There was once a woman who wished very much to have a little child, but she coul not obtain her wish. At last she went to a fairy, and said, "I should so very much like t have a little child; can you tell me where I can find one?

"Oh, that can be easily managed," said the fairy. "Here is a barleycorn of a different kind to those which grow in the farmer's fields, and which the chickens eat; put it into a flower-pot, and see what will happen."

"Thank you," said the woman, and she gave the fairy twelve shillings, which was the price of the barleycorn. Then she went home and planted it, and immediately there grew up a large handsome flower, something like a tulip in appearance, but with its leaves tightly closed as if it were still a bud.

"It is a beautiful flower," said the woman, and she kissed the red and golden-colored leaves, and while she did so the flower opened, and she could see that it was a real tulip. 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," or Tiny, because she was so small.

A walnut-shell, elegantly polished, served her for a cradle; her bed was formed of blue violet-leaves, with a rose-leaf for a counterpane. Here she slept at night, but during the day she amused herself on a table, where the woman had placed a plateful of water. Round this plate were wreaths of flowers with their stems in the water, and upon it floated a large tulip-leaf, which served Tiny for a boat. Here the little maiden sat and rowed herself from side to side, with two oars made of white horse-hair. It really was a very pretty sight. Tiny could, also, sing so softly and sweetly that nothing like her singing had ever before been heard.

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 Tiny lay sleeping under her rose-leaf quilt.

"What a pretty little wife this would make for my son," said the toad, and she took up the walnut-shell in which little Tiny lay asleep, and jumped through the window with it into the garden.

In the swampy margin of a broad stream in the garden lived the toad, with her son. He was uglier even than his mother, and when he saw the pretty little maiden in her elegant bed, he could only cry, "Croak, croak, croak."

"Don't speak so loud, or she will wake," said the toad, "and then she might run away, for she is as light as swan's down. We will place her on one of the water-lily leaves out in the stream; it will be like an island to her, she is so light and small, and then she cannot escape; and, while she is away, we will make haste and prepare the state-room under the marsh, in which you are to live when you are married."

Far out in the stream grew a number of water-lilies, with broad green leaves, which seemed to float on the top of the water. The largest of these leaves appeared farther off than the rest, and the old toad swam out to it with the walnut-shell, in which little Tiny lay still asleep.

The tiny little creature woke very early in the morning, and began to cry bitterly when she found where she was, for she could see nothing but water on every side of the large green leaf, and no way of reaching the land.

Meanwhile the old toad was very busy under the marsh, decking her room with rushes and wild yellow flowers, to make it look pretty for her new daughter-in-law. Then she swam out with her ugly son to the leaf on which she had placed poor little Tiny. She wanted to fetch the pretty bed, that she might put it in the bridal chamber to be ready for her. The old toad bowed low to her in the water, and said, "Here is my son, he will be your husband, and you will live happily in the marsh by the stream."

"Croak, croak, croak," was all her son could say for himself.

So the toad took up the elegant little bed, and swam away with it, leaving Tiny all alone on the green leaf, where she sat and wept. She could not bear to think of living with the old toad, and having her ugly son for a husband. The little fishes, who swam about in the water beneath, had seen the toad, and heard what she said, so they lifted their heads above the water to look at the little maiden. As soon as they caught sight of her, they saw she was very pretty, and it made them very sorry to think that she must go and live with the ugly toads. "No, it must never be!" so they assembled together in the water, round the green stalk which held the leaf on which the little maiden stood, and gnawed it away at the root with their teeth. Then the leaf floated down the stream, carrying Tiny far away out of reach of land.

Tiny sailed past many towns, and the little birds in the bushes saw her, and sang, "What a lovely little creature;" so the leaf swam away with her farther and farther, till it brought her to other lands.

A graceful little white butterfly constantly fluttered round her, and at last alighted on the leaf. Tiny pleased him, and she was glad of it, for now the toad could not possibly reach her, and the country through which she sailed was beautiful, and the sun shone upon the water, till it glittered like liquid gold. She took off her girdle and tied one end of it round the butterfly, and the other end of the ribbon she fastened to the leaf, which now glided on much faster than ever, taking little Tiny with it as she stood.

Presently a large cockchafer flew by; the moment he caught sight of her, he seized her round her delicate waist with his claws, and flew with her into a tree. The green leaf floated away on the brook, and the butterfly flew with it, for he was fastened to it, and could not get away.

Oh, how frightened little Tiny felt when the cockchafer flew with her to the tree! But especially was she sorry for the beautiful white butterfly which she had fastened to the leaf, for if he could not free himself he would die of hunger. But the cockchafer did not trouble himself at all about the matter. He seated himself by her side on a large green leaf, gave her some honey from the flowers to eat, and told her she was very pretty, though not in the least like a cockchafer. After a time, all the cockchafers turned up their feelers, and said, "She has only two legs! how ugly that looks." - "She has no feelers," said another. "Her waist is quite slim. Pooh! she is like a human being." - "Oh! she is ugly," said all the lady cockchafers, although Tiny was very pretty. Then the cockchafer who had run away with her, believed all the others when they said she was ugly, and would have nothing more to say to her, and told her she might go where she liked. Then he flew down with her from the tree, and placed her on a daisy, and she wept at the thought that she was so ugly that even the cockchafers would have nothing to say to her. And all the while she was really the loveliest creature that one could imagine, and as tender and delicate as a beautiful rose-leaf.

