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Title: Little Tom
Author: Tille, Václav, 1867-1937
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Little Tom" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.





  O. [vS]TÁFL




  BY O. [vS]TÁFL.



  Chapter one: THE CHRISTENING OF LITTLE TOM                5
  Chapter three: LITTLE TOM'S TRIP AROUND THE WORLD        29
  Chapter four: LITTLE TOM IN THE ENCHANTED CASTLE         41
  Chapter six: LITTLE TOM'S EXCURSIONS                     63
  Chapter seven: LITTLE TOM AND CHRYSOMELA                 75
  Chapter eight: THE ANTS' TOWN                            87
  Chapter nine: THE WAR OF THE ANTS                        99
  Chapter eleven: CHRYSOMELA'S DEATH                      123

Printed by Jos. B. Zápoto[vc]ný, Rokycany, Czechoslovakia.





       *       *       *       *       *


In a little wooden hut within the shadow of the forest and close to a
noisy brook, a poor widow dwelt alone. She passed her days gathering and
drying plants and herbs, from which she was forever making strange
simples which proved very helpful to the village people and their cattle
when illness came upon them. But the villagers only came to visit her
when they had need of her medicines, and these had such wonderful power
to cure that it was whispered about the lonely old woman to be a witch.

The villagers also told strange stories about her, for no one knew
whence she came or when she had taken up her solitary abode apart from
the village.

Many said that she sprang from the race of knights, who, in an age long
past, lived in their great castle deep in the woods and on the hill
which rose above the little hut. But no knights lived there now, nor had
they for many, many years, and the castle had been in ruins for a longer
time than the oldest people could remember. In fact, all that now
remained of the great place which the old folks liked to tell their
grandchildren about, was a little chapel near the edge of the dark woods
and, beside it, an old, old well, now entirely filled up and overgrown
with weeds.

But the widow was not lonely, nor did she wish anyone to help her care
for her little house and the garden she loved so dearly, or even the
field beyond where grazed her cow, »Speckle«. Whenever anyone came to
her in trouble or in illness, she was glad to put aside on the instant
whatever task she was about and to give her advice or administer the
medicine which always brought relief and cure, for she understood all
troubles and illnesses and knew the simples for each.

Inside the little hut, everything was as clean and orderly as one would
find in the castles of the nobility, where many servants toiled and
swept. Over the thatched roof an old lime tree spread its friendly
branches, and all day long there sounded about the fragrant buds and
blossoms sounded the cheerful humming of swarms of grateful bees.

The great beams along the walls of the hut were rubbed clean with red
earth and on the whitewashed spaces, between the little windows and the
door, were painted red and yellow flowers with leaves of green, while in
its bed of earth a blue strip of real flowers ran all around the house.

On the gable ledge blossomed red and pink carnations and from the little
balcony under the peak of the roof, with its carved wooden posts and
railing, peered dried poppy heads, ears of yellow corn, sage and all
manner of herbs and spices with strange odors. All these had been
gathered in the clear, white light of the full moon before the dew had
begun to fall.

Besides all these pleasant things, the garden was full of roses,
mignonette and tall mallow. Close to the fence which ran all about it,
grew gooseberries, currants and raspberries; and in the very middle of
the garden was a bed of luscious red strawberries, flanked by rows of
cabbages, lettuce and peas. Against the walls of the hut, between the
windows, old, gnarled vines ran clear to the eaves, bearing bunches of
delicious grapes.

The hut had one large room, a small chamber and the black kitchen, with
its great fireplace and broad chimney. From the outside, it looked not
unlike the houses of the villagers; but, inside, stood furniture of an
older day. In a corner stood a bed of polished wood, piled high with
white, downy quilts and covers. In the middle of the room was a round
table with smooth, polished chairs set against it. Next to the wall was
a beautifully carved old chest for clothes; on the wall, a clock with
brass weights and a cuckoo that called the hours; and between the
windows through which blossomed fuchsias and other plants, stood a rare
old linen press, ornamented with flowers, birds, and hammered silver


But, most precious of all her possessions, was a little altar carved in
ivory. In size, it was no larger than an apple; but it had two little
doors, which, opening, showed a little stall, in which sat the Holy
Virgin with the Child on her lap and, behind, a yellow ox and a grey
donkey looking out across the manger and breathing upon the two. On the
left, knelt the shepherds surrounded by their fleecy sheep; and, from
the right, came the three kings with golden crowns on their heads and
dressed in cloaks of violet, red and green. The black one was smiling
and showing his white teeth, as they offered their gifts. All of the
figures were just like life! The Virgin had a beautiful face with blue
eyes and dark eyebrows, and the Babe was all pink and held in His hands
a little golden apple.

It was a rare and precious piece of work, which the herb woman had been
told was a relic of olden times, having come from the castle in the wood
above the hut, to which it had been brought by one of the knights from
the Holy Land.

All day long, the herb woman had much to do in caring for her house,
fetching and drying her herbs and brewing her medicines. From one week's
end to the other, she was never idle. But, on Sunday afternoons, when
her work was done, she would take the little altar and place it on the
press between the windows. Sitting down before it in a comfortable
leather armchair, she would read to herself from a very old book,
ornamented with hammered brass and with colored stones set in the
covers. Her book told all about the patient Griselda, the siege of Troy,
about Siegfried, Brunswick, Blanik, and many other brave heroes. Around
the first letter of each story, were painted knights, princesses,
men-at-arms, magic castles, and scenes from strange, oversea countries.

Looking at the pictures in her book and at the little figures of the
altar, the old woman would think of bygone days when she was a bright
little child, playing with her friends in make-believe weddings and
christenings before this same little altar; and when her grandmother,
sitting in the same old chair, would read to them stories from the old
book and tell them of the former fame of their knightly home; of how the
knights fared forth to the Holy Land, while their wives sat at home in
the great castle, embroidering silks and cambrics, and the little
children played in the castle garden.

Her thoughts travelled back to herself, growing into beautiful girlhood;
then, as a bride and the happy wife of a good husband; later, as the
mother of two beautiful babies; then, sad memories crowded her weary
head. Her husband and the two little children had died and she was left
alone, without any relatives and without money, and with only this
little hut in the shadow of the wood where she might live and earn her

Often she sat like this, until the shadows of night had gathered around
her; and the older she grew, the more heavily these sad thoughts weighed
upon her. Each year, she felt herself growing weaker and began to be
fearful that she could not manage to work at home and to gather the
herbs in the woods and fields. In the winter, when the garden was
covered with snow and the great drifts kept her from the village, she
became even more sad to think how alone she was, the last of her race,
with no one to whom she could tell her troubles and who would be a
companion to her.

Now, one year, it was the day before Christmas. The snow had drifted
against the little house clear to the eaves. As was her custom, she had
brought from the forest a little Christmas tree and, having set it in a
box, in earth carried from the wood, began to trim it. She hung from the
branches gilded nuts and draped the tree with festoons of colored paper.
Then, she fastened tiny, wax candles to the branches and then she peeled
some apples and, finally, lighted the little candles, thinking of the
used to dance and play olden days at home when they danced and played
around the Christmas tree. The fire burned cheerily in the broad hearth
with its green glass tiles. The room was warm and filled with the odor
of mint and of lavender. As she sat thus, alone before the tree,
presently, her head fell forward upon her hands which rested upon the
linen press, and she slept.

The old lady dreamed she was a girl again, in her Sunday dress and with
her braided hair held by a red ribbon, kneeling before the little altar.
Suddenly, she saw the Holy Virgin smiling at her and the little Baby
stretching out its tiny hands and handing the golden apple to her; the
sheep began to bleat, the shepherds were bowing, and the three kings
swung their burning censers and walked toward her over the shining
surface of the linen press. She even heard them call her by name and
speak to her.

The old lady woke with a start, but the voices seemed to call to her
faintly, as if from a great distance. She looked about her, but saw no
one. The same faint sound of voices was still to be heard, and, now,
right under the tree, she perceived a tiny little man in a red coat,
just as if one of the three kings had really come from the altar and
wakened her. Not one whit surprised, she bent toward him. It seemed to
her that she had always known him.

The little man scrambled up to the edge of the old book which still lay
upon the press, bowed, stroked his black beard, and spoke: »Honored
lady, my people send me to ask of you, in the name of our king, a favor.
A prince has been born to us and we should like to celebrate his
christening here before this little altar, which is most precious to us.
Our kingdom lies in the corridors under the old castle and extends to
the well by the little chapel, and even to your hut. Our forefathers
were true servants of your ancestors, the knights of the castle, and
guarded for them their treasure. In this little altar are pictured the
faces of our former kings.«

The old lady was pleased that the gnomes wished thus to honor her
little altar and readily gave her consent, that they might come to it in
order to celebrate the christening of their prince. The messenger bowed
and, running quickly down her dress to the floor, disappeared through a
little hole by the hearth. Immediately, from behind the great hearth,
came the most wonderful procession she had ever seen.


First, came the pipers and the band of musicians, playing on strange,
curved trumpets and beating drums that sounded like the hum of many
flying insects. Behind them walked the old king and the young queen in
long robes of spotted butterfly wings and wearing golden crowns that
glistened with precious stones; then the nurse, bearing a little baby
upon a cushion of silver cobweb, tied with a hair of gold. Following
them were many dignitaries in gorgeous cloaks and, last of all, came men
and women of the people, hurrying across the floor like little insects,
for they were hardly any larger.

When the procession of tiny folk reached the old lady's shoe, they
fearlessly climbed up her skirt to her lap and on across her arms which
rested on the press. She laughed to see the great crowd walk over her
and was careful not to move--indeed, she hardly breathed--lest she might
hurt one of them.

When all had gathered around the tree, one old man took the little
prince in his arms and, as the others knelt before him, he made them a
long speech. The old lady could not understand it at all, for it sounded
to her like a fly buzzing on the window pane; but, when the old man had
finished, all shouted together: »Long live our prince, Tom! May he reign

The girls began to dance around the tree and all the little people
jumped and laughed and shouted with merriment. The king and the queen,
followed by the nurse with the little prince, stepped upon the old book,
which made a good platform, and thanked the herb woman for her kindness.
The king then begged her to be a kind godmother to the prince and to
continue to be a good friend to his people, just as her ancestors had
been. The old lady promised this with pleasure, for she felt a great
love for the little folk who brought back so vividly the days when her
people were rich and famous.

The queen started to take the wrappings from the tiny baby, which were
bound round and round about him, and the herb woman and the old king
talked of the golden days gone by. The king told her the tales he had
from his forefathers, of the brilliant life in the great castle; how the
gnomes nestled in the soft tapestries by the great marble hearths; how
they cleaned and polished the gold and precious stones in the
underground chambers; how, on clear moonlight nights, they danced
graceful figures with the fairies; and how, with grasshoppers as horses,
they held noisy tournaments.

Whenever there was a newborn baby in the castle, the gnomes, in the
night, wove beautiful dreams which they spread out in the rays of the
moon under the canopy of the mother's bed and guarded the baby in its
silver cradle.

The old lady listened happily, gazing at the gathering of the gnomes,
lighted by the trembling rays of the candles, now almost burned out.
Many of the young men had clambered into the branches of the tree and
were swinging in the paper chains and sitting astride the golden nuts
and red apples. Little girls were sliding back and forth on the slippery
surface of the press, while serious old men and grayhaired women walked
sedately in groups around the base of the tree. There were so many of
the little people that they could not be counted.

The herb woman looked at the swiftly moving, variegated crowd until her
eyelids drooped. She was already half asleep when the old king came to
bid her good-by and, as in a dream, she heard him say: »Honored lady,
for centuries your race protected us and, today, we would like to reward
you. The great treasures of your family long ago disappeared, but, in
the old, choked-up well, there still remains much gold. This we have
carefully guarded from generation to generation and kept in clean and
good order. In the well casing, in the fifth circle of stones from the
top, you will find one engraved with a horseshoe. Behind this stone, you
will find the money which your forefathers hid there; but be careful to
replace the stone and not to disturb our underground realm.«

When the old woman awoke, all was quiet and dark in the room. The
candles on the tree had quite burned out, the cuckoo in the clock called
twelve, and from the village, came the sound of bells, ringing the glad
tidings of Christmas Day. Across the brook, she could see the lanterns
flickering in the village square and the people gathering for church.
But she did not feel strong enough to go to the midnight service. Then
she thought, with a smile, of what she had seen on Christmas Eve, but
she said to herself with a sigh, »It was only a dream«, and took herself
off to bed.

In the morning she milked Speckle and, as she drank the good, warm milk,
she laughed to herself over her dream. But it would not leave her mind
and, presently, she went to the hearth to see whence the procession of
gnomes had come. She found nothing but a hole in the floor, large enough
for a cat to pass through; but she thought to herself, »Why should I not
go to the well by the chapel?«

Over her shoulders she threw a warm sheepskin coat, with the wool inside
and flowers embroidered on the outside, such as the country people wear,
and, taking a hoe and a lantern, went to the chapel.

There had been a keen frost and the fields were covered with snow, which
sparkled in the sun. The snow was also away up to the eaves of the
chapel, while from the blackberry stalks over the well, hung transparent
icicles. The herb woman pushed aside the bushes and, crawling into the
well, dug away the rubbish until she had uncovered the fifth circle of
stones with which the well was lined.

She laughed at herself to think that she should believe in dreams; but
her heart was beating rapidly as she lighted her lantern and, digging
away the gravel, looked at one stone after the other. »When I do not
find the stone with the horseshoe,« she thought, »I will be convinced
that it was only a dream.« But as she touched the damp moss on one
stone, she felt a little depression and, when she had cleaned it, there
was the horseshoe.

The stone was large and heavy and her hands trembled as she set her hoe
into the fissure; but lo! the stone was not cemented like the rest and
was easily loosened. When she had pulled it out, from behind the stone,
came shining gold pieces, as bright and clean as if they had been minted
only the day before. Off came her apron, in which she tied up the money;
but the bundle was so heavy that she could hardly lift it.

She would have liked to look still further into the realm of the gnomes,
for behind the stone was a hole running deep into the ground; but she
thought of the old king's request and, setting the stone in its place,
hurried back home with her treasure.

Now, she was rid of all worry as to how she should keep herself when
she should grow very old. In her heart, she thanked the little gnomes
for their care of her and decided to remain in her little hut as long as
she lived.





       *       *       *       *       *

The winter was cruelly cold. Snow covered the paths and drifted high
against the little hut. With difficulty the herb woman made paths to the
stable and to the brook.

In the night, when she could not sleep, she listened to every slight
sound, in the hope that her little friends would appear again. But
nothing ever happened; it was only the hoot of an owl outside, or the
squeak of a mouse. The gnomes never came forth again from their
underground realm.

So, in the day time she read and sewed, pondering how she could go to
the nearest town to change her money and buy many little things for her
comfort and for the improvement of the little hut. Her gold pieces she
had hidden well behind a green tile on the hearth.

Finally, the snow began to melt, the sun became warmer, the fields lost
their coat of white, the meadows became green, and spring had come. When
Easter arrived, she had already planted her garden and stripped the
roses of their winter coverings. The snow drops and gillyflowers were
blossoming by the brook; the cowslips were poking their yellow caps out
of their beds, and over the fields the larks sang joyously.

The herb woman placed her treasure in a covered basket, shut the hens in
their coops, put fresh grass in Speckle's manger, let the dog, Rover,
into the yard, locked the door of the little hut and went on her way to
town. She walked lightly, as if she had grown younger during the winter
and did not at all mind the long journey.

In town she was surprised at what she received for her gold; if she
should live a hundred years, she could not use all her money. So it was
placed in a bank for safe keeping and the people treated her with great
respect. They knew that she had come from a good family, but as she had
lived so modestly, no one knew how wealthy she was.

When she had made her purchases and finished her business, she wished to
rest awhile in town, but word had come that the heavy rain in the
mountains had caused the snow to melt and the water to rush down in
torrents. She knew very well how bad the brook became when it was
swollen and she worried lest the hut might be carried away and something
happen to Speckle. So she hurried home and, on the way, she saw the
swollen brook stretched out over the meadows like a lake.

When she reached the village, it was dark, and already the people were
beginning to light up their houses. Many of the little foot bridges had
been swept away, the water reached nearly to the village square and she
found it impossible to cross the stream. The torrent raged and stormed,
bearing along branches, small trees and cakes of ice.

In vain the old lady peered across the bank to the farther shore in the
attempt to see if her little hut was still standing; but the darkness
was so thick that you could cut it with a knife. There was nothing left
for her to do but to ask the good villagers for shelter over night.


The next day, when the sun shone out, the torrent had subsided and the
brook was running between its banks in a steady stream. The hut was
still standing, but the bank was undermined and the little bridge
carried away. So the widow had herself taken across in a boat and, in
great anxiety, hurried to the hut to see what changes had been wrought.
The garden was covered with mud and on the meadow were little pools of
glistening water. Out of the yard bounded Rover barking heartily and,
from her stall, Speckle mooed a welcome. The hens came hurrying out of
their coop, flapping their wings and cackling, and straightway began to
scratch in the ground in search of little worms. Inside the hut, the
hall was wet through and in the best room stood little pools of water.

The herb woman took her broom and swept out some of the water and with
a cloth mopped up the little pools. Near the hearth the water was quite
deep and swirling around and running away through the hole behind. On
the water swam a tiny barge formed from a hazel nut, and in this boat
was a very small lad indeed, rowing with his oars of straw and working
with all his might, so that the whirlpool should not carry him back into
the hole.


