nice trim little cottage. ‘Come in, come in!’ she said; ‘isn’t this much better than the filthy pigsty we had?’ And there was a parlour, and a bedchamber, and a kitchen; and behind the cottage there was a little garden, planted with all sorts of flowers and fruits; and there was a courtyard behind, full of ducks and chickens.

‘Ah!’ said the fisherman, ‘how happily we shall live now!’ ‘We will try to do so, at least,’ said his wife.

Everything went right for a week or two, and then Ilsabill said, ‘Husband, there is not near room enough for us in this cottage; the courtyard and the garden are a great deal too small; I should like to have a large stone castle to live in: go to the fish again and tell him to give us a castle.’

‘Wife,’ said the fisherman, ‘I don’t like to go to him again, for perhaps he will be angry; we ought to be easy with this pretty cottage to live in.’

‘Nonsense!’ said the wife; ‘he will do it very willingly, I know; go along and try!’

The fisherman went, but his heart was very heavy: and when he came to the sea, it looked blue and gloomy, though it was very calm; and he went close to the edge of the waves, and said:

‘O man of the sea!
Hearken to me!
My wife Ilsabill
Will have her own will,
And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

‘Well, what does she want now?’ said the fish. ‘Ah!’ said the man, dolefully, ‘my wife wants to live in a stone castle.’

‘Go home, then,’ said the fish; ‘she is standing at the gate of it already.’ So away went the fisherman, and found his wife standing before the gate of a great castle.

‘See,’ said she, ‘is not this grand?’ With that they went into the castle together, and found a great many servants there, and the rooms all richly furnished, and full of golden chairs and tables; and behind the castle was a garden, and around it was a park half a mile long, full of sheep, and goats, and hares, and deer; and in the courtyard were stables and cow-houses. ‘Well,’ said the man, ‘now we will live cheerful and happy in this beautiful castle for the rest of our lives.’ ‘Perhaps we may,’ said the wife; ‘but let us sleep upon it, before we make up our minds to that.’ So they went to bed.

The next morning when Ilsabill woke up it was broad daylight, and she jogged the fisherman with her elbow, and said, ‘Get up, husband, and get yourself going, for we must be king of all the land.’

‘Wife, wife,’ said the man, ‘why should we wish to be the king? I will not be king.’

‘Then I will,’ she said.

‘But, wife,’ said the fisherman, ‘how can you be king—the fish cannot make you a king?’

‘Husband,’ she said, ‘say no more about it, but go and try! I will be king.’

So the man went away quite sorrowful to think that his wife should want to be king. This time the sea looked a dark grey colour, and was overspread with curling waves and the ridges of foam as he cried out:

‘O man of the sea!
Hearken to me!
My wife Ilsabill
Will have her own will,
And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

‘Well, what would she have now?’ said the fish. ‘Alas!’ said the poor man, ‘my wife wants to be king.’

‘Go home,’ said the fish; ‘she is king already.’

Then the fisherman went home; and as he came close to the palace he saw a troop of soldiers, and heard the sound of drums and trumpets. And when he went in he saw his wife sitting on a throne of gold and diamonds, with a golden crown upon her head; and on each side of her stood six fair maidens, each a head taller than the other.

‘Well, wife,’ said the fisherman, ‘are you king?’
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I am king.’
And when he had looked at her for a long time, he said, ‘Ah, wife! what a fine thing it is to be king! Now we shall never have anything more to wish for as long as we live.’

‘I don’t know how that may be,’ she said; ‘never is a long time. I am king, it is true; but I begin to be tired of that, and I think I should like to be emperor.’
‘Alas, wife! why should you wish to be emperor?’ said the fisherman.
‘Husband,’ she said, ‘go to the fish! I say I will be emperor.’ ‘Ah, wife!’ replied the fisherman, ‘the fish cannot make an emperor, I am sure, and I should not like to ask him for such a thing.’
‘I am king,’ said Ilsabill, ‘and you are my slave; so go at once!’

So the fisherman was forced to go; and he muttered as he went along, ‘This will come to no good, it is too much to ask; the fish will be tired at last, and then we shall be sorry for what we have done.’

