IN the days of the great King Arthur there lived a mighty magician, called Merlin, the most learned and skilful enchanter the world has ever seen.
This famous magician, who could take any form he pleased, was travelling about as a poor beggar, and being very tired he stopped at the cottage of a ploughman to rest himself, and asked for some food.
The countryman bade him welcome, and his wife, who was a very good-hearted woman, soon brought him some milk in a wooden bowl, and some coarse brown bread on a platter.
Merlin was much pleased with the kindness of the ploughman and his wife; but he could not help noticing that though everything was neat and comfortable in the cottage they both seemed to be very unhappy. He therefore asked them why they were so melancholy, and learned that they were miserable because they had no children.
The poor woman said, with tears in her eyes: 'I should be the happiest creature in the world if I had a son; although he was no bigger than my husband's thumb, I would be satisfied.'
Merlin was so much amused with the idea of a boy no bigger than a man's thumb that he determined to grant the poor woman's wish. Accordingly, in a short time after, the ploughman's wife had a son, who, wonderful to relate! was not a bit bigger than his father's thumb.