The widow lifted up the shell very carefully and placed it on the palm
of her hand. The tiny lad, letting go his oars, clasped his hands and
said, »Dear Godmother, I thank you very much for saving me. I am Little
Tom, but am so very tired that I can hardly sit up.« But his weariness
came only from his efforts to keep himself from being swept back into
the hole.

His Godmother placed the little fellow gingerly on the table and next to
him she put a drop of milk and beside it a crumb of bread. Little Tom
gulped the milk eagerly and ate nearly the whole crumb. When she placed
near him a tiny bit of cloth for a pillow, Tom lay down and fell asleep.

She watched the little fellow tenderly as he lay there so quietly and
all worn out with his hard work. He was now a fullgrown lad, finely
built and with black hair. His little hands he had clasped across his
breast. She felt very badly to think of his sufferings through the night
in that terrible flood and she wondered what might have happened to the
underground realm of the gnomes.

While he was sleeping, she started to work. She scrubbed the floor very
clean, then sifted dry sand all over it; cleaned up the garden, and then
put some soup to cook over the fire in the kitchen. When she returned to
the big room, Little Tom was sitting up, rubbing his blue eyes with his
little fists and calling for his mother. As he looked around, he
recognized his Godmother and began to cry bitterly. The old lady tried
to soothe him, begging him not to cry and to tell her all that had
happened. But, for a long time, he could not be quieted. When he had
cried himself out, he told her what misfortunes had come upon the
underground realm.

All the gnomes were quietly sleeping, utterly unconscious of any danger,
when, all of a sudden, great waters came from under the well, flooded
the entire town, tore down the walls and rose to the upper floors. His
mother woke Little Tom and ran with him to the upper corridor, through
which was already running the stream which was their main river.

On this stream stood the great navy of the gnomes, made from walnut
shells. The entire court entered the ships and started rowing to the
east from the underground country; but the stream continued to rise and
the over-crowded ships began to rock, until they sank one after the
other and all the gnomes were lost. Little Tom knew how to swim very
well but he would surely have been drowned, if he had not caught hold of
a hazel-nut boat. This was taken up by a little current and swept
through the hole by the hearth into the Godmother's large room.

Instantly, Little Tom knew where he was, for his parents had often told
him of his christening and how kind the Godmother was to them all; so he
continued to row with all his might, hoping that his Godmother would
return in time to save him.

She was surprised to find him grown up, for at Christmas time, he was
only a tiny baby, wrapped up in his cushions. Little Tom explained, that
with the gnomes each week is counted as a year, so that he was now
fifteen years old. Before that age, no prince may ever leave the
underground realm, but must be studying and learning and, after that, he
may only go into the outside world for experience. They were just
preparing to celebrate his coming of age at his Godmother's and to send
him on his journey into the world, when the great flood came and
destroyed the whole kingdom. Little Tom was the only one of them to be
saved, and that seemed to be through a miracle.

The Godmother did not wish to remind him of his misfortunes, so she told
him that she would take good care of him and that he would find it very
pleasant in her hut; but she was worried how she should find a suitable
place for him to sleep, and how she should clothe him and provide the
things necessary for his comfort.

She placed him on the top of the linen press and opened the altar for
him; and when he saw the faces of the little figures, Tom became very
cheerful, saying that the lady with the Child on her lap was very much
like his mother. While Little Tom was looking at the kings, the
shepherds and the manger, his Godmother found a nice, large Easter egg
that was all hollow and gaily painted in red and yellow. With a pin she
pricked out a door on one side, and on the other, two windows; then she
set the egg firmly in the earth, under the tree and told him this would
be his home and that he should carry some earth inside, and stamp it
into a hard, level floor. She wanted to give him something to keep him
busy, so that he would not think of the misfortunes that had befallen

Little Tom crawled inside and admired the great hall, beautifully arched
from the finest alabaster, standing under the wonderful tree with its
golden fruit. He asked his Godmother to set him in the branches, so that
he might look at the golden nuts and taste of the figs and dates. He was
happy to think that this magic tree from the outside world would shelter
him for many, many years.

Then he climbed down the trunk, lowering himself by the little spines as
if they were the rounds of a ladder. He decided to build a wall all
around Castle Easter Egg and to lay out a garden under the tree.

The herb woman left him busily working and, taking her hoe, went to the
well by the chapel to learn how the kingdom of the gnomes had fared. She
took out the stone engraved with the horseshoe and dug behind in until
she saw a little corridor, in which was a confusion of stones, mud and
water. Everything was torn down and ruined and of the gnomes, she heard
not a sound. She felt very sad to think they all had perished and she
started to cover the hole and replace the stone. But when she took it
up, she was surprised to find how light it seemed. Examining it more
carefully, she noticed at the back a tiny, polished metal door. Upon
pressing this with her finger, it opened and she saw that the inside of
the stone was entirely hollowed out and filled with many little

It occurred to her that, perhaps after all, some possessions of the
gnomes remained that might prove useful to Tom; so she put the stone on
her shoulder and taking care that nothing should fall out, carried it


When she came into the big room, she found that Tom had already made the
floor inside his castle and was now engaged in building a wall around it
out of shining, little pebbles. The Godmother laid a cloth on the top of
the press and placed the stone on the cloth.

»Little Tom,« she said, »I have brought you something for remembrance.
Your kingdom is all gone; but do not be sorry, for you will stay with me
and we will live happily together. Now, perhaps you will find something
in this stone that will be useful to you.«

Tom crawled sadly into the stone, but, at once, shouted with pleasure.
»Dear Godmother,« he called, »this is our royal treasury and it contains
furniture, clothes, linen, arms and dishes; all sorts of things. Now, I
have everything I need and you will see how nicely I will arrange my new

At once, he began to carry out of the stone the rich stores he found
there. His Godmother placed a tiny piece of cloth by the stone and when
Tom had piled it high with cupboards, tables and chairs, she raised it
very carefully and placed it under the tree. In spite of all her care,
it happened that she broke the leg of a chair and knocked off a corner
of cupboard. She was very sorry, but Tom soothed her by saying that he
would repair everything. When he began to bring out the dishes, painted
porcelain left by his grandmother, cups, saucers and pitchers, old
silver pieces and other treasures, he was very fearful that she might
break these, too. To her, they seemed like tiny bits of glistening sand;
but she made him a little wooden staircase that she set against the tree
box, and up and down this he climbed, carrying his treasures to his
castle. He worked so hard all day that by night he was completely tired


In the meantime, the Godmother had gone about her own work; but when, in
the evening, she came back into the room she found that the stone had
been cleaned out. In the door of Castle Easter Egg hung a flowered
carpet for a curtain and at the windows were little shades. Inside, the
furniture had all been set in order, but, outside, there still remained
piles of the precious stores. She was sorry she could not see inside
very well to look at Tom's housekeeping, and was afraid to touch the egg
lest his castle should go to pieces.

In the morning, he was early awake and went carefully over his garden,
measuring out the paths and deciding where he would have lawns, and
where he would start a forest of moss. Then he made a store room for his
surplus supplies, dug a well and completed the wall around the castle.

His Godmother helped him as best she could, cutting tiny pieces of wood
and cloth for his use. The well they made from an old thimble. She left
him busy at work, noting how diligent and orderly he was and how well he
had been educated; for he seemed to understand everything that needed to
be done. She was pleased that he had so much to keep him busy, that he
would have no time for bitter reflections.

During the day, each went about his or her own work; but in the evening
they sat together, the Godmother at the table eating her thick soup and
potatoes. Upon the table Tom had his own little table and chair opposite
her. For his supper, he had a baked grain of wheat, a hash of sunflower
seed, or two or three grains of millet fried in butter. He always ate
with delicacy. His food tasted good to him and after it was eaten, he
drank some milk.

When they had cleared away the things they talked together. The
Godmother wished to know how the gnomes lived in their underground
kingdom and Tom told her all that he could. What they did outside in the
fields, he did not know, for he had been obliged to remain at home and
study in the schools; but he described very well all that happened in
the underground town which had bustled with people. He had seen long
lines of them bringing home food, riding on grasshoppers, making traps
for flies and butterflies, bringing in the captured tree insects and the
spotted bugs which were kept in roomy stalls.

For himself, he had a fine grasshopper, which carried him along the
corridors lighted by torches from dried wood which gave out soft blue
flames. He told how his father and mother used to play with him and
about his little friend Chrysomela, a sweet little girl who had been
educated with him. Together, they used to run and play and watch the
gnomes digging in the mountains or go for a row on the underground
river. Then he spoke of the frequent visits of foreign guests, gold
beetles, and spotted wood bugs who came in stately processions and
brought fine messages of greeting and beautiful presents. He told
especially of a visit, just before the flood, made by many black ants
whom the gnomes feasted and welcomed with great honor. His father, the
king, presented them to him, telling him how diligent and orderly they
were and what good friends they were to him. He promised Tom that when
he should grow up he would send him to them for their teaching, so that
he might learn how to rule over the kingdom.

Tom would often speak of these things he remembered, but, at the end, he
would always become sad, when he thought how all his kingdom had been
destroyed and everything had disappeared, and that he would never again
see his loved ones.

The Godmother listened to his stories with great pleasure, but she
realized that Tom must have some occupation that would keep him busy and
not only prevent him from thinking too much of the past, but also
prepare him for the life he was to lead in the future.





       *       *       *       *       *

Little Tom had his day well planned. He rose early and, as his Godmother
placed every night on his castle grounds an earthern-ware plate full of
fresh water he would jump into it the first thing and swim all around in
it. When he had finished his bath he would take his breakfast in the

Under the tree was his store of provisions: A hazel nut with an end cut
off so that he could take out little bits from time to time, lasting him
a whole month; a beechnut; sunflower seeds; a piece of sugar; and a
wonderful apple, into which he cut a narrow passage so that it would not
dry up from the outside.

When he had breakfasted he would sweep the carpet in his room, clean his
clothes and shoes, exercise with his weapons so that he would not forget
the arts of defence he had learned at his home, and then go into the
garden to plant and weed. Sometimes, he hunted for the ugly worms that
dug great ditches in the vegetable beds.

When the Godmother rose she would come to say good morning to Tom, look
at his work, praise and advise him. When she saw it was necessary to
water the tree, she would tell Tom to take away his tools and would then
pour water over the tree from a fine sprinkler. Tom loved to run about
in this rain and was happy to think that he could so bravely bear the
heavy shower.

After she had gone away, he would write in his diary, describing
everything he had been doing, as well as all those things he could
remember from his former kingdom, so that nothing should be forgotten.
For this purpose, he had a beautiful, smooth parchment, tanned from the
skins of white tree bugs, sharp pens, made from the bills of gnats, and
fine writing sand from the powder of butterflies' wings. He only lacked
ink, but he found a way to get that. On the tree, he discovered the
smoky wicks from the candles; mixing the soot with water he made himself
some excellent ink; but in doing this, he became so black that when his
Godmother saw him she feared that he had turned into a negro.

He took his dinner alone, but always looked forward to the evening meal
when he could sit down and talk with his Godmother.

Thus the days passed happily. He worked about his castle and in the
garden and was kept busy with his housekeeping. Every day he was
becoming more manly and strong and, as he grew up, he thought more and
more of his past, of his birth and what he would have accomplished had
he become a king and ruled over his underground realm.

One evening, when they were sitting together and Little Tom was speaking
of all the things in the world he would like to do, his Godmother said,
»Dear Little Tom, before you can do great things in the world, it is
necessary that you should learn how to read and write as large people
do, so that you can know what they are doing«.

But Tom answered, »I know how to read and write very well, Godmother. I
will show you what I have written.« And when, at his request, she placed
him on the press, he ran into the castle and brought out a whole armful
of parchments; but it seemed to her that they were only a lot of tiny
petals from cherry blossoms.


When he had thrown the parchments into her lap she put on her spectacles
and took one of the little sheets in her palm; but she could make
nothing out of it at all.

Tom offered to read some of it to her and taking up the sheet, read it
with much expression. In spite of this, the Godmother shook her head.
»You read very nicely what you yourself have written,« she said, »but
you must learn human letters as well, so that you can read and study our

Therefore, she brought her book to the table, and reached for Little Tom
to place him upon it, but he was nowhere to be seen. She looked all
about and finally spied him clinging desperately to the table cloth. The
wind caused by turning the leaves had blown him over to the very edge of
the table and he had barely saved himself. He was calling for help when
his Godmother rescued him from his perilous position. So it nearly
happened that, at the very outset, a misfortune might have prevented the
reading altogether; but, as soon as he had recovered from his fright,
Tom offered at once to begin.

He crawled quickly up the golden edge of the book and surveyed the
broad white plain covered in every direction, with curving black lines.
He ran at once to the upper left hand corner, stepping gingerly on the
first large letter. After he had walked all over it, he stopped and
declared confidently that it was a capital »O«. In like manner he went
on to »N« and »C« and »E« and a little further, until he had no longer
to run completely over a letter but could place himself in the middle
and looking all about him could tell at once what it was. One after the
other he spelled and his Godmother was surprised to see how quickly the
reading progressed.


It was only when he came to the end of the page that he found
difficulty, for then he had to crawl down while she turned the page
over; but he thought of a way to get around this. When he had reached
the end of the next page he procured one of his long spears and crawling
a little way down the sloping edge of the opened book, thrust his spear
between the leaves and raised the sheet high enough to crawl under it.
Then, on his hands and knees, he worked his way to the middle of the
book and exerting all his strength, he was able to turn the page over.

In a short time, he learned to read so rapidly that he could run swiftly
along the lines and in this way could cover five or six pages in a day.
He liked especially to linger by the pictures, looking at the little
knights gazing from the battlements of the castle, or the beautiful
ladies spinning or embroidering in great rooms; for it seemed to him
that these were pictures of his former life and reminded him of his lost
realm. But, after a moment, he would diligently continue his reading.

He was very curious to discover what real people know, so that he also
might learn; but it seemed to him that he would never be able to read
fast enough, and so he began to ask his Godmother to teach him from her
own knowledge. She soon perceived that in some things, like mathematics
and physics, he was much better educated than herself; but of other
subjects, such as history and geography, he knew nothing at all.

So she told him how the earth was shaped and about the sun, moon and
stars. She explained how the sun rose in the East and then there was
day; and after it had crossed the sky and set in the West, then night
came. She told him that in the Far North there is perpetual snow on
great, white plains, so broad that you can not see across them; and in
the South great deserts of sand, without water, where lions and tigers
roam and it is so hot that the people become black like the king in the
altar. Between all the countries stretch seas of salt water, which are
filled with strange monsters and across which travel large ships.

Little Tom listened breathlessly, and then was eager to learn how people
came to know all these things. His Godmother told him that there were
famous travelers who went all over the earth, experiencing many dangers,
and then came home to describe what they had seen.

That night, Little Tom in his excitement could not sleep for a long,
long while and, finally, when he began to doze, he dreamed that he was
walking through the snow, climbing the mountains that reached to the sky
and crossing the primeval forests. Then he wandered in deserts and swam
the sea in the midst of fierce sharks.

Next day, he was all the time thinking of the great wonders of the
world, and his work was not so pleasing to him. He could hardly wait for
the evening to come so that he might learn more from his Godmother. When
she had told him other things that she knew, he asked her where was the
end of the earth. She explained that the world was round and that, if
any one walked on and on, he would come to the place whence he had

Little Tom became quite confused, for with his growing mind he could not
understand how the world could be so great, or how it could be round!
Neither did he know what it meant to travel. There was only one thing
that he remembered and that was, if he started in one direction and kept
on going, in the end he would come back home. His heart was very brave
and he was not afraid of danger. He wanted very much to gain experience
and do heroic deeds, even if he did not know where he was going.

So he decided that he would become a great traveler and go round the
world. He made careful preparations for the trip. In secret, he filled a
bundle with nourishing food, which he put on his back and hung a bottle
of water from his neck. On his feet he put heavy shoes, made from strong
caterpillar leather, belted his sword around his waist and, as soon as
his Godmother had left in the morning, started on his journey round the

He looked forward to his Godmother's surprise on his return, when he
would tell her all that had happened to him and thereby gain great fame.

He walked down from the box that held his castle and crossed the press
straight to his Godmother's bed. He judged that the window through which
the light was streaming, was in the East and that, therefore, he was
going directly to the North.

When the Godmother returned to her room in the evening she was greatly
surprised that Little Tom was not there to welcome her. She called and
looked for him everywhere, but could not find him. She feared that he
had crawled to some place where he had fallen down and died miserably.
She swept the floor most carefully, but in vain. Sadly, she went to the
hearth to get some wood to replenish the fire, for it was a cold Spring
day. As she took out some pieces, there she found Tom asleep with a tiny
bundle upon his back. He was sleeping so soundly, that he did not stir
when she called to him, so she took him up carefully and placed him
under the tree on her handkerchief. She feared that something had
happened to him. Many times during the night she got up to look at him,
but Little Tom slept quietly until the morning.

When he finally awoke, he did not at first know where he was. When he
remembered, he avoided telling his Godmother where he had been the day
before; but he begged her forgiveness and promised that he would never
again crawl down from the linen press. She did not insist on an
explanation, for she thought that he had been curious and had run around
the room and thus become lost. When she went away, he started diligently
to write in his diary. This was what he wrote:

                                                  _Castle Easter Egg,
                                           The 114th day of my life._

When I was one hundred and twelve days old, believing it to be the duty
of a man to accomplish great deeds, I decided that I would be a traveler
and go round the earth--Godmother having told me that it is round--so
that I could see for myself the wonders she has described. I made my
preparations in secret. In the morning, when Godmother had gone away, I
started for the hills on the northern horizon, stretching across the
plain on which my castle stands.

