IN the days of good King Alfred there lived a little boy, named Jack,
with his widow mother in a very small cottage in which there was
no furniture at all except one wooden stool and a rickety table, so Jack
and his mother had to sleep on the floor, they were so very, very poor,
and this was exceedingly uncomfortable.

Jack's father had been a farmer, but he was dead, and as Jack was
not big enough to dig, and plough, and attend to the farm, and there
was no one else to do it, soon all the money that had been left was

So then Jack's mother was very miserable, and she told him that he
must take the cow, all they now had left, and sell her. Jack was very
sad, but he was a good little boy and wanted to help his mother, so he
set off. He had not gone very far, when he met a man, to whom he
told his tale. The man spoke very kindly to Jack, and said he would
willingly buy the cow, but that, as he had no money with him, he must
give beans instead.
So Jack took off
his hat, and the
man filled it with
beans, saying that
they would grow to
be wonderful plants,
and would make his

Jack ran home
to his mother in
high glee, but she,
when she saw just
beans instead of
pieces of gold, was very angry indeed, and threw
them out of the window. Jack was very unhappy,
and cried himself to sleep that evening, but when
he awoke the next morning, what was his surprise to see, on looking
out of the window, a wonderful beanstalk, strong and tall, so tall, indeed,
that the top was somewhere right up in the clouds and not to be seen.
"It must have a top," thought Jack, "and I mean to find it."

So he began climbing up the beanstalk, and he climbed and climbed
and at last reached the top, which brought him on to a mountain where
he saw a beautiful fairy who showed him a big Castle at some little
distance, and told him that in that Castle lived a dreadful Giant who
was very fond of roast boy for dinner, but that Jack must be brave, and
then he would get a great deal of money, for the Giant was exceedingly

Jack thanked the kind fairy, and went on to the Castle. There
was a very big door, and he had to stand on tiptoe to knock, and the
knocker was very heavy, but he managed it at last, and then he saw a
face looking out of a window. Jack at first thought it must be the
Giant, but it was only the Giant's wife, a kind woman, who, when she
saw how hungry he was, for he had had no breakfast and had come a
long journey, took him in, and gave him some dinner.

Jack was enjoying it very much, when the Giantess said, looking
dreadfully