In days of yore, there
lived a widow who had a son named Jack. Being an only child, he was too
much indulged, and became so extravagant and careless that he wasted the
property which his mother posessed, until at last there remained only a
cow, the chief support of her and her son.
One day the poor woman,
with tears in her eves, said to Jack—"O, you wicked child, by your
ungrateful course of life you have brought me to beggary in my old age;
cruel boy. I have not money to buy even a bit of bread, and we must now
sell the cow. I am grieved to part with her, but I cannot see you
Jack felt some remorse,
but having less affection for the cow than his mother had, he drove her
to the nearest market town, where he met a butcher, who made a very
curious offer for her. "Your cow,'' said he, "on young prodigal dog! is
worth nothing; you have starved her until she would disgrace the
shambles and, as to milk, no wonder that you and your mother have been
starving while you were depending upon that supply. One bad turn
deserves another, and receives it just as surely as one good turn
deserves another. But you shall not take back the cow to perish with
hunger. I have got some beans in a pocket; they are the oddest I ever
saw, not one of them being, either in colour or shale, like another: if
yon will take them in exchange for the cow, you may have then.''
The silly boy could not
conceal the pleasure he felt at the offer. The bargain was struck, and
the cow exchanged for a few paltry beans. Jack made the best of his way
home, calling to his mother before he reached the house, thinking to
surprise her. When she saw the beans and heard Jack's story, her
patience quite forsook her; she kicked the beans away in a passion; they
flew in all directions—some were scattered in the garden. Not having
anything to eat, they both went supperless to bed.
Jack awoke early in the
morning, and. seeing something uncommo in the garden. soon discovered
that some of the beans had taken root and sprung up surprisingly; the
stalks were of great thickness, and had so entwined that they formed a
ladder, nearly like a chain in appearance.
Looking upwards, he could
not discern the top; it appeared to be lost in the clouds. He tried the
beanstalks, found them firm and not to be shaken. He quickly formed the
resolution of climbing to the top to seek his fortune, and ran to
communicate his intention to his mother, not doubting she would be
equally pleased with himself. She declared he should not go; said it
would break her heart if he did - entreated and threatened all in vain.
Jack set out and after climbing for some hours, reached the top of the
bean stock quite fatigued. Looking around, he found himself in a strange
country. It appeared to be a desert, quite barren, not a tree, shrub,
house, or living creature to be seen.
Jack seated himself on a
stone and thought of his mother, he reflected with sorrow his
disobedience in climbing the bean-stalk against her will, and concluded
that he must die of hunger.
However, he walked on,
hoping to see a house where he might beg something to eat and drink.
Presently a handsome young woman appeared at a distance. As she
aproached Jack could not help admiring how beautiful she looked; she was
dressed in the most elegant manner, and had a white wand in her hand, on
the top of which was a peacock of pure gold. While Jack was looking with
the greatest surprise at this charming female, with a smile of the most
bewitching sweetness, she inquired how he came there. Jack told how he
had climbed up the bean-stalk. She asked him if he recollected his
father? He answered that he did not; and added that he had inquired of
his mother who or where his father was, but that she avoided answering
him, and even seemed afraid of speaking, as if there was some secret
connected with his father's history.
The lady replied, "I will
reveal the whole story your mother must not. But, before I begin. I
require a solemn promise on your part to do what I command. I am a
fairy, and if you do not perform exactly what I desire, you will be
destroyed.'' Jack promised to obey her injunctions, and the fairy thus
"Your father was a rich
and benevolent man. He was good to the poor. and constantly relieving
them he never let a day pass without doing good to some person, On one
particular day in the week he kept open house, and invited those who,
were reduced and had lived well. He always sat at the table with them
himself, and did all he could to render his guests comfortable. The
servants were all happy, and greatly attached to their master and
mistress. Such a man was soon known and talked of. A giant lived a great
many miles on, who was altogether as wicked as your fattier was good; he
was envious, covetous, and cruel, but had the art of concealing these
"Hearing your father
spoken of he formed the design of becoming acquainted with him, hoping
to ingratiate himself into your father's favour. He removed quickly into
your neighbourhood, caused it to be reported that he had lost all he
possessed by an earthquake, and found it difficult to escape with his
life; his wife was with him. Your father believed his story, and pitied
him; he gave him apartments in his own house, and caused him and his
wife to be treated hospitably, little imagining that the giant was
meditating a horrid return for all his favours.
"Things went on in this
way for some time, the giant becoming daily more impatient to put his
plan into execution. At last, in opportunity presented itself. Your
father's house was at some distance from the sea-shore, but the giant,
standing on a hill one stormy day, observed some ships in distress off
the rocks; he hastened to your father, and requested that he would send
all the people he could spare to relieve the mariners.
