Jack and the Beanstalk
Reading time: 4 minutes. Word count: 700 words.
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. But 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.’ And 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 on the table and said: ‘Here, wife, broil me a couple of these for breakfast. Ah! what’s this I smell?
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, and 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 not. ‘Wait till he’s asleep,’ says she; ‘he always has a doze after breakfast.’
Well, the ogre had his breakfast, and after that he goes to a big chest and takes out a couple of bags of gold, and down he sits and counts till at last his head began to nod and he began to snore till the whole house shook again.
Then Jack crept out on tiptoe from his oven, and as he was passing the ogre he took one of the bags of gold under his arm, and off he pelters till he came to the beanstalk, and then he threw down the bag of gold, which, of course, fell into his mother’s garden, and then he climbed down and climbed down till 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, but 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 on to the beanstalk, and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed till at last he came out on to 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,’ says 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. But 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 till 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. But 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.
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Source: English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (1890). Weblink.
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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