Poor peasants get thumb-sized child. He lets himself be sold, escapes through cleverness from the buyers and others into whose power he comes
There was a poor farmer who sat by the stove in the evening and stoked the fire, and his wife sat and worked. Then he said, "How sad it is that we have no children! It is so quiet with us, and in the other houses it is so loud and merry." "Yes," answered the woman, sighing, "if it were only one, and even if it were very small, only the size of a thumb, I would be satisfied; we would love it with all our hearts." Now it happened that the woman became sickly and after seven months gave birth to a child, which was perfect in all its limbs but no longer than a thumb. Then they said "it is as we wished it, and it shall be our dear child", and named it after its shape Thumb Thick. They did not lack nourishment, but the child did not grow, but remained as it had been in the first hour; yet it looked intelligently out of the eyes, and soon showed itself to be a clever and nimble thing, which succeeded in everything it started.
One day the farmer was getting ready to go into the forest to cut wood, and he said to himself, "Now I want someone to bring the cart after me. "O father," cried Thumbling, "I will bring the wagon, rely on it, it shall be in the forest at the appointed time." Then the man laughed and said "how should that go, you are much too small to lead the horse with the reins." "That does nothing, father, if only the mother will harness, I will sit in the horse's ear and call out to him how he should go." "Well," replied the father, "once let us try." When the hour came, the mother hitched up and put Thumb Thick in the horse's ear, and then the little one called out how the horse should go, "yow and yow! hott and har!" Then it went quite neatly, as if it were a master, and the carriage went the right way to the forest. It happened that just as he turned a corner, and the little one shouted "har, har!" shouted that two strange men came along. "My," said one of them, "what is this? There is a wagon driving, and a wagoner is calling to the horse, and yet he is not to be seen." "This is not right," said the other, "let us follow the cart and see where it stops." But the cart drove fully into the forest and right to the place where the wood was cut. When Thumbling saw his father, he called out to him "see, father, there I am with the cart, now get me down." The father took hold of the horse with his left hand, and with his right took his little son out of his ear, who sat down quite merrily on a straw.
When the two strange men saw the Thumb Dick, they did not know what to say in amazement. Then the one took the other aside and said "listen, the little fellow could make our fortune if we let him be seen in a big city before money: we want to buy him." They went to the farmer and said "sell us the little fellow, he shall do well with us." "No," answered the father, "he is my sweetheart, and is not for sale to me for all the gold in the world." But Thumbling, hearing of the bargain, had crawled up the folds of his father's skirt, stood on his shoulder, and whispered in his ear, "Father, only give me away, I will come back again." Then the father gave him to the two men for a nice piece of money. "Where do you want to sit?" they said to him. "Oh, just put me on the edge of your hat, so I can walk up and down and look at the surroundings, and I won't fall off." They did as he wished, and when Thumbling had taken leave of his father, they departed with him. So they walked until it was dusk, when the little one said, "Lift me down once, it is necessary." "Just stay up there," said the man on whose head he was sitting, "I don't want to make a fuss, the birds sometimes drop something on me, too." "No," said Thumbling, "I also know what's right: just lift me down quickly." The man took off his hat, and set the little one down in a field by the road, where he jumped and crawled a little to and fro among the clods, then suddenly slipped into a mouse-hole he had chosen. "Good evening, gentlemen, just go home without me," he called to them, laughing at them. They ran over and poked into the mouse hole with sticks, but it was a futile effort: Thumbling crawled back further and further, and since it was soon completely dark, they had to wander home again with trouble and with an empty bag.
When Thumbling realized that they were gone, he crawled out of the underground passage again. "It is so dangerous to walk in the field in the darkness," he said, "how easily one breaks neck and leg!" Fortunately, he came upon an empty snail shell. "Thank God," he said, "I can spend the night there safely," and sat down in it. Not long after he was about to fall asleep, he heard two men pass by, one of whom said, "How are we going to get the rich priest his money and silver?" "I could tell you that," shouted Thumbling between them. "What was that?" spoke the one thief, startled, "I heard someone talking." They stopped and listened, then Thumbling spoke again "take me with you, so I will help you." "Where are you?" "Just search the earth and notice where the voice comes from," he replied. Then at last the thieves found him and lifted him up. "Thou little wretch, what wilt thou help us!" they said. "Look," he answered, "I will crawl between the iron bars into the priest's chamber and hand you out what you want." "Well," they said, "we will see what you can do." When they arrived at the priest's house, Thumbling crawled into the chamber, but immediately shouted at the top of his lungs "do you want everything that is here?" The thieves were frightened and said "speak softly so that no one wakes up." But Thumbling pretended not to understand them and shouted again, "What do you want? Do you want everything that is here?" The cook, who was asleep in the parlor, heard this and sat up in bed and listened. The thieves, however, had run back a little way in fright; at last they regained their courage and thought, "The little fellow wants to tease us." They came back and whispered to him, "Now get serious and hand us something." Then Thumbling shouted again as loud as he could "I want to give you everything, just reach in."
