JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
ONCE upon a time there was a poor widow who lived in a little
cottage with her only son Jack.
Jack was a giddy, thoughtless boy, but very kindhearted and
affectionate. There had been a hard winter, and after it the poor woman had
suffered from fever and ague. Jack did no work as yet, and by degrees they grew
dreadfully poor. The widow saw that there was no means of keeping Jack and
herself from starvation but by selling her cow; so one morning she said to her
son, "I am too weak to go myself, Jack, so you must take the cow to market for
me, and sell her."
Jack liked going to market to sell the cow very much; but as he
was on his way, he met a butcher who had some beautiful beans in his hand. Jack
stopped to look at them, and the butcher told the boy that they were of great
value, and persuaded the silly lad to sell the cow for these beans. When he
brought them home to his mother instead of the money she expected for her nice
cow, she was very vexed and shed many tears, scolding Jack for his folly. He was
very sorry, and mother and son went to bed very sadly that night; their last
hope seemed gone.
At daybreak Jack rose and went out into the garden.
"At least," he thought, "I will sow the wonderful beans. Mother
says that they are just common scarlet-runners, and nothing else; but I may as
well sow them."
So he took a piece of stick, and made some holes in the ground,
and put in the beans.
That day they had very little dinner, and went sadly to bed,
knowing that for the next day there would be none, and Jack, unable to sleep
from grief and vexation, got up at day-dawn and went out into the garden.
What was his amazement to find that the beans had grown up in
the night, and climbed up and up till they covered the high cliff that sheltered
the cottage, and disappeared above it! The stalks had twined and - twisted
themselves together till they formed quite a ladder.
"It would be easy to climb it," thought Jack.
And, having thought of the experiment, he at once resolved to
carry it out, for Jack was a good climber. However, after his late mistake about
the cow, he thought he had better consult his mother first.
So Jack called his mother, and they both gazed in silent wonder
at the Beanstalk, which was not only of great height, but it was thick enough to
bear Jack's weight.
"I wonder where it ends," said Jack to his mother; "I think I
will climb up and see."
His mother wished him not to venture up this strange ladder, but
Jack coaxed her to give her consent to the attempt, for he was certain there
must be something wonderful in the Beanstalk; so at last she yielded to his
Jack instantly began to climb, and went up and up on the
ladder-like bean till everything he had left behind him-the cottage, the
village, and even the tall church tower-looked quite little, and still he could
not see the top of the Beanstalk.
Jack felt a little tired, and thought for a moment that he would
go back again; but he was a very persevering boy, and he knew that the way to
succeed in anything is not to give up. So, after resting for a moment, he went
After climbing higher and higher, till he grew afraid to look
down for fear he should be giddy, Jack at last reached the top of the Beanstalk,
and found himself in a beautiful country, finely wooded, with beautiful meadows
covered with sheep. A crystal stream ran through the pastures; not far from the
place where he had got off the Beanstalk stood a fine, strong castle.
Jack wondered very much that he had never heard of or seen this
castle before; but when he reflected on the subject, he saw that it was as much
separated from the village by the perpendicular rock on which it stood as if it
were in another land.
While Jack was standing looking at the castle, a very
strange-looking woman came out of the wood and advanced toward him.
She wore a pointed cap of quilted red satin turned up with
ermine, her hair streamed loose over her shoulders, and she walked with a staff.
Jack took off his cap and made her a bow.
"If you please, ma'am," said he, "is this your house?"
"No," said the old lady. "Listen, and I will tell you the story
of that castle."
"Once upon a time there was a noble knight, who lived in this
castle, which is on the borders of Fairyland. He had a fair and beloved wife and
several lovely children; and as his neighbors, the little people, were very
friendly toward him, they bestowed on him many excellent and precious gifts.
"Rumor whispered of these treasures; and a monstrous giant who
lived at a great distance, and who was a very wicked being, resolved to obtain
possession of them.
"So he bribed a false servant to let him inside the castle, when
the knight was in bed and asleep, and he killed him as he lay. Then he went to
the part of the castle which was the nursery, and also killed all the poor
little ones he found there.
