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 Once upon a time there was a woodcutter and his wife who had seven children, all boys. The was but ten years old, and the youngest only seven. People wondered that the woodcutter had so many children so near in age, but the fact was, that several of them were twins. He and his wife were very poor, and their seven children were a great burden to them, as not one of them was yet able to earn his . What troubled them still more was, that the youngest was very delicate, and seldom , which they considered a proof of stupidity rather than of good sense. He was very , and, when first born, scarcely bigger than one's thumb, and so they called him Little Thumbling.  
This poor child was the of the house, and was blamed for everything that happened. Nevertheless, he was the shrewdest and most sensible of all his brothers, and if he spoke little, he listened a great deal.
There came a year of bad harvest, and the famine was so severe that these poor people to get rid of their children. One evening, when they were all in bed, and the woodcutter was sitting over the fire with his wife, he said to her, with an aching heart, "You see plainly that we can no longer find food for our children. I cannot let them die of hunger before my very eyes, and I have made up my mind to take them to the wood to-morrow, and there lose them, which will be easily done, for whilst they are busy tying up the faggots, we have only to run away unseen by them." "Ah!" exclaimed the woodcutter's wife, "Can you find the heart to lose your own children?" In vain her husband represented to her their great poverty; she would not consent to the deed. She was poor, but she was their mother. After a while, however, having thought over the it would be to her to see them die of hunger, she to her husband's proposal, and went weeping to bed.
Little Thumbling had overheard all they said, for having found out, as he lay in his bed, that they were talking of their affairs, he got up quietly and crept under his father's stool, so as to listen to what they were saying without been seen. He went to bed again, but did not sleep a the rest of the night, thinking what he should do. He got up early, and went down to the banks of the stream; there he filled his pockets with small white , and then returned home. They set out all together, and Little Thumbling said not a word to his brothers of what he had overheard. They entered a very thick forest, wherein, at ten paces distant, they could not see one another. The woodcutter began to cut wood, and the children to pick up brushwood for the faggots. The father and mother, seeing them busy at work, gradually stole farther and farther away from them, and then suddenly ran off down a little path.
When the children found themselves all alone, they began to scream and cry with all their might. Little Thumbling let them scream, well knowing how he could get home again, for on their way to the forest, he had dropped all along the road the little white pebbles he had in his pockets. He then said to them, "Have no fear, brothers; my father and mother have left us here, but I will take you safely home; only follow me." They followed him, and he led them back to the house by the same road that they had taken to the forest. They were afraid to go inside at once, but placed themselves close to the door, to listen to what their father and mother were saying. It chanced that just at the moment that the woodcutter and his wife reached home, the lord of the sent them ten crowns, which he had owed them a long time, and which they had given up all hope of receiving. This was new life to them, for the poor things were actually starving. The woodcutter immediately sent his wife to the butcher's, and, as it was many a day since they had tasted meat, she bought three times as much as was sufficient for two people's supper. When they had their hunger, the woodcutter's wife said, "! where now are our poor children? They would fare merrily on what we have left. But it was you, William, who would lose them. Truly did I say we should it. What are they now doing in the forest? Alas! Heaven help me! the wolves have, perhaps, already them. Cruel man that you are, thus to have lost your children!"
The woodcutter began at last to lose his temper, for she repeated over twenty times that they would repent the deed, and that she had said it would be so. He threatened to beat her if she did not hold her tongue. It was not that the woodcutter was not, perhaps, even more sorry than his wife, but that she made so much noise about it, and that he was like many other people, who are fond of women who say the right thing, but are annoyed by those who are always in the right. The wife was all in tears. "Alas! where are now my children, my poor children?" She uttered her cry, at last, so loudly, that the children, who were at the door, heard her, and began to call out all together, "Here we are! here we are!" She rushed to the door to open it, and embracing them, exclaimed, "How thankful I am to see you again, my dear children; you are very tired and hungry; and you, little Peter, how dirty you are! come here and let me wash you." Peter was her eldest son, and she loved him better than all the rest, because he was red-headed, and she was rather red-haired herself. They sat down to supper and ate with an appetite that delighted their father and mother, to whom they related how frightened they had been in the forest, nearly all keeping on speaking at the same time. The good people were overjoyed to see their children around them once more, and their joy lasted as long as the ten crowns. When the money was spent, however, they fell back into their former state of misery, and resolved to lose their children again; and to make quite sure of doing so this time, they determined to lead them much further from home than they had before.
They could not talk of this so secretly, but that they were overheard by Little Thumbling, who reckoned upon being able to get out of the difficulty by the same means as the first time; but though he got up very early to collect the little pebbles, he did not succeed in his object, for he found the house door double locked. He was at his wit's end what to do, when his mother having given each of them a piece of bread for their breakfast, it occurred to him that he might make the bread take the place of the pebbles, by along the path as they went, and so he put his piece in his pocket. The father and mother led them into the thickest and darkest part of the forest, and as soon as they had done so, they turned into a bypath, and left them there. Little Thumbling did not trouble himself much, for he believed he could easily find his way back by help of the crumbs which he had wherever he had passed; but he was greatly surprised to find not a single left—the birds had come and picked them all up. The poor children were now, indeed, in great ; the further they wandered, the deeper they into the forest. Night came on, and a great wind arose, which filled them with terror. They fancied they heard nothing on every side but the howling of wolves, running towards them to them. They scarcely dared to speak or look behind them. Then there came a heavy rain, which them to the skin; they slipped at every step, tumbling into the mud, out of which they covered with dirt, not knowing what to do with their hands. Little Thumbling climbed up a tree to try if he could see anything from the top of it. Having looked about on all sides, he saw a little light, like that of a candle, but it was a long way off, on the other side of the forest. He came down again, and when he had reached the ground, he could no longer see the light. He was in despair at this, but having walked on with his brothers for some time in the direction of the light, he caught sight of it again as they emerged from the forest.
At length they reached the house where the candle was shining, not without many alarms, for often they lost sight of it altogether, and always when they went down into the hollows. They knocked loudly at the door, and a good woman came to open it. She asked them what they wanted. Little Thumbling told her they were poor children who had lost their way in the forest, and who begged a night's for charity's sake. The woman, seeing they were all so pretty, began to weep, and said to them, "Alas! my poor children, to what a place have you come! Know you not that this is the house of an ogre who eats little children?" "Alas!" replied Little Thumbling, who trembled from head to foot, as indeed did all his brothers, "what shall we do? We shall certainly be all eaten up by the wolves to-night, if you do not give us shelter, and, in that case, we would rather be eaten by the ogre; perhaps he may have pity upon us, if you are kind enough to ask him." The ogre's wife, who thought that she might be able to hide them from her husband till the next morning, let the children come in, and led them where they could warm themselves by a good fire, for there was a whole sheep on the spit, roasting for the ogre's supper.
Just as they were beginning to get warm they heard two or three loud knocks at the door. It was the ogre who had come home. His wife immediately made the children hide under the bed, and went to open the door. The ogre first asked if his supper was ready, and if she had the wine, and with that he sat down to his meal. The mutton was all but raw, but he liked it all the better for that. He right and left, saying that he fresh m............
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