In the reign of King Arthur, there lived, near
the Land's End of England, in the county of Cornwall, a
worthy farmer, who had an only son named Jack. Jack was
a boy of a bold temper; he took pleasure in hearing or
reading stories of wizards, conjurors, giants, and fairies;
and used to listen eagerly while his father talked of the
great deeds of the brave knights of King Arthur's
Round Table. When Jack was sent to take care of
the sheep and oxen in the fields, he used to amuse himself
with planning battles, sieges, and the means to conquer or
surprise a foe. He was above the common sports of children,
but hardly anyone could equal him at wrestling; or, if he
met with a match for himself in strength, his skill and
address always made him the victor. In those days there
lived on St. Michael's Mount, of Cornwall, which rises out
of the sea at some distance from the mainland, a huge giant.
He was eighteen feet high, and three yards round; and his
fierce and savage looks were the terror of all his neighbours.
He dwelt in a gloomy cavern on the very top of the
mountain, and used to wade over to the mainland in search
of his prey. When he came near, the people left their
houses; and, after he had glutted his appetite upon their
cattle, he would throw half a dozen oxen upon his back, and
tie three times as many sheep and hogs round his waist, and
so march back to his own abode. The giant had done this
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for many years, and the coast of Cornwall was greatly hurt
by his thefts, when Jack boldly resolved to destroy him.
He therefore took a horn, a shovel, a pickaxe, and a dark
lantern, and early in a long winter's evening he swam to
the Mount. There he fell to work at once, and before
morning he had dug a pit twenty-two feet deep, and almost
as many broad. He covered it over with sticks and straw,
and strewed some of the earth over them, to make it look just
like solid ground. He then put his horn to his mouth, and
blew such a loud and long tantivy, that the giant awoke, and
came towards Jack, roaring like thunder: 'You saucy
villain, you shall pay dearly for breaking my rest; I will
broil you for my breakfast.' He had scarcely spoken these
words when he came advancing one step farther; but then
he tumbled headlong into the pit, and his fall shook the very
'O ho, Mr. Giant!' said Jack, looking into the pit, 'have
you found your way so soon to the bottom? How is your
appetite now? Will nothing serve you for breakfast this cold
morning but broiling poor Jack?'
The giant now tried to rise, but Jack struck him a blow
on the crown of the head with his pickaxe, which killed him
at once. Jack then made haste back, to rejoice to his friends
with the news of the giant's death. When the justices of
Cornwall heard of this valiant action, they sent for Jack, and
declared that he should always be called Jack the Giant-
Killer; and they also gave him a sword and belt, upon which
was written in letters of gold:--
This is the valiant Cornishman
Who slew the giant Cormoran.
The news of Jack's exploits soon spread over the western
parts of England and another giant, called Old Blunderbore,
vowed to have revenge on Jack, if it should ever be his
fortune to get him into power. The giant kept an
enchanted castle in the midst of a lonely wood. About four
months after the death of Cormoran, as Jack was taking a
journey into Wales, he passed through this wood; and, as he
was very weary, he sat down to rest by the side of a pleasant
fountain, and there he fell into a deep sleep. The giant
came to the fountain for water just at this time, and found
Jack there; and as the lines on Jack's belt showed who he
was, the giant lifted him up and laid him gently upon his
shoulder, to carry him to his castle; but, as he passed through
the thicket, the rustling of the leaves waked Jack; and he
was sadly afraid when he found himself in the clutches of
Blunderbore. Yet this was nothing to his fright soon after;
for, when they reached the castle, he beheld the floor covered
all over with the skulls and bones of men and women. The
giant took him into a large room, where lay the hearts and
limbs of persons who had been lately killed; and he told
Jack, with a horrid grin, that men's hearts, eaten with pepper
and vinegar, were his nicest food, and, also, that he thought
he should make a dainty meal on his heart. When he had
said this, he locked Jack up in that room, while he went to
fetch another giant, who lived in the same wood, to enjoy a
dinner off Jack's flesh with him. While he was away, Jack
heard dreadful shrieks, groans, and cries from many parts of
the castle; and soon after he heard a mournful voice repeat
'Haste, valiant stranger, haste away,
Lest you become the giant's prey.