I expected that beyond those northern hills would lie the snowy plains
about which she told me; and that, if I kept straight on, I should reach
the deserts of the hot, tropical country and, beyond them, by crossing
the forests, I should come to the great ocean. I had planned, if I could
find a boat by the ocean, to cross to the other side and, by traveling
over the countries there, finally return home.

Godmother had said that the sun, during the day and the night, goes from
the East to the West and clear around the earth until it comes back
again to the East. I judged that if I should hurry my journey, it would
not take any longer than the sun, so I made up my mind to go from the
North to the South.

The hills stretch clear across the plain which is sloping and smooth. At
first, I could not find a suitable place to climb; but, finally, coming
to the end of the plain before a steep precipice, I saw a little fissure
by which I might ascend to the very top. With great difficulty I managed
to make my way by this fissure until I came to the summit, where I could
look over and, as I had expected, I saw before me a vast, white plain
stretching out to infinity.

With great care I crawled upon it at the place where it touches the
hills and, stepping on it, I found that it was elastic and yielding,
like the snow Godmother described. One can really walk on it with ease
and I was surprised to find, moreover, that one can so easily overcome
the difficulties of those desolate countries. Also I did not feel any

After a time, I came to a place where the white plain began to slope
downwards, until it formed, in front of another hill that appeared in
the distance, a dark and very deep chasm. I made my way at good speed
into this chasm and was already looking forward to the time when I
should come out of this inhospitable place, when, all of a sudden, the
ground began to slip from under my feet. In vain I tried to hold myself
with my hands. Faster and faster I fell, until, head first, I plunged
against the wall of the precipice, where I lay unconscious.

When I came to myself, I found that I was on another broad plain; but,
instead of snow, this one was very rough and covered with coarse sand.
My arms and legs pained me from my fall, so I rested while I refreshed
myself with some food from my bundle and drank a little water from my
bottle. Then I started farther on my way. After this, I proceeded with
great caution. As I did not in the least doubt that I was now on the
dangerous desert of Sahara, which is filled with tigers and lions, I
took care that I should not be pounced upon unawares.

But nothing living appeared; only before me stretched the rocky,
limitless desert. I hoped that I should come to some oasis where I might
find palms and a stream of fresh water, but was disappointed. Finally, I
saw before me a mountain that rose so far into the sky that I could not
even discern its top. As I came nearer, I perceived that it was warm, so
I concluded that I had now come to the tropical country and that behind
this great mountain, lay the deep forests and the ocean of which
Godmother had told me.

I began to climb the steep side of the mountain, which grew warmer all
the time, so that my hands were nearly blistered. From the mountain
itself, there seemed to come forth a great heat, so that I was fearful
that I had come upon a volcano and that I might fall into the crater. I
wanted to go back, but my head became dizzy when I looked over the
narrow ledge on which I stood, into the deep chasm I had left behind me.
I rested awhile; then, after a drink from my water bottle, I crawled
down at the risk of my life.

Reaching the level, I decided to walk around the mountain to see if I
could discover some valley. At this point, I would have preferred
returning to my home, but did not know how I should climb up the steep
slope of the snow plain down which I had fallen.

I followed along the foot of the mountain until I came to a vast forest
which, from under its cliffs, stretched a long distance away. I hoped
when I should reach the other side that I should come to the ocean. In
the forest were only bare trunks of trees fallen in every direction and
many turned up by the roots. Perhaps a great earthquake had destroyed it
and the heat from the mountain had dried up the trees.

With difficulty, I made my way into the tangle. It soon became darker
and with the trunks piled high one on top of another, it seemed to me
that there would be no end to it. On and on I went, hoping each moment
to see a glimmer of light, when suddenly I ran into a steep, rough wall,
but it was unlike anything my Godmother had told me about. On both
sides, to the left and right I went, trying to find a way out; but there
was not even a hole. Only, on each side was another wall like the one I
had run into, and so I found myself in a great cave which, perhaps, in
olden times had been caused by an earthquake and now by way of the
forest led into the heart of the mountain.

I became frightened and lonely, lost in this desolate place, and feared
that I might never again come out into God's world. However, I did not
want to give up without making another effort, so I turned around and
started back through the forest by the way that I had come, dragging
myself wearily over the tangled trunks. Many times I stumbled and fell,
until, finally, weariness overcame me and I sank down in the wood too
worn out to go further. Before I fell asleep, in my thoughts I said good
bye to my dear Godmother, fearing that I might never wake up again.

In my dreams, it seemed as if the whole forest was shaken violently and
that I was lifted bodily and carried to great heights; but I could not
call out or even open my eyes.

When I finally awoke, I found myself lying on the carpet in front of my
castle in broad daylight. I was uncertain whether I had simply dreamed
all about my journey; but, when Godmother came, she asked me with much
concern where I had been and how I had come to be among the great
faggots by the hearth.

I did not understand at all what she meant, but at least my journey was
not a dream and I knew that I had escaped a great danger. I did not want
to tell whither I had been wandering and, moreover, I was sorry that my
courageous efforts had been without success. It seems to me that, for
the present, the journey around the world is too great for my strength
and that I should wait until I am better prepared and know fully about
the direction and the dangers I shall be apt to meet.

Last evening, I read my diary to Godmother, so that she might tell me
the mistakes I had made and how I can better prepare for my next
journey. While I read, she laughed until the tears ran down her cheeks.
I was sorry that she made so light of my efforts and that the dangers I
had encountered seemed so laughable to her, but she endeavored to soothe
me by saying that she was the one who had made the mistakes and had
instructed me badly.

She told me that the journey was over her great feather bed, across the
floor to the hearth, and into the niche where the faggots for the fire
lay. I had no idea that the lodging of human beings is so vast and
imagine that the earth itself must be a great deal larger and that I
shall have to give up my idea. Godmother also advises me to give it up
until I shall be more experienced. In the meantime, she will tell me
stories of the great heroes, their adventures and the wonderful deeds
they accomplished.






       *       *       *       *       *


The Godmother was very sorry that she had told Little Tom so many things
he had not understood. She realized that it would be impossible to tell
him all about the world until he had seen it for himself; so, taking him
in her hand, she carried him from the bed to the hearth, from there to
the cupboard, then to the door and the window. Everything she showed him
she called by name and explained the uses of the different things so
that he might understand and, another time, not lose his way.

Then she placed him on the floor and Tom, looking around, measured the
distances with his eye, so that he would know how far he would have to
travel to each object. He crawled around the corners, examined the feet
of the furniture and remembered all the things she told him could be
moved, like the chairs, the poker and the foot-stool, so that he could
make no mistakes as to his whereabouts in case he could not find one of
the household articles in its place. Very soon he learned to know the
whole room as well as his own dwelling, and the Godmother, when she left
him in the morning, found she could put him on the floor without fear
and permit him to run where he pleased and to examine everything; but
she was afraid to take him outside the hut lest something should injure
him or he should get lost.

Little Tom was quite satisfied, for his explorations kept him busy.
Every evening, he told his Godmother all the things he had found under
the cupboard and the linen press and around the hearth, and she was
surprised to learn how her room appeared when looked at from the floor.

Then she told him more stories and became as interested herself in the
fairy tales as when she first heard them as a child. Often they sat thus
together even into the night. Little Tom could not hear enough of the
sweet princesses taken away by the wizards into deep caverns; the brave
heroes fighting the dragons and the witches; the glass castles which
revolved on the nightmare's foot; the valiant tailor who fought with the
giants; the clever shoemaker who had a magic sack; and of how the strong
blacksmith cheated the devil and death.

But, best of all, he liked the story of the enchanted castle, suspended
high above the earth. This castle seemed deserted, but whoever could
sleep there three nights, and, without saying a word, let himself be
tormented and tortured by the wicked spirits, would set free a beautiful
princess who had been enchanted by a witch. And so, one day, a brave lad
hid himself in the bucket which was lowered each morning to the earth
and let himself be pulled up to the castle, where he stayed three
nights. Every night he heard terrible noises; the spirits came and
pounded him, pinched him and squeezed him; but he valiantly stood the
torture and never spoke, screamed or cried out with pain. After the
third night, an enormous griffin flew in the window, bearing on his back
the beautiful princess who had been freed. The brave lad also climbed on
his back and the griffin flew with them down to the earth. There he
married the princess and they lived happily together ever afterwards in
their kingdom.

Little Tom liked the manly courage of this hero. He seemed braver than
all the other knights, for he knew how to suffer and bear torture and to
sacrifice himself for the poor princess. Tom thought that such sacrifice
was more beautiful than all the heroic deeds. He wished that he could
have such an adventure and give himself to torture, so that he might
free a princess.

One morning, before going to the field, the Godmother placed Tom on the
floor as usual, and then went out to get Speckle. As Tom ran about the
room, he came suddenly upon a great brass cylinder.

Never before had he seen it there and he wondered what it could be. He
wanted to climb up but it was so round and so smooth that he could find
no foothold. He ran to the hearth and taking a strong twig which he
rested against the cylinder clambered to the top; but when he got there
his twig slipped and fell down on the floor.

Tom then noticed that on the top of the cylinder was a little depression
and, in its centre, a hook from which a strong chain ran up in the air.
He seated himself by this hook and was almost breathless when he thought
that it might be a bucket lowered to the earth by its great chain from
an enchanted castle in the sky. He sat waiting for the chain to pull him
up, trembling with pleasure at the thought that he would get into the
castle and rescue the enchanted princess.

He was not at all afraid of the pain or the torture, for he knew that if
he did not cry out, the great bird would fly into the castle bearing the
princess he had set free.

At that moment, the Godmother returned, took up her cloak and was about
to leave the room again when she suddenly remembered that she had
forgotten to wind the clock. So she went to the wall, and taking hold of
the little hook, lifted the run-down weight from the floor to the clock.
She did not notice Little Tom sitting on the weight; but he heard a
terrible noise and felt himself hoisted by the chain into the sky. He
did not speak or cry out, for he knew if he should make a noise, the
evil spirits would tear him to pieces.

The Godmother went out to her work in the field and there sat Little Tom
on the weight at a dizzy height, up in the air under the enchanted
castle. The rattling of the chain had ceased, but above him in the
castle, Tom heard a strong voice repeating, »Tick, tack, tick, tack«.

At first Tom was frightened by this moving spectre, but he soon
discovered that it never went away from the wall. This calmed his fears
and he decided that he would go farther into the dark rooms of the
castle, in spite of the poisonous odors that came from them.

Returning to his chain he clambered higher and higher, until he came to
the powerful cylinder around which the chain was wound. Everywhere, it
was dusty and musty with much dark, greasy slime which soiled his hands
and clothes. Such a desolate, lonely castle he had never dreamed could
exist. Nowhere, a living soul.

Little Tom sat down on the big cylinder, waiting to see what would
happen and wondering what tortures lay before him. Resolutely, he said
to himself that he would not scream, no matter if the spectres should
tear him into little pieces.

Suddenly, the cylinder under him moved and shook so that he nearly fell
off; but he caught hold of the chain and lay quite still, stretched out
to his full length. Then he saw something bright, and directly above him
move, and the giant tooth of a great wheel bent over and caught him by
the coat. Tom thought that his torture was about to begin, but he
resolved that he, would not give up easily; so, bravely grasping the
tooth itself, he pulled himself up with all his strength until he sat
astride the great wheel.

Now, he felt easier, but the wheel started to move carrying him still
higher. In a moment, he was lifted high above the great cylinder and saw
another wheel, with other great teeth approaching, which fitted closely
into the notches of the wheel on which he sat and, with powerful force,
turned it up and up. He was afraid that he would be caught between the
two, so climbing over his wheel, he worked his way back to the cylinder;
but this was also moving, so that he could not stand upright on it. As
his eyes had by this time become accustomed to the darkness, he saw
about him in every direction, wheels, levers, teeth and cylinders.
Everything was moving and turning around. Poor little Tom was suddenly
snatched by a great metal talon which almost tore out his shoulder and
he was terribly pinched, squeezed and pressed.

Setting his teeth so that he would not cry out, he drew his dagger and
cut away a piece of his coat, which was already caught between the two
cylinders, and sprang blindly to one side, not knowing where he would
land. His hand touched an upright steel post which he grasped firmly
and, climbing upward, he reached a great globe that seemed to stand
quite still. Here he felt safe for the moment, but he knew that this was
not the end of his tortures.

Close to the globe was a large, metal vessel, to which he clambered and,
working his way to the top, where it was fastened, sat down to rest. He
hoped that this would not move. From his safe perch he looked below him
into the tangle of wheels and teeth and levers, where everything was
rustling, growling, and whirring. From all this he had barely escaped
with his life.

He wondered how long he had been bearing this torture and when it would
end. While he sat there thinking, all of a sudden the globe which he had
just left, raised itself, something below rustled and the globe struck
itself against the vessel with a deafening clang. The great vessel
trembled and resounded with a terrible noise, so that Tom almost fell
from his seat. He perceived that this was a new kind of torture, worse
even than the first. His arms and legs shook with the vibration, his
spine prickled and his head began to whirl. Again the globe beat against
the vessel, and again. The clock was sounding three quarters of the


After this, everything became quiet and Little Tom heaved a sigh of
relief. On the great bell he sat very sadly. He would have returned into
the machinery below him, for the whole world, as he thought a crowd of
witches and spirits were storming there and waiting to tear him to
pieces if he should utter a single sound. But he could see no other way
out, for around him was nothing but darkness and gloom. He hoped that
when the torture should stop, the castle would open and the great
griffin would appear to carry him safely back to earth. He wondered what
sort of a princess she would be whom he would save and whether she would
be as beautiful as his own mother had been.

In this way, another quarter of an hour passed; but to Tom, sitting
there in the darkness, it seemed like an eternity. Again, the machinery
began to whir and the castle shook. The globe beat into the bell as if
it were crazy. Little Tom was stiff with fright as he shook and trembled
under the powerful blows.

Suddenly, the little doors in front of him flew open, letting the light
of day into the castle; and he saw the great cuckoo, which he at once
took for the griffin. The bird ran out a little way from the roof and
called »Cuckoo, cuckoo«.

Tom sprang from the bell to the bird and cried out victoriously. He
thought that his torture was at an end and that he had broken the spell
of the enchanted castle. Now, he wanted to find the princess he had set
free. But, suddenly, the doors closed with a bang, catching Tom between
them and squeezing him so hard that he nearly lost his breath. He was
terribly afraid, fearing lest he had cried out too soon and spoiled the
rescue and now would be torn to pieces by the spectres.

He struggled in vain to tear himself loose. Below him, the clock was
moaning and groaning; and, far down, he looked into the depths of the
chasm. Already, he bade farewell to the world and started shouting at
the top of his lungs.

At this moment, his Godmother came in from the field and, hearing the
clock rattling, she wondered what could be the matter with it, that it
should make such a noise. Looking at the partly closed doors, she
perceived that something was caught between them. Stepping up on a
chair, she saw Little Tom struggling and crying for help. She released
him at once and carried him safely down. He told her what had happened
saying that he wanted to rescue the princess in the enchanted castle,
but had spoiled the rescue by crying out too soon.

This time, the Godmother did not laugh at him. She was afraid that he
had been hurt and was very sorry that her stories had brought him into
such danger. For a long time, Tom could not believe that he had been
mistaken and that in the clock there were no spectres. She raised him up
to the dial plate, showed him the painted roses and the numbers,
explaining all about them and showing how the little hands worked all by
themselves, day and night, to tell how the time was passing. He became
very much encouraged, as he began to understand. Then he sat astride the
long hand as if he were on a horse and liked it so much, that the
Godmother had to warn him not to slide down and kill himself.





       *       *       *       *       *


The Godmother realized that it would not do to tell Tom too many fairy
tales, so, instead, she said that she would tell him other stories more
beautiful than the made-up ones.

During the day, Little Tom recovered from the adventures of the morning
and looked forward to the evening, when he was to hear something new.
After their supper, the Godmother spoke about the wickedness in the
world and told him that, in the next world, would come justice and
rewards; that those who had lived rightly and stood the trials of this
world patiently, would live in Paradise, where there is eternal life and
pleasure, where beautiful flowers grow, sweet fruits ripen and angels
fly about the blue heaven and sing; that those who had lived wickedly
and committed crimes would be taken away by wicked spirits and punished.

Tom was greatly affected by this explanation and longed to see
Paradise; but he was fearful lest he had done something wrong and that
the little devils would carry him away. He asked his Godmother what he
should do to live right and so earn Paradise. She promised that she
would instruct him in order that he might know how to avoid sin. As it
was now late in the evening, they went to bed, Little Tom dreaming all
night long of Paradise, of walking through the delightful groves and
listening to the angels' songs.

In the morning, when the Godmother arose, she found that it was a warm,
bright day and opened the window through which came the scents of the
old lime tree, the carnations and the roses. Then she went into the
black kitchen, started the fire and hung a pot of potatoes to cook for
lunch, on the hook over the hearth. She told Tom that she was going to
the village and that he should not run around and again get into danger.
Having promised not to run around the room, Tom sat down by Castle
Easter Egg, under the fir tree, and wrote of the experiences through
which he had passed.