During the whole summer poor little Tiny lived quite alone in the wide forest. She wove herself a bed with blades of grass, and hung it up under a broad leaf, to protect herself from the rain. She sucked the honey from the flowers for food, and drank the dew from their leaves every morning. So passed away the summer and the autumn, and then came the winter,– the long, cold winter. All the birds who had sung to her so sweetly were flown away, and the trees and the flowers had withered. The large clover leaf under the shelter of which she had lived, was now rolled together and shrivelled up, nothing remained but a yellow withered stalk. She felt dreadfully cold, for her clothes were torn, and she was herself so frail and delicate, that poor little Tiny was nearly frozen to death. It began to snow too; and the snow-flakes, as they fell upon her, were like a whole shovelful falling upon one of us, for we are tall, but she was only an inch high. Then she wrapped herself up in a dry leaf, but it cracked in the middle and could not keep her warm, and she shivered with cold.

Near the wood in which she had been living lay a corn-field, but the corn had been cut a long time; nothing remained but the bare dry stubble standing up out of the frozen ground. It was to her like struggling through a large wood. Oh! how she shivered with the cold. She came at last to the door of a field-mouse, who had a little den under the corn-stubble. There dwelt the field-mouse in warmth and comfort, with a whole roomful of corn, a kitchen, and a beautiful dining room. Poor little Tiny stood before the door just like a little beggar-girl, and begged for a small piece of barley-corn, for she had been without a morsel to eat for two days.

"You poor little creature," said the field-mouse, who was really a good old field-mouse, "come into my warm room and dine with me."

She was very pleased with Tiny, so she said, "You are quite welcome to stay with me all the winter, if you like; but you must keep my rooms clean and neat, and tell me stories, for I shall like to hear them very much." And Tiny did all the field-mouse asked her, and found herself very comfortable.

"We shall have a visitor soon," said the field-mouse one day; "my neighbor pays me a visit once a week. He is better off than I am; he has large rooms, and wears a beautiful black velvet coat. If you could only have him for a husband, you would be well provided for indeed. But he is blind, so you must tell him some of your prettiest stories."

But Tiny did not feel at all interested about this neighbor, for he was a mole. However, he came and paid his visit dressed in his black velvet coat. "He is very rich and learned, and his house is twenty times larger than mine," said the field-mouse. He was rich and learned, no doubt, but he always spoke slightingly of the sun and the pretty flowers, because he had never seen them. Tiny was obliged to sing to him, "Lady-bird, lady-bird, fly away home," and many other pretty songs. And the mole fell in love with her because she had such a sweet voice; but he said nothing yet, for he was very cautious.

A short time before, the mole had dug a long passage under the earth, which led from the dwelling of the field-mouse to his own, and here she had permission to walk with Tiny whenever she liked. But he warned them not to be alarmed at the sight of a dead bird which lay in the passage. It was a perfect bird, with a beak and feathers, and could not have been dead long, and was lying just where the mole had made his passage.

The mole took a piece of phosphorescent wood in his mouth, and it glittered like fire in the dark; then he went before them to light them through the long, dark passage. When they came to the spot where lay the dead bird, the mole pushed his broad nose through the ceiling, the earth gave way, so that there was a large hole, and the daylight shone into the passage. 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 Tiny very sad to see it, she did so love the little birds; all the summer they had sung and twittered for her so beautifully. But the mole pushed it aside with his crooked legs, and said, "He will sing no more now. How miserable it must be to be born a little bird! I am thankful that none of my children will ever be birds, for they can do nothing but cry, 'Tweet, tweet,' and always die of hunger in the winter."

"Yes, you may well say that, as a clever man!" exclaimed the field-mouse, "What is the use of his twittering, for when winter comes he must either starve or be frozen to death. Still birds are very high bred."

Tiny said nothing; but when the two others had turned their backs on the bird, 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."

The mole now stopped up the hole through which the daylight shone, and then accompanied the lady home. But during the night Tiny could not sleep; so she got out of bed and wove a large, beautiful carpet of hay; then she carried it to the dead bird, and spread it over him; with some down from the flowers which she had found in the field-mouse's room. It was as soft as wool, and she spread some of it on each side of the bird, so that he might lie warmly in the cold earth.

"Farewell, you pretty little bird," said she, "farewell; thank you for your delightful singing during the summer, when all the trees were green, and the warm sun shone upon us." Then she laid her head on the bird's breast, but she was alarmed immediately, for it seemed as if something inside the bird went "thump, thump." It was the bird's heart; he was not really dead, only benumbed with the cold, and the warmth had restored him to life.

