Jack and the Beanstalk
Reading time: 5 minutes. Word count: 900 words.
All happened as it did before. In came the ogre as he did before, said: ‘Fee-fi-fo-fum’, and had his breakfast of three broiled oxen. Then he said: ‘Wife, bring me the hen that lays the golden eggs.’ So she brought it, and the ogre said: ‘Lay,’ and it laid an egg all of gold. And then the ogre began to nod his head, and to snore till the house shook.
Then Jack crept out of the oven on tiptoe and caught hold of the golden hen, and was off before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’. But 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?’ And 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. And 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, Jack was not content, and it wasn’t long before he determined to have another try at his luck up there at the top of the beanstalk. So one fine morning, he rose up early, and got to the beanstalk, and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed till he got to the top. But this time he knew better than to go straight to the ogre’s house. And when he got near it, he waited behind a bush till 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 the copper. 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?’ says 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 got into the oven.’ And they both rushed to the oven. But Jack wasn’t there, luckily, and the ogre’ s wife said: ‘There you are again with your fee-fi-fo-fum. Why, of course, it’s the boy you caught last night that I’ve just broiled for your breakfast. How forgetful I am, and how careless you are not to know the difference between live and dead after all these years.’
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.
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!’ and the golden harp sang most beautifully. And it went on singing till 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 till 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 loud: ‘Master! Master!’ and 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 like, and 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. But just then the harp cried out: ‘Master! Master!’ and the ogre swung himself down on to the beanstalk, which shook with his weight.
Down climbs Jack, and after him climbed the ogre. By this time Jack had climbed down and climbed down and climbed down till he was very nearly home. So he called out: ‘Mother! Mother! bring me an axe, bring me an axe.’ And his mother came rushing out with the axe in her hand, but when she came to the beanstalk she stood stock still with fright, for there she saw the ogre with his legs just through the clouds.
But Jack jumped down and got 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.
Then Jack showed his mother his golden harp, and what 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.
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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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