Page:Fairy tales and other stories (Andersen, Craigie).djvu/44

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32
THUMBELINA

bed, which was to be put in the bridal chamber before she went in there herself. The old Toad bowed low before her in the water, and said,

'Here is my son; he will be j^our husband, and you will live splendidly together in the mud.'

'Croak! croak! brek-kek-kex!' was all the son could say.

Then they took the elegant little bed, and swam away with it; but Thumbelina sat all alone upon the green leaf and wept, for she did not like to live at the nasty Toad's, and have her ugly son for a husband. The little fishes swimming in the water below had both seen the Toad, and had also heard what she said; therefore they stretched forth their heads, for they wanted to see the little girl. So soon as they saw her they considered her so pretty that they felt very sorry she should have to go down to the ugly Toad. No, that must never be! They assembled together in the water around the green stalk which held the leaf on which the little maiden stood, and with their teeth they gnawed away the stalk, and so the leaf swam down the stream; and away went Thumbelina far away, where the Toad could not get at her.

Thumbelina sailed by many places, and the little birds which sat in the bushes saw her, and said, 'What a lovely little girl!' The leaf swam away with her, farther and farther; so Thumbelina travelled out of the country.

A graceful little white butterfly continued to flutter round her, and at last alighted on the leaf. Thumbelina pleased him, and she was so delighted, for now the Toad could not reach her; and it was so beautiful where she was floating along—the sun shone upon the water, it was just like shining gold. She took her girdle and bound one end of it round the butterfly, fastening the other end of the ribbon to the leaf. The leaf now glided onward much faster, and Thumbelina too, for she stood upon the leaf.

There came a big Cockchafer flying up; and he saw her, and immediately clasped his claws round her slender waist, and flew with her up into a tree. The green leaf went swimming down the brook, and the butterfly with it; for he was fastened to the leaf, and could not get away from it.

Mercy! how frightened poor little Thumbelina was when