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          (A Story for Grownups or Children, Adapted)
                       by Hans Christian Anderson

SOME YEARS AGO, BUT NOT TOO LONG, lived a woman who wished for all the world for a very little child; but she did not know where she could get one. So she went to an early, virtual-reality researcher at the edge of what were then known as "woods", and said:

   "I do so very much wish for a little child! Can you not tell me where I can get one?"

   "Oh! That could easily be managed," said the researcher. Here is some corn that is not the kind which grows in the field, or the chickens get to eat, or the birds might drop. Put this into a flower-pot, and you shall see what you shall see."

The researcher was not supervised….

   "Thank you,"said the woman, and paid an exorbitant fee. Then she went home and planted the special corn. Immediately there grew up a great handsome flower, which looked like a tulip, but the leaves were tightly closed, as though it were still a bud.

   "What a beautiful flower," said the woman, and she kissed its yellow and red petals. But just as she kissed it, the flower opened with a pop! It was a real tulip, as one could now see, but in the middle of the flower there sat upon the green velvet stamens a little maiden, strong and graceful to behold. She was scarcely half a thumb’s length in height, and, therefore, she was called Thumbelina.

   What a strange little girl! But wonderfuly made for a crowded world. A neat polished walnut-shell served Thumbelina for a cradle; blue violet- petals were her mattresses, with a rose-leaf for a coverlet. There she slept at night, but during the day she played upon the table, where the woman had arranged a wreath of flowers around it whose stems stood in water and on the water swam a great tulip leaf, and on this the little maiden could sit, and row from one side of plate to the other, with two white horse-hairs for oars. She could also sing and was pretty good.

   One night, however, as she lay in her pretty bed, there came an old Toad creeping through the window. Very ugly, big and damp; it hopped straight down upon the table, where Thumbelina lay sleeping.

   "That would be a handsome wife for my son," said the Toad, who was a value-challenged mother, and she took the walnut-shell in which Thumbelina lay asleep and hopped with it through the window down into the garden.

   There ran a great broad brook, but the edge was swampy and soft, and here the Toad dwelt with her son, a gang member, pothead, and ne’er-do-well. Ugh! He was ugly, and looked just like his mother. "Croak!croak; brek-kek-kek!" That was all he could say when he saw the graceful little maiden in the walnut-shell, for as usual, he was on drugs.

   "Don’t squawk, or she will awake," said the old Toad, and run away from us. We must put her out in the brook upon one of the broad water-lily leaves. That will be just like an island for her because she is so small and light. Then she can’t get away! while we put your apartment in order, under the marsh, where you are to live and keep house together."

   The old Toad (who wasn’t the least "endangered"), then swam out and laid the walnut-shell upon the lily-pad with Thumbelina. The little tiny Thumbelina woke early in the morning, and then she saw where she was she began to cry very bitterly, for there was water on every side of the great green leaf, and she couldn’t get to land at all. The old Toad then swam out, with her ugly son, to the leaf on which Thumbelina was. The old Toad bowed low before her in the water, and said:

   "Here is my son. He will be your husband and you will live splendidly together in the marsh."

   "Croak! Croak! Brek-kek-kek!" was all the son could say.

   They swam away, while Thumbelina, quite new to all this, sat all alone upon the green leaf and wept, for she did not want to live at the nasty Toad’s, and have her dopey son for a husband.

   The little fishes swimming in the water below had both seen the Toad and heard what she said, so they stretched forth their heads, for they wanted to see the small girl. As soon as they saw her and how mean the situation was, they said, "No, that must never be!" They assembled together in the water around the green stalk that tethered the lily leaf on which the little maiden stood, and with their teeth they gnawed away the stalk so that the leaf could swim down the stream. Away went Thumbelina, far away where the Toads could not get at her.

   In this fashion Thumbelina escaped -- with luck -- and carried by the current, sailed by many cities. The leaf swam away from the Toads, farther and farther; and the little birds who sat in the bushes saw her, and said, "What a lovely little girl!" But with white water building steadily around her, and no oars, Thumbelina traveled swiftly into the country. Too swiftly….

Thumbelina, Part II

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