But, after she had gone, he became curious to know whence came the
lovely fragrance. He ran down from his garden, crossed the linen press
to the window and stood upon the ledge. Above him he saw the blue sky
and the golden sun; he heard the blackbirds and thrushes singing in the
lilac bushes; and such a beautiful perfume came to him that his heart
was filled with joy. Without realizing what he was doing, he felt he
must go out and look at this magic world. Grasping the old vine by the
window, he slid down very carefully through the transparent green
leaves, jumped into the middle of a red carnation among its opening
petals, and felt as though he were in a cloud of perfume. He waded
through the soft, little petals, pressing them with his hands, and was
sure that he was in Paradise itself! Yes, it must be the Paradise his
Godmother had so beautifully described. What lights, colors and odors
were here! What pleasure to gaze at the broad forest of red, white and
pink bouquets and on the infinite green plain beyond, on which other
blossoms like these were growing!

As Tom walked to the edge of this flower, it bent over and he fell into
the grass. But he did not mind this at all. He waded through the grass
until he came upon a path, full of hard, shining little stones.

He felt easy in his heart and shouted with delight, drinking the dew
drops on the blades of grass and saying over and over to himself. »I am
in Paradise, the place of eternal life and eternal pleasure.« He wanted
to cross the path to the other side, where he saw great trees growing
with broad crowns--his Godmother's rose bushes--and he was curious to
learn what other charming things he might discover.

But it was not easy for him to cross the path. He fell into little
holes and stumbled over the sand grains which seemed to him like high
stones. When he stood in the middle of the path, he saw a great black
creature, with six legs and two horns, about to run by him. He stopped,
instinctively placing his hand on the hilt of his dagger, but at the
same time the creature stopped also and gazed at him with bulging eyes,
raising its horns in the air.


Little Tom went on bravely and at once recognized an ant. At first, it
retreated, then ran towards him and said, »Prince, it pleases me very
much that I have found you again. I was once at your father's court,
with a message from our people to thank him for his hospitality and for
the shelter he gave us when our town was attacked. I am Mirmex and I
knew your father very well. All of us were deeply grieved when we
learned that your town was flooded and destroyed.«

Tom was heartily glad to meet some one with whom he could speak on a
basis of equality and began at once to tell the ant about his
adventures; but Mirmex excused himself, saying that he was too busy to
stop long; so he asked Tom to accompany him. Tom was surprised to learn
that Mirmex had work in his Godmother's Paradise, but Mirmex was already
running ahead and Tom could hardly catch up with him.

They crossed the path and waded through the grass to the trunk of the
rose-bush, up which Mirmex climbed quickly. Tom saw on the trunk a crowd
of little ants, each carrying a small bit of earth in its antennae.
Presently, Mirmex came back to Tom. »There is a great obstacle up
there,« he said, pointing to the bush. »The trunk is covered all the way
around with some sticky grease and our workmen can not crawl over it to
get to the leaves. We are now trying to build a bridge across this
place, but are not succeeding very well.«


Little Tom promised to help them. Four strong workmen raised him over
their heads and pushed him up the trunk to the dangerous strip, where he
sat on a crooked thorn and saw how the ants were putting bits of earth
on the grease to build a bridge across it; but it was too thick and the
feet of those who were in front were caught in it. Tom drew his dagger
and, stepping out on the thorn, dug the ants free and then scratched a
broad path in the grease. Over this the ants sifted sand and soon began
to run across it in such crowds, that the leaves appeared all black.

With difficulty, Tom crawled up after them and, finding a seat on a
rosebud, watched them working. Those on the leaves were biting out
little round pieces which they threw to the ground, where others were
waiting. These at once put the green circles over their heads like
parasols and, in a long stream, hurried to the fence. Tom wanted to know
what they were going to do with the leaves and called to Mirmex as he
was passing near him. Mirmex answered that just then, he had no time;
but, later, he would explain everything.

Tom then asked Mirmex to have him carried down to the ground, as he
wished to look at the other wonders of Paradise. »With pleasure,«
answered Mirmex, »but perhaps you would like a horse to ride upon around
the garden.« Before Tom could reply, a beautiful, green steed jumped
upon the rose bud. Tom climbed upon him, the grasshopper spread his
wings, flew to the ground, and then, with great leaps, carried him to
the poppy beds.


In the green shade among the high stalks, it was agreeably cool. Little
Tom rode through this giant forest, above which flamed red and white
blossoms like huge lamps. The beauty of it all was enchanting. When
Mirmex came to him, Tom spoke of the place with enthusiasm; but Mirmex
merely waved his hand. »This is only a useless desert,« he said. »There
are many like it in the garden; but ride after me and I will show you a
more beautiful place.«

Mirmex ran rapidly ahead over the bed of carrots, through the strawberry
plants and under the gooseberry and currant bushes, where he stopped.

»Here,« he said, »is the most beautiful spot in the whole land which you
call Paradise. Here are the stalks of the sweetest things in the world
and there are so many that whole towns could live on them. The only
problem is how to carry them away. You can stop here and, if at any time
you should wish to visit our Black Town, you will always find here some
of our workmen who will tell me of your wishes. In the meantime, be
happy and enjoy yourself.« Mirmex ran quickly away and Little Tom,
climbing down from his horse, began to look at the wonderful fruit.

He crawled up a gooseberry bush and saw many yellow barrels hanging
among the leaves. He stuck his dagger into one and found that it was
filled with excellent wine; so he cut the stems of several others which
fell to the ground. He then went to the second bush, full of red globes
that shone like glass. He cut into one and found that it held a
delicious, tart wine. When he crawled down again, he had in the grass a
stock of fine drinks that would last him many days.

He was still looking for food when he came upon the strawberries, which
seemed like giant lumps in the leaves over his head. Selecting the
largest, he began to cut away its stem with his cutlass; the green stalk
bent and the strawberry fell heavily to the grass, leaving Tom barely
time to jump to one side, as the great mass fell. As it was, it struck
him on the shoulder and threw him head foremost into the grass; but he
did not regret the misfortune. With his cutlass he dug out the yellow
seeds and cut great, juicy slices, enjoying huge mouthfuls of the
delicious fruit.

Never had he eaten anything so good. When he could eat no more, he made
up his mind that he would remain in this Paradise, and establish his
home here. For the moment, he had forgotten his Godmother and how sad
she would be when she could not find him.

First, he thought he would sleep awhile and then bring together the
timbers for his house; but, at this moment, along came his horse, pawing
restively and rubbing his head against him, as if asking Tom to hurry.
It seemed strange to Tom that he should obey so readily; but he climbed
upon his steed's back at once and the grasshopper started from the bush
with a great jump and passed under the fence as if some one was chasing

The grass struck Tom in the face, so that he could hardly keep his seat;
but the grasshopper took no notice; he only hurried the faster to the
brook to hide himself in the sorrel close to the water. Suddenly, a huge
shadow swept over the earth. Tom saw great wings and an open bill. He
fell on the ground and the grasshopper disappeared, carried away by a
huge shrike. Rolling in the dust in front of the Godmother's hut, Tom
saw the great bird sitting on a shrub close to the fence. Holding the
poor grasshopper in his bill, he jumped upon the branches, impaled the
grasshopper on a sharp thorn and flew away. Pierced by the thorn, the
grasshopper struggled to get away buzzing with his wings and kicking his
feet desperately in the air, but to no avail. He was held fast by the
thorn which was thrust firmly through his breast.

Little Tom watched his struggles, breathless with fright. What did it
all mean? He thought of the wicked spirits his Godmother had told him
about, who carried away those who had done wrong, to torture them. He
became more frightened when he thought how he had taken advantage of his
Godmother's goodness.

He did not doubt in the least that the great winged creature had come
for him to transfix him on the thorn, so that he might suffer his
punishment and that, only by chance, it had caught the grasshopper
instead of himself. He did not know where he was. All about him was
bare, hard ground. Crawling up the little step before the door of the
hut, he squeezed through a little crack and found himself in a great,
dark hall.


With a sigh of relief, he thought that, now, he might escape the
terrible punishment and that here the flying, wicked spirit could not
find him. He did not know that he was in the hall of his Godmother's
hut; but it did seem to him to be that of a human dwelling. He went
further along the wall, until he found a crack under a door, through
which he crawled into the black kitchen.

Here it was dark, but far away was shining a great, hot fire on the
hearth. Little Tom did not know what this meant. He went through the
darkness towards the red light, wading through the dust until he came to
the hearth, where, in the mortar, he discovered a little hole. Not
minding how the rough mortar cut his hands, he crawled up the broad
fireplace under the chimney and stood astonished.

Before him was a black plain covered with soot and in the middle was a
tripod holding a huge pot, from under which flames darted forth. The
fire itself crackled and hissed; sparks were flying through the darkness
as big as Tom's head, while clouds of steam rose to the chimney. From
under the cover of the pot, came a great noise of sputtering and
bubbling, like the quarreling of many angry voices.

Tom felt attracted by the fierce light. He could not turn his eyes away
from it and great fear pressed upon his heart. After all, he could not
escape the wicked spirits and he would be punished for having deceived
his Godmother. Perhaps a devil would come to catch him. Soon, he thought
the devil actually did appear. A terrible being, twice as big as
himself, all in shining armor and with great whiskers, came quickly from
out of the darkness and stood directly in front of him, looking at him,
till his heart grew faint. Tom thought he was lost, but determined to
defend himself with all his might.

Drawing his cutlass, he waited. The cockroach raised his feelers and ran
towards him. Little Tom stood firm and when the cockroach drew near, he
thrust his sharp cutlass under his chin up to the very hilt. The
cockroach fell dead on Little Tom, throwing him down by his weight.

When the Godmother returned for lunch, she looked for Tom in the room in
vain. Calling him, she hunted in all of the corners, through the wood by
the hearth, and even in the clock, but all to no purpose. Tom was
nowhere to be seen.

Very sadly, she went back into the black kitchen for the potatoes and
spied a cockroach by the oven. She was about to sweep it across the
floor, when something sparkled under it. It was Little Tom's golden cap.
She placed the poor little fellow in her palm and carried him tenderly
into the great room, calling him by his name until he wakened; but even
then he did not recognize her. He had a fever and would only say, »Go
away from me, you ugly devil«. He kept waving his hands and reaching for
his sword screaming as if defending himself.

It was some time before he came to himself and recognized his
Godmother, so that he could tell her what he had experienced. She
thought that he was still in fever and did not know what he was saying.
She forgot what she had been telling him about Paradise and the place of
the wicked spirits. Only when he had quite recovered and could walk
about in his garden by Castle Easter Egg did she learn what had happened
to him.

She then realized that she could not keep Little Tom at home all the
time and that the room could not satisfy his brave, curious little soul.
So she decided that she would take him out and show the world to him, in
order that he might have pleasure under the great sky and gain some
experience of life.






       *       *       *       *       *


One bright summer morning, as his Godmother was getting herself ready to
go to the village, she said to him, »Dear Little Tom, if you want to see
what God's world is like, I will let you come out in front of the hut;
although I am afraid that you will lose your way, or that some animal
will harm you.«

Tom encouraged her by saying that he would put on his weapons and that
he knew how to defend himself. She did not give much thought to his
valour but she felt that, because of his small size, no animal would
notice him; so she took him in her hand and carried him outside in front
of the hut, through the garden and barn to the brook, pointing out
everything of interest and telling him the name of objects and places so
that he could recognize them again. Then she put him on the ground
before the door and told him, in a severe voice, that he should not run
far away; she hoped to return soon and, in the meantime, he would not
meet with any misfortune.

When she had crossed the bridge, she turned around, but no longer saw
him. He had absolutely disappeared among the stones of the path. He was
very pleased that he could make an exploration on his own account and
felt that he was now much more clever. He understood what a human
dwelling was, a garden, a path, a brook and a lime tree; and he was not
afraid of anything. He decided to go over the same way his Godmother had
taken him around the hut, so that he might see for himself all its

First, he went around the fence to the field, crossed the path and
passed into the thick, rustling grain. He felt he was in a vast, old
forest. Above him buzzed wasps, flies, gnats and gadflies. All around
him were worms, insects and caterpillars, which took no notice of him
whatsoever, but kept diligently about their own work. He seemed to be in
a new world and found so many strange objects and animals, that he had
not time to look at all of them carefully.

He strode forward into the grain, but was careful not to go too far and
lose his way. As he walked along the edge of the path, he looked at the
grain, thinking that he would like to cut down one of the stalks and
make a good, light lance out of it. While he was trying to select one
that would suit him, he came upon a cobweb stretched between two
thistles. It was beautifully woven of thin, well-tied threads, and
seemed to Tom to be a powerful net which some hunter had placed there as
a trap for wild game.

He wished to see the hunter and learn how game is caught, so he sat down
in some wild thyme not far away and waited; but nothing happened. Then
he got up and went nearer, feeling the lines with his hand to see how
tightly they were drawn. But no sooner had he touched the net than he
felt it shake and saw, running across it, a great, eight-footed
creature, with a cross on its back and horrible jaws, rushing straight
at him.

He drew his sword at once, but a strong, elastic rope was thrown around
his body, binding his hips and legs. He struggled to free himself, but
more and more ropes enveloped him. In a very short time, he was tangled
up in them and tightly bound to the net. Then the great monster darted
at him with his cruel jaws open.

Brave Little Tom waved his sword; this frightened the spider, which drew
back. At once he cut the ropes around him, tore himself out of the net
and ran, beside himself with fear, until he fell rolling on the gravel
in the path. He expected the monster to rush out after him and eat him;
but when the spider saw that his prey had escaped him, he started to
repair his net and paid no further heed to Tom.

Tom was glad to have escaped so easily and no longer wished to go in the
field and cut down a stalk. He went back very rapidly along the path,
deciding that he would remain near the hut. He wanted to see his
Godmother's farm, so he passed through the gate to the little grassy
place beyond among the daisies and dandelions. As soon as he reached the
spot, a lot of little yellow chickens came running to him and, gathering
around him, looked at him with surprised eyes; for that kind of a worm
these little chicks had never seen before.

Little Tom was frightened, for these birds appeared to him as large as
the ostriches his Godmother had shown him in the natural history book,
only they were yellow. The chickens looked at him sideways, peeping and
calling the mother hen. She was scratching in some sweepings not far
away and when she heard the peeping, she hurried up, all a flutter, to
see what was the matter and who the enemy was. When she saw only Little
Tom, she pecked at him angrily with her bill, then picked him up, but
let him drop as he did not seem good for eating. Scolding her chicks,
she drove them away in search of real worms.

Tom was so badly hurt that he fell down as if dead. His coat was torn
and his hand was bleeding. After a moment, he struggled to his feet and
fled out of the yard, away from such terrible enemies. In front of the
yard, the Godmother's woolly-haired dog, Rover, was running about.
Without seeing Tom he stepped on him with his great, hard foot. When Tom
cried out in pain, Rover stopped, turned around and smelled at Tom with
his moist nose.

Little Tom was overcome with another great fear. He was dusty, bruised
and bleeding and so unhappy that he did not know what to do. He ran on,
stumbling and limping, while Rover, thinking he was some strange insect,
ran after him, barking and jumping around him, until he drove him to the
brook. Little Tom wanted to hide himself among the leaves near the
water; but, as he stepped on them, he slipped and fell head first into
the brook.

The water refreshed him and, knowing how to swim very well, he was at
first pleased to think he had escaped this enemy; but the brook, which
seemed to him a river, was carrying him away. He had no idea that he
could reach the shore. He already felt himself lost, believing that the
waves would dash him against a stone, when, suddenly, a trout came out
of the water and gobbled him up in his great mouth. But the trout did
not like this morsel and spat him out again into the grass under the


Catching hold of a grass stem, Tom pulled himself into the bushes and
sat there, shaking as with a chill. Wet through and cold, with hands
bruised and bleeding, he could hardly hold himself on the grass which
the wind waved back and forth.

As he became weaker and weaker and was about to give up hope that he
would ever come of his adventure alive, he suddenly heard his Godmother
calling to him. She was coming across the little foot-bridge and calling
loudly, so that she might not by mistake step on him. Tom immediately
answered as loud as he could shout, »Here I am Godmother. Here I am«.
But she had to look a long while before she discovered whence came the
thin, little voice. Then she promptly rescued him from his perilous
position. Poor Little Tom was so worn out from his bruises and his
tremendous exertion, that he could hardly feel anything and it was only
after he had eaten well and drunk some milk, that he could tell his
Godmother about all the terrible adventures that had befallen him. How
in the deep forest of the grain he had been ensnared by the terrible
robber in his frightful net; how the great, yellow ostriches had pursued
him and, when he was escaping from them, how a rough, hairy dragon had
come upon him and chased him into the river, where he was first
swallowed by an enormous whale and then cast out upon the shore.

The kind Godmother was very, very sorry for poor Little Tom and began
to realize the danger of leaving him alone, outside the hut, so she
promised him that she herself would take him to the field. Tom no longer
wanted to travel alone amid such terrible dangers and was pleased that
he could accompany his Godmother; but they did not know in just what way
they could accomplish this. She thought of taking him in her pocket, but
Tom was afraid of such a dark place, among crumbs of bread and huge

On her breast, the Godmother, had a brooch which pinned together the
ends of the kerchief she wore around her throat; so Tom sat down on the
pleat of the cloth behind the brooch, grasping the bar to keep his hands
steady. As she walked along, he thrust out his little head to look at
the field, the meadow and the forest on top of the hill, where he hoped
to run around with his Godmother, and wondered what new things he should

When they reached the meadow under the slope of the hill, the Godmother
stood Little Tom upon a stone among the heather and said, »I am going to
gather the hay and I must hurry, as the weather looks as if it were
going to change. While I am gone, you can walk around on this stone and
look at the flowers, but do not crawl down, or you will surely get lost
and I would look in vain for you.«

Obediently, Tom walked around on the top of his rock. He crawled over
the pebbles, peered into the various holes and examined the small, red
carnations, the tall, blue monks-hoods and the pink thistles growing
there. As he walked along, he heard a great buzzing in the air as if
some one were angry and, on coming closer, he perceived a hairy
bumble-bee staggering among the blossoms.