"Happily for her, the lady was not to be found. She had gone
with her infant son, who was only two or three months old, to visit her old
nurse, who lived in the valley; and she had been detained all night there by a
"The next morning, as soon as it was light, one of the servants
at the castle, who had managed to escape, came to tell the poor lady of the sad
fate of her husband and her pretty babes. She could scarcely believe him at
first, and was eager at once to go back and share the fate of her dear ones; but
the old nurse, with many tears, besought her to remember that she had still a
child, and that it was her duty to preserve her life for the sake of the poor
"The lady yielded to this reasoning, and consented to remain at
her nurse's house as the best place of concealment; for the servant told her
that the Giant had vowed, if he could find her, he would kill both her and her
baby. Years rolled on. The old nurse died, leaving her cottage and the few
articles of furniture it contained to her poor lady, who dwelt in it, working as
a peasant for her daily bread. Her spinning-wheel and the milk of a cow which
she had purchased with the little money she had with her, sufficed for the
scanty subsistence of herself and her little son. There was a nice little garden
attached to the cottage, in which they cultivated peas, beans, and cabbages, and
the lady was not ashamed to go out at harvest time and glean in the fields to
supply her little son's wants.
"Jack, that poor lady is your mother. This castle was once your
father's, and must again be yours.
Jack uttered a cry of surprise.
"My mother! oh, madam, what ought I to do? My poor father! My
"Your duty requires you to win it back for your mother. But the
task is a very difficult one, and full of peril, Jack. Have you courage to
undertake it?" "I fear nothing when I am doing right," said Jack.
"Then," said the lady in the red cap, "you are one of those who
slay giants. You must get into the castle, and if possible possess yourself of a
hen that lays golden eggs, and a harp that talks. Remember, all the Giant
possesses is really yours."
As she ceased speaking, the lady of the red hat suddenly
disappeared, and of course Jack knew she was a fairy.
Jack determined at once to attempt the adventure; so he
advanced, and blew the horn which hung at the castle portal. The door was opened
in a minute or two by a frightful Giantess, with one great eye in the middle of
As soon as Jack saw her he turned to run away, but she caught
him, and dragged him into the castle.
"Ho, ho!" she laughed terribly. "You didn't expect to see me
here, that is clear! No, I shan't let you go again. I am weary of my life. I am
so overworked, and I don't see why I should not have a page as well as other
ladies. And you shall be my boy. You shall clean the knives, and black the
boots, and make the fires, and help me generally when the Giant is out. When he
is at home I must hide you, for he has eaten up all my pages hitherto, and you
would be a dainty morsel, my little lad."
While she spoke she dragged Jack right into the castle. The poor
boy was very much frightened, as I am sure you and I would have been in his
place. But he remembered that fear disgraces a man; so he struggled to be brave
and make the best of things. "I am quite ready to help you, and do all I can to
serve you, madam," he said, "only I beg you will be good enough to hide me from
your husband, for I should not like to be eaten at all."
"That's a good boy," said the Giantess, nodding her head; "it is
lucky for you that you did not scream out when you saw me, as the other boys who
have been here did, for if you had done so my husband would have awakened and
have eaten you, as he did them, for breakfast. Come here, child; go into my
wardrobe: he never ventures to open that; you will be safe there."
And she opened a huge wardrobe which stood in the great hall,
and shut him unto it. But the keyhole was so large that it admitted plenty of
air, and he could see everything that took place through it. By and by he heard
a heavy tramp on the stairs, like the lumbering along of a great cannon, and
then a voice like thunder cried out:
"Fe, fa, fi-fo-fum,
I smell the breath of an Englishman.
Let him be alive or let him be dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."
"Wife," cried the Giant, "there is a man
in the castle. Let me have him for breakfast."
"You are grown old and stupid," cried the lady, in her loud
tones. "It is only a nice fresh steak off an elephant, that I have cooked for
you, which you smell. There, sit down and make a good breakfast."
And she placed a huge dish before him of savory steaming meat,
which greatly pleased him, and made him forget his idea of an Englishman being
in the castle. When he had breakfasted he went out for a walk, and then the
Giantess opened the door, and made Jack come out to help her. He helped her all
day. She fed him well, and when evening came put him back in the wardrobe.
The Giant came in to supper. Jack watched him through the
keyhole, and was amazed to see him pick a wolf's bone, and put half a fowl at a
time into his capacious mouth.
When the supper was ended he bade his wife bring him his hen
that laid the golden eggs.
"It lays as well as it did when it belonged to that paltry
knight," he said; "indeed, I think the eggs are heavier than ever."