In autumn, all the swallows fly away into warm countries, but if one happens to linger, the cold seizes it, it becomes frozen, and falls down as if dead; it remains where it fell, and the cold snow covers it.

Tiny trembled very much; she was quite frightened, for the bird was large, a great deal larger than herself,– she was only an inch high. But she took courage, laid the wool more thickly over the poor swallow, and then took a leaf which she had used for her own counterpane, and laid it over the head of the poor bird.

The next morning she again stole out to see him. He was alive but very weak; he could only open his eyes for a moment to look at Tiny, who stood by holding a piece of decayed wood in her hand, for she had no other lantern.

"Thank you, pretty little maiden," said the sick swallow; "I have been so nicely warmed, that I shall soon regain my strength, and be able to fly about again in the warm sunshine."

"Oh," said she, "it is cold out of doors now; it snows and freezes. Stay in your warm bed; I will take care of you."

Then she brought the swallow some water in a flower-leaf, and after he had drank, he told her that he had wounded one of his wings in a thorn-bush, and could not fly as fast as the others, who were soon far away on their journey to warm countries. Then at last he had fallen to the earth, and could remember no more, nor how he came to be where she had found him.

The whole winter the swallow remained underground, and Tiny nursed him with care and love. Neither the mole nor the field-mouse knew anything about it, for they did not like swallows.

Very soon the spring time came, and the sun warmed the earth. Then the swallow bade farewell to Tiny, and she opened the hole in the ceiling which the mole had made. The sun shone in upon them so beautifully, that the swallow asked her if she would go with him; she could sit on his back, he said, and he would fly away with her into the green woods. But Tiny knew it would make the field-mouse very grieved if she left her in that manner, so she said, "No, I cannot."

"Farewell, then, farewell, you good, pretty little maiden," said the swallow; and he flew out into the sunshine. Tiny looked after him, and the tears rose in her eyes. She was very fond of the poor swallow.

"Tweet, tweet," sang the bird, as he flew out into the green woods, and Tiny felt very sad.

She was not allowed to go out into the warm sunshine. The corn which had been sown in the field over the house of the field-mouse had grown up high into the air, and formed a thick wood to Tiny, who was only an inch in height.

"You are going to be married, Tiny," said the field-mouse. "My neighbor has asked for you. What good fortune for a poor child like you. Now we will prepare your wedding clothes. They must be both woollen and linen. Nothing must be wanting when you are the mole's wife."

Tiny had to turn the spindle, and the field-mouse hired four spiders, who were to weave day and night. Every evening the mole visited her, and was continually speaking of the time when the summer would be over. Then he would keep his wedding-day with Tiny; but now the heat of the sun was so great that it burned the earth, and made it quite hard, like a stone. As soon, as the summer was over, the wedding should take place. But Tiny was not at all pleased; for she did not like the tiresome mole. Every morning when the sun rose, and every evening when it went down, she would creep out at the door, and as the wind blew aside the ears of corn, so that she could see the blue sky, she thought how beautiful and bright it seemed out there, and wished so much to see her dear swallow again. But he never returned; for by this time he had flown far away into the lovely green forest.

When autumn arrived, Tiny had her outfit quite ready; and the field-mouse said to her, "In four weeks the wedding must take place."

Then Tiny wept, and said she would not marry the disagreeable mole.

"Nonsense," replied the field-mouse. "Now don't be obstinate, or I shall bite you with my white teeth. He is a very handsome mole; the queen herself does not wear more beautiful velvets and furs. His kitchen and cellars are quite full. You ought to be very thankful for such good fortune."

So the wedding-day was fixed, on which the mole was to fetch Tiny away to live with him, deep under the earth, and never again to see the warm sun, because he did not like it. The poor child was very unhappy at the thought of saying farewell to the beautiful sun, and as the field-mouse had given her permission to stand at the door, she went to look at it once more.

"Farewell bright sun," she cried, stretching out her arm towards it; and then she walked a short distance from the house; for the corn had been cut, and only the dry stubble remained in the fields. "Farewell, farewell," she repeated, twining her arm round a little red flower that grew just by her side. "Greet the little swallow from me, if you should see him again."

"Tweet, tweet," sounded over her head suddenly. She looked up, and there was the swallow himself flying close by. As soon as he spied Tiny, he was delighted; and then she told him how unwilling she felt to marry the ugly mole, and to live always beneath the earth, and never to see the bright sun any more. And as she told him she wept.

"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 Tiny; you saved my life when I lay frozen in that dark passage."

"Yes, I will go with you," said Tiny; 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. Tiny would have been frozen in the cold air, but she crept under the bird's warm feathers, keeping her little head uncovered, so that she might admire the beautiful lands over which they passed.