Tom became confused as he had never seen such a creature before. He
thought it might be a wild beast that would attack him. But the
bumble-bee was quite harmless and, moreover, he had been sucking the
sweet honey from the flowers so steadily since the early morning, that
his head had become quite dizzy. As soon as he saw Little Tom, he sidled
towards him and welcomed him as if he had known him all his life.

»Brother,« he said, »what are you doing here and how are you? I am
pleased that I have now found a comrade. Come, let us drink together.«

It seemed strange to Tom, that this stout, old gentleman should appear
to know him so well and should address him so familiarly. The old fellow
went on to urge him, to fly with him up on the monks-hood, saying that
there they would find a delicious drink. Tom tried to excuse himself,
saying that he had given his promise not to leave the rock; but the
bumble-bee said, »Oh just come along with me. I will bring you back. Let
us be merry now.«

Catching Tom in his arms, the bumble-bee carried him up the stem and
seated him on a flower with an arched, blue bell over it, and then gave
him a push right into the blossom. From the heart of this blue bell
extended two horns with thick heads, which powdered him with a yellow
dust that made him sneeze. At this, the bumble-bee laughed heartily and
began to take long drinks from the cup under the blossoms.


Carefully, Tom crawled a little lower, stretched himself on his stomach
and also drank. The juice was as clear as water and as sweet as honey.
He drank gluttonously and, in a little while, became so merry and so
light at heart that he could have embraced the whole world. When they
had finished this cup, Tom crawled into another blossom and drank again.

The bumble-bee had chosen another blossom for himself and between sips
contentedly murmured to Tom, »This is my only pleasure. See how good it
tastes to you also. Now you can see what it is to be merry«.

Tom no longer knew what he was about. He sat in the blossom, singing and
drinking, and forgetting everything around him. Presently, the
bumble-bee, paying no further attention to Tom, flew away; but Tom did
not notice this and was soon so befuddled, that he hardly knew anything
at all.

After a while, the Godmother came to the rock to see what he was about.
Not finding him on top of the stone, she looked carefully around and
soon discovered him peeping out of the monks-hood blossom. His little
face was very red. He laughed and shouted and paid no attention to her
when she spoke to him. At this she became angry, for she saw that he had
been up to mischief; so she plucked the flower and took Tom out of it.

»Will you not obey,« she said, »there is nothing else to do but to tie
you up, or you will lose your life somewhere.«

Taking him to the meadow, she pulled a hair from her head and tied him
to a great thistle. Tom was so overcome by the sweet juice of the
monkshood, that he lay down and immediately fell asleep.

When he awoke after a while, he had a severe headache. He thought over
what he had done and was very much ashamed that he had allowed himself
to be misled by the drunken bumble-bee. He saw that he had been tied up
and felt very sorry, wondering how he should excuse himself to his
Godmother when she should return to him.

In the meantime, Speckle, the cow, who had been grazing not far away,
was all the while coming nearer and nearer to the spot where Tom had
been fastened. He was lying flat on his back, gazing up into the sky,
when suddenly a great mouth opened above him, extending from the earth
to the sky, and--presto--as if a strong wind had blown, everything
around him disappeared.

With a great rattle, the jaws with their powerful teeth closed over him
and Tom found himself in complete darkness. All doubled up behind one
back tooth, he screamed lustily; but Speckle was moving her tongue and
grinding the grass and did not feel Tom at all. Holding his breath, he
waited until Speckle opened her mouth, when he ran quickly out on her
lip and up on her nose to her forehead, where he held himself by
grasping the hair between her horns. He gave a great sigh of relief as
he saw that he was saved.


When Speckle turned her head, Tom sat quietly, then got up and started
for a walk along her neck and head.

It happened that the Godmother turned and saw Speckle just as she bit
the thistle. »Oh Tom, Tom, you poor little child,« she cried, running
towards Speckle as fast as she could. She thought surely that the cow
had swallowed him and that would be the last that she should see of him;
but, as she came close, she heard a little voice calling from Speckle's
back, »Here I am, Godmother, here I am.«

She took him carefully in her hand and carried him off to the meadow
where she was at work. There she seated him in one of her wooden shoes
and saying, »Now you must not move from here until I come,« off she went
to her work again; for she had to hurry with the hay, as dark clouds
were coming up in the sky.

Little Tom sat quietly in the shoe for a while. It was like a big hut to
him. Then he thought he would have a look around, so he clambered down
the side of the shoe and started to walk a little way on the meadow,
when a big rain drop splashed on him and made him all wet. He was
greatly surprised, as he did not know what it was that came down in such
a flood and splashed on the ground all around him. With the rain came
hail stones, like rocks of ice, larger than Tom's head. They bounded
away and then came down so thickly, that Tom did not know which way to

He turned back toward the shoe and ran for it with all his might, but
on the way a great hailstone hit him and nearly killed him. He managed
to clamber over the side of the shoe and fall inside, fainting. With
such strength as he had left, he crawled away up in the toe of the shoe
where he could hide. The hail rattled down like cannon balls and very
soon the whole shoe was filled with the little balls of ice. When the
Godmother came hurrying up, she could hardly find Tom who was curled up
among the hailstones in the far end of the shoe, half frozen and
completely exhausted. Taking him carefully in her warm hand, she hurried
home with him.


Thus, his expedition with his Godmother turned out very sadly and she
saw that, even when he was with her, he could not be sure of his life.

When they had thoroughly dried themselves and eaten their supper, the
Godmother said, »There is nothing to do, Tom, except for you to stay at
home and study and not try for yourself to see the wonders of the world.
It is a miracle that you did not die today.«

Little Tom himself realized that, outside in the great world, there was
no happiness for him and he readily promised that he would stay at home.
But it made him sad to think how terrible and cruel the world is, and
that in it there seemed to be no safe place for him.





       *       *       *       *       *


Little Tom spent many days at home alone on top of the linen press.
Outside, the sun shone and through the windows the flowers breathed a
wonderful fragrance; but he no longer wished to go out, for he knew
there only awaited him terrible traps and dangers. He worked sometimes
in his garden, or wrote in his diary, or went over to the window to look
out sadly between the flower pots to the wide world beyond.

One day, as he was standing on the window ledge and looking into the
garden, he perceived on a fuchsia near the window a beautiful, red
ladybird with shining wings, crawling on the blossoms and looking
sideways at him. His Godmother had been away since early morning and he
knew that she would not return until evening, so he was very lonely
there all by himself.

The lady-bird opened its wings and flew over to the window. Alighting on
the edge it started to crawl along, all the time looking towards Tom who
thought to himself: »What is that gentleman looking for and does he know
me?« But the lady-bird coming to him said, »Good morning Little Tom. How
are you? I am very pleased to find you. I am Seven Spot from the
lady-bird kingdom on the forest pool. We all thought that you had
perished with the others in the terrible flood.«

Little Tom was surprised to learn that this gentleman knew him so well,
but he did not wish to inquire how it happened; so he replied that he
was very pleased to meet Mr. Seven Spot, as he had no companions at all.
They talked together for some time. Seven Spot told him all about the
forest pool and how beautiful it was; and Little Tom, on his part,
confided to his new friend his various adventures. Seven Spot listened
attentively; but also seemed to have something on his mind. Presently he
invited Tom to visit the lady-bird kingdom; but Tom declined, as he
wished never again to act contrary to his Godmother's instructions and
make an independent excursion into the great world.

Seven Spot persisted, but when he saw that Tom would not be persuaded,
he said: »My dear Tom, it is true that you suffered very much when you
came out; but that is because you live with human beings and do not know
your true place in life, nor your own friends. What kind of a life have
you among humans? Although your Godmother loves you, you are neither her
child nor her friend. Your real life is among the gnomes, but, since
there are none left, you should dwell with their good friends who are
like you in many respects. They will welcome and honor you. With them
you can live in peace and happiness, and who knows if you might not find
among them some one dear to your heart? But if you do not wish to go, I
will fly back to my people and tell them that my mission was in vain.«

After this long speech, Mr. Seven Spot raised his shells indifferently
and aired his wings; but he did not fly away. Instead, he lighted on the
pistil of the fuchsia and started to crawl slowly into the blossom.
Little Tom was greatly surprised at what he had heard. Who had sent this
messenger and who was thinking of him? He begged Seven Spot not to go
away, but to tell him everything he knew. Seven Spot smiled.

»Do you think, Little Tom,« he said, »that I would dare to enter the
dwelling of a human being without reason, unless I felt sure of finding
you here? Friend Mirmex told me about you on the meadow, where with his
workmen he is collecting stores of grain. Then, someone else whom you
know very well told us about your past life in the realm of the gnomes.
We asked Mirmex to find out how you are living and what you are doing.
So, while you were sleeping in the night, his workmen found a way to
you, looked over everything very carefully and made a report to us. We
realized that you would not find your happiness with human beings and we
have, therefore, decided to ask you to come to us and rule over the
lady-bird realm on the forest pool, since your own kingdom has perished.
If you do not wish to accept, we shall all be very sorry and, later, you
will recognize that your decision to remain with humans was not to your
advantage and somebody will cry for you.«

Little Tom was very curious to know who would cry for him and his heart
was torn with the hope that he might see again one of his own people.
Perhaps, after all, he was not alone in the world, but he feared that he
might be terribly disappointed. He begged Seven Spot not to torture him,
but to tell him who was expecting him. That gentleman only replied that
he could say nothing further, as he had given his word of honor, but
that Tom should go with him and see for himself.


Tom felt as if on thorns. He said that he could go and see, but to
remain was impossible, as he could not bind himself to do that.
Moreover, he did not know how to get to the wood. Seven Spot was pleased
to see that Tom was yielding and said, »Only prepare your things and
dress in your finest clothes. In a few minutes, I will return, and you
need not bother about your transportation.« And off he flew.

Tom at once set himself to pack his tiny hand-bag. Then he put on a
beautiful suit of green and belted his sword about him. When he was
ready, he was impatient to leave. He had barely completed his
preparations however, when Seven Spot appeared at the window.

Little Tom, snatching his bag, ran to him at once. There, on the ledge,
he saw a gorgeous dragonfly with golden eyes, slim, blue body and
transparent rainbow wings. Tom was a little embarrassed before such a
magnificent creature; but Seven Spot, without any hesitation, placed
Tom's bag upon the dragonfly and told him to get on its back. In a
trice, they were flying like a shot through the warm, summer air.

Such a wonderful journey it was, under the blue sky, over the broad
stretches of land, high above the earth. The dragonfly, as if not
feeling the burden, sparkled and glistened in the rays of the sun, while
above them Seven Spot was flying in great circles.

Tom was intoxicated by the swift flight through the beautiful sunshine
and the fresh breeze, which, far below them, rippled the sea of grain
into little waves. Over the slope they flew, across the fields and into
the cool twilight of the forest, among the pine trees and the beeches.
Under the thick, quiet arches of the leaves, Tom looked around in
surprise; but the dragonfly winged his way unerringly, deeper and deeper
into the wood, until they came, at last, to the valley where, beyond the
ferns and the colts-foot, shone a dark pool covered with yellow and
white pond lilies.

There the dragonfly settled into the cool moss. Tom stepped down, but
before he could turn and thank this kind friend, the dragonfly had sped
up in the air like a colored spark and disappeared among the yellow
candles of the cat tails.

It seemed to Tom as if he had landed in some magic kingdom. All about
him were growing gigantic willow-herbs with thick bunches of little red
blossoms, broad crowns of yellow lettuce and water crow-feet on thin,
spreading stalks, with their tender little heads sparkling like white
flames. Everything was radiant, glittering with bright colors, and
perfumed with the sweet odors of the forest.

When Tom turned around, he found Seven Spot standing beside him. He
invited Tom to come with him, saying that all the lady-birds were
waiting. They went under an arch of green leaves and through a lofty
green palace to the sprays of sweet-smelling mint by the water. On the
leaves of the mint, were sitting, side by side, hundreds and hundreds of
lady-birds, in colors of gold, brown, violet, red and yellow. All
crowded forward to see the guest, whom they greeted with cheers.

Little Tom was led by the crowd to the shore of the pool, where a great
water-bug waited. Tom sat on this smooth, shiny back, and off he went
like a shot over the water to a broad water-lily leaf, where a grand
banquet was prepared. The lady-birds flew ahead and, lighting on a leaf,
waited for him, their brilliant colors looking like a border of
sparkling gems. When Tom arrived, Seven Spot stepped out from the crowd
and welcomed him with a touching speech.


»Prince Tom, be welcomed to our Lady-bird Kingdom. Long have we waited
for you and now respectfully beg you to be our king, rule over our land
and take for your wife the true comrade of your youth, who, at the time
of the flood, was visiting us and so was saved.«

As soon as Seven Spot stopped speaking, the water lily opened and out
stepped a golden haired girl in a violet dress. »Chrysomela« cried Tom
and ran to her with open arms.

»Long live our King, Little Tom!« was shouted on all sides in a loud
chorus, while a great crowd of golden flies flew around and around the
pool and a merry choir sang to celebrate the fête.

Tom was quite beside himself with happiness. The sad past faded away
and he saw only before him the goldenhaired girl, who smiled at him from
her blue eyes. They held each other's hands and talked and talked, until
Seven Spot interrupted them to ask them to sit down to the banquet and
accept the homage of their subjects.


The banquet was magnificent. Stuffed tiny snails, salad of flower
tendrils, a giant whitebait born by four cooks on a dog-rose leaf, mint
candies, and, for drinking, blackberry wine drawn directly from a great
berry standing on the edge of the leaf.

When they began to feast, beautiful music sounded. It was the famous
Gnat Quartette, two gnats playing violins, a small cicada, the cello and
a wood-bee, the bass viol. Joyous strains rang through the warm summer
air. Presently, a swarm of gnats hovered over the water close by,
dancing a graceful ballet; and, when they had finished, there came a
dragonfly who gave an acrobatic performance with giddy jumps and dizzy

The rest of the kingdom of the lady-birds were sitting all around the
shore of the pool on mint and ferns, cheering and shouting with joy. On
a fallen trunk by the water, sat a sedate group of water-bugs chewing
young tendrils and nodding approval with their beards.

By the time the celebration was finished, evening had come and a serious
brown water-bug came up to invite them to visit the wood-bugs mines. In
a long procession, they followed him to a powerful, old beech, where he
conducted them through deep, long corridors to a hollow in the tree
arranged as a beautiful hall, in which Little Tom and Chrysomela might
have their home. Tom was wondering how they could live there without
furniture or utensils; but when he stepped inside, he was struck with

The great hall was lighted from above by dry wood, which glowed with a
subdued, blue light showing all his own furnishings from Castle Easter
Egg, neatly arranged around the walls; all the drawers were in the
cupboards, all the utensils were there, not even a cup was missing.

By the entrance stood Mirmex, with a whole regiment of his ants. He
said, »I welcome you to your new kingdom and ask you to be our good
neighbor, as we used to be with your father.«

When Tom had flown away to the lily pond, the ants had moved all his
belongings and arranged everything in the new palace. They knew very
well, when Tom had seen Chrysomela, that he would not return to his

Tom thanked them all very heartily and Mirmex asked him to visit their
Black Town on the morrow, which he gladly promised to do, remembering
how his father had planned to send him there to learn how to rule a

After all had said good night, Little Tom and Chrysomela remained in
their new home while the crickets under the beech sang them a serenade.

In the morning, when they came out of the old beech, they were greeted
by a choir of crickets whose music rang clear to the tops of the trees.
Already, Mirmex and some of the ants, were standing before the entrance,
among them a brilliant, green rose-bug for carrying Tom to Black Town.


Many onlookers stood about. The Lady-birds greeted their new king, while
snails on the mushrooms stretched up their heads, so that they, too,
could see what was going on. Golden flies crowded around in swarms,
while on the path stood a line of wood-bugs as a guard of honor.

After saying good-bye to Chrysomela, Tom went down to the moss and
greeted his friends the ants. Chrysomela was very sad that he was
leaving her so soon and almost wept. She was afraid that she might lose
him again, as they were so alone in the great world; but Tom soothed her
by saying that he would surely return the next day, and that he was
obliged to make this visit to their neighbors to honor them and fulfil
his father's wish.

Then they arranged with Seven Spot where they should meet him and Seven
Spot proposed that, immediately on his return, Tom and Chrysomela should
accompany him to inspect their own kingdom.

When all preparations had been completed, Tom, in full armor, jumped
upon the rose-bug, the noisy trumpets of the gadflies sounded and the
great procession started for Black Town.





       *       *       *       *       *

The procession went on through the silent wood and the morning mists.
Thousands of dew drops sparkled like diamonds in the moss. Overhead hung
branches of billberry heavily laden with dark fruit, while, on either
side, bright red berries peered from the leaves. After they had passed
the moss plain, they came upon gigantic rocks strewn along the pathway
of the ants in the dry spines. They crossed by these stones over little
valleys and passing across tree roots, came to a clearing on the border
of the Ants kingdom.

There was a great crowd of ants waiting to welcome them. An old ant
greeted Tom in the name of the whole community and, thanking him for the
honor of his visit, placed himself in front of the procession, which at
once began to move along the broad path.

