Short Stories » Hop-O'-My-Thumb

Hop-O'-My-Thumb - Page 3 of 3

When the Ogre awakened in the morning, he said to his wife : " Go up stairs and dress those seven little rogues that I saw last night." The Ogress was not a little surprised to hear her husband speak so kindly of them ; little thinking of the way in which he really meant her to dress them, her only idea being that he wanted her to put on their clothes. She accordingly went up stairs, and was horror-stricken to see her seven daughters lying weltering in their blood, with their throats cut. She immediately fainted away ; as would have been the case with most women, similarly circumstanced. The 6gre, who thought that his wife was very long doing what he desired her, went up stairs to assist her ; and was, as may be supposed, dreadfully astonished at the frightful spectacle that presented itself. " Ah ! what have I done ?" cried he ; " but the little scoundrels shall suffer for it, and that very soon." He then threw a jug full of water over his wife's face, and when she came to herself: " Make haste, and fetch me my seven-league boots," said he to her, "that I may go and catch the little rascals." The Ogre, having put on the boots, sallied forth ; and, after he had strided over many parts of the country, he presently turned into the very road in which the seven poor children were pursuing their journey towards their parents' house ; at which they had arrived within a hundred yards. They saw the Ogre stalking from mountain to mountain, and crossing wide rivers as easily as he might have passed the smallest stream. Hop-o'- my-Thumb who observed a hollow rock at no great distance from them, hid his six brothers therein, and then crept into it himself', narrowly watching the Ogre's movements. The Ogre, being very tired with his long and useless journey (for seven- league boots are very tiresome to wear), felt inclined to repose himself a while ; and, by chance, stretched himself on the very rock under which the seven children [were concealed. As he was quite exhausted, he fell fast asleep ; and, after he had lain there a short time, began to snore so terribly loud, that the poor children were riot less afraid than they had been when he held his large knife in his hand, and was about to cut their throats. The least terrified of them was Hop-o'-my-Thumb ; who desired his brothers to make haste home immediately, while the Ogre was fast asleep, and not to trouble themselves about him. When they had gone, Hop-o'-my-Thumb crept very quietly up to the Ogre, gently drew off his boots, and put them on his own legs. The seven-league boots were very large and long ; but as they were fairy-boots, they had the quality of adapting themselves to the legs of the person who wore them, large or small : and, accordingly, they fitted him at correctly as though they had been made for him. He went straight to the Ogre's house, where he found the good woman who was weeping over the bodies of her daughters.

" Your husband," said Hop-o-my-Thumb to her, " is in great danger; for he has been taken prisoner by a band of robbers, who have sworn to kill him, if he does not deliver up to them all his gold and silver. Just as they had put the knife to his throat, with the intention of executing their threat, he perceived me. He begged me to go and advise you of what had befallen him, and desire you to give me all his wealth ; without retaining the smallest portion, for hi that case they will put him to death without mercy. As it was a matter of great moment, he permitted me to make use of his seven-league boots, which you see I have on ; both for the sake of making great haste, and of making it apparent to you that I am not an impostor." The Ogre's wife, dreadfully terrified, immediately handed over to him all that she had ; for though the Ogre ate little children, he was not a bad husband, and trusted her with his money. Then Hop-o'-my-Thumb, loaded with all the Ogre's wealth, returned home to his father and mother, where he was joyfully received.

There are some people who will not admit the truth of this latter circumstance, and pretend that Hop-o'-my-Thumb never committed this robbery of the Ogre's property ; that in truth he was so honest, that he could hardly make up his mind to take the seven-league boots, because the Ogre had only used them to chase little children. The said people assert that they have their information from a very good quarter, and have eaten and drunk in the wood- cutter's house. They go on to state that when Hop-o'-my-Thumb had put on the Ogre's boots, he proceeded to court, where he knew there was great anxiety felt for an army which was six-hundred miles from the capital, and also for the issue of a battle which had been lately fought; that he went straight to the king, and told him, that if he wished it, he would bring him news of his army before night-fall ; that the king promised him a large sum of money if he should succeed in so doing; that Hop-o'-my-Thumb returned with the desired information that same evening; and that this beginning having made him known, he afterwards earned as much as he liked: for that the king paid him very handsomely for carrying despatches between him and his army. They go on to say that, after having pursued for some time the business of a courier, and amassed a large for- tune by his exertions, he returned to his family, whose joy it is impossible to imagine at seeing him once again; and that, finally, having purchased official situations for his father and brothers, thus settling them all in easy circum- stances, and paying his court to the king perfectly well at the same time, he ultimately married the daughter of a nobleman, and lived happily with her all the rest of his life.

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