At length they reached the warm countries, where the sun shines brightly, and the sky seems so much higher above the earth. Here, on the hedges, and by the wayside, grew purple, green, and white grapes; lemons and oranges hung from trees in the woods; and the air was fragrant with myrtles and orange blossoms. Beautiful children ran along the country lanes, playing with large gay butterflies; and as the swallow flew farther and farther, every place appeared still more lovely. 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. Vines clustered round its lofty pillars, and at the top were many swallows' nests, and one of these was the home of the swallow who carried Tiny.

"This is my house," said the swallow; "but it would not do for you to live there– you would not be comfortable. You must choose for yourself one of those lovely flowers, and I will put you down upon it, and then you shall have everything that you can wish to make you happy."

"That will be delightful," she said, and clapped her little hands for joy.

A large marble pillar lay on the ground, which, in falling, had been broken into three pieces. Between these pieces grew the most beautiful large white flowers; so the swallow flew down with Tiny, and placed her on one of the broad leaves. 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 a gold crown on his head, and delicate wings at his shoulders, and was not much larger than Tiny 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 Tiny, 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. This certainly was a very different sort of husband to the son of a toad, or the mole, with my black velvet and fur; so she said, "Yes," to the handsome prince. Then all the flowers opened, and out of each came a little lady or a tiny lord, all so pretty it was quite a pleasure to look at them. Each of them brought Tiny a present; but the best gift was a pair of beautiful wings, which had belonged to a large white fly and they fastened them to Tiny's shoulders, so that she might fly from flower to flower. 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; but in his heart he felt sad for he was very fond of Tiny, and would have liked never to part from her again.

"You must not be called Tiny any more," said the spirit of the flowers to her. "It is an ugly name, and you are so very pretty. We will call you Maia."

"Farewell, farewell," said the swallow, 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.
Der var engang en kone, som så gerne ville have sig et lille bitte barn, men hun vidste slet ikke, hvor hun skulle få et fra; så gik hun hen til en gammel heks og sagde til hende: "Jeg ville så inderlig gerne have et lille barn, vil du ikke sige mig, hvor jeg dog skal få et fra?"

"Jo, det skal vi nok komme ud af!" sagde heksen. "Dér har du et bygkorn, det er slet ikke af den slags, som gror på bondemandens mark, eller som hønsene får at spise, læg det i en urtepotte, så skal du få noget at se!"

"Tak skal du have!" sagde konen og gav heksen tolv skilling, gik så hjem, plantede bygkornet, og straks voksede der en dejlig stor blomst op, den så ganske ud, som en tulipan, men bladene lukkede sig tæt sammen, ligesom om den endnu var i knop.

"Det er en nydelig blomst!" sagde konen, og kyssede den på de smukke røde og gule blade, men lige i det hun kyssede, gav blomsten et stort knald, og åbnede sig. Det var en virkelig tulipan, kunne man nu se, men midt inde i blomsten, på den grønne stol, sad der en lille bitte pige, så fin og nydelig, hun var ikke uden en tomme lang, og derfor kaldtes hun Tommelise.

En nydelig lakeret valnødskal fik hun til vugge, blå violblade var hendes madrasser og et rosenblad hendes overdyne; der sov hun om natten, men om dagen legede hun på bordet, hvor konen havde sat en tallerken, som hun havde lagt en hel krans om med blomster, der stak deres stilke ned i vandet; her flød et stort tulipanblad, og på dette måtte Tommelise sidde og sejle fra den ene side af tallerknen til den anden; hun havde to hvide hestehår at ro med. Det så just dejligt ud. Hun kunne også synge, oh så fint og nydeligt, som man aldrig her havde hørt.

En nat, som hun lå i sin smukke seng, kom der en hæslig skrubtudse hoppende ind af vinduet; der var en rude itu. Skrubtudsen var så styg, stor og våd, den hoppede lige ned på bordet, hvor Tommelise lå og sov under det røde rosenblad.

"Det var en dejlig kone til min søn!" sagde skrubtudsen, og så tog hun fat i valnødskallen, hvor Tommelise sov, og hoppede bort med hende gennem ruden, ned i haven.

Der løb en stor, bred å; men lige ved bredden var det sumpet og mudret; her boede skrubtudsen med sin søn. Uh! han var også styg og fæl, lignede ganske sin moder: "Koaks, koaks, brekke-ke-keks!" Det var alt hvad han kunne sige, da han så den nydelige lille pige i valnødskallen.

"Snak ikke så højt, for ellers vågner hun!" sagde den gamle skrubtudse, "hun kunne endnu løbe fra os, for hun er så let, som et svanedun! Vi vil sætte hende ud i åen på et af de brede åkandeblade, det er for hende, der er så let og lille, ligesom en ø! Der kan hun ikke løbe bort, mens vi gør stadsstuen i stand nede under mudderet, hvor I skal bo og bygge!"

Ude i åen voksede der så mange åkander med de brede grønne blade, der ser ud som de flyder oven på vandet; det blad, som var længst ude, var også det allerstørste; dér svømmede den gamle skrubtudse ud og satte valnødskallen med Tommelise.