Tom noticed how the surroundings immediately changed. On all sides, were
gangs of diligent workers, crossing or walking along the path, pulling
beams, stones and dead flies, hurrying in their work and paying no heed
to the procession. The nearer they came to the town, the greater became
the crowds, while the path broadened and was hard, level and free from
all obstructions. Presently, it opened into a broader clearing, from
which moss, grass and sticks had been cleared away. In the background,
appeared a great mound known as Black Town.

On the way, Mirmex sat with Little Tom on the rose-bug and explained to
him how the town was founded. First, a sheltered location was chosen
under a tall pine tree, in the clear sun, but with the branches serving
as a protection in case of rain. Then, paths were laid out in various
directions where there was plenty of building materials, while
messengers were sent out to explore the broader country beyond where one
could find precious grains of grass or hunt green bugs. To such places
they at once laid out the shortest paths, stamped hard and made
perfectly smooth, tore out all the roots and built bridges over the
marsh and other inaccessible places.

While Mirmex talked, he became very affable. Tom listened to him most
attentively and while he did not understand everything that was told
him, nevertheless, he recognized that there was a great difference
between the realm of the ants and that of the ladybirds. The latter were
living a carefree life, dancing and making merry the whole day long,
while the ants had a very strict discipline, divided their work
carefully among themselves and made provision for the welfare of their
descendants and for the protection of the town.

Tom decided that, on this visit, he would merely look over their
arrangements, and, later, would return to them with Chrysomela, in order
to study their methods of administration, so that he could apply them in
his ladybird kingdom.

Finally, they arrived at the level plain before the town, where the
noise of the working ants did not cease. The entire surface of the town
was covered by workers, running and building, while there was a constant
crowd carrying burdens through the gates of the town. Tom noticed a
strong perfume that seemed to come from the town itself. After he had
dismounted from the rose-bug, he was led through a broad corridor within
the ants mound, where in a low, but solidly constructed hall,
refreshments had been prepared, consisting of grass grains, delicious,
palatable bulbs that seemed to melt on the tongue, and sweet juices of
which Tom had never seen the like, but which tasted very good to him.


According to their habit the ants ate so rapidly, that Little Tom could
hardly keep up with them. After they had finished, Mirmex asked what he
would like to see first: The building, the division and character of the
daily work, or the storehouses. Tom replied politely that everything was
of interest to him and that he would leave the selection to Mirmex's

They took leave of the others, who were becoming anxious to return to
their work and then Mirmex said, »First, I will show you what is most
precious and dear to us and our future generation«.

They walked through a long corridor, deep in the town. In the darkness,
Mirmex ran along confidently, only here and there touching the walls,
while Little Tom was obliged to grope his way. He was hot and the strong
fragrance was almost overpowering, while every now and then he bumped
into workmen hurrying and quickly passing around them. Finally, they
came into a series of dry, warm halls, and when Tom became accustomed to
the darkness, he perceived thousands of little, light worms that were
stretching their necks and turning their little black heads.


Workmen were running among them, pushing into their little mouths a
sweet porridge and thus feeding them. Mirmex silently watched the
careful attention of the workers for a moment and then said, »These are
our youth, our pride and hope. They were born from eggs and when they
grow up, will enclose themselves in chrysalises from which they will
come out as ants, our descendants. Our chief concern is that they have a
good living place, neither wet nor cool and that they have enough
porridge, so that they will develop properly.«

Tom was greatly touched by the ants' care of their little ones, and was
surprised that they had such experienced and skilful nurses who seemed
to love their wards so tenderly.

They went up one story higher and found, lying on the floor, thousands
of white chrysalises all wrapped up in silken coverings. A number of the
ants were taking these chrysalises in their strong jaws and carrying
them out through a broad corridor at the end of which daylight was
shining. Following them, Tom and Mirmex came out under a thick arch of
pine needles, through which circles had been bitten, to allow the rays
of the sun to strike the ant hill. On these dry places where the sun was
shining, the ants placed the chrysalises side by side, so that they
should be warmed in its rays.

The entire top of the town was covered by stones over which were placed
pine needles to shed the water when it rained. Mirmex and Tom stepped up
on one of these stones and looked about them. They saw roads like white
threads, that lost themselves in the high grass and moss. All over the
town were the thickly crowded workmen, while other groups were hurrying
along the paths.

Mirmex explained to Tom the troubles they had with the chrysalises. In
the mound were corridors of different temperatures so that, according to
the weather, the chrysalises could be taken where the conditions were
favorable, while, on clear, dry days, they were brought out in the sun.

Returning inside into a different hall, Little Tom was given a surprise.
On the floor were lying many chrysalises and on them were ants biting
and tearing their silk coverings. Tom thought that the ants wanted to
eat their young, but soon saw that from the white coverings, little
black heads with shining black bodies were trying to get out and with
what pleasure the nurses were welcoming them, cleaning them, stretching
their cramped legs and their bent-up feelers, bringing them food and
teaching them how to eat.

It was touching to see the little fellows, looking around in surprise,
falling clumsily about and throwing themselves eagerly on the sweet
porridge. From the hall led two other corridors, sloping downward, and,
as Tom was looking into them, Mirmex came to him and said: »These are
safety exits. When danger threatens, through one of these the workers
carry the chrysalises outside, where they crawl on the flowers and the
grass, as our enemies cannot reach these heights. Through the second,
they can go into the depths of the town and there hide the chrysalises
in the secret chambers.«

As Mirmex led him through the first exit which opened at the opposite
end of the town, directly into the highgrowing grass, which the ants had
spared, Tom wondered what sort of enemies threatened the ants. As they
walked along Mirmex enlightened him.

»Since unremembered time, the ants have had a great enemy, the Redheads.
They are larger than we, ugly, red fellows and cruel, rough fighters.
From early childhood they do nothing but perfect themselves in fighting
and robbing. They do not understand work and do not even know how to eat
by themselves. The have long jaws sharp as a lance, with which, at one
stroke, they can pierce an enemy's head. Their slaves do all their work,
build their town, care for their children, gather their stock and also
feed them. The slaves are in greater numbers than their masters and
could let them die from hunger, yet they never revolt, having no idea of
the freedom and liberty of the ants in their independent realm. That is
because they have never lived in freedom. The Redheads are not
interested in their grown-up enemies, whom they slay, but they steal the
chrysalises, which they give into the care of the slaves. These the
slaves care for, bringing up the little ants and teaching them how to
work for their masters. The youths know nothing of the life of the
nation from which they came, only knowing how to work for their masters
and their descendants.«

»You see how efficiently one works here with us. Everyone knows exactly
his task and does it unceasingly until his last breath, and all work for
the good of the community. The workman gladly performs his task. He is
modest and knows neither pleasure nor idleness. His only consolation is
the proper result of his labors, but he feels himself free, knowing that
he is creating strong and healthy descendants and is insuring the
freedom and liberty of the whole nation.«

»Our descendants would prefer to die rather than serve foreign masters.
This the Redheads well know and, therefore, they take the ungrown
children, who know nothing of the world, and train them as their slaves.
Many, many thousands of our people are serving them truly and devotedly,
but are forever lost to us.«

»But why do you not instruct them,« asked Tom excitedly? »Why do you not
explain how degrading it is to deny one's own people and serve
strangers, altogether abandoning one's own nation?«

»That is all in vain,« replied Mirmex. »Who grows up a slave will remain
a slave. They are quite satisfied with their fate and do not understand
why they would be better off with us. If they should leave their
masters, they would not feel happy with us.«

»Then why do you not prepare yourselves and not let them capture the
chrysalises? Why do you not perfect yourselves in fighting and kill them
when they come against you?« Little Tom was almost beside himself with
anger and longed to lead an expedition against the Redheads and destroy
them, but Mirmex remained cool and undisturbed.

»They are stronger in body and more skilled in fighting,« he answered.
»If we wanted to ruin them, we should have to give up our manner of
living; we should have to devote ourselves to fighting, warring and
gaining skill in arms. Who among us would then attend to the
agricultural work? Then we should be like them, murderers and robbers,
living only on the work of others, and that we do not wish to be. We try
to defend ourselves and at the same time not change our mode of life. We
build our towns far from the Redheads and, if necessary, would rather
move away from them. We station guards over our entire territory and, if
we are attacked, meet the enemy bravely. We also know how to fight. Our
workmen are skilful and when the worst comes, they become very good
fighters. We have often defeated the Redheads and driven them away from
our town; but we do not attack their towns or rob them. The Redheads
avoid our large towns and attack those that are young and newly
established. Only when they lack slaves, do they attack our principal
communities. As for us, we are satisfied to stand up for our rights,
defend our liberty and our young ones, and live according to our

Little Tom looked admiringly at Mirmex, who was talking quietly and
earnestly, but Tom felt his genuine loyalty to his native town and his
passionate love for freedom.

In the meantime, they came to a lonely part at the back of the town,
where the corridors were ruined and the surface covered with dust. Tom
asked in surprise, why such a large part of the town was left in ruins.
Mirmex explained that this was the oldest portion which had been well
founded, but, overhead in the pine tree, something had happened. A
branch had been torn off by the wind, so that the town was not properly
protected from the rain and the chrysalises were threatened by the
dampness. Therefore, they started to build new halls a little farther
along, where it was drier and better sheltered, until the town was
higher and larger, into which they would then move their stores and the

Then Mirmex asked Tom to go with him and look at the storehouses; so
they went back to the town and passed through winding corridors to great
rooms, where they met many ants carrying heavy burdens. Tom saw the
rooms piled clear to the top with little grains dried and cleaned. In
one room many ants were sitting, some cleaning the grains, others
blowing away the chaff and still others stacking up the finished
product. Others gathered up the refuse and carried it outside the ant

»These,« said Mirmex, »are our granaries and our stores for bad seasons.
There are enough supplies here to support the town for a long while.«

Then they went to a hall higher up, where the porridge for the
chrysalises was being prepared, and there Tom saw workers hurrying out
of the nests with empty coverings of the chrysalises. He thought how
this soft silk used to be brought by the gnome merchants to his father
and how, at home, they were woven into precious silken garments.


From the granaries and kitchens, they came to the stalls, where Tom saw
green bugs, fat and lazy, crawling under a low arch. From the back of
each bug extended two little tubes, through which the ants were sucking
as they tickled the bugs with their feelers. Tom was surprised again,
when Mirmex explained that, through these tubes, the bugs let out a
sweet juice, of which the ants are very fond. »We keep many of them
here,« continued Mirmex, »for the workers engaged in the town. Those who
are working outside, have their large stalls on the flowers.«

Tom asked why the bugs on the flowers did not run away and Mirmex told
him, that where there were enough bugs on a flower, the ants surrounded
it with trenches and ramparts, so that the bugs were in captivity and
could not escape. »There they stay in their captivity and do not have to
be fed and the workmen do not have to return to the town to drink,« he

Little Tom sincerely admired the whole arrangement of the ants town.
This pleased Mirmex. »Let us go a little further,« he continued. »I will
next show you our hot-beds.« They went along a narrow corridor, and Tom,
touching the walls, found them damp. They passed through rooms that were
very hot, until they reached a low chamber which was filled with damp,
round leaves, while the walls were covered with mildew. Tom did not care
to go into this damp hot bed, but Mirmex laughed.

»Do you remember,« he inquired, »how you helped us build a crossing over
the strip of glue on the rose-bush in the garden? At that time you were
curious to know why we were biting out little circles from the rose
leaves and were carrying them away. Here you see the leaves piled up in
heaps. In this part of the mound grows a mushroom. Here it is damp. The
water comes from a near-by mossfield and the dampness is good for the
mushroom mildew. It puts out little thin stalks that grow up from the
rose leaves.«

Tom noticed that the heaps were covered with long stalks which
surrounded them like grass. While he was looking at them, many ants came
into the room. One examined the stalks to see if they were sufficiently
grown and then they started to work. One after the other, they bit the
shoots on the end. Mirmex conducted Tom into the second room, so as not
to be in the way of the workers. There were no longer stalks on the
leaves but, in their place, stunted, round bulbs as if the heap were
covered with pin heads.

»If we should allow the shoots to grow«, remarked Mirmex, »they would
fill the whole room and be of no use; therefore, we must bite them on
the end, and so the shoots are stunted and grow into the broad, juicy
bulbs which are our best food.«

Tom tasted one or two of the bulbs and found them very good. They were
slightly sweet and full of juice. He envied the ants their clever mode
of living. He doubted if he would be able to bring the Ladybirds to such
a degree of perfection; but when they were leaving the halls, he thought
that, after all, the life of the Ladybirds was better, more beautiful,
fresher, and more joyous, being spent in pleasure under the great,
bright sky, without troubles, without heavy labor, and full of happiness
and merriment.

He thought that he would speak to Mirmex about it and ask him why the
ants have no pleasure and merriment, if life is so serious that all the
time it is necessary to worry and work and be on guard and not to have
one moment of relief or time for one's own pleasure.





       *       *       *       *       *


When they came to the square before the town, Tom told Mirmex of his
doubts, but before the latter could answer they perceived an ant
hurrying at great speed out of the moss and barely succeeding in
staggering around them to the gate. Mirmex looked after him in
astonishment, but, at this moment, a crowd of the workmen ran out,
quickly divided themselves into groups, and took their stations on the
roads in every direction.

The whole town was swarming with workmen, hurrying out, and with the
nurses who were quickly carrying the chrysalises from the place where
they had been sunning themselves, inside the mound. Some exciting
message had set the town in an uproar.

Mirmex immediately disappeared through the gate and Tom was left to look
on the excited turmoil. It seemed to him the wildest disorder, that
every one was hustling and running around, as if bereft of reason; but
he soon saw that all this bustling was part of a carefully directed plan
and that something was being carried out that he did not understand.

From the gates were coming ants who stretched themselves in long,
well-ordered lines and then disappeared in the moss. Work in the town
ceased, and at once the whole surface was deserted; but from all the
roads, crowds of ants came quickly into the square, where they formed
themselves in battle array.

Tom finally recognized that the preparations were for battle. At that
moment, Mirmex came up to him and started leading him into the town,
telling him that news had come of a marauding expedition of the

The guards on the borders had seen some Redheads spying about and had
caught some black slaves, from whom they learned that, since early
morning, the Redheads had been planning a most formidable expedition. At
first, they thought the Redheads were planning to attack a small town by
the brook, in the forest, but they sent out some spies of their own who
came upon a great crowd of Redheads gathering by the stumps on the
clearing leading to Black Town, and they at once sent in the messenger
to give the alarm.

»This will be a battle such as we have never seen,« said Mirmex. »The
Redheads have all gone into this attack in which they have formed great
armies. In all probability, they wish to rob us, not only of our
children but of our large harvests. They themselves live deep in the
valley, where there is little grass and the country is not rich, while
they know that we are close to the fields and gardens from which we
have, this year, gathered great stores of food. This time it will be a
fight for life or death. Fortunately, we have time to send out
messengers and collect all our strength and to form our army.«

Tom was trembling with excitement and asked to be allowed to fight in
the first rank and to help in the victory over the robbers. Mirmex
thanked him. »You will be most welcome,« he said, »but you cannot go
into the field, for you do not know our way of fighting. It is not a
question of personal bravery but of a sound plan based on our knowledge
of the ground. We are not afraid of the result, for we are well prepared
and all that we need is the full strength of our numbers to equalize the
greater weight and the better fighting equipment of our enemies. The
only thing we fear is the treacherous attack of some reserve force, for
the Redheads are very crafty and know how to conceal their plans and we
are quite likely to be attacked in the town while our forces are all in
the field.«


»We ought to leave a garrison to defend the town. Therefore, we will ask
you to remain for its defense, in which case a small group with you will
be sufficient. Then we will not fear that anything will happen behind
our backs, while we are out in the field.«

Tom thanked Mirmex for this confidence and promised him that he would
defend the town to his last breath.

In the meantime, the last divisions were disappearing in the moss and in
the grass. The town became quiet; only some guards were running on the
stones at the top and crawling up the flowers in the square. A small
garrison remained at the crossroads and watched the last of the soldiers
marching toward the depths of the wood. Mirmex quickly said good-bye and
also disappeared. Tom returned to the town, as he wanted to mount to the
top and take a look around the country.

Thus a terrible war started which completely changed Tom's fate.


The broad country around the ants' town was almost deserted. Tom saw
only his garrison in the square, the guards hiding in the blossoms of
hawkweed and grass stems, groups of workmen putting various things in
order, and the nurses in perturbation, running all over the town and
taking care of the entrances where they had placed the chrysalises.

Tom ran down from the top of the mound, saw that there were guards at
the magazines and went out to take a look at the surroundings. At the
gate, he met two guards who were leading his rose-bug steed out of the
stall, having been ordered by Mirmex to get him ready, in case Tom
should need him in the fight. Tom at once mounted and rode to the
heather, to see if there was any danger threatening the town in that

On the way, he thought of his friends and wondered how they were getting
on in the fight; then he thought of Chrysomela and decided that after
the battle he would send her a message, lest she should worry about him.

As he rode through the moss, he saw behind a stone at one side, two
little red spots moving. They seemed, at first, only two dry twigs, but
their movement was suspicious. He rode along slowly as if he did not see
them, but when he had come up to them, he jumped down suddenly and with
drawn sword threw himself behind the stone; there he found a Redhead
whom he cut in two. The moss moved and there were two other Redheads
running away. Tom left them, mounted hurriedly and rode back to the town
as fast as he could go. It was high time.

The reserves of the Redhead army were stealing through the heather to
the town, hoping to find it weakly guarded and to plunder it. When a
messenger reached them reporting how a giant had killed one of their
spies, they were greatly surprised; but they did not suspect that Tom
was an ally of the Black Ants, so they became quieted, thinking that the
giant had met their spies only by accident, and started forward toward
the town.

