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evening, had noticed the Ogresses with their golden crowns on their heads, and the more he thought about their terrible father the more decided he became that the Ogre would wake up in the night, change his mind, and kill the children before morning.
After much hard thinking he hit upon a plan which worked very well. Untying all the nightcaps from the heads of his brothers, and from his own, he went to the bed of the little Ogresses, took their crowns off gently and tied the nightcaps on in their places. Then he returned to his own bed and put a crown on the head of each of his brothers and one upon his own.
Everything happened just as Hop-o'-my-thumb expected. About midnight the Ogre waked up and repented that he had been so kind to the boys. "I will just see what the little brats are about and put them out of the way now while I am in the mood," he said.
Taking his big knife he went into the room, which was quite dark, and came to the bed of the little boys. Just as he was about to strike the first one he happened to think that it was best to be certain, and putting out his hand he felt the gold crowns on the heads of the boys.
"Aha," he said; "what a narrow escape from a terrible mistake! I had almost killed one of my own daughters."
When he reached the bed of the girls he felt the coarse nightcaps on their heads, and without more ado he cut the throats of every one of them. After this bloody deed he went back to his bed and slept soundly till morning.
As soon as Hop-o'-my-thumb heard him snoring, he quietly awoke his brothers, made them all dress themselves, and together they stole down into the garden and jumped over the wall. All the rest of the night they ran as hard as they could, not knowing where they were going, but very much determined to get as far away from the Ogre as possible.
In the morning the Ogre said to his wife, "Come now, go and dress the young rogues I saw last night and bring them down to me."
She was much surprised and pleased to hear the Ogre speak so, for she had little idea how he meant to have the boys dressed. Putting on her clothes and hastening up stairs, she was amazed to find her seven daughters lying in the bloody sheets with their throats cut from ear to ear. Overcome with horror at the sight, she fell to the floor and lay in a dead faint.
The Ogre waited for a while, and when his wife did not return he thought she was too slow with her work and went upstairs to find her. His astonishment was as great as hers at the fearful sight that lay before him.
"What have I done!" he cried. "How could I have slain my own daughters? But those little wretches shall pay for this, and without delay."
He revived his wife by throwing a bucket of water in her face, and then called loudly for his seven-league boots.
"I will follow those boys to the ends of the earth, and bring them back," said he.
He wasted no time in starting out, and rushed about first in one direction and then in another, until finally he came to the road where the boys were hurrying along not more than one hundred paces from their father's house.
They had seen him coming with his long steps from mountain to mountain, and Hop-o'-my-thumb, seeing a hollow rock near where they were, hid himself and his brothers, while he watched carefully to see what became of the Ogre.
The Ogre himself was by this time tired from his exertions, and finally sat down upon the very rock under which Hop-o'-my-thumb and his brothers were concealed. The morning was warm, and the Ogre soon dropped off to sleep.
As soon as Hop-o'-my-thumb heard him snoring he crawled out from under the rock, drew his brothers out one by one and sent them on to his father's house. When they were well on their way, Hop-o'-my-thumb crept very softly up to the Ogre, and drawing off the seven-league boots, put them on himself. You may think that these would not fit Hop-o'-my-thumb very well, but you must remember that they were fairy boots and fitted exactly to any feet that were put into them.
With the seven-league boots on his feet, Hop-o'my-thumb was able to go very quickly to the Ogre's house, where he rapped again at the door.
When the Ogress appeared he said to her, "Your husband, the Ogre is in great trouble. He has been captured by a band of robbers, who say they will slay him at once unless you send to them all the gold and silver that he has in his chests. I was near when he was captured, and hoping that you would send him help quickly, he put his seven-league boots on me and asked me to deliver the message."
Seeing the boots on Hop-o'-my-thumb, the Ogress
HOP-0 -MY-THUMB PULLS OFF THE OGRE S BOOTS
suspected nothing, but gathered together all the Ogre's gold and silver and gave it to Hop-o'-mythumb, who sped away to his home, where he found his family united and happy. By the aid of the Ogre's money they were able to live the rest of their lives in great comfort, and never again did any one say or think that Hop-o'-my-thumb was weak or stupid. Instead, they treated him as though he, and not his father, was the head of the family. As for the Ogre, he did not awaken till late in the evening, and then without his boots he was almost helpless. As he was fat and unwieldy, he could scarcely walk without assistance, so he lay back upon the rock and soon fell asleep again. While he was in this condition robbers really did come, and setting upon him they beat him to death, which was surely no more than he deserved.
MY BED IS A BOAT
By Robert Louis Stevenson
My bed is like a little boat;
Nurse helps me in when I embark;
And starts me in the dark.
At night, I go on board and say
Good-night to all my friends on shore;
I shut my eyes and sail away,
And sometimes things to bed I take,
Perhaps a slice of wedding cake,
All night across the dark we steer;
But when the day returns at last,
I find my vessel fast.