Jack and the Beanstalk

There was once upon a time a poor wid­ow who had an only son named Jack, and a cow named Milky-White. All they had to live on was the milk the cow gave every morn­ing, which they car­ried to the mar­ket and sold – until one morn­ing Milky-White gave no milk.

What shall we do, what shall we do?” said the wid­ow, wring­ing her hands.

Cheer up moth­er, I’ll go and get work some­where,” said Jack.

We’ve tried that before, and nobody would take you,” said his moth­er. “We must sell Milky-White and with the mon­ey, start a shop or some­thing.”

Alright, moth­er,” said Jack. “It’s mar­ket day today, and I’ll soon sell Milky-White, and then we’ll see what we can do.”

So he took the cow, and off he start­ed. He hadn’t gone far when he met a fun­ny look­ing old man, who said to him, “Good morn­ing, Jack.”

Good morn­ing to you,” said Jack, and won­dered how he knew his name.

Well Jack, where are you off to?” Said the man.

I’m going to mar­ket to sell our cow there.”

Oh, you look the prop­er sort of chap to sell cows,” said the man. “I won­der if you know how many beans make five.”

Two in each hand and one in your mouth,” said Jack, as sharp as a nee­dle.

Right you are,” says the man, “and here they are, the very beans them­selves,” he went on, pulling out of his pock­et a num­ber of strange look­ing beans. “As you are so sharp,” said he, “I don’t mind doing a swap with you — your cow for these beans.”

Go along,” said Jack. “You take me for a fool!”

Ah! You don’t know what these beans are,” said the man. “If you plant them overnight, by morn­ing they grow right up to the sky.”

Real­ly?” said Jack. “You don’t say so.”

Yes, that is so. If it doesn’t turn out to be true you can have your cow back.”

Right,” said Jack, and hand­ed him over Milky-White, then pock­et­ed the beans.

Back home goes Jack and says to his moth­er, “You’ll nev­er guess moth­er what I got for Milky-White.”

His moth­er became very excit­ed, “Five pounds? Ten? Fif­teen? No, it can’t be twen­ty.”

I told you that you couldn’t guess. What do you say to these beans? They’re mag­i­cal. Plant them overnight and — ”

What!” Exclaimed Jack’s moth­er. “Have you been such a fool, such a dolt, such an idiot? Take that! Take that! Take that! As for your pre­cious beans, here they go out of the win­dow. Now off with you to bed. Not a sup shall you drink, and not a bit shall you swal­low this very night.”

So Jack went upstairs to his lit­tle room in the attic, sad and sor­ry he was, to be sure. At last he dropped off to sleep.

When he woke up, the room looked so fun­ny. The sun was shin­ing into part of it, and yet all the rest was quite dark and shady. Jack jumped up and went to the win­dow. What do you think he saw? Why, the beans his moth­er had thrown out of the win­dow into the gar­den had sprung up into a giant beanstalk which went up and up and up until it reached the sky. So the man spoke truth after all!

The beanstalk grew up quite close past Jack’s win­dow, so all he had to do was to open it and give a jump onto the beanstalk which ran up just like a big lad­der. So Jack climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and he climbed until at last he reached the sky. When he got there he found a long broad road going as straight as a dart. So he walked along, and walked along, and he walked along until he came to a great big tall house, and on the doorstep there was a great big tall woman.

Good morn­ing, ma’am,” said Jack, quite polite­ly. “Could you be so kind as to give me some break­fast?” For he was as hun­gry as a hunter.

It’s break­fast you want, is it?” said the great big tall woman. “It’s break­fast you’ll be if you don’t move off from here. My man is an ogre and there’s noth­ing he likes bet­ter than boys boiled on toast. You’d bet­ter be mov­ing on or he’ll be com­ing.”

Oh! please mum, do give me some­thing to eat, mum. I’ve had noth­ing to eat since yes­ter­day morn­ing, real­ly and tru­ly, mum,” said Jack. “I may as well be boiled as die of hunger.”

Well, the ogre’s wife was not half so bad after all, so she took Jack into the kitchen, and gave him a hunk of bread and cheese and a jug of milk. Jack hadn’t half fin­ished these when thump, thump, thump! The whole house began to trem­ble with the noise of some­one com­ing.

Good­ness gra­cious me! It’s my old man,” said the ogre’s wife. “What on earth shall I do? Come along quick and jump in here.” She bun­dled Jack into the oven just as the ogre came in. He was a big one, to be sure. At his belt he had three calves strung up by the heels, and he unhooked them and threw them down onto the table and said:

I smell the blood of an Eng­lish­man,
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll have his bones to grind my bread.”

Non­sense, dear,” said his wife. “You’re dream­ing. Or per­haps you smell the scraps of that lit­tle boy you liked so much for yesterday’s din­ner. Here you go, and have a wash and tidy up. By the time you come back your breakfast’ll be ready for you.”

So off the ogre went, and Jack was just going to jump out of the oven and run away when the woman told him, “Wait till he’s asleep. He always has a doze after break­fast.” Well, the ogre had his break­fast, and after that he went to a big chest and took out a cou­ple of bags of gold, and down he sat and count­ed until at last his head began to nod and he began to snore until the whole house shook again.

Jack then crept out on tip-toe from the oven, and as he was pass­ing the ogre, he took one of the bags of gold from under his arm, and off he pel­tered until he came to the beanstalk, and then he threw down the bag of gold, which of course fell into his mother’s gar­den. He climbed down and down until at last he got home and told his moth­er and showed her the gold and said, “Well, moth­er, wasn’t I right about the beans? They are real­ly mag­i­cal, you see.”