The listening maid heard this very clearly, jumped out of bed and stumbled in the door. The thieves ran away as if the wild hunter were behind them, but the maid, not noticing anything, went to light a lamp. As she came in with it, Thumbling, without being seen, made his way out into the barn: but the maid, after searching all the corners and finding nothing, at last lay down in bed again, and thought she had only dreamed with her eyes and ears open.
Thumbling had climbed around in the haystacks and had found a nice place to sleep: there he wanted to rest until daylight and then go home to his parents. But he had to experience other things! Yes, there is much gloom and misery in the world! When the day dawned, the maid already got out of bed to feed the cattle. Her first course was to the barn, where she grabbed an armful of hay, and just the one in which poor Thumbling lay and slept. But he slept so soundly that he was not aware of anything, and did not wake up until he was in the mouth of the cow that had picked him up with the hay. "Oh God," he cried, "how I got into the fulling mill!" but soon realized where he was. He had to be careful not to get caught between the teeth and crushed, and then he had to slide down into the stomach. "In the little room the windows are forgotten," he said, "and no sun shines in: no light is brought either." In general, he did not like the quarters, and what was worst of all, more and more new hay was coming in at the door, and the space was getting narrower and narrower. So he finally cried out in fear, as loud as he could, "don't bring me any more fresh fodder, don't bring me any more fresh fodder." The maid was milking the cow, and when she heard speaking without seeing anyone, and it was the same voice she had heard in the night, she was so frightened that she slipped down from her little chair and spilled the milk. She ran to her master in the greatest haste, exclaiming "oh God, Father, the cow has talked." "You're crazy," replied the priest, but went himself into the barn to see what was there. But no sooner had he set foot in it than Thumbling cried out anew: "Don't bring me any more fresh fodder, don't bring me any more fresh fodder." Then the priest himself was frightened, thought that an evil spirit had entered the cow and ordered it to be killed. The cow was slaughtered, but the stomach, in which Thumbling was stuck, was thrown on the manure. Thumbling had a lot of trouble working his way through it and had a lot of trouble with it, but he managed to get enough room, but just as he was about to stick his head out, a new misfortune came. A hungry wolf ran up and devoured the whole stomach in one gulp. Thumbling did not lose heart, "maybe," he thought, "the wolf will talk to him," and called out to him from the vantage point, "dear wolf, I know a wonderful meal for you. "Where to get it?" said the wolf. "In such and such a house, there you must crawl in through the gutter, and you will find cake, bacon and sausage, as much as you want to eat," and described to him exactly his father's house. The wolf didn't need to be told twice, pushed his way into the gutter during the night and ate to his heart's content in the pantry. When he had satiated himself, he wanted to leave again, but he had become so fat that he could not go out the same way again. Thumbling had counted on this and now began to make a tremendous noise in the wolf's womb, raving and shouting what he could. "Will you be quiet," said the wolf, "you will wake the people." "Well," answered the little one, "you've eaten your fill, I want to make fun of you too," and he began to scream again with all his might. Finally his father and mother woke up, ran to the chamber and looked in through the crack.
When they saw that a wolf was living in it, they ran away, and the man fetched the axe, and the woman the scythe. "Stay back there," said the man, as they entered the chamber, "if I have given him a blow, and he is not dead yet from it, you must strike at him, and cut his body." Then Thumbling heard his father's voice and called out, "Dear father, I am here, I am in the wolf's body." The father said with joy, "Thank God, our dear child has found himself again," and told the woman to put away the scythe so that Thumbling would not be damaged. Then he lashed out and struck the wolf on the head so that he fell down dead, then they looked for a knife and scissors, cut open his body and pulled the little one out again. "Alas," said the father, "what sorrow have we endured for thee!" "Yes, father, I have been about the world a great deal; thank goodness I am getting fresh air again!" "Where have you been?" "Ah, father, I have been in a mouse hole, in a cow's belly, and in a wolf's belly: now I stay with you." "And we will not sell you again for all the riches in the world," said the parents, hugging and kissing their dear Thumbling. They gave him food and drink, and had new clothes made for him, for his own had been spoiled on the journey.