On his return he'll bring another,
Still more savage than his brother;
A horrid, cruel monster, who,
before he kills, will torture you.
Oh valiant stranger! haste away,
Or you'll become these giant's prey.'
This warning was so shocking to poor Jack, that he was
ready to go mad. He ran to the window, and saw the two
giants comming along arm in arm. This window was right
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over the gates of the castle. 'Now thought Jack, 'either my death or
freedom is at hand.'
There were two strong cords in the room. Jack made a
large noose, with a slip-knot at the ends of both these, and,
as the giants were coming through the gates, he threw the
ropes over their heads. He then made the other ends fast to
a beam in the ceiling, and pulled with all his might, till he
had almost strangled them. When he saw that they were
both quite black in the face, and not the least strength
left, he drew his sword, and slid down the ropes; he then
killed the giants, and thus saved himself from a cruel death.
Jack next took a great bunch of keys from the pocket of
Blunderbore, and went into the castle again. He made a
strict search through all the rooms, and in them found three
ladies tied up by the hair of their heads, and almost starved to
death. They told them that their husbands had been killed
by the giants, who had then condemned them to be starved
to death, because they would not eat the flesh of their own
'Ladies,' said Jack, 'I have put an end to the monster
and his wicked brother; and I give you this castle and all
the riches it contains, to make you some amends for the
dreadful pains you have felt.' He then very politely gave
them the keys of the castle, and went farther on his journey
As Jack had not taken any of the giant's riches for himself,
and had very little money of his own, he thought it best to
travel as fast as he could. At length he lost his way; and,
when night came on, he was in a lonely valley between two
lofty mountains. There he walked about for some hours,
without seeing any dwelling-place, so he thought himself very
lucky at last in finding a large and handsome house. He
went up to it boldly, and knocked loudly at the gate; when,
to his great terror and surprise, there came forth a monstrous
giant with two heads. He spoke to Jack very civilly, for he
was a Welsh giant, and all the mischief he did was by private
and secret malice, under the show of friendship and kindness.
Jack told him that he was a traveller who had lost his way,
on which the huge monster made him welcome, and led him
into a room, where there was a good bed in which to pass
the night. Jack took off his clothes quickly; but though
he was so weary, he could not go to sleep. Soon after
this, he heard the giant walking backward and forward in
the next room, and saying to himself:--
'Though here you lodge with me this night,
You shall not see the morning light;
My club shall dash your brains out quite.'
'Say you so?' thought Jack. 'Are these your tricks
upon travellers? But I hope to prove as cunning as you.
Then, getting out of bed, he groped about the room, and at
last found a large thick billet of wood; he laid it in his
own place in the bed, and hid himself in a dark corner of
the room. In the middle of the night the giant came with
his great club, and struck many heavy blows on the bed,
in the very place where Jack had laid the billet, and then
he went back to his own room, thinking he had broken
all his bones. Early in the morning, Jack put a bold face
upon the matter, and walked into the giant's room to thank
him for his lodging.
The giant started when he saw him, and he began to
stammer out, 'Oh, dear me! is it you? Pray how did you
sleep last night? Did you hear or see anything in the dead of the night?
'Nothing worth speaking of,' said Jack carelessly; 'a
rat, I believe, gave me three or four slaps with his tail, and
disturbed me a little, but I soon went to sleep again.'
The giant wondered more and more at this; yet he
did not answer a word, and went to bring two great bowls
of hasty-pudding for their breakfast.
Jack wished to make the giant believe that he could
eat as much as himself; so he contrived to button a leathern
bag inside his coat, and slipped the hasty-pudding into this
bag, while he seemed to put it into his mouth. When
breakfast was over, he said to the giant, 'Now I will show
you a fine trick; I can cure all wounds with a touch; I
could cut off my head one minute, and the next put it
sound again on my shoulders: you shall see an example.'
