Little Thumb

As they began to warm themselves they heard three or four great raps at the door; this was the Ogre, who was come home. His wife quickly hid them under the bed and went to open the door. The Ogre at once asked if supper was ready and the wine drawn, and then sat himself down to table.

The Ogre at once asked if supper was ready and the wine drawn, and then sat himself down to table.

The sheep was as yet all raw, but he liked it the better for that. He sniffed about to the right and left, saying:

“I smell fresh meat.”

“What you smell,” said his wife, “must be the calf which I have just now killed and flayed.”

“I smell fresh meat, I tell you once more,” replied the Ogre, looking crossly at his wife, “and there is something here which I do not understand.”

As he spoke these words he got up from the table and went straight to the bed.

“Ah!” said he, “that is how you would cheat me; I know not why I do not eat you, too; it is well for you that you are tough. Here is game, which comes very luckily to entertain three Ogres of my acquaintance who are to pay me a visit in a day or two.”

The Ogre drags Little Thumb and his brothers from under the bed

He dragged them out from under the bed, one by one. The poor children fell upon their knees and begged his pardon, but they had to do with one of the most cruel of Ogres, who, far from having any pity on them, was already devouring them in his mind, and told his wife they would be delicate eating when she had made a good sauce.

He then took a great knife, and, coming up to these poor children, sharpened it upon a great whetstone which he held in his left hand. He had already taken hold of one of them when his wife said to him:
“What need you do it now? Will you not have time enough to-morrow?”

“Hold your prating,” said the Ogre; “they will eat the tenderer.”

“But you have so much meat already,” replied his wife; “here are a calf, two sheep, and half a Pig.”

“That is true,” said the Ogre ; “give them a good supper that they may not grow thin, and put them to bed.”

The good woman was overjoyed at this, and gave them a good supper; but they were so much afraid that they could not eat. As for the Ogre, he sat down again to drink, being highly pleased that he had the wherewithal to treat his friends. He drank a dozen glasses more than ordinary, which got up into his head and obliged him to go to bed.

The Ogre had seven daughters, who were still little children. These young Ogresses had all of them very fine complexions; but they all had little grey eyes, quite round, hooked noses, a very large mouth, and very long, sharp teeth, set far apart. They were not as yet wicked, but they promised well to be, for they had already bitten little children.

They had been put to bed early, all seven in one bed, with every one a crown of gold upon her head. There was in the same chamber a bed of the like size, and the Ogre’s wife put the seven little boys into this bed, after which she went to bed herself.

Little Thumb, who had observed that the Ogre’s daughters had crowns of gold upon their heads, and was afraid lest the Ogre should repent his not killing them that evening, got up about midnight, and, taking his brothers’ bonnets and his own, went very softly and put them upon the heads of the seven little Ogresses, after having taken off their crowns of gold, which he put upon his own head and his brothers’, so that the Ogre might take them for his daughters, and his daughters for the little boys whom he wanted to kill.

Things turned out just as he had thought; for the Ogre, waking about midnight, regretted that he had deferred till morning to do that which he might have done overnight, and jumped quickly out of bed, taking his great knife.

“Let us see,” said he, “how our little rogues do, and not make two jobs of the matter.”

He then went up, groping all the way, into his daughters’ chamber; and, coming to the bed where the little boys lay, and who were all fast asleep, except Little Thumb, who was terribly afraid when he found the Ogre fumbling about his head, as he had done about his brothers’, he felt the golden crowns, and said:

“I should have made a fine piece of work of it, truly; it is clear I drank too much last night.”

Then he went to the bed where the girls lay, and, having found the boys’ little bonnets:

“Ah!” said he, “my merry lads, are you there ? Let us work boldly.”

And saying these words, without more ado, he cruelly murdered all his seven daughters. Well pleased with what he had done, he went to bed again.

The Ogre cruelly murders all his seven daughters.

From The tales of Mother Goose, by Charles Perrault (Boston: Heath, 1901).

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