Den lillebitte stakkel vågnede ganske tidlig om morgnen, og da hun så, hvor hun var, begyndte hun så bitterligt at græde, for der var vand på alle sider af det store grønne blad, hun kunne slet ikke komme i land.

Den gamle skrubtudse sad nede i mudderet og pyntede sin stue op med siv og gule åknapper, der skulle være rigtigt net for den nye svigerdatter, svømmede så med den stygge søn ud til bladet, hvor Tommelise stod, de ville hente hendes pæne seng, den skulle sættes op i brudekamret, før hun selv kom der. Den gamle skrubtudse nejede så dybt i vandet for hende og sagde: "Her skal du se min søn, han skal være din mand, og I skal bo så dejligt nede i mudderet!"

"Koaks, koaks! Brekkekekeks!" det var alt, hvad sønnen kunne sige.

Så tog de den nydelige lille seng og svømmede bort med den, men Tommelise sad ganske alene og græd på det grønne blad, for hun ville ikke bo hos den fæle skrubtudse eller have hendes hæslige søn til sin mand. De små fisk, som svømmede nede i vandet, havde nok set skrubtudsen og hørt hvad hun sagde, derfor stak de hovederne op, de ville dog se den lille pige. Så snart de fik hende at se, fandt de hende så nydelig, og det gjorde dem så ondt, at hun skulle ned til den stygge skrubtudse. Nej, det skulle aldrig ske. De flokkede sig nede i vandet rundt om den grønne stilk, der holdt bladet, hun stod på, gnavede med tænderne stilken over, og så flød bladet ned af åen, bort med Tommelise, langt bort, hvor skrubtudsen ikke kunne komme.

Tommelise sejlede forbi så mange stæder, og de små fugle sad i buskene, så hende og sang "hvilken nydelig lille jomfru!" Bladet med hende svømmede længere og længere bort; således rejste Tommelise udenlands.

En nydelig lille hvid sommerfugl blev ved at flyve rundt omkring hende, og satte sig til sidst ned på bladet, for den kunne så godt lide Tommelise, og hun var så fornøjet, for nu kunne skrubtudsen ikke nå hende og der var så dejligt, hvor hun sejlede; solen skinnede på vandet, det var ligesom det dejligste guld. Så tog hun sit livbånd, bandt den ene ende om sommerfuglen, den anden ende af båndet satte hun fast i bladet; det gled da meget hurtigere af sted og hun med, for hun stod jo på bladet.

I det samme kom der en stor oldenborre flyvende, den fik hende at se og i øjeblikket slog den sin klo om hendes smækre liv og fløj op i træet med hende, men det grønne blad svømmede ned af åen og sommerfuglen fløj med, for han var bundet til bladet og kunne ikke komme løs.

Gud, hvor den stakkels Tommelise blev forskrækket, da oldenborren fløj op i træet med hende, men hun var dog allermest bedrøvet for den smukke, hvide sommerfugl, hun havde bundet fast til bladet; dersom han nu ikke kunne komme løs, måtte han jo sulte ihjel. Men det brød oldenborren sig ikke noget om. Den satte sig med hende på det største, grønne blad i træet, gav hende det søde af blomsterne at spise og sagde, at hun var så nydelig, skønt hun slet ikke lignede en oldenborre. Siden kom alle de andre oldenborrer, der boede i træet, og gjorde visit; de så på Tommelise, og frøken-oldenborrerne trak på følehornene og sagde: "Hun har dog ikke mere end to ben, det ser ynkeligt ud. Hun har ingen følehorn!" sagde den anden. "Hun er så smækker i livet, fy! hun ser ud ligesom et menneske! hvor hun er styg!" sagde alle hun-oldenborrerne, og så var Tommelise dog så nydelig; det syntes også den oldenborre, som havde taget hende, men da alle de andre sagde, hun var hæslig, så troede han det til sidst også og ville slet ikke have hende; hun kunne gå, hvor hun ville. De fløj ned af træet med hende og satte hende på en gåseurt; der græd hun, fordi hun var så styg, at oldenborrerne ikke ville have hende, og så var hun dog den dejligste, man kunne tænke sig, så fin og klar som det skønneste rosenblad.

Hele sommeren igennem levede den stakkels Tommelise ganske alene i den store skov. Hun flettede sig en seng af græsstrå og hang den under et stort skræppeblad, så kunne det ikke regne på hende; hun pillede det søde af blomsterne og spiste, og drak af duggen, der hver morgen stod på bladene; således gik sommer og efterår, men nu kom vinteren, den kolde, lange vinter. Alle fuglene, der havde sunget så smukt for hende, fløj deres vej, træerne og blomsterne visnede, det store skræppeblad, hun havde boet under, rullede sammen og blev kun en gul, vissen stilk, og hun frøs så forskrækkeligt, for hendes klæder var itu og hun var selv så fin og lille, den stakkels Tommelise, hun måtte fryse ihjel. Det begyndte at sne og hver snefnug, der faldt på hende, var, som når man kaster en hel skuffefuld på os, thi vi er store og hun var kun en tomme lang. Så svøbte hun sig ind i et vissent blad, men det ville ikke varme, hun rystede af kulde.