He then took hold of the knife, ripped up the leathern bag,
and all the hasty-pudding tumbled out upon the floor.
'Ods splutter hur nails,' cried the Welsh giant, who was
ashamed to be outdone by such a little fellow as Jack; 'hur
can do that herself.' So he snatched up the knife, plunged
it into his stomach, and in a moment dropped down dead.
As soon as Jack had thus tricked the Welsh monster, he
went farther on his journey; and, a few days after, he met
with King Arthur's only son, who had got his fathers leave
to travel into Wales, to deliver a beautiful lady from the
power of a wicked magician, by whom she was held in en-
chantment. When Jack found that the young prince had no
servants with him, he begged leave to attend him; and
prince at once agreed to this, and gave Jack many thanks for
King Arthur's son was a handsome, polite, and brave
knight, and so good-natured, that he gave money to every-
body he met. At length he gave his last penny to an old
woman, and then turned to Jack, 'How shall we be able to
get food for ourselves the rest of our journey?'
'Leave that to me, sir,' replied Jack; 'I will provide for
Night now came on, and the prince began to grow uneasy
at thinking where they should lodge.
'Sir,' said Jack, 'be of good heart; two miles farther there
lives a large giant, whom I know well; he has three heads, and
will fight five hundred men, and make them fly before him.'
'Alas!' cried the King's son, 'we had better never have
been born than meet with such a monster.'
'My lord, leave me to manage him, and wait here in
quiet till I return.'
The prince now stayed behind, while Jack rode on at full
speed; and when he came to the gates of the castle, he gave
a loud knock. The giant, with a voice like thunder, roared
out, 'Who is there?'
Jack made answer, and said, 'No one but your poor
'Well,' said the giant, 'what news, cousin Jack?'
'Dear uncle,' said Jack, 'I have heavy news.'
'Pooh!' said the giant, 'what heavy news can come to
me? I am a giant with three heads, and can fight five
hundred men, and make them fly before me.'
'Alas!' said Jack, 'here is the king's son coming with
two thousand men to kill you, and to destroy the castle and
all that you have.'
'Oh, cousin Jack,' said the giant, 'this is heavy news
indeed! But I have a large cellar underground, where I will
hide myself, and you shall lock, bolt, and bar me in, and
keep the keys till the king's son is gone.'
Now, when Jack had barred the giant fast in the vault,
he went back and fetched the prince to the castle; they both
made themselves merry with the wine and other dainties that
were in the house. So that night they rested very pleasantly,
while the poor giant lay trembling and shaking with fear in
the cellar underground. Early in the morning, Jack gave
the king's son gold and silver out of the giant's treasure, and
accompanied him three miles forward on his journey. The
prince then sent Jack to let his uncle out of the hole, who asked
him what he should give him as a reward for saving his castle.
'Why good uncle,' said Jack, 'I desire nothing but the
old coat and cap, with the old rusty sword and slippers, which
are hanging at your bed's head.'
'Then,' said the giant, 'you shall have them: and pray
keep them for my sake, for they are things of great use. The
coat will keep you invisible, the cap will give you knowledge,
the sword will cut through anything, and the shoes are of
vast swiftness; they may be useful to you in all times of
danger, so take them with all my heart.'
Jack gave many thanks to the giant, and then set off to the
prince. When he had come up with the king's son, they
soon arrived at the dwelling of the beautiful lady, who was
under the power of a wicked magician. She received the
prince very politely, and made a noble feast for him: when
it was ended, she rose, and, wiping her mouth with a fine
handkerchief, said, 'My lord, you must submit to the custom
of my palace; to-morrow morning I command you to tell
me on whom I bestow this handkerchief, or lose your head.'
She then left the room.
The young prince went to bed very mournful, but Jack
put on his cap of knowledge, which told him that the lady
was forced, by the power of enchantment, to meet the
wicked magician every night in the middle of the forest.