"While the servants were
all employed upon this service, the giant murdered your father by
stabbing him with a dagger. You were then only three months old, and
your mother, upon discovering what had happened, fainted, but still
clasping you in her arias. The giant, who intended to murder both of
you, having found her in that state, for a short time repented of the
dreadful crime he had committed, and granted your mother and you your
lives, but only upon condition that she should never inform you of who
your father was, nor answer any questions concerning him, assuring her
that, if she did, he won certainly put both of you to death in the most
cruel manner. Your mother took you in her arms, and as quickly as
possible. Having gained your father's confidence, he knew where to find
all his treasure, He and his wife soon carried off two large chests
filled with gold, which they could not have done unless they had been
giants, and, having set the house on fire in several place's, when the
servants returned it was burned quite down to the ground.
"Your poor mother
wandered with you a great many miles from this scene of desolation; fear
added to her haste; she settled in the cottage where you were brought
up, and it was entirely owing to her fear of the giant that she never
mentioned your father to you.
"I became your fathers
guardian at his birth; but fairies have laws to which they are subject
as well as mortals. A short time before the giant went to your father's,
I transgressed; my punishment was a suspension of power for a limited
time—an unfortunate circumstance, as it totally prevented my succouring
"The day on which you met
the butcher, as you went to sell your mothers cow, my power was
restored; and, as I had been told by Oberon, the King of the Fairies,
how dreadful were the consequences to your father of my single error, I
resolved to take you under my protection, and to be more circumspect in
future. It was I who secretly prompted you to take the beans in exchange
for the cow.
"By my power the
bean-stalk grew to so great a height, and formed a ladder. I need not
add that I inspired you with a strong desire to ascend the ladder.
"The giant now lives in
this country: you are the person appointed to punish him for all his
wickedness. You will have dangers and difficulties to encounter, but you
must persevere in avenging the death of your farther or you will not
prosper in any of your undertakings, but always be always miserable.
"As to the giant's
possessions, you may seize on all you can, for everything he has belongs
either to you or to me; for you must know that, not satisfied with the
gold he carried off from your father, he broke into my house and stole
the two greatest curiosities ever possessed even by a fairy, and would
have killed me as he did your father. if it could have been possible to
kill a fairy. One thing I desire, do not let your mother know you are
acquainted with your father's history till you see me again.
"Go along the direct
road; you will soon see the house where your cruel enemy lives. While
you do as I order you, I will protect and guard you; but. remember, if
you disobey my commands a most dreadful punishment awaits you.''
When the fairy had
concluded, she disappeared, leaving Jack to pursue his journey. He
walked on till after sunset, when to his great joy, he espied a great
mansion. A plain-looking woman was at the door; he accosted her begging
her she would give him a morsel of bread and a night's lodging. She
expressed the greatest surprise at seeing him. and said it was quite
uncommon to see a human being to see as human being so hear the house,
for it was well known that her husband was, a large and powerful giant,
and that he would never eat anything but human flesh, if he could
possibly get it, that he did not think anything of walking fifty miles
to procure it.
account greatly terrified Jack, but he still hoped to elude the giant,
and therefore he again entreated the woman to take him in for one night
only, and hide him where she thought proper. The woman at last suffered
herself to be persuaded, for although she had assisted in the murder of
Jack's father and in stealing the gold. She was of a compassionate and
generous disposition, and took him into the house.
First they entered a fine large hall,
magnificently furnished; they then passed through several spacious
rooms, all in the same style of grandeur.
A long gallery was next; it was very dark,
just light enough to show that instead of a wall on one side, there was
a grating of iron which parted of a dismal dungeon, whence issued the
groans of those poor victims which the cruel giant reserved in
confinement for his own voracious appetite.
Poor Jack was half dead with fear, and would
have given the world to have been with his mother again, for he now
began to fear that he should never see her more, and gave himself up for
lost; he even mistrusted the giant's wife, and thought she had let him
into the house for no other purpose than to lock him up among the
unfortunate people in the dungeon.
At the farther end of the gallery there was
a spacious kitchen, and a fire was burning in the grate. The good woman
bade Jack sit down, and gave him plenty to eat and drink. Jack, not
seeing anything here to make him uncomfortable, soon forgot his fear,
and was beginning to enjoy himself, when he was aroused by a loud
knocking at the door, which made the whole house shake; the giant's wife
ran to secure him in the oven, and then went to let her husband in.
Jack heard him accost her in a voice like
"Wife, I smell fresh meat."