Tæt uden for skoven, hvor hun nu var kommet, lå en stor kornmark, men kornet var for længe siden borte, kun de nøgne, tørre stubbe stod op af den frosne jord. De var ligesom en hel skov for hende at gå imellem, oh, hun rystede sådan af kulde. Så kom hun til markmusens dør. Den var et lille hul inde under kornstubbene. Der boede markmusen lunt og godt, havde hele stuen fuld af korn, et dejligt køkken og spisekammer. Den stakkels Tommelise stillede sig inden for døren, ligesom en anden fattig tiggerpige og bad om et lille stykke af et bygkorn, for hun havde i to dage ikke fået det mindste at spise.

"Din lille stakkel!" sagde markmusen, for det var i grunden en god gammel markmus, "kom du ind i min varme stue og spis med mig!"

Da hun nu syntes godt om Tommelise, sagde hun: "Du kan gerne blive hos mig i vinter, men du skal holde min stue pæn ren og fortælle mig historier, for dem holder jeg meget af," og Tommelise gjorde, hvad den gode, gamle markmus forlangte og havde det da grumme godt.

"Nu får vi nok snart besøg!" sagde markmusen, "min nabo plejer hver ugesdag at besøge mig. Han sidder bedre endnu inden vægge, end jeg; har store sale og går med sådan en dejlig, sort fløjlspels! Bare du kunne få ham til mand, så var du godt forsørget; men han kan ikke se. Du må fortælle ham de nydeligste historier, du ved!"

Men det brød Tommelise sig ikke om, hun ville slet ikke have naboen, for han var en muldvarp. Han kom og gjorde visit i sin sorte fløjlspels, han var så rig og så lærd, sagde markmusen, hans huslejlighed var også over tyve gange større, end markmusens, og lærdom havde han, men solen og de smukke blomster kunne han slet ikke lide, dem snakkede han ondt om, for han havde aldrig set dem. Tommelise måtte synge og hun sang både "Oldenborre flyv, flyv!" og "Munken går i enge," så blev muldvarpen forlibt i hende, for den smukke stemmes skyld, men han sagde ikke noget, han var sådan en sindig mand.

Han havde nylig gravet sig en lang gang gennem jorden fra sit til deres hus, i den fik markmusen og Tommelise lov til at spadsere, når de ville. Men han bad dem ikke blive bange for den døde fugl, som lå i gangen; det var en hel fugl med fjer og næb, der vist var død for ganske nylig, da vinteren begyndte, og nu gravet ned, just hvor han havde gjort sin gang.

Muldvarpen tog et stykke trøske i munden, for det skinner jo ligesom ild i mørke, og gik så foran og lyste for dem i den lange, mørke gang; da de så kom, hvor den døde fugl lå, satte muldvarpen sin brede næse mod loftet og stødte jorden op, så der blev et stort hul, som lyset kunne skinne ned igennem. Midt på gulvet lå en død svale, med de smukke vinger trykkede fast ind om siderne, benene og hovedet trukket ind under fjerene; den stakkels fugl var bestemt død af kulde. Det gjorde Tommelise så ondt for den, hun holdt så meget af alle de små fugle, de havde jo hele sommeren sunget og kvidret så smukt for hende, men muldvarpen stødte til den med sine korte ben og sagde: "Nu piber den ikke mere! Det må være ynkeligt at blive født til en lille fugl! Gud ske lov, at ingen af mine børn bliver det; sådan en fugl har jo ingen ting uden sit kvivit og må sulte ihjel til vinteren!"

"Ja, det må I, som en fornuftig mand, nok sige," sagde markmusen. "Hvad har fuglen for al sit kvivit, når vinteren kommer? Den må sulte og fryse; men det skal vel også være så stort!"

Tommelise sagde ikke noget, men da de to andre vendte ryggen til fuglen, bøjede hun sig ned, skød fjedrene til side, der lå over dens hoved, og kyssede den på de lukkede øjne. "Måske var det den, som sang så smukt for mig i sommer," tænkte hun, "hvor den skaffede mig megen glæde, den kære, smukke fugl!"

Muldvarpen stoppede nu hullet til, som dagen skinnede igennem, og fulgte så damerne hjem. Men om natten kunne Tommelise slet ikke sove, så stod hun op af sin seng og flettede af hø et stort smukt tæppe, og det bar hun ned og bredte rundt om den døde fugl, lagde blød bomuld, hun havde fundet i markmusens stue, på siderne af fuglen, for at den kunne ligge varmt i den kolde jord.

"Farvel du smukke lille fugl!" sagde hun, "farvel og tak for din dejlige sang i sommer, da alle træerne var grønne og solen skinnede så varmt på os!" Så lagde hun sit hoved op til fuglens bryst, men blev i det samme ganske forskrækket, thi det var ligesom noget bankede der indenfor. Det var fuglens hjerte. Fuglen var ikke død, den lå i dvale, og var nu blevet opvarmet og fik liv igen.