The Giantess went away, and soon returned with a little brown
hen, which she placed on the table before her husband.
"And now, my dear," she said, "I am going for a walk, if you
don't want me any longer."
"Go, said the Giant; "I shall be glad to have a nap by and by."
Then he took up the brown hen and said to her:
"Lay!" And she instantly laid a golden egg.
"Lay!" said the Giant again. And she laid another.
"Lay!" he repeated the third time. And again a golden egg lay on
Now, Jack was sure this hen was that of which the fairy had
By and by the Giant put the hen down on the floor, and soon
after went fast asleep, snoring so loud that it sounded like thunder.
Directly Jack perceived that the Giant was fast asleep, he
pushed open the door of the wardrobe and crept out; very softly he stole across
the room, and, picking up the hen, made haste to quit the apartment. he knew the
way to the kitchen, the door of which he found was left ajar; he opened it, shut
and locked it after him, and flew back to the Beanstalk, which he descended as
fast as his feet would move.
When his mother saw him enter the house she wept for joy, for
she had feared that the fairies had carried him away, or that the Giant had
found him. But Jack put the brown hen down before her, and told her how he had
been in the Giant's castle, and all his adventures. She was very glad to see the
hen, which would make them rich once more.
Jack made another journey up the Beanstalk to the Giant's castle
one day while his mother had gone to market; but first he dyed his hair and
disguised himself. The old woman did not know him again, and dragged him in as
she had done before, to help her to do the work; but she heard her husband
coming, and hid him in the wardrobe, not thinking that it was the same boy who
had stolen the hen. She bade him stay quite still there, or the Giant would eat
him. Then the Giant came in, saying:
"Fe, fa, fi-fo-furn,
I smell the breath of an Englishman.
Let him he alive or let him be dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."
"Nonsense!" said the wife, "it is only a
roasted bullock that I thought would be a titbit for your supper; sit down and I
will bring it up at once.
The Giant sat down, and soon his wife brought up a roasted
bullock on a large dish, and they began their supper. Jack was amazed to see
them pick the bones of the bullock as if it had been a lark. As soon as they had
finished their meal, the Giantess rose and said:
"Now, my dear, with your leave I am going up to my room to
finish the story I am reading. If you want me, call for me."
"First," answered the Giant, "bring me my money bags, that I may
count my golden pieces before I sleep." The Giantess obeyed. She went and soon
returned with two large bags over her shoulders, which she put down by her
"There," she said: "that is all that is left of the knight's
When you have spent it you must go and take another baron's castle."
"That he shan't, if I can help it," thought Jack.
The Giant, when his wife was gone, took out heaps and heaps of
golden pieces, and counted them, and put them in piles, till he was tired of the
amusement. Then he swept them all back into their bags, and leaning back in his
chair fell fast asleep, snoring so loud that no other sound was audible.
Jack stole softly out of the wardrobe, and taking up the bags of
money (which were his very own, because the Giant had stolen them from his
father), he ran off, and with great difficulty descending the Beanstalk, laid
the bags of gold on his mother's table. She had just returned from town, and was
crying at not finding Jack. "There, mother, I have brought you the gold that my
"Oh, Jack! you are a very good boy, but I wish you would not
risk your precious life in the Giant's castle. Tell me how you came to go there
And Jack told her all about it.
Jack's mother was very glad to get the money, but she did not
like him to run any risk for her.
But after a time Jack made up his mind to go again to the
So he climbed the Beanstalk once more, and blew the horn at the
Giant's gate. The Giantess soon opened the door; she was very stupid, and did
not know him again,. but she stopped a minute before she took him in. She feared
another robbery; but Jack's fresh face looked so innocent that she could not
resist him, and so she bade him come in, and again hid him away in the wardrobe.
By and by the Giant came home, and as soon as he had crossed the
threshold he roared out:
"Fe, fa, li-fo-fum,
I smell the breath of an Englishman.
Let him be alive or let him be dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."
"You stupid old Giant," said his wife,
"you only smell a nice sheep, which I have grilled for your dinner.'
And the Giant sat down, and his wife brought up a whole sheep
for his dinner. When he had eaten it all up, he said:
"Now bring me my harp, and I will have a little music while you
take your walk."