Tom ordered all the guards to be brought back to the town, so that they
should not be surprised by the attack of the Redheads, and placed part
of the garrison on top of the town and the rest in the grass close by.
He already knew whence the attack would come and was prepared to meet

The Redheads crawled carefully through the moss and when they did not
encounter any guards, they thought that the Black Ants did not suspect
that they had reserves. They soon came out on the square and ran in a
great crowd to the town which seemed to be deserted. As soon as they
came close, Tom sent the garrison hidden by the gates to attack them.
Although taken by surprise, the Redheads defended themselves bravely.

They struck the defenders with their long, sharp jaws and in a compact
body, pushed forward toward the main gate. At this moment, out of the
gate came Tom with his band of selected workers, and wherever he struck
with his sword, off flew a red head or a foot. Then, two or three of his
companions would throw themselves on the red fighters, biting their feet
and backs. The Redheads became afraid and leaving many dead and wounded
on the square, ran headlong for the moss.

At this moment, a great company of Black Ants that had hidden in the
grass, came out and met them. A terrible fight followed and only a few
of the Redheads were able to beat their way through the black ranks and
return as best they could to the rest of their army.

Tom was not satisfied with this victory. He sat on his rose-bug and, in
his rage, wished to exterminate the Redheads altogether. All his friends
begged him not to leave the town, but he was burning for revenge.
Leaving the older men on guard, he chose a group of young, enthusiastic
workers and hurried with them after the retreating enemy.

Moss, red and blue berries, sped by them as they hastened on and,
whenever they came to one of their foes lagging behind, they immediately
cut him to pieces. The rose-bug, who also became enthusiastic over the
fight, was soon running at the head of the scattered crowd and wherever
he saw a Redhead easily overtook him, when Little Tom would cut him down
with his sword. So they ran blindly ahead, paying little heed to
anything, intoxicated with their victory.


Now brave Little Tom did not know the sly cunning of his foes. The
fleeing ones scattered broadly as they made for their home. The
strongest among them, however, stopped a moment and, hiding themselves,
noticed that Tom was riding almost alone, having outridden his own
troop. Then they ran as fast as they could to their home, where they
found a swarm of slaves awaiting the results of the main battle. With
them were many of their masters in great excitement. They had received
many discouraging reports. Many fighters had been lost and the army was
being pressed back, step by step.

Tom was really dreaming how he would attack the deserted Red Town, start
a revolt of the black slaves and fall upon their army in the rear, thus
completing the victory. He did not even wait for his scattered party to
catch up with him and, as soon as he saw the black slaves, immediately
urged his steed after them. The slaves became frightened at the sight of
this victorious giant on a golden horse and turned around, running in
desperate fright with Tom galloping after them.

At this moment, some of those who were retreating came up and reported
that just behind them was a great giant at the head of a band of Black
fighters, heading straight for their town. Immediately, they gathered
themselves together and, hiding all along the path, sent some black
slaves toward Tom. They knew these slaves could not fight, but would
start to run away from Tom and thus draw him on.

Already, before him, appeared the town and he was almost on the square
in front of it, when the Red fighters came out of their ambush and threw
themselves on the rose-bug. He stopped. Tom struck around him into the
red bodies which squirmed under his blows; but the clever fighters,
protected by the bodies of their fallen comrades, attacked him by biting
his feet with their powerful jaws, until he slipped and fell to the

Before he could get up, they rendered him unconscious and ordered the
slaves to drag him victoriously into the town. There they took away
everything that he had, bit his clothes to pieces and left him
unconscious in a dark dungeon.





       *       *       *       *       *

The Red fighters returned to their nest in disorder and were very angry.
They had lost the battle. The Blacks, after chasing them away, stopped
the pursuit and returned to their homes. Mirmex hurried along among the
first to learn how things were going in the town. When he approached,
the guards hurried out to meet him with great joy and told him how Tom
had defeated the treacherous attack of the Reds and how the town was

Mirmex at once looked for Tom to thank him and was surprised that he did
not come to greet him. When he learned that Tom had gone in pursuit of
the fleeing enemy, he was greatly troubled. He knew Tom's brave heart
and also the cool, treacherous Redheads and he feared for the worst.

The town quickly resumed its normal life. Workers cleared the square and
removed the dead bodies, while the nurses carried the chrysalises back
to the upper stories; everything moved along in the regular channels,
only Mirmex ran impatiently out to the paths looking and waiting for
Tom's return.

But he did not return. Towards evening, the tired warriors who had
accompanied him, returned and told of his brave fight and his capture.
They related how he was overpowered and pulled away before they could
run to his rescue.

The entire town was very sad over the fate of its brave defender. Mirmex
went himself to announce the sad news to Chrysomela and the Ladybird
kingdom. There was no thought of rescue. In their defenses the Red
fighters were invincible. This the Black Ants knew very well. Therefore
they gave up the idea of trying to free Tom. They again took up the work
that had been interrupted by the fight and could no longer be delayed,
as they were preparing for the winter.

In the meantime, Tom was lying wounded and unconscious in the nest of
the Redheads, who crawled over him and looked at him with the greatest
curiosity. When he finally revived, he could not move and lay for a long
while trying to think where he was. He felt the touch of feelers and
feet, which he began to push away, but was at once bitten. Then he
remembered his defeat and that he was in captivity.

When the Redheads saw that Tom was becoming conscious, they gathered
around him. He raised himself to a sitting position with difficulty and
looked about. He saw that they had brought him a kind of porridge with
little seeds in it, but he was not hungry. His wounds burned and he had
a fever. When he fully recalled all that had happened, he almost cried
with sorrow. All his dreams of capturing the town had melted away, and
his friends had vanished. What was to happen to Chrysomela? In vain, she
would be waiting and watching for her hero to return. And what would
happen to him?

When the Redheads had looked at Tom long enough to satisfy their
curiosity, they left him alone; but he noted that the little hall was
well guarded and that they were watching to see what he would do when he
could again control the strength of his limbs. After his pain and
sadness had passed, he did not by any means give up all hope. He thought
that Mirmex would surely learn of his fate and tell what had happened to
the ladybirds, and his friends would plan how to set him free.

Of course they were powerless against the Redheads and would not dare to
attack their town. He himself, without armor and with torn clothes would
not dare to pit his strength alone against his captors. He had observed
that they were quarrelsome, doughty and well armed.

If he should stand up against them, even if he could kill some of them,
he would be wounded and very likely be killed himself. He realized that,
first of all, he must regain his strength, act very quietly so as not to
arouse suspicion, and wait for an opportunity to escape. Therefore, he
sat quietly all day long, ate the unpalatable seed porridge, until he
felt that he had quite recovered his strength.

The Redheads noticed that he was beginning to walk about and appearing
better; so, one morning, they sent a few slaves to him to request him to
go out with them. He accompanied them quietly through the corridors and
out on the square where many fighters had gathered. They sat around him
in a dense circle, proud in manner and not seeming to notice anything
while they were being served by their slaves.

Tom saw how the slaves swarmed about them, bringing to them quantities
of food. Each fighter simply opened his terrible jaws and the obliging
slaves quickly and skilfully thrust in morsels of tasty food. None of
them wanted to be kept waiting a minute, and if he did not immediately
get his morsel he would pitilessly grasp the slave by the foot and
remind him of his duty.

Tom paled with anger when he saw all this, and waited to see what would
happen next. When the masters had eaten enough, they formed into dense
battle array for an expedition and started off, while in the town only
the slaves and a few guards remained, walking about without noticing Tom
in the least.

Some of the slaves ran to Tom and led him through corridors to a great
hall, whose ceiling had fallen. With their feelers, they pointed to a
heap of stones and spines. He understood that they were asking him to
help. He thought the best thing to do would be to work and thus gain
their confidence, so that he would not remain all of the time locked up
in his dark cell.

He started bravely at the work and the ants saw with surprise how well
he knew how to handle the stones and beams, and what a gigantic strength
he had. The slaves began to obey him, when he showed them how to clear
away the fallen pieces, and the fighters themselves admired him, when
they saw that he knew how to build, how to support the ceiling with
beams, fasten the walls and smoothly level the corners.

Tom was very glad to have the work, for the time forgetting his wounds
and humiliation, and hoped that through it he would regain his freedom.
When the evening came, the work had advanced more than the slaves could
have accomplished in weeks; when they had finished, they led Tom back to



On the way, he saw a group of fighters joyously returning. They brought
with them many white chrysalises, which the slaves at once took to the
nest as if they were their own. The last comers brought grains and
immediately all began to feast, the slaves as usual bringing them food,
until they could eat no more.

Tom knew that, somewhere, they had robbed a Black nest and compensated
themselves for their recent defeat. He was sorry that he, too, was their
slave and obliged to serve them like his black comrades, but he did not
see any other way, if he hoped to escape from their clutches.

Next day, he continued his building and the Redheads were greatly
surprised, for they had never seen such construction. Then they began to
show him a little consideration, feeding him well, but not allowing him
to go out of the nest. Five or six fighting men never left his side. But
Tom thought out a clever plan. He began to look for large, heavy
branches, showing them that it was necessary to have strong, heavy
pillars, in place of the thin spines. The Redheads at once sent out the
slaves, but they could not drag such heavy beams into the nest. Then
they sent Tom with a guard into the wood to select his own beams and
bring them back. He purposely went very far and kept looking about, as
if he could not find anything quite suitable.

The guards followed him patiently and did not leave him a moment. There
was no idea of flight on Tom's part. He noticed that the appearance of
nature had changed. Blossoms had disappeared, the grass was dry and
yellow, the heather was rustling and through the wood a mist was
blowing. It was cold, and Little Tom was very uncomfortable in his torn


Presently, they came to a little brook where there was a lot of cut
twigs in a pile. There Tom stopped and began to look for hard, straight
small pieces. The ants were biting the dried leaves and the blossoms,
until he had his bundle of beams ready. Then he took one on his shoulder
and carried it back to the nest. Thus, he worked for a few days, sure of
being allowed to go outside. Every day they would go out, Tom preparing
the beams, and hauling them back, while the slaves smoothed the roadway.

One day, Tom saw on a blackberry a red spot that moved. He looked more
closely and recognized his friend, Seven Spot. His throat tightened with
delight, but he did not know how to give him a sign without arousing the
suspicion of the ants. Then he began to sing at his work as loud as he
could. Seven Spot spread his wings and flew away as if he had not seen
him. Then Tom knew that everything was well--and that his friends had
not forgotten him.

He was so happy that he worked hard all day long, and the Redheads were
amazed and delighted with his diligence. Then they began to consider how
fine it would be if Tom would ally himself with them, and go against the
Blacks and help them to victory. But they did not know Tom.


Tom, at first, had planned to jump in the brook and swim to the other
side, when he should be given an opportunity, but he did not know how he
should get to the Ladybirds' kingdom and was afraid that he would lose
his way and perish. But now he did not mind, for he hoped that Seven
Spot would show him the way. All night long he did not sleep from
excitement, and in the morning hurried early to the brook.

But when they reached it, Seven Spot was not to be seen. Tom looked all
around, but, all day, his friend did not appear. He was quite desperate
when he returned in the evening. The outside work was almost finished.
They had beams enough and were now preparing for the winter.

What if Tom had made a mistake and Seven Spot had appeared only by
chance and had not noticed his King? Tom made up his mind that if Seven
Spot should not come again, he would jump into the brook and swim
across. He preferred to die in the wood rather than to spend the rest of
his life in captivity with the Black Ants.

When, next day, Tom came with his guards to the brook, there was no sign
of Seven Spot. The last beams were prepared and only waiting to be
carried to the nest. Tom stooped to take up one, wondering how he should
reach the brook, when out of the pile he saw two great, bulging eyes
looking straight at him. The pile moved a little, then appeared a pair
of fierce whiskers and two pincer-like feelers and out came a giant
Wood-bug with broad shoulders and a powerful breast.

Tom became frightened and dropped the beam. The Redheads ran towards
him, but the Wood-bug with a few steps met them. One he bit in two, the
second he crushed under his foot and, jumping upon the pile, he caught
Tom carefully in his jaws and ran with him into the forest. The slaves
were horrified and ran away on all sides; the guards stood stupified,
but where was the Wood-bug?

He ran quickly through the blueberries and, when they were far away, he
stopped. Placing Little Tom on the ground, he said, »Now sit on me and
it will be easier for us both«. Not another word did he say why he had
come, or who had sent him.

With delight, Tom threw his arms around his neck and could not ask him
enough questions, but the Wood-bug did not say very much and only waved
his foot. »Crawl up, crawl up. You will soon know all. Do not keep them

Tom did crawl quickly upon his back and could hardly believe that he was
free. The Wood-bug ran without stopping until they came to the old
beech. Into the corridor he slipped and carried Tom right into his
chamber. As soon as his whiskers appeared in the corridor, Chrysomela
had come running out, caught Tom in her arms and cried from very joy.

When Tom jumped down, the Wood-bug turned and disappeared without
waiting to be thanked. As he looked at Chrysomela, Tom became alarmed to
see how she had changed. She was pale and thin and only her true, violet
eyes were as bright as formerly.

At this moment came Seven Spot, dragging himself sleepily along and
hardly able to keep his feet. He welcomed Little Tom and was pleased
that everything had turned out so well. Tom wanted to thank him, but
Seven Spot disregarded his speech, saying that everything had been done
through Chrysomela and that, without her, nothing would have been

After they had eaten and drunk, they all sat down together and Seven
Spot related how frightened they all were when Mirmex brought the news
that the Redheads had captured Tom and taken him to their town. The
Ladybirds flew everywhere to find their King and made inquiries of the
snails, the ground beetles and the grubs, but none of them had seen him.
This was probably during the time that he was kept a close prisoner in
the Redheads' nest.

They had begun to fear that the Redheads might have killed Tom for
revenge and buried him in some place. Mirmex, also, for a long time, had
been sending out spies and had headed a searching expedition on which he
had captured some of the slaves, from whom he learned that Tom was alive
and well and working inside the town.

Mirmex would have liked to have gone to Tom's rescue, but the Black Town
was very busy in getting ready for the long winter, while the Ladybirds
themselves were beginning to succumb to the coming sleep and were
disappearing one after the other. Even Seven Spot was becoming drowsy as
the winter languor began to steal over him. With difficulty he kept
himself from yielding to the desire for sleep, yawning much in secret,
but Chrysomela encouraged him with praise of his real willingness to
help. Every day he flew to the neighborhood of the Red Town, crawling
all around it, until, one day, he was rewarded by seeing Little Tom come
out of the town with his guards.

Seven Spot did not want to show himself, so he flew high above the
procession, lighting here and there on the bushes, until he discovered
the exact spot where Tom was working. Then he sat hidden near by, on a
wild briar bush, until he discovered the store of beams Tom was
collecting. The next day, he came very early and lighting low down, on a
blackberry, crawled about conspicuously so that Tom would be sure to see
him. When he learned that Tom had seen him, he flew back immediately to
Chrysomela to tell her the good news.

Then they planned how they should help Tom to escape, but no good plan
occurred to them. All that night they could not sleep, and in the
morning they again took counsel with one another, but without result,
until, towards evening, when Seven Spot was again describing how Tom was
working close to the brook, the Wood-bug suddenly thrust his head into
the room and asked just where the spot was. He had been working in the
corridor preparing his winter quarters and had overheard what Chrysomela
and Seven Spot were discussing. When Seven Spot had described the place
to him and just how one could reach it, Chrysomela begged him to help
them with his advice. The Wood-bug listened very carefully, nodding his
head now and then. When Seven Spot had finished, he only said »To-morrow
I will bring him«, and at once left the room.

All that night and the next day they waited in the greatest anxiety,
until, finally, the Wood-bug, true to his word, arrived with Little Tom.
When Chrysomela had finished her story, they heard Seven Spot snoring
loudly and they could hardly waken him. Seven Spot looked up, rubbing
his eyes, heavy with sleep.

»Oh, King,« he said, speaking with some difficulty, »I am happy that I
again see you, but be good enough to excuse me, for already the winter
sleep is upon me and I hardly know where I stand.«

They took leave of each other and Seven Spot disappeared languidly into
the corridor, while Tom was left alone with Chrysomela in their
dwelling. They sat together until late in the evening, as they had much
to talk about. When, finally, they were ready to retire, they told each
other that in the morning they would look over their kingdom.

In the morning, when they had come out of the beech, they could see
nothing around them but a white fog which lay on every object. Through
the mist, they groped their way to the pool; but there was now no sign
of the green arches, the yellow cattails, or the red willow herbs.
Everywhere, were only the ends of bare, brown trunks and dry, rustling
bushes, while the ground was muddy and the moss soaked with water and
even from the pool the beautiful water-lilies had disappeared. All
around them, there was not a single living creature. Empty and sad was
their kingdom, without color, light or perfume.

Nowhere was there a sign of the former life, or its delightful charm.
They sadly returned to their home, wet and cold, where the Wood-bug
awaited them. When he finally espied them, he shuffled about on his six
feet, nodded with his whiskers and aired his wing shells, until he found
courage to speak.

»When are we going to clear up?« he inquired.

Neither understood him and asked what he meant. Wood-bug was puzzled
that his meaning was not plain. »Why, clear up for the winter,« he said.
»Where do you wish to sleep?«

They tried to explain to him that they did not sleep during the winter.
Now it was the Wood-bug's turn to be puzzled. Tom did not know what
winter was, but when he saw that the whole Ladybird kingdom had
disappeared and that all the creatures were preparing for a long sleep,
he felt that they must surely perish in the lonely wood. Nothing was
left to do, but to seek his Godmother and take Chrysomela to her, asking
her to forgive them and allow them to stay with her during the winter.