Om efteråret så flyver alle svalerne bort til de varme lande, men er der én der forsinker sig, så fryser den således, at den falder ganske død ned, bliver liggende, hvor den falder, og den kolde sne lægger sig ovenover.

Tommelise rystede ordentligt, så forskrækket var hun blevet, for fuglen var jo en stor, stor én imod hende, der kun var en tomme lang, men hun tog dog mod til sig, lagde bomulden tættere om den stakkels svale, og hentede et krusemynteblad, hun selv havde haft til overdyne, og lagde det over fuglens hoved.

Næste nat listede hun sig igen ned til den, og da var den ganske levende, men så mat, den kunne kun et lille øjeblik lukke sine øjne op og se Tommelise, der stod med et stykke trøske i hånden, for anden lygte havde hun ikke.

"Tak skal du have, du nydelige lille barn!" sagde den syge svale til hende, "jeg er blevet så dejlig opvarmet! Snart får jeg mine kræfter og kan flyve igen, ude i det varme solskin!"

"Oh!" sagde hun, "det er så koldt udenfor, det sner og fryser! Bliv du i din varme seng, jeg skal nok pleje dig!"

Hun bragte da svalen vand i et blomsterblad, og den drak og fortalte hende, hvorledes den havde revet sin ene vinge på en tornebusk og kunne derfor ikke flyve så stærkt, som de andre svaler, som da fløj bort, langt bort til de varme lande. Den var da til sidst faldet ned på jorden, men mere kunne den ikke huske, og vidste slet ikke, hvorledes den var kommet her.

Hele vinteren blev den nu hernede og Tommelise var god imod den og holdt så meget af den; hverken muldvarpen eller markmusen fik det mindste at vide derom, for de kunne jo ikke lide den stakkels fattige svale.

Så snart foråret kom og solen varmede ind i jorden, sagde svalen farvel til Tommelise, der åbnede hullet, som muldvarpen havde gjort ovenover. Solen skinnede så dejligt ind til dem, og svalen spurgte, om hun ikke ville følge med, hun kunne sidde på dens ryg, de ville flyve langt ud i den grønne skov. Men Tommelise vidste, det ville bedrøve den gamle markmus, om hun således forlod hende.

"Nej, jeg kan ikke!" sagde Tommelise. "Farvel, farvel! du gode, nydelige pige!" sagde svalen og fløj ud i solskinnet. Tommelise så efter den, og vandet kom i hendes øjne, for hun holdt så meget af den stakkels svale.

"Kvivit! Kvivit!" sang fuglen og fløj ind i den grønne skov.

Tommelise var så bedrøvet. Hun fik slet ikke lov at komme ud i det varme solskin; kornet, der var sået på ageren, hen over markmusens hus, voksede også højt op i vejret, det var en hel tyk skov for den stakkels lille pige, som jo kun var en tomme lang.

"Nu skal du i sommer sy på dit udstyr!" sagde markmusen til hende, for nu havde naboen, den kedelige muldvarp i den sorte fløjlspels, friet til hende. "Du skal have både uldent og linned! Du skal have at sidde og ligge på, når du bliver muldvarpens kone!"

Tommelise måtte spinde på håndtén, og markmusen lejede fire edderkopper til at spinde og væve nat og dag. Hver aften gjorde muldvarpen visit og snakkede da altid om, at når sommeren fik ende, så skinnede solen ikke nær så varmt, den brændte jo nu jorden fast, som en sten; ja når sommeren var ude, så skulle brylluppet stå med Tommelise; men hun var slet ikke fornøjet, for hun holdt ikke noget af den kedelige muldvarp. Hver morgen, når solen stod op, og hver aften, når den gik ned, listede hun sig ud i døren og når så vinden skilte toppene af kornet ad, så at hun kunne se den blå himmel, tænkte hun på, hvor lyst og smukt der var herude, og ønskede så meget, at hun igen måtte få den kære svale at se; men den kom aldrig mere, den fløj vist langt borte i den smukke grønne skov.

Da det nu blev efterår, havde Tommelise hele sit udstyr færdigt.

"Om fire uger skal du have bryllup!" sagde markmusen til hende. Men Tommelise græd og sagde, hun ville ikke have den kedelige muldvarp.

"Snik snak!" sagde markmusen, "gør dig ikke obsternasig, for ellers skal jeg bide dig med min hvide tand! Det er jo en dejlig mand, du får! Hans sorte fløjlspels har dronningen selv ikke mage til! Han har både i køkken og kælder. Tak du Gud for ham!"

Så skulle de have bryllup. Muldvarpen var allerede kommet for at hente Tommelise; hun skulle bo med ham, dybt nede under jorden, aldrig komme ud i den varme sol, for den kunne han ikke lide. Det stakkels barn var så bedrøvet, hun skulle nu sige den smukke sol farvel, som hun dog hos markmusen havde fået lov at se på i døren.