Jack now put on his coat of darkness, and his shoes of swift-
ness, and was there before her. When the lady came, she
gave the handkerchief to the magician. Jack, with his sword
of sharpness, at one blow cut off his head; the enchantment
was then ended in a moment, and the lady was restored to
her former virtue and goodness. She was married to the
prince the next day, and soon after went back, with her
royal husband and a great company, to the court of King
Arthur, where they were received with loud and joyful
welcomes; and the valiant hero Jack, for the many great
exploits he had done for the good of his country, was made
one of the Knights of the Round Table.
As Jack had been so lucky in all his adventures, he
resolved not to be idle for the future, but still to do what
services he could for the honour of the king and the nation.
He therefore humbly begged his majesty to furnish him with
a horse and money, that he might travel in search of new and
strange exploits. 'For,' said he to the king, 'there are many
giants yet living in the remote part of Wales, to the great
terror and distress of your majesty's subjects; therefore, if it
please you, sire, to favour me in my design, I will soon rid
your kingdom of these giants and monsters in human shape.'
Now when the king heard this offer and began to think
of the cruel deeds of these bloodthirsty giants and savage
monsters, he gave Jack everything proper for such a journey.
After this, Jack took leave of the king, the prince, and all
the knights, and set off; taking with him his cap of know-
ledge, his sword of sharpness, his shoes of swiftness, and his
invisible coat, the better to perform the great exploits that
might fall in his way. He went along over hills and
mountains; and on the third day he came to a wide forest.
He had hardly entered it, when on a sudden he heard dreadful
shrieks and cries; and forcing his way through the trees,
saw a monstrous giant dragging along, by the hair of their
heads, a handsome knight and a beautiful lady. Their tears
and cries melted the heart of honest Jack; he alighted from
his horse, and, tying him to an oak-tree, put on his invisible
coat, under which he carried his sword of sharpness.
When he came up to the giant, he made several strokes
at him, but could not reach his body, on account of the
enormous height of the terrible creature; but he wounded
his thighs in several places; and at length, putting both
hands to his sword, and aiming with all his might, he cut off
both the giant's legs just below the garter; and the trunk of
his body, tumbling to the ground, made not only the trees
shake, but the earth itself tremble with the force of his fall.
Then Jack, setting his foot upon his neck, exclaimed: 'Thou
barbarous and savage wretch, behold, I come to execute upon
thee the just reward for all thy crimes'; and instantly plunged
his sword into the giant's body. The huge monster gave a
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groan, and yielded up his life into the hands of the victorious
Jack the Giant-Killer, whilst the noble knight and the
virtuous lady were both joyful spectators of his sudden death.
They not only returned Jack hearty thanks for their deliver-
ance, but also invited him to their house, to refresh himself
after his dreadful encounter, as likewise to receive a reward
for his good services.
'No,' said Jack, 'I cannot be at ease until till I find out the
den that was the monster's habitation.'
The knight, on hearing this, grew very sorrowful, and
replied: 'Noble stranger, it is too much to run a second
hazard; this monster lived in a den under yonder mountain,
with a brother of his, more fierce and cruel than himself;
therefore, if you go hither, and perish in the attempt,
it would be a heartbreaking thing to me and my lady; so
let me persuade you to go back with us, and desist from any
'Nay,' answered Jack, 'if there be another, even if there
were twenty, I would shed the last drop of blood in my body
before one of them should escape. When I have finished
this task I will come and pay my respects to you.'
So when they had told him where to find them again, he
got on his horse and went after the dead giant's brother.
Jack had not ridden a mile and a half before he came in
sight of the mouth of the cavern; and, nigh the entrance of
it, he saw the other giant sitting on a huge block of timber,
with a knotted iron club lying by his side, waiting for his
brother. His eyes looked like flames of fire, his face was
grim and ugly, and his cheeks were like two flitches of
bacon; the bristles of his beard seemed to be thick rods of
iron wire; and his long locks of hair hung down upon his
broad shoulders like curling snakes. Jack got down from
his horse, and turned him into a thicket; then he put on
his coat of darkness, and drew a little nearer to behold
this figure, and said softly, 'Oh monster! Are you there?