Tom begged the Wood-bug to take them to the Godmother in the little hut
by the field behind the wood, near the brook. The Wood-bug listened
without understanding until he heard the words, »field behind the wood«.
Then he said, »I know where that is. It is where there are no trees and
no bark. There we will go. In the meantime, I will clear up here and
close in everything for the spring.«

Tom put on a warm suit, belted on his sword and prepared a bundle of
food, while Chrysomela put on a warm cloak of mole's fur lined with the
silk of ants. When they were ready, they stepped out and looked around
over their kingdom for the last time.

The sun shone through the clouds, brightening the dry stumps, while the
cold wind whirled showers of leaves and yellow beech nut shells over the
dark water. The Wood-bug was waiting for them, so at once they sat down
on his back and started to ride through the forest.

For a long time they rode quietly. The Wood-bug walked heavily but
quickly, as the winter sleep was not yet on him. Finally they came to
the edge of the forest where there was a road with deep ruts, in which
stood pools of water. The Wood-bug crossed the road to the stubble
field, where he put them down and said, »This is the field and the path
of human beings. It is not for us for, if we walk along it, before we
are aware, we are crushed. Go along the stubble field. There it is safe
and somewhere down there, you will find the hut.«

They wanted to thank him, but the good Wood-bug was already running
back across the path, hurrying to reach his own little den; so the two
travelers started out by themselves to find the human dwelling.





       *       *       *       *       *


Tom walked with Chrysomela along the edge of the stubble field, down the
road; that was all they knew of their direction--that they must always
be going down. They expected that the way would not be long, for they
remembered that, in one day, the ants had brought all their possessions
from the Godmother's house to the wood. They forgot that the ants knew
the direction and therefore walked straight over everything, while they,
not knowing where to go, had to travel the path of the humans and
therefore traveled in a wide circle.

Chrysomela was well wrapped up in her cloak and over her head she had
pulled a cobweb veil, so that her golden hair should not fly around, but
on her feet she had only little, light shoes of birch bark. After she
had gone a little way, she felt how heavily she was walking over the
clods by the stubble field and stumbled so that she had to lean on Tom's
strong arm.

Tom tried to encourage her by telling her that they would soon see the
human dwellings. He decided that if they should see any human being he
would speak and ask that they be carried to the Godmother, so that
Chrysomela should not suffer. She was very weak by the time the sun had
gone down and fogs were coming over the woods. Day after day she had
been sinking. Sorrowing over Tom's captivity had only made her worse,
but she was of a brave heart and therefore went on uncomplaining, not
wishing to trouble Tom. She wondered what she would find at the
Godmother's house.

On the way, they did not meet a single living creature. All the little
animals were already hidden and only tiny spiders were wafted above them
on silvery threads. The cold breeze blowing through the stubble field
was becoming stronger and turning against them. Chrysomela began to
cough. She controlled herself as best she could, but finally she was
obliged to ask Tom if they could rest a bit, as the walking was tiring

By this time, they had reached the end of the stubble field and had come
to a wild briar bush, behind which was a freshly ploughed field full of
glistening furrows. Tom placed Chrysomela on a few dried leaves under
the briar and offered her seeds of beech nut and a nice red berry, but
she was not hungry and only drank thirstily the blackberry juice from
his bottle. Her hands were hot, her little forehead burning; she
trembled all over with cold, while her eyes were shining with fever's

Tom stroked her hair and soothed her by telling her how comfortable they
would be at Castle Easter Egg with the Godmother. He told her of the
tree with the golden nuts and sweet dates, and the precious little altar
with the kings, shepherds, the Mother and the Baby; but Chrysomela no
longer heard him. She leaned her head on his shoulder and closed her

Tom realized that they would not be able to go any farther that day and
dreaded the night under the open sky. He covered Chrysomela with a briar
leaf and seated himself beside her. In a little while, as he was very
tired, he fell asleep.


Suddenly, he awoke. Already, the darkness was stealing over the county,
the evening wind was whistling through the wild briar and playing with
the leaves. Tom wanted to protect Chrysomela. He put his arm around her
waist and wrapped a rolled up beech leaf around her, but the strong wind
caught it up and, whirling it with many others, carried them through the
air until they fell into a deep furrow.

Here they were sheltered, at least, from the wind and, crawling out from
the leaf, they looked around them, but everywhere they could only see
black earth slippery and soft like high hills with nowhere any sign of
human traces. They did not know where they were, or whither the wind had
carried them.

All about them was only the dark night, while the cold of the evening
pierced them to the bone. Chrysomela pressed close to Little Tom, but
she was so weary, she could hardly stand on her feet. Tom feared to
leave her, lest he might lose her, so, supporting her as best he could,
stumbled on with her along the furrow until they came to a broad hole.
He wanted at once to step in with Chrysomela, not caring who was there,
and to ask for shelter, when, suddenly, out of the darkness, came a
gigantic animal in a fur coat, with bristling whiskers and puffed out
cheeks. It was the Hamster.


He was about to slide into the hole, when he smelled something strange.
He sniffed about him and peered into the darkness with his close-set
eyes. When he saw the poor little travelers and how they were pressing
together close to the hole, trembling with the cold, he said kindly,
»Hullo there. Where are you going so late, you little travelers?«

Tom advanced and, bowing politely before the Hamster, asked him for
shelter for a weak, ill traveler. When the Hamster saw that there was a
lady with Tom, he acted very courteously, and immediately invited them
to come in. He ran ahead and returned at once with a torch of rotten
wood, with which he lighted them along the corridor, until they came to
his dining-room.

There it was warm and cosy. The torch shone brightly and, when
Chrysomela had removed her cloak and sat on the Hamster's bed, he
wondered at her beauty. Then he ran to the pantry, shook out the grains
which he had hidden in his baggy cheeks and, choosing from his store the
best morsels, placed them before his guests. They were so dainty and
delicate that they just melted in their mouths.

Chrysomela rested. She gathered her golden, wind-blown hair into braids
and thanked the good Hamster for his kindly courtesy with a sweet smile.
For a little while, the fever left her and she seemed to be gaining

The Hamster outdid himself with attentions and brought out everything
good that he had; but Chrysomela said that she only wanted to rest, so
they prepared a soft bed for her, covered her with a warm coat and said
good night. They then went into the pantry where there was room for both
Tom and the Hamster.

The Hamster had a wonderful store for the winter and showed Tom all his
rooms filled with grain. One held oats, a second, wheat, and the third,
rye. Everything was thoroughly peeled, cleaned and carefully put away in
dry places. Tom praised his fine housekeeping and when the Hamster asked
whence they had come and whither they were going, he told him their

They talked late into the night, and when the Hamster learned that Tom
was a prince and king of the Ladybirds' realm, he said that he had never
seen gnomes but had heard very much about them from a mouse family that
lived under the chapel by the forest.

When Tom heard him speak of the chapel, he remembered that his
Godmother had found the treasure in the wall near it and he asked the
Hamster whether he could take them to her. The Hamster laughed. »Why
should I not know her? On her field I am as if at home. She is a good
woman. She does not know how to chase me or throw stones at me. There I
have gathered my very best stores. This year, she did not come at all.
All the grain had grown together and I could take what I wanted. Only,
later, strange people came and gathered the grain; but, by that time I
had all mine at home.« He promised that he would take Tom to the chapel
with Chrysomela and from there, the mice would show them the way to the
Godmother's hut.

When they had talked enough, they went to bed. Tom fell asleep,
confident that their troubles were at an end and that tomorrow he would
see his Godmother and that she would be greatly pleased with Chrysomela.
He slept soundly. In the morning the Hamster woke him, excitedly; he
said that he should at once look at Chrysomela, for all was not well
with her.

Tom ran to her at once and took her by the hand, but she did not
recognize him. Her blue eyes were veiled and she was calling Seven Spot
and the Wood-bug to save Tom; and then she would sing summer songs. She
was in delirium. Tom did not know what to do. He sat by her bed, while
the Hamster ran around bringing food and, finally, sat down in a corner
by himself, desperate and sad.

Thus they sat through the whole day. From time to time, Chrysomela
became conscious, drank something and stroked Tom's hand. Then she would
hear the music of gnats and the swarm of golden flies above the water,
or would scream with fright.

All night long, Tom and the Hamster did not sleep. They tried to care
for Chrysomela and only towards morning did they themselves fall asleep.
When they awoke, they found her sitting up in bed apparently well, but
very weak.

Tom was very happy that the illness had left her and that she was
herself again. He knelt beside her, while the Hamster came running with
pleasure and asked what she would have to eat; but the sad girl stroked
the Hamster's fur and said to Tom in a thin voice, »My dear Tom, it is
the end. It is not permitted to me to live with you and to be merry at
the Godmother's house. I am growing weaker and weaker and, by evening, I
will not be with you any more. Do not forget me in the world and
remember that I was always your true comrade. You, Hamster, I thank for
your good heart. You are not of us, but you are a good friend and
perhaps I will meet you there, where our little nation has gone

She lay down and closed her eyes with weariness. Tom fell down on the
bed and wept. The Hamster ran away and hid himself and did not come out
any more. Chrysomela wakened again, soothed Tom and told him that he
should not despair, that they would surely meet in the other world, when
their days would begin again.

Tom did not want to be soothed and only controlled his grief, so that he
could make her last hour easier. He was sitting by her looking into her
dying eyes, when, suddenly he saw that she brightened, looking over him
into the darkness and he heard what she was whispering, »The Queen, our
Queen is coming. I hear her horses neighing. She is nodding to me,
nodding, Little Tom. We will meet.« Then she became quiet and her face,
deathly pale. Tom knelt silently by her bed, hearing nothing, knowing

He did not know how long he was there, until the Hamster came and said,
as if with an indifferent voice, »Come, now it is time. We will lay her
away so that she can sleep easily«.

Tom obeyed blindly, covering her with her cloak, then raised her in his
arms and walked behind the Hamster through a long corridor until they
came to a small niche which the Hamster had dug and lined with daisies
for Chrysomela. When they had laid her there, Tom said good bye to her,
the Hamster closed in the niche, and they went back to the lonely

They sat there for a long time without speaking, until the Hamster
suddenly said, »My dear Tom, I am as fond of you as a brother. Stay here
with me. I have food enough. It will be better for us both. We will
think of your poor Chrysomela until the Spring comes, and then I can
drive you to the Ladybird kingdom.«

Tom thought of the Ladybirds, looked at the empty bed and cried
bitterly. He never wanted to go back to the Ladybirds without
Chrysomela, and only wished to get to the Godmother so that he could
hide himself with her for the rest of his life. He asked the Hamster to
take him there at once, for, here, his heart was breaking with grief.
The Hamster said that, outside, there was a terrible snowstorm and they
would have to wait until the next day. Perhaps, over night, Tom would

So they talked together without thinking of sleep. They thought of
Chrysomela's death and Tom remembered how, in her delirium, she seemed
to see a Queen. The Hamster then became thoughtful and said, »I do not
know, but I think that such a Queen exists. She rules over all living
creatures on the earth. All do not know her, only the chosen ones. There
are rumors about her among those who live on the earth, in the air and
in the water. All honor and acknowledge her. Whoever knows anything of
her, does not talk about it.«

Tom begged him to tell him everything that he knew. He was trembling
with excitement, believing, that, perhaps, after all, Chrysomela was not
dreaming, but was arranging for their meeting.

»I do not know a thing,« replied the Hamster. »I am only an underground
creature and it is not given to us to know the secret; but I believe
that she exists, for the larks are singing of her, when I am running
through the fields, the bees are buzzing about her in the grass and the
flowers are dreaming of her, when in the evening they are breathing out
their fragrance.«

The Hamster rose and went out, coming back to say that it was now
possible to ride out and he would not try any longer to delay Tom.

Tom went to say farewell to Chrysomela's last resting place; then he
took his seat in the Hamster's fur coat and started out of the hole. Tom
was greatly amazed when he looked around. Far and wide, wherever the eye
could see, there was a great, white plain, and, everywhere, the snow was
sparkling in the sun. The Hamster hurried through the snow, with the
snow-dust rising behind them. Tom held on to his fur and could hardly
breathe in the fresh morning air. They ran down by the field, crossed
the meadow and saw the chapel under the wood, shining in the plain by
the brook, but nowhere was the hut.


Tom looked around in vain; even from the stone steps of the chapel, he
could not see it. All at once, a bright, little mouse stuck her sharp
nose from under the rail and welcomed the Hamster. »How do you do,
Godfather,« she cried. »You have brought us a guest. How is it that you
still take walks in the snow?«

The Hamster introduced Little Tom and told her that they were seeking
the widow's hut, but could not find it. The Mouse was surprised. »You
are my neighbor and do not know it?« she asked incredulously. »Long
since the widow has been sleeping under the ground of the chapel. In the
Spring, she was ill and did not even chase us when we visited her. In
the Summer, she lay down and died. They tore down her hut seeking some
treasure. Now, they want to build here, I do not know what.«

The Mouse knew all the news for miles around and was very greatly
pleased that she could talk with someone. The Hamster thanked her for
all the information and asked where the lady was lying, for he suspected
that Little Tom would like to say farewell to her. The Mouse took them
through the hole under the floor, until they came into the crypt, where
were standing the old, decaying coffins of the former knights and, in
the middle, a black new one, the Godmother's.

Tom stood before it and was so unhappy, that he did not even feel his
great suffering. Then they came out into the daylight and said good-by
to the talkative Mouse. Tom sat in the Hamster's fur and they started to


The sky, in the meantime, was covered with clouds, a gentle wind came
up, and small flakes began to fall from the darkened sky. On the plain
far away, Tom saw a reddish leaf and noticed how it was running, as if
blown by the wind straight towards them. It seemed strange to him. The
Hamster became confused, as he looked around; he looked once more, then
doubled with fright into the snow, whispering, »The Queen!«

The leaf came nearer; but it proved to be not a leaf at all, but a
beautiful sledge drawn by four black crickets. On the box, sat a
speckled coachman and, beside him, the footmen--centipedes, while,
behind, nestled a most beautiful lady, all wrapped up in the green and
black fur of a butterfly caterpillar. The little bells were ringing on
the horses and the coachman snapped his whip as they approached the

The lady, leaning out of the sledge and shaking her finger at Little
Tom, said, »You wanderer. Where are you going now? For a long time I
have been looking for you. Everyone is expecting you and here you are,
running around with such an underground monster. Come at once and sit
down. You will go with me.«

The Hamster buried himself still deeper in the snow, but Tom bowed and
said, »Dear Queen, the Hamster is my good friend. He helped me to take
care of my beloved Chrysomela. I can not go where he may not, for I will
not be untrue to him«.

The Queen smiled at the Hamster. »Look at this. Sometimes, even the
Hamsters have good hearts. But now don't trouble about him. Hamster, go
to your den, and when the time comes, speak and we will open to you.«

Tom said good-by to the Hamster, took his seat in the sledge, the Queen
wrapped him up in her fur cloak, and soon they were flying and
disappearing through the whirling flakes into the realm of Queen Fairy.


       *       *       *       *       *


  Page  15 « removed after "when she had cleaned it, there was the
  Page  27 extra r removed from measurring: "measuring out the paths"
  Page  31 typo corrected: Godmocher to Godmother in "when his Godmother
           saw him"
  Page  53 changed , to . in "ride upon around the garden.« Before"
  Page  59 replaced desieved with deceived in "punished for having
           deceived his Grandmother."
  Page  67 corrected typo: of to if in "if you want to see what God's
           world is like,"
  Page  67 inserted space between valour and but in "She did not give
           much thought to his valour but"
  Page  68 inserted space between monster and darted in "Then the great
           monster darted"
  Page  69 mill corrected to milk in "drunk some milk,"
  Page  70 blosoom corrected to blossom in "push right into the
  Page  74 space removed from the middle of today. "It is a miracle that
           you did not die today."
  Page  81 smellimg corrected to smelling in "sweet-smelling mint by the
  Page  90 typo corrected from Axterl to After in "After he had
  Page  93 hin corrected to him in "Mirmex came to him and said:"
  Page  94 healty corrected to healthy in "knowing that he is creating
           strong and healthy descendants"
  Page  94 Readheads corrected to Redheads in "This the Redheads well
  Page  95 duplicate "and" deleted in "defeated the Redheads and driven
           them away"
  Page  96 comma inserted: "Let us go a little further," he continued
  Page 103 hat corrected to that in "from whom they learned that,"
  Page 111 changed wery to were very in "and were very angry."
  Page 112 comma inserted in "Tom was very glad to have the work, for
           the time"
  Page 119 hin corrected to him in "ran with him into the forest"
  Page 120 The corrected to Then in "Then he sat hidden near by,"
  Page 121 duplicate "of" deleted in "Nowhere was there a sign of the
           former life,"
  Page 122 missing « added after "you will find the hut.«"
  Page 131 hyphen put in dining-room for consistency "until they came to
           his dining-room."
  Page 132 exitedly corrected to excitedly in "the hamster woke him
  Page 134 neighfor corrected to neighbor in "»You are my neighbor"
  Page 134 missing hyphen put in good-by in "and said good-by to the
           talkative Mouse."
  Page 134 full stop added after "and said good-by to the talkative
  Page 134 increduously corrected to incredulously in "she asked
  Page 136 hin corrected to him in "It seemed strange to him."

  The use of » and « for open and close quotation marks respectively
  has been retained.

  [^S] and [^C] represent S and C with caron.

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