"Thumbelina" by Hans Christian Andersen Once upon a time there lived a lonely old woman. She had dreamed all her life of having a daughter she could take care of and tell stories to, but the years had gone by and her dream never came true. One day, sad and desperate from spending all of her time alone in her quiet little cottage, she decided to visit her neighbor the witch to see if she could help her have a child. The witch took pity on the woman and gave her a shiny pink seed, saying, "Put this in the ground and if you tend to it with lots of water and sunshine, you will have your wish." The woman did as she was told and after one week a radiant rose blossomed. In the center of the flower was a beautiful child with golden hair and skin as soft as flower petals. The old woman was delighted and immediately picked the girl up and gave her a tiny hug. "I will call you Thumbelina," she declared, "for you are no bigger than my thumb!" For many years, Thumbelina and the old woman lived in peace. The girl slept in a bed made from a walnut shell with a teeny marshmallow for a mattress. Thumbelina loved the old woman very much. But one summer night when the old woman was asleep, a giant toad hopped through an open window and kidnapped Thumbelina! The toad carried the poor girl away, declaring, "I have never seen such a pretty little creature before. You will make the perfect bride for my handsome son, Wartimer." When they reached the toad's pond and she set Thumbelina down before her son, Thumbelina started crying. He was scary, slimy, and covered in warts. All Thumbelina wanted to do was go home. "She is wonderful!" croaked Wartimer when he saw Thumbelina. "Mother you have made an excellent choice. I demand that we hold the wedding as soon as it is light. Until then put her on a lily pad in the middle of the pond so that she cannot get away." Thumbelina spent hours sobbing in the dark. How would she ever get out of this terrible mess? But, just when she thought all hope was lost two little critters nibbled through the lily pad's stem and began to set her free. "We have heard you crying," declared the critters, "and we want to help you escape the horrible toad." Thumbelina thanked her friends and was relieved to get away from the icky toad, but she was also scared as she floated down the water. She had never been this far from home before and everything around her looked so big. For many days Thumbelina wandered around, living off of flower nectar and dewdrops. Soon the weather turned cold and she began to fear she might freeze to death without ever making it back home. Cold and exhausted, she eventually stumbled upon a tiny cottage. She knocked on the door hoping to find some shelter for the night. It was answered by a furry brown field mouse. "Well what do we have here?" asked the mouse when he saw the tired and shivering Thumbelina. "You poor child, come in and warm yourself by the fire. I have plenty of food and room for you to sleep. All I ask for in return is your good company and for help cleaning up the house." Thumbelina gladly agreed, telling the mouse that she would stay with him through the winter then set out to find her way home again in the spring. For weeks, Thumbelina and the mouse lived happily together. She knit them both tiny socks to keep their feet warm and at night they told each other stories. Thumbelina told the mouse about the kind old woman and he told Thumbelina about his 500 brothers and sisters. Then one morning after breakfast, the mouse told Thumbelina that his friend the mole would be coming to pay them a visit. "I told him all about you when you first arrived and he is so anxious to meet you. He is very elegant and very rich. If you are lucky he might even want to marry you!" Thumbelina did not like this. "But I don't want to marry anyone. I just want to go home!" "Of course you do dear," said the mouse. "Just wait until you meet him though. He is so wealthy that if you marry him, you will have anything you can dream of." Before Thumbelina could argue, she heard a loud scratching sound coming from the ground. Suddenly a large hairy creature popped out of a hole near the door. Thumbelina was horrified. The mole was so big and had huge sharp claws. Although his eyesight was bad, he could tell how beautiful Thumbelina was by the soft sound of her voice and immediately proposed to her. Too scared to refuse, Thumbelina agreed to live underground with him. As the wedding date was set, though, Thumbelina quickly regretted her decision. First of all, the mole's house was dark and dreary. Thumbelina missed the sun's warm kiss and felt terribly lonely. And whenever she complained to the mole, all he would do is buy her a present and tell her not to worry about it. One afternoon Thumbelina decided to go exploring. She hated the dark and dreary nature of the mole's home and ventured to the woods outside. Immediately, she saw a beautiful swallow lying on its side, obviously in pain. Thumbelina ran to help the bird, whose wing was torn. Thumbelina began to nurse the poor swallow back to health and everyday would come to check on how well he was healing. "Thank you so much for helping me!" the swallow declared. "I tore my wing on a thorn and was unable to follow my friends south for the winter. Somehow I stumbled into this forest. I didn't think I would ever get out. How can I possibly repay you?" Thumbelina told the swallow about her engagement to the mole. The wedding day was approaching and she begged him to save her. "That is terrible!" the swallow exclaimed and together they worked out a plan. On the eve of Thumbelina's wedding, she asked the mole if she could spend a few last hours outside in the sun before promising to live underground with him forever. He agreed and when she went outside the swallow, whose wing had fully healed, flew down and rescued her. Although he did not know how to get her home, he promised to do the next best thing and flew her to a land of flowers filled with little people just like her. It was the most beautiful site Thumbelina had ever seen. Rows of colored roses, lilies, and lilacs lined the earth. And in the middle of it all, a single red rose shined above them all. There, lived the King of the Flower Fairies, and when Thumbelina and the King saw each other, they both immediately fell in love. The King quickly asked her to marry him and they had the most beautiful wedding in all the land. Everyone was invited, including . . . the kind old lady! Thumbelina was so happy to see her that she cried little dewdrop tears. The old woman promised never to leave her and built a small cottage nearby where she helped Queen Thumbelina and the King raise lots of tiny flower babies and they all lived happily ever after.