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In the autumn
all the swallow
s fly away to warm countries, but if one happens to be belated, it feels the cold so much that it falls down like a dead thing, and remains lying where it falls till the snow covers it up. Thumbelisa
quite shook with fright for the bird was very, very big beside her who was only one inch high, but she gathered up her courage, packed the wool closer round the poor bird, and fetched a leaf of mint
which she had herself for a coverlet
and laid it over the bird's head. the next night she stole down again to it and found it alive but so feeble that it could only just open its eyes for a moment to look at Thumbelisa who stood with a bit of tinder-wood in her hand, for she had no other lantern
"Many, many thanks, you sweet child," said the sick swallow to her, "you have warmed me beautifully. I shall soon have strength to fly out into the warm sun again."
" said she, "it is so cold outside, it snows and freezes, stay in your warm bed, I shall tend you." Then she brought some water to the swallow in a leaf, and when it had drunk some, it told her how it had torn its wing on a black thorn
bush, and therefore could not fly as fast as the other swallows which were taking flight then for the distant warm lands. At last it fell down on the ground, but after that it remembered nothing, and did not in the least know how it had got into the tunnel.
It stayed there all the winter, and Thumbelisa was good to it and grew very fond
of it. She did not tell either the mole
or the field-mouse
anything about it, for they did not like the poor unfortunate swallow.
As soon as the spring came and the warmth of the sun penetrate
d the ground, the swallow said good-bye to Thumbelisa, who opened the hole which the mole had made above. The sun streamed in delicious
ly upon them, and the swallow asked if she would not go with him, she could sit upon his back and they would fly far away
into the green wood. But Thumbelisa knew that it would grieve the old field-mouse if she left her like that.
"No, I can't," said Thumbelisa.
, good-bye, then, you kind pretty girl," said the swallow, and flew out into the sunshine
. Thumbelisa looked after him and her eyes filled with tears
, for she was very fond of the poor swallow.
," sang the bird, and flew into the green wood.
Thumbelisa was very sad. She was not allowed to go out into the warm sunshine at all; the corn which was sow
n in the field near the field-mouse's house grew quite long, it was a thick forest for the poor little girl who was only an inch
"You must work at your trousseau
this summer," said the mouse to her, for their neighbour the tiresome mole in his black velvet coat
had asked her to marry him. "You will have both woollen
, you will have wherewith to clothe and cover yourself when you become the mole's wife
." Thumbelisa had to turn the distaff
and the field-mouse hired four spider
s to spin and weave day and night. The mole paid a visit every evening and he was always saying that when the summer came to an end, the sun would not shine nearly so warmly, now it burn
t the ground as hard as a stone. Yes, when the summer was over he would celebrate his marriage
; but Thumbelisa was not at all pleased, for she did not care a bit for the tiresome mole. Every morning at sunrise and every evening at sunset she used to steal
out to the door, and when the wind blew aside the tops of the cornstalk
s so that she could see the blue sky, she thought how bright and lovely it was out there, and wished so much to see the dear swallow again; but it never came back; no doubt it was a long way off, fly
ing about in the beautiful green woods.
When the autumn came all Thumbelisa's outfit
"In four weeks you must be married," said the field-mouse to her. But Thumbelisa cried
and said that she would not have the tiresome mole for a husband.
," said the field-mouse; "don't be obstinate or I shall bite you
with my white tooth. You are going to have a splendid husband; the queen herself hasn't the equal of his black velvet coat; both his kitchen and his cellar are full. You should thank heaven for such a husband!"
On to Part Six