"Oh my dear," replied she, "it is only the
people in the dungeon."
The giant appeared to believe her and walked
into the kitchen, where poor Jack lay concealed, shaking with fear and
trembling in every limb.
At last, the monster seated himself by the
fireside, whilst his wife prepared supper. By degrees Jack took courage
to look at the giant through a small crevice; he was quite astonished to
see what an amazing quantity he devoured, and thought he never would
have done eating and drinking. When supper was ended, the giant desired
his wife to bring him his hen, which was one of the curiosities he had
stolen from the fairy. A very beautiful hen was brought, and placed on
the table before him. Jack's curiosity was very great to see what would
happen; he observed that every time the giant said, "Lay!" the hen laid
an egg of solid gold.
The giant amused himself a long time with
his hen, meanwhile his wife went to bed. At length the giant fell asleep
by the fireside, at snored like the roaring of a cannon. At daybreak,
Jack, finding the giant still asleep, crept softly out of his hiding
place, seized the hen, and ran of with her.
He easily found the way to the bean-stalk.
and descended it more quickly than he expected. His mother was overjoyed
to see him, for she concluded he had come to a shocking end.
Jack was impatient to show his hen, and
inform his mother how valuable it was.
"And now, mother," said Jack, "I've brought
home that which will quickly make us rich; and I hope to make you some
amends for the affliction I have caused you through my idleness and
hen produced as many golden eggs as they desired, and so they became
possessed of immense riches.
For some months, Jack and his mother lived
very happily together; but he, recollecting the fairy's comands, and
fearing that if he delayed to avenge his father's death, she would put
her threats into execution, longed to climb the bean-stalk again and pay
the giant another visit. Jack was, however, afraid to mention it to his
mother, being well assured that she would endeavour to prevent his
going. However, one day he told her boldly that he must take a journey
up the bean-stalk. She begged and prayed him not to think of it; she
told him that the giant's wife would certainly know him again, and that
the giant would desire nothing better than to get him into his power,
that he might put him to a cruel death in order to be revenged for the
loss of his hen.
Jack resolved to go at all events; for, being a very clever fellow,
although a very idle one, he had no great dread of the giant, concluding
that, although he was a cannibal. he must be a very stupid fellow not to
have regained his hen, it being just as easy to come down the stupendous
beats-stalk as to ascend it. Jack, therefore, had a dress made, not
exactly invisible, like that of his illustrious namesake, the
Giant-killer, but one which so disguised him that even
"The mother that him bore
Would not have known her child."
In a few mornings after this, he rose very
early, changed his complexion, and, unperceived by any one, climbed the
bean-stalk a second time. He was greatly fatigued when he reached the
top, and very hungry, for, with his usual thoughtlessness. he forgot to
take apiece of bread in his pocket.
Here we are inclined to remark that, as he
had neither bread nor bacon, he must in his progress have met with at
good supply of beans. but perhaps he never thought of this resource.
Having rested some time, he pursued his
journey to the giant's mansion. He reached it late in the evening; the
woman was at the door as before. Jack addressed her, telling a pitiful
tale, and requesting that she would give him some victuals and drink,
and also a night's lodging.
She told him (what he knew before very well)
about her husband's being a powerful and cruel giant and also that she
one night admitted a poor, hungry, friendless boy, who was half-dead
with travelling; that the little ungrateful fellow had stolen one of the
giant's treasures, and ever since that her husband had used her very
cruelly and continually upbraided her with being the cause of his loss.
But at last she consented and took him into the kitchen, where, after he
had done eating and drinking she laid him in an old lumber closet. The
giant returned at the usual time, and walked in so heavily that the
house was shaken to the foundation. He seated himself by the fire, and
soon after exclaimed "Wife, I smell fresh meat."
The wife replied, "It was the crows which
had brought a piece of raw meat, and left it at the top of the house."
The giant was very ill-tempered and
impatient, continually crying for his supper, like little Tom Tucker,
and complaining of the loss of his wonderful hen, which we verily
believe he would have eaten, disregarding the treasure which she
produced. Jack therefore rejoiced that he had not only got possession of
the hen, but had in all probability saved her precious life.
The giant's wife at last set supper on the
table, and when he had eaten till he was satisfied, he said to her--
"I must have something to amuse me, either
my bags of money or my harp." Jack, as before, peeped out of his
hiding-place, and presently his wife brought two bags into the room, one
filled with gold and the other with silver.
They were both placed before the giant, who
began reprimanding his wife for staying so long. She replied, trembling
with fear, that the bags were so heavy that she could scarcely lift
them, and adding that she had nearly fainted owing to their weight.