It will not be long before I shall take you fast by the
The giant all this while could not see him, by reason of
his invisible coat; so Jack came quite close to him, and
struck a blow at his head with his sword of sharpness; but
he missed his aim, and only cut off his nose, which made him
roar like loud claps of thunder. He rolled his glaring eyes
round on every side, but could not see who had given him
the blow; so he took up his iron club, and began to lay
about him like one that was mad with pain and fury.
'Nay,' said Jack, if this be the case, I will kill you at
once.' So saying, he slipped nimbly behind him, and jump-
ing upon the block of timber, as the giant rose from it, he
stabbed him in the back; when, after a few howls, he dropped
down dead. Jack cut off his head, and sent it, with the head
of his brother, to King Arthur, by a waggon which he had
hired for that purpose. When Jack had thus killed these two
monsters, he went into their cave in search of their treasure.
He had passed through many turnings and windings, which led
him to a room paved with freestone; at the end of it was a
boiling cauldron, and on the right hand stood a large table,
where the giants used to dine. He then came to a window
that was secured with iron bars, through which he saw a
number of wretched captives, who cried out when they saw
Jack: 'Alas! Alas! young man, you are come to be one
among us in this horrid den.'
'I hope,' said Jack, 'you will not stay here long: but
pray tell me what is the meaning of you being here at all?'
'Alas,' said one poor old man, 'I will tell you, sir. We
are persons that have been taken by the giants who hold this
cave, and are kept till they choose to have a feast; then one
of us is to be killed, and cooked to please their taste. It is
not long since they took three for the same purpose.'
'Well,' said Jack, 'I have given them such a dinner, that
it will be long enough before they have more.'
The captives were amazed at his words.
'You may believe me,' said Jack, 'for I have killed them
both with the edge of this sword, and have sent their large
heads to the court of King Arthur, as marks of my great
To show that what he said was true, he unlocked the gate,
and set the captives all free. Then he led them to the great
room, and placed them round the table, and placed before them
two quarters of beef, with bread and wine; upon which they
feasted their fill. When supper was over, they searched the
giant's coffers, and Jack divided among them all the treasures.
The next morning they set off to their homes, and Jack to
the knight's house, whom he had left with his lady not long
He was received with the greatest joy by the thankful
knight and his lady, who, in honour of Jack's exploits, gave
a grand feast, to which all the nobles and gentry were invited.
When the company were assembled, the knight declared to
them the great actions of Jack, and gave him, as a mark of
respect, a fine ring, on which was engraved the picture of
the giant dragging the knight and the lady by the hair, with
this motto round it:--
Behold in dire distress were we,
Under the giant's fierce command;
But gain'd our lives and liberty
From valiant Jack's victorious hand.
Among the guests then present were five aged gentlemen,
who were fathers to some of those captives who had been
freed by Jack from the dungeon of the giant. As soon as
they heard that he was the person who had done such
wonders, they pressed round him with tears of joy, to return
him thanks for the happiness he had caused them. After
this the bowl went round, and everyone drank the health
and long life of the gallant hero. Mirth increased, and the
hall was filled with peals of laughter. But, on a sudden, a
herald, pale and breathless, rushed into the midst of the
company, and told them that Thundel, a savage giant with
two heads, had heard of the death of his two kinsmen, and
was come to take his revenge on Jack; and that he was now
within a mile of the house, the people flying before him like
chaff before the wind. At this news the very boldest of the
guests trembled; but Jack drew his sword, and said, 'Let
him come, I have a rod for him also. Pray, ladies and
gentlemen, do me the favour to walk into the garden, and
you shall soon behold the giant's defeat and death.'
To this they all agreed, and heartily wished him success
in his dangerous attempt.
The knight's house stood in the middle of a moat, thirty
feet deep and twenty wide, over which lay a drawbridge.
Jack set men to work to cut the bridge on both sides,
almost to the middle, and then dressed himself in his coat of
darkness, and went against the giant with his sword of sharp-
ness. As he came close to him, though the giant could not
see him for the invisible coat, yet he found some danger was
near, which made him cry out:--
'Fa, fe, fi, fo, fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman;
Let him be alive or let him be dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread.'