He soon came to the seashore; and the water was quite black and muddy, and a mighty whirlwind blew over the waves and rolled them about, but he went as near as he could to the water’s brink, and said:

‘O man of the sea!
Hearken to me!
My wife Ilsabill
Will have her own will,
And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

‘What would she have now?’ said the fish. ‘Ah!’ said the fisherman, ‘she wants to be emperor.’
‘Go home,’ said the fish; ‘she is emperor already.’

So he went home again; and as he came near he saw his wife Ilsabill sitting on a very lofty throne made of solid gold, with a great crown on her head full two yards high; and on each side of her stood her guards and attendants in a row, each one smaller than the other, from the tallest giant down to a little dwarf no bigger than my finger. And before her stood princes, and dukes, and earls: and the fisherman went up to her and said, ‘Wife, are you emperor?’
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I am emperor.’
‘Ah!’ said the man, as he gazed upon her, ‘what a fine thing it is to be emperor!’

‘Husband,’ she said, ‘why should we stop at being emperor? I will be pope next.’
‘O wife, wife!’ he said, ‘how can you be pope? there is but one pope at a time.’
‘Husband,’ she said, ‘I will be pope this very day.’
‘But,’ replied the husband, ‘the fish cannot make you pope.’
‘What nonsense!’ she said; ‘if he can make an emperor, he can make a pope: go and try him.’

So the fisherman went. But when he came to the shore the wind was raging and the sea was tossed up and down in boiling waves, and the ships were in trouble, and rolled fearfully upon the tops of the billows.

In the middle of the heavens there was a little piece of blue sky, but towards the south all was red, as if a dreadful storm was rising. At this sight the fisherman was dreadfully frightened, and he trembled so that his knees knocked together: but still he went down near to the shore, and said:

‘O man of the sea!
Hearken to me!
My wife Ilsabill
Will have her own will,
And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

‘What does she want now?’ said the fish. ‘Ah!’ said the fisherman, ‘my wife wants to be pope.’
‘Go home,’ said the fish; ‘she is pope already.’

Then the fisherman went home, and found Ilsabill sitting on a throne that was two miles high. And she had three great crowns on her head, and around her stood all the pomp and power of the Church. And on each side of her were two rows of burning lights, of all sizes, the greatest as large as the highest and biggest tower in the world, and the least no larger than a small rushlight. ‘Wife,’ said the fisherman, as he looked at all this greatness, ‘are you pope?’
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I am pope.’
‘Well, wife,’ replied he, ‘it is a grand thing to be pope; and now you must be easy, for you can be nothing greater.’
‘I will think about that,’ said the wife.

Then they went to bed: but Ilsabill could not sleep all night for thinking about what she should be next. At last, as she was dropping asleep, morning broke, and the sun rose. ‘Ha!’ thought she, as she woke up and looked at it through the window, ‘after all I cannot prevent the sun rising.’

At this thought she was very angry, and woke her husband, and said, ‘Husband, go to the fish and tell him I must be lord of the sun and moon.’ The fisherman was half asleep, but the thought frightened him so much that he started and fell out of bed. ‘Alas, wife!’ he said, ‘cannot you be happy with being pope?’
‘No,’ she said, ‘I am very unhappy as long as the sun and moon rise without my leave. Go to the fish at once!’

Then the man went shivering with fear; and as he was going down to the shore a dreadful storm arose, so that the trees and the very rocks shook. And all the sky became black with stormy clouds, and the lightning played, and the thunder rolled; and you might have seen in the sea great black waves, swelling up like mountains with crowns of white foam upon their heads. And the fisherman crept towards the sea, and cried out, as well as he could:

‘O man of the sea!
Hearken to me!
My wife Ilsabill
Will have her own will,
And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

‘What does she want now?’ said the fish. ‘Ah!’ he said, ‘she wants to be lord of the sun and moon.’
‘WHAT? Go home,’ said the fish, ‘to your pigsty again.’ “Your wife will never be satisfied, so I will take away all I have given.”
The fisherman turned and returned to his pigsty.
And there they live to this very day.