The giant took his bags, and began to count
their contents. First the bag which contained the silver was emptied,
and the contents placed on the table. Jack viewed the glittering heaps
with delight, and most heartily wished the contents in his own
possession. The giant (little thinking he was so narrowly watched)
reckoned the silver over several times; and having satisfied himself
that all was safe, put it into the bag again, which he made very secure.
The other bag was opened next, and the gold
pieces placed on the table. If Jack was pleased at the sight of the
silver, how much more delighted must he have felt when he saw such a
heap of glittering gold.
When the giant had counted over the gold
till he was tired, he put it up, if possible, more secure than he had
put up the silver before; he then fell back on the chair by the
fireside, and fell asleep. He snored so loud that Jack compared the
noise to the roaring of the sea in a high wind, when the tide is coming
in. At last, Jack, being certain that he was asleep, stole out of his
hiding-place and approached the giant, in order to carry off the two
bags of money; but, just as he laid his hand upon one of the bags, a
little dog, which he had not perceived before, started from under the
giant's chair and barked at Jack most furiously, who now gave himself up
for lost. But Jack, recollecting that the giant had left the bones which
he had picked at supper, threw one to the dog, who instantly seized it,
and took it into the lumber closet which Jack had just left.
Finding; himself delivered from a noisy and
troublesome enemy, and seeing the giant did not awake, Jack seized the
bags, and, throwing them over his shoulders, ran out of the kitchen. He
reached the door in safety, and found it quite daylight.
Jack was overjoyed when he found himself
near the bean-stalk; although much incommoded with the weight of the
money bags, he soon reached the bottom, and immediately ran to seek his
mother. He was greatly shocked on finding her apparently dying, and
could scarcely bear his own reflections, knowing himself to be the
cause. On being informed of' Jack's safe return his mother gradually
recovered. Jack presented her his two valuable bags, and they lived as
happily and comfortably as ever.
For three years, notwithstanding the
comforts Jack enjoyrd, his mind dwelt continually upon the beanstalk for
the fairy's menaces were ever present to his mind, and prevented him
from being happy. It was in vain he endeavoured to amuse himself; he
became thoughtful, and would rise at the dawn of day and view the
bean-stalk for hours together.
His inclination at length growing too
powerful for him, he began to make secret preparations for his journey,
and, on the longest day, arose as soon as it was light, ascended the
bean-stalk. and reached the top. He arrived at the giant's mansion in
the evening, and found his wife standing, as usual, at the door. Jack
had disguised himself so completely that she did not appear to have the
least recollection of him; however, when he pleaded hunger and poverty
in order to gain admittance, he found it very difficult indeed to
persuade her. At last he prevailed, and was concealed in the oven.
When the giant returned, he said, as upon
the former occasions, "I smell fresh meat!" But Jack felt quite
composed, as he had said so before, and had been soon satisfied;
however, the giant started up suddenly, and notwithstanding all his wife
could say, he searched all around the room. Jack was ready to die with
fear, wishing himself at home; the giant approached the oven and put his
land into it; Jack thought his death was certain.
The giant at last gave up the search and ate
a hearty supper. When he had finished, he commanded his wife to fetch
down his harp. Jack peeped as he had done before, and saw the most
beautiful harp that could be imagined; it was placed by the giant on the
table. who said, "Play!" and it instantly played of its own accord
without being touched. The music was very fine; Jack was delighted, and
felt more anxious to get the harp into his possession than either of the
The music soon lulled the giant into a sound sleep. This, therefore, was
the time to carry off the harp. As the giant appeared to be in a more
profound sleep than usual. Jack soon determined, got out of the oven,
and seized the harp. The harp had also been stolen by the giant from the
suddenly awoke and tried to pursue him but he had drank so much that he
could hardly stand. Jack ran as fast as he could; in a little time the
giant recovered sufficiently to walk slowly, or rather to reel after
him. Had he been sober, he must have overtaken Jack instantly; but, as
he then was, Jack contrived to be first at the top of the bean-stalk.
The giant called after him in a voice like thunder, and sometimes was
very near him.
moment Jack got down the bean-stalk, he ran for a hatchet. Just at that
instant the giant was beginning to descend, but Jack with his hatchet
cut the bean-stalk close off at the root, which made the giant fall
headlong into the garden, and the fall killed him.
At this instant the fairy appeared; she
charged Jack to be dutiful to his mother, and to follow his father's
good example, which was the only way to be happy. She then disappeared,
after recovering her hen and her harp, which Jack gave to her most
thankfully, having acquired great riches and revenged the tragical death
of his father.