'So say you my friend?' said Jack; 'you are a monstrous
'Art thou,' cried the giant, 'the villain that killed my
kinsmen? Then I will tear thee with my teeth, and grind
thy bones to powder.'
'You must catch me first,' said Jack; and throwing off
his coat of darkness, and putting on his shoes of swiftness, he
began to run, the giant following him like a walking castle,
making the earth shake at every step.
Jack led him round and round the walls of the house, that
the company might see the monster; then, to finish the work,
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he ran over the drawbridge, the giant going after him with
his club: but when he came to the middle, where the bridge
had been cut on both sides, the great weight of his body
made it break, and he tumbled into the water, where he
rolled about like a large whale. Jack now stood by the side
of the moat, and laughed and jeered at him, saying, 'I think
you told me you would grind my bones to powder; when
will you begin?'
The giant foamed at both his horrid mouths with fury,
and plunged from side to side of the moat, but he could
not get out to have revenge on his little foe. At last Jack
ordered a cart-rope to be brought to him; he then drew it
over his two heads, and by the help of a team of horses
dragged him to the edge of the moat, where he cut off his
heads: and before he either ate or drank, sent them both to
court of King Arthur. He then went back to the table
with the company, and the rest of the day was spent in mirth
and good cheer.
After staying with the knight for some time, Jack grew
weary of such an idle life, and set out again in search of new
adventures. He went over hills and dales without meeting
any, till he came to the foot of a very high mountain. Here
he knocked at the door of a small and lonely house, and an
old man, with a head as white as snow, let him in.
'Good father,' said Jack, 'can you lodge a traveller who
has lost his way?'
'Yes,' said the hermit, 'I can, if you will accept such fare
as my poor house affords.'
Jack entered, and the old man set before him some bread
and fruit for his supper. When Jack had eaten as much as
he chose, the hermit said: 'My son, I know you are the
famous conqueror of giants; now, at the top of this moun-
tain is an enchanted castle, kept by a giant named Galli-
gantus, who, by the help of a vile magician, gets many
knights into his castle, where he changes them into the
shape of beasts. Above all, I lament the hard fate of a
duke's daughter, whom they seized as she was walking in
her father's garden, and brought hither through the air in a
chariot drawn by two fiery dragons, and turned her into the
shape of a deer. Many knights have tried to destroy the
enchantment and deliver her, yet none have been able to do
it, by reason of two fiery griffins, who guard the gate of the
castle, and destroy all who come nigh; but as you, my son,
have an invisible coat, you may pass by them without being
seen; and on the gates of the castle you will find engraved
by what means the enchantment may be broken.'
Jack promised that in the morning, at the risk of his life,
he would break the enchantment; and after a sound sleep,
he arose early, put on his invisible coat, and got ready for
the attempt. When he had climbed to the top of the
mountain, he saw the two fiery griffins; but he passed
between them without the least fear of danger, for they could
not see him because of his invisible coat. On the castle-gate
he found a golden trumpet, under which were written these
Whoever can this trumpet blow,
Shall cause the giant's overthrow.
As soon as Jack had read this, he seized the trumpet, and
blew a shrill blast which made the gates fly open, and the
very castle itself tremble. The giant and the conjuror now
knew that their wicked course was at an end, and they stood
biting their thumbs and shaking with fear. Jack, with his
sword of sharpness, soon killed the giant, and the magician
was then carried away by a whirlwind. All the knights and
beautiful ladies, who had been changed into birds and beasts,
returned to their proper shapes. The castle vanished away
like smoke, and the head of the giant Galligantus was sent to
King Arthur. The knights and ladies rested that night at
the old man's hermitage, and the next day they set out for the
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court. Jack then went up to the king, and gave his majesty
an account of all his fierce battles. Jack's fame had spread
through the whole country; and at the king's desire, the duke
gave him his daughter in marriage, to the joy of all the
kingdom. After this, the king gave him a large estate, on
which he and his lady lived the rest of their days in joy and
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