The Giantess obeyed, and returned with a beautiful harp. The
framework was all sparkling with diamonds and rubies, and the strings were all
"This is one of the nicest things I took from the knight," Said
Giant. "I am very fond of music, and my harp is a faithful servant."
So he drew the harp toward him and said:
And the harp played a very soft, sad air.
"Play something merrier!" said the Giant.
And the harp played a merry tune.
"Now play me a lullaby," roared the Giant; and the harp played a
sweet lullaby, to the sound of which its master fell asleep.
Then Jack stole softly out of the wardrobe, and went into the
huge kitchen to see if the Giantess had gone out; he found no one there, so he
went to the door and opened it softly, for he thought he could not do so with
the harp in his hand.
Then he entered the Giant's room and seized the harp and ran
away with it; but as he jumped over the threshold the harp called out: "MASTER!
And the Giant woke up.
With a tremendous roar he sprang from his seat, and in two
strides had reached the door.
But Jack was very nimble. He fled like lightning with the harp,
talking to it as he went (for he saw it was a fairy), and telling it he was the
son of its old master, the knight.
Still the Giant came on so fast that he was quite close to poor
Jack, and had stretched out his great hand to catch him. But, luckily, just at
that moment he stepped upon a loose stone, stumbled, and fell flat on the
ground, where he lay at his full length.
This accident gave Jack time to get on the Bean stalk and hasten
down it; but just as he reached their own garden he beheld the Giant descending
"Mother! mother!" cried Jack, "make haste and give me the ax."
His mother ran to him with a hatchet in her hand, and Jack with
one tremendous blow cut through all the Beanstalks except one.
"Now, mother, stand out of the way!" said he. Jack's mother
shrank back, and it was well she did so, for just as the Giant took hold of the
last branch of the Beanstalk, Jack cut the stem quite through and darted from
Down came the Giant with a terrible crash, and as he fell on his
head, he broke his neck, and lay dead at the feet of the woman he had so much
Before Jack and his mother had recovered from their alarm and
agitation, a beautiful lady stood before them.
"Jack," said she, "you have acted like a brave knight's son, and
deserve to have your inheritance restored to you. Dig a grave and bury the
Giaint, and then go and kill the Giantess."
"But," said Jack, "I could not kill any one unless I were
fighting with him; and I could not draw my sword upon a woman. Moreover, the
Giantess was very kind to me."
The Fairy smiled on Jack.
"I am very much pleased with your generous feeling," she said.
"Nevertheless, return to the castle, and act as you will find needful."
Jack asked the Fairy if she would show him the way to the
castle, as the Beanstalk was now down. She told him that she would drive him
there in her chariot, which was drawn by two peacocks. Jack thanked her, and sat
down in the chariot with her.
The Fairy drove him a long distance round, till they reached a
village which lay at the bottom of the mill. Here they found a number of
miserable-looking men assembled. The Fairy stopped her carriage and addressed
"My friends," said she, "the cruel Giant who oppressed you and
ate up all your flocks and herds is dead, and this young gentleman was the means
of your being delivered from him, and is the son of your kind old master, the
The men gave a loud cheer at these words, and pressed forward to
say that they would serve Jack as faithfully as they had served his father. The
Fairy bade them follow her to the castle, and they marched thither in a body,
and Jack blew the horn and demanded admittance.
The old Giantess saw them coming from the turret loophole. She
was very much frightened, for she guessed that something had happened to her
husband; and as she came downstairs very fast she caught her foot in her dress,
and fell from the top to the bottom and broke her neck.
When the people outside found that the door was not opened to
them, they took crowbars and forced the portal. Nobody was to be seen, but on
leaving the mall they found the body of the Giantess at the foot of the stairs.
Thus Jack took possession of the castle. The Fairy went and
brought his mother to him, with the hen and the harp. He had the Giantess
buried, and endeavored as much as lay in his power to do right to those whom the
Giant had robbed.
Before her departure for fairyland, the Fairy explained to Jack
that she had sent the butcher to meet him with the beans, in order to try what
sort of lad he was.
"If you had looked at the gigantic Beanstalk and only stupidly
wondered about it," she said, "I should have left you where misfortune had
placed you, only restoring her cow to your mother. But you showed an inquiring
mind, and great courage and enterprise, therefore you deserve to rise; and when
you mounted the Beanstalk you climbed the Ladder of Fortune."
She then took her leave of Jack and his mother.