The cook heard this quite plain, so she sprang out of bed, and ran to open the door. The thieves ran off as if a wolf was at their tails; and the maid, having groped about and found nothing, went away for a light. By the time she came back, Tom had slipt off into the barn; and when she had looked about and searched every hole and corner, and found nobody, she went to bed, thinking she must have been dreaming with her eyes open.
The little man crawled about in the hay-loft, and at last found a snug place to finish his night's rest in; so he laid himself down, meaning to sleep till daylight, and then find his way home to his father and mother. But alas! how woefully was he undone! what crosses and sorrows happen to us all in this world! The cook got up early, before daybreak, to feed the cows; and going straight to the hay-loft, carried away a large bundle of hay, with the little man in the middle of it, fast asleep. He still, however, slept on, and did not awake till he found himself in the mouth of the cow; for the cook had put the hay into the cow's rick, and the cow had taken Tom up in a mouthful of it. " Good lack-a-day!" said he, "how came I to tumble into the mill ?" But he soon found out where he really was; and was forced to have all his wits about him, that he might not get between the cow's teeth, and so be crushed to death. At last down he went into her stomach. " It is rather dark here," said he; they forgot to build windows in this room to let the sun in; a candle would be no bad thing."
Though he made the best of his bad luck, he did not like his quarters at all; and the worst of it was, that more and more hay was always coming down, and the space left for him became smaller and smaller. At last he cried out as loud as he could, "Don't bring me any more hay 1 Don't bring me any more hay ! "
The maid happened to be just then milking the cow; and hearing someone speak, but seeing nobody, and yet being quite sure it was the same voice that she had heard in the night, she was so frightened that she fell off her stool, and overset the milk-pail. As soon as she could pick herself up out of the dirt, she ran off as fast as she could to her master the parson, and said, " Sir, sir, the cow is talking!" But the parson said, "Woman, thou art surely mad!" However, he went with her into the cow-house, to try and see what was the matter.
Scarcely had they set their foot on the threshold, when Tom called out, "Don't bring me any more hay! " Then the parson himself was frightened ; and thinking the cow was surely bewitched, told his man to kill her on the spot. So the cow was killed, and cut up; and the stomach, in which Tom lay, was thrown out upon a dunghill.
Tom soon set himself to work to get out, which was not a very easy task; but at last, just as he had made room to get his head out, fresh ill-luck befell him. A hungry wolf sprang out, and swallowed up the whole stomach, with Tom in it, at one gulp, and ran away.
Tom, however, was still not disheartened; and thinking the wolf would not dislike having some chat with him as he was going along, he called out, "My good friend, I can show you a famous treat." "Where's that ? " said the wolf. " In such and such a house," said Tom, describing his own father's house : " you can crawl through the drain into the kitchen, and then into the pantry, and there you will find cakes, ham, beef, cold chicken, roast pig, apple-dumplings, and every thing that your heart can wish."
The wolf did not want to be asked twice ; so that very night he went to the house and crawled through the drain into the kitchen, and then into the pantry, and ate and drank there to his heart's content. As soon as he had had enough he wanted to get away; but he had eaten so much that he could not go out by the same way that he came in.
This was just what Tom had reckoned upon; and now he began to set up a great shout, making all the noise he could. "Will you be easy?" said the wolf: "you'll awaken everybody in the house if you make such a clatter." "What's that to me?" said the little man: "you have had your frolic, now I've a mind to be merry myself"; and he began again, singing and shouting as loud as he could.
The woodman and his wife being awakened by the noise, peeped through a crack in the door; but when they saw that a wolf was there, you may well suppose that they were sadly frightened; and the woodman ran for his axe, and gave his wife a scythe. "Do you stay behind," said the woodman, " and when I have knocked him on the head you must rip him up with the scythe." Tom heard all this said, and cried out, "Father, father! I am here, the wolf has swallowed me." And his father said, " Heaven be praised! we have found our dear child again " ; and he told his wife not to use the scythe for fear she should hurt him. Then he aimed a great blow, and struck the wolf on the head, and killed him on the spot; and when he was dead they cut open his body, and set Tommy free. " Ah!" said the father, "what fears we have had for you!" "Yes, father," answered he: " I have travelled all over the world, I think, in one way or other, since we parted ; and now I am very glad to come home and get fresh air again." "Why, where have you been?" said his father. "I have been in a mouse-hole,—and in a snail-shell,—and down a cow's throat,—and in the wolf's belly; and yet here I am again, safe and sound."
"Well," said they, "you are come back, and we will not sell you again for all the riches in the world."
Then they hugged and kissed their dear little son, and gave him plenty to eat and drink, for he was very hungry; and then they fetched new clothes for him for his old ones had been quite spoiled on his journey. So Master Thumb stayed at home with his father and mother, in peace; for though he had been so great a traveller, and had done and seen so many fine things, and was fond enough of telling the whole story, he always agreed that, after all,—There's no place like home !