So they lived on the bag of gold for some time, until at last they came to the end of it, and Jack made up his mind to try his luck once more at the top of the beanstalk. So one fine morn­ing he rose up ear­ly, and got onto the beanstalk, and he climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and he climbed until at last he came out onto the road again and up to the great tall house he had been to before. There, sure enough, was the great tall woman a‑standing on the doorstep.

Good morn­ing, mum,” said Jack, as bold as brass, “could you be so good as to give me some­thing to eat?”

Go away, my boy,” said the big tall woman, “or else my man will eat you up for break­fast. Aren’t you the young­ster who came here once before? Do you know, that very day my man missed one of his bags of gold.”

That’s strange, mum,” said Jack, “I dare say I could tell you some­thing about that, but I’m so hun­gry I can’t speak until I’ve had some­thing to eat.”

Well, the big tall woman was so curi­ous that she took him in and gave him some­thing to eat. He had scarce­ly begun munch­ing it as slow­ly as he could when thump! thump! They heard the giant’s foot­step, and his wife hid Jack away in the oven.

All hap­pened as it did before. In came the ogre as he did before, said, “Fee-fi-fo-fum,” and had his break­fast off three boiled oxen.

Then he said, “Wife, the hen that lays the gold­en eggs.” So she brought it, and the ogre said, “Lay,” and it laid an egg all of gold. Then the ogre began to nod his head, and to snore until the house shook. Jack crept out of the oven on tip-toe and caught hold of the gold­en hen, and was off before you could say “Jack Robin­son.” This time the hen gave a cack­le which woke the ogre, and just as Jack got out of the house he heard him call­ing, “Wife, wife, what have you done with my gold­en hen?”

The wife said, “Why, my dear?” But that was all Jack heard, for he rushed off to the beanstalk and climbed down like a house on fire. When he got home he showed his moth­er the won­der­ful hen, and said “Lay” to it; and it laid a gold­en egg every time he said “Lay.”

Well it wasn’t long before that Jack made up his mind to have anoth­er try at his luck up there at the top of the beanstalk. One fine morn­ing he rose up ear­ly and got to the beanstalk, and climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and he climbed until he got to the top.

This time he knew bet­ter than to go straight to the ogre’s house. When he got near it, he wait­ed behind a bush until he saw the ogre’s wife come out with a pail to get some water, and then he crept into the house and got into a big cop­per pot. He hadn’t been there long when he heard thump, thump, thump! As before, and in came the ogre and his wife.

Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Eng­lish­man,” cried out the ogre. “I smell him, wife, I smell him.”

Do you, my dearie?” said the ogre’s wife. “Then, if it’s that lit­tle rogue that stole your gold and the hen that laid the gold­en eggs he’s sure to have got­ten into the oven.” And they both rushed to the oven.

Jack wasn’t there, luck­i­ly. So the ogre sat down to the break­fast and ate it, but every now and then he would mut­ter, “Well, I could have sworn –” and he’d get up and search the larder and the cup­boards and every­thing, only, luck­i­ly, he didn’t think of the cop­per pot.

After break­fast was over, the ogre called out, “Wife, wife, bring me my gold­en harp.” So she brought it and put it on the table before him. Then he said, “Sing!” The gold­en harp sang most beau­ti­ful­ly. It went on singing until the ogre fell asleep, and com­menced to snore like thun­der.

Then Jack lift­ed up the cop­per lid very qui­et­ly and got down like a mouse and crept on hands and knees until he came to the table, when up he crawled, caught hold of the gold­en harp and dashed with it towards the door. But the harp called out quite loud­ly, “Mas­ter! Mas­ter!” The ogre woke up just in time to see Jack run­ning off with his harp.

Jack ran as fast as he could, and the ogre came rush­ing after, and would soon have caught him, only Jack had a start and dodged him a bit and knew where he was going. When he got to the beanstalk the ogre was not more than twen­ty yards away when sud­den­ly he saw Jack dis­ap­pear. When he came to the end of the road he saw Jack under­neath climb­ing down for dear life. Well, the ogre didn’t like trust­ing him­self to such a lad­der, and he stood and wait­ed, so Jack got anoth­er start.

Just then the harp cried out, “Mas­ter! Mas­ter!” and the ogre swung him­self down onto the beanstalk, which shook with his weight. Down climbed Jack, and after him climbed the ogre. By this time Jack had climbed down, and climbed down, and climbed down until he was very near­ly home. So he called out, “Moth­er! Moth­er! Bring me an axe, bring me an axe!” His moth­er came rush­ing out with the axe in her hand, but when she came to the beanstalk she stood stuck still with fright, for there she saw the ogre with his legs just through the clouds.

Jack jumped down and took hold of the axe and gave a chop at the beanstalk which cut it half in two. The ogre felt the beanstalk shake and quiver, so he stopped to see what was the mat­ter. Then Jack gave anoth­er chop with the axe, and the beanstalk was cut in two and began to top­ple over. Then the ogre fell down and broke his crown, and the beanstalk came top­pling after.

Jack showed his moth­er his gold­en harp, and with show­ing that and sell­ing the gold­en eggs, Jack and his moth­er became very rich, and he mar­ried a great princess, and they lived hap­py ever after.