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its feet drawn in under the feathers. It had clearly died of cold.
This grieved Little Thumb very much, for she loved all little birds, because they had sung so sweetly to her in the summer. But the mole pushed the bird away with its short legs, and said, “We'll have no more singing, for how wretched it must be to be born a bird ! Thank goodness that will not happen to any of my children. What has a bird but its chirping and singing ? and then in winter it dies of cold and hunger."
“Yes; a prudent man like you does well to say so," said the field-mouse. “And yet how proud these birds are!"
Little Thumb said nothing, but as soon as the other two had gone away she kissed the little bird on its closed eyes. "Perhaps it was he who sang to me so sweetly in the summer," thought she.
The mole now filled up the hole, which let in the light, and went with the two ladies home. But that night, Little Thumb could not sleep; so getting up, she made a nice large mat with some hay, and covered up the bird, laying some soft wool, which she had found in the mouse's room, at both its sides, so that it might lie warm in the cold earth.
“Farewell, you pretty little bird!” she said, “ and many thanks for the sweet songs you sang to me all the summer, when the trees were green, and the sun shone down upon us." She then laid her head upon the bird's breast, but was frightened
to hear a noise like something beating within. It was the swallow's heart beating, for he was not really dead, but only benumbed by the cold ; and now he was warmed, he was coming to life again.
Little Thumb was much frightened, and placing the wool close to the bird's sides, went away again.
The next night she stole to him again, and found him quite alive, but very weak, so that he could only keep his eyes open a moment together. He looked mildly at Little Thumb, who stood watching him with a piece of rotten wood in her hand, the only lantern she had got.
“I thank you, sweet little girl,” the bird said. “ You have warmed me so nicely that I shall soon recover my strength, and shall then be able to fly out again in the warm weather.”
“Alas!” she said, “it is now very cold; it snows and freezes; so you must rest awhile in your warm bed, and I will nurse you."
She then brought him some water in the leaf of a flower, and the swallow drank it, and told her that he had hurt one of his wings; so that he could not fly so quick as the other swallows, who had gone into the warm countries and left him behind. He thought he must have fallen down, stunned with the cold, but how he got there he did not know.
The swallow stayed in this place all the winter; and Little Thumb waited on him with the greatest care, without the mole or field-mouse knowing anything about it, for they did not like swallows.
PART III. When the spring came and warmed the ground, the swallow said good-bye to Little Thumb, who opened the hole that the mole had made above. The sun shone down upon them so warmly, that the swallow asked her if she would go with him, and live in the green woods. But Little Thumb knew that it would be wrong to leave the fieldmouse in that manner, so she said she would rather not.
“Good-bye, good-bye, you sweet little girl," said the swallow, and flew out in the sunshine. Little Thumb looked after it, and tears came into her eyes, for she was very fond of the swallow.
“Quivit, Quivit," sang the bird, as it flew away into the wood, and Little Thumb was very sad. The poor little thing was not allowed to go out into the warm sunshine, though all was so beautiful, and the corn was growing quite high in the fields.
“Now you must work all the summer at your wedding outfit,” said the field-mouse, for the tiresome old mole with the black fur coat had proposed to marry her. “You must have a good stock of linen as well as woollen clothes, for there must be nothing wanting when you are the mole's wife.”
Little Thumb had to work at her -spindle, and the field-mouse hired four spiders to help her. The mole came to see her every night, and all he had to say was, that after summer was over, the sun, which dried up the earth until it was as hard as a stone, would not be nearly so hot, and that then they would be married.
This did not comfort poor Little Thumb at all, for she could not bear the tiresome mole. Every morning at sunrise and every evening at sunset she stole out to see the blue sky, and wished with all her heart that she might see the dear swallow again. But it did not come back, and was doubtless far away in the green wood.
When autumn was come, Little Thumb's wedding clothes were ready. “ You will be married within a month," said the field-mouse to her one day. But Little Thumb cried, and said she would not have the tiresome mole.
“Nonsense!” the old mouse said. “Don't be contrary, or I'll bite you with my white teeth. Your future husband is a handsome man, and the queen herself would be proud of such a fur coat. His kitchen and cellar are full of food, so bless your stars that you are able to make such a
The time for the marriage had now come. The mole had arrived to fetch Little Thumb to live with him in a deep place underground, and never more to feel the warm sunshine, which indeed he did not care about. The poor thing was very sad, for she was now to bid the beautiful sun good-bye, which she could see sometimes when living with the field-mouse.
“Good-bye, bright sun !” said she, lifting her. hand towards it, as she went a few steps outside
the door. “Remember me to the little swallow when you happen to see it.” :
“Quivit, Quivit !" it sounded at that moment from above; and on looking up, she saw the little swallow flying over her head. When it saw Little Thumb it was very glad, and she told it how she was going to be forced to marry the tiresome old mole, and to live always under the ground.
“The cold winter is now coming," said the swallow, "and I'm going to fly off to a warmer country; will you go with me ? You can sit on my back. Then we will fly away from the ugly mole and his dark room, far, far away to a warmer country, where the sun shines brighter than he does here, and where there are the most lovely flowers you can think of. Come with me, you dear little girl, you who saved my life when I lay frozen and buried.”
“Yes, I will go with you,” Little Thumb said; and placing herself on the bird's back, she tied herself fast with her girdle to one of his strongest feathers. Then the swallow flew up high in the air, over forests and seas, high over mountains whose tops are always covered with snow, till at last they reached a warmer country, where the sun shines far more brightly than it does here, where the sky is twice as blue, and where grapes grow in the hedges.
Still further, however, the swallow flew, where it was yet more beautiful, till they came to a blue lake, near which was a palace made of marble, and with trees bearing sweet odours on every side.