"Farvel, du klare sol!" sagde hun og rakte armene højt op i vejret, gik også en lille smule uden for markmusens hus; thi nu var kornet høstet, og her stod kun de tørre stubbe. "Farvel, farvel!" sagde hun og slog sine små arme om en lille rød blomst, der stod. "Hils den lille svale fra mig, dersom du får den at se!"

"Kvivit, kvivit!" sagde det i det samme over hendes hoved; hun så op, det var den lille svale, der just kom forbi. Så snart den så Tommelise, blev den så fornøjet; hun fortalte den, hvor nødig hun ville have den stygge muldvarp til mand, og at hun så skulle bo dybt under jorden, hvor aldrig solen skinnede. Hun kunne ikke lade være at græde derved.

"Nu kommer den kolde vinter," sagde den lille svale, "jeg flyver langt bort til de varme lande, vil du følge med mig? Du kan sidde på min ryg! Bind dig kun fast med dit livbånd, så flyver vi bort fra den stygge muldvarp og hans mørke stue, langt bort over bjergene til de varme lande, hvor solen skinner smukkere end her, hvor der altid er sommer og dejlige blomster. Flyv kun med mig, du søde lille Tommelise, som har reddet mit liv, da jeg lå forfrossen i den mørke jordkælder!"

"Ja, jeg vil følge med dig!" sagde Tommelise, og satte sig op på fuglens ryg, med fødderne på dens udbredte vinge, bandt sit bælte fast i en af de stærkeste fjer og så fløj svalen højt op i luften, over skov og over sø, højt op over de store bjerge, hvor der altid ligger sne, og Tommelise frøs i den kolde luft, men så krøb hun ind under fuglens varme fjer og stak kun det lille hoved frem for at se al den dejlighed under sig.

Så kom de til de varme lande. Dér skinnede solen meget klarere end her, himlen var to gange så høj og på grøfter og gærder voksede de dejligste grønne og blå vindruer. I skovene hang citroner og appelsiner, her duftede af myrter og krusemynter, og på landevejen løb de nydeligste børn og legede med store brogede sommerfugle. Men svalen fløj endnu længere bort, og det blev smukkere og smukkere. Under de dejligste grønne træer ved den blå sø, stod et skinnende hvidt marmorslot, fra de gamle tider, vinrankerne snoede sig op om de høje piller; der øverst oppe var mange svalereder, og i en af disse boede svalen, som bar Tommelise.

"Her er mit hus!" sagde svalen; "men vil du nu selv søge dig en af de prægtige blomster ud, som gror dernede, så skal jeg sætte dig der og du skal få det så nydeligt, du vil ønske det!"

"Det var dejligt!" sagde hun, og klappede med de små hænder.

Der lå en stor hvid marmorsøjle, som var faldet om på jorden og knækket i tre stykker, men mellem disse voksede de smukkeste store hvide blomster. Svalen fløj ned med Tommelise og satte hende på et af de brede blade; men hvor forundret blev hun ikke! der sad en lille mand midt i blomsten, så hvid og gennemsigtig, som han var af glas; den nydeligste guldkrone havde han på hovedet og de dejligste klare vinger på skuldrene, selv var han ikke større end Tommelise. Han var blomstens engel. I hver blomst boede der sådan en lille mand eller kone, men denne var konge over dem alle sammen.

"Gud, hvor han er smuk!" hviskede Tommelise til svalen. Den lille prins blev så forskrækket for svalen, thi den var jo en hel kæmpefugl imod ham, der var så lille og fin, men da han så Tommelise, blev han så glad, hun var den allersmukkeste pige, han endnu havde set. Derfor tog han sin guldkrone af sit hoved og satte på hendes, spurgte, hvad hun hed og om hun ville være hans kone, så skulle hun blive dronning over alle blomsterne! Ja det var rigtignok en mand, anderledes, end skrubtudsens søn og muldvarpen med den sorte fløjlspels. Hun sagde derfor ja til den dejlige prins og fra hver blomst kom en dame eller herre, så nydelig, det var en lyst, hver bragte Tommelise en present, men den bedste af alle var et par smukke vinger af en stor hvid flue; de blev hæftet på Tommelises ryg og så kunne hun også flyve fra blomst til blomst; der var sådan en glæde og den lille svale sad oppe i sin rede og sang for dem, så godt den kunne, men i hjertet var den dog bedrøvet, for den holdt så meget af Tommelise og ville aldrig have været skilt fra hende.

"Du skal ikke hedde Tommelise!" sagde blomstens engel til hende, "det er et stygt navn, og du er så smuk. Vi vil kalde dig Maja!"

"Farvel! farvel!" sagde den lille svale, og fløj igen bort fra de varme lande, langt bort tilbage til Danmark; der havde den en lille rede over vinduet, hvor manden bor, som kan fortælle eventyr, for ham sang den "kvivit, kvivit!" derfra har vi hele historien.

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