|English Fairy Tales
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
was once upon a time a poor widow who had an only son named Jack, and a
cow named Milky-white. And all they had to live on was the milk the cow
gave every morning which they carried to the market and sold. But one
morning Milky-white gave no milk and they didn't know what to do.
"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.
tried that before, and nobody would take you," said his mother; "we
must sell Milky-white and with the money do something, start shop, or
"All right, mother," says Jack; "it's market-day today, and I'll soon sell Milky-white, and then we'll see what we can do."
he took the cow's halter in his hand, and off he starts. He hadn't gone
far when he met a funny-looking old man who said to him: "Good morning,
"Good morning to you," said Jack, and wondered how he knew his name.
"Well, Jack, and where are you off to?" said the man.
"I'm going to market to sell our cow here."
"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," says Jack, as sharp as a needle.
you are," said 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," says he, "I don't mind doing a swop with
you—your cow for these beans."
"Walker!" says Jack; "wouldn't you like it?"
you don't know what these beans are," said the man; "if you plant them
over-night, by morning they grow right up to the sky."
"Really?" says Jack; "you don't say so."
"Yes, that is so, and if it doesn't turn out to be true you can have your cow back."
"Right," says Jack, and hands him over Milky-white's halter and pockets the beans.
Back goes Jack home, and as he hadn't gone very far it wasn't dusk by the time he got to his door.
"What back, Jack?" said his mother; "I see you haven't got Milky- white, so you've sold her. How much did you get for her?"
"You'll never guess, mother," says Jack.
"No, you don't say so. Good boy! Five pounds, ten, fifteen, no, it can't be twenty."
"I told you you couldn't guess, what do you say to these beans; they're magical, plant them over-night and——"
says Jack's mother, "have you been such a fool, such a dolt, such an
idiot, as to give away my Milky-white, the best milker in the parish,
and prime beef to boot, for a set of paltry beans. Take that! Take
that! Take that! And as for your precious beans here they go out of the
window. And now off with you to bed. Not a sup shall you drink, and not
a bit shall you swallow this very night."
Jack went upstairs to his little room in the attic, and sad and sorry
he was, to be sure, as much for his mother's sake, as for the loss of
At last he dropped off to sleep.
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. So Jack jumped up
and dressed himself and went to the window. And 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 big beanstalk which went up and up and up
till it reached the sky. So the man spoke truth after all.
beanstalk grew up quite close past Jack's window, so all he had to do
was to open it and give a jump on to the beanstalk which was made like
a big plaited ladder. So Jack climbed and he climbed and he climbed and
he climbed and he climbed and he climbed and he climbed till at last he
reached the sky. And when he got there he found a long broad road going
as straight as a dart. So he walked along and he walked along and he
walked along till he came to a great big tall house, and on the
doorstep there was a great big tall woman.
morning, mum," says Jack, quite polite-like. "Could you be so kind as
to give me some breakfast." For he hadn't had anything to eat, you
know, the night before and was as hungry as a hunter.
breakfast you want, is it?" says 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 broiled on toast. You'd
better be moving on or he'll soon be coming."
please mum, do give me something to eat, mum. I've had nothing to eat
since yesterday morning, really and truly, mum," says Jack. "I may as
well be broiled, as die of hunger."
the ogre's wife wasn't such a bad sort, after all. So she took Jack
into the kitchen, and gave him a junk 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.
gracious me! It's my old man," said the ogre's wife, "what on earth
shall I do? Here, come quick and jump in here." And she bundled Jack
into the oven just as the ogre came in.
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."
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, go
you and have a wash and tidy up, and by the time you come back your
breakfast'll be ready for you."
the ogre went off, and Jack was just going to jump out of the oven and
run off when the woman told him not. "Wait till he's asleep," says she;
"he always has a snooze after breakfast."
the ogre had his breakfast, and after that he goes to a big chest and
takes out of it a couple of bags of gold and sits down counting them
till at last his head began to nod and he began to snore till the whole
house shook again.
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 in to 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."
they lived on the bag of gold for some time, but at last they came to
the end of that so Jack made up his mind to try his luck once more up
at the top of the beanstalk. So one fine morning he got 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 got on the
road again and came to the great big tall house he had been to before.
There, sure enough, was the great big tall woman a-standing on the
"Good morning, mum," says Jack, as bold as brass, "could you be so good as to give me something to eat?"
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
strange, mum," says 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."
the big tall woman was that 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! thump! they heard the giant's footstep, and
his wife hid Jack away in the oven.
happened as it did before. In came the ogre as he did before, said:
"Fee-fi-fo-fum," and had his breakfast off 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
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
And the wife said: "Why, my dear?"
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."
Jack was not content, and it wasn't very long before he determined to
have another try at his luck up there at the top of the beanstalk. So
one fine morning, he got up early, and went on 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 come the ogre and his
"Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman," cried out the ogre; "I smell him, wife, I smell him."
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 laddie you caught last
night that I've broiled for your breakfast. How forgetful I am, and how
careless you are not to tell the difference between a live un and a
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.
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
Jack lifted up the copper-lid very quietly and got down like a mouse
and crept on hands and knees till he got to the table when he got up
and 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.
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 got up 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 just coming down below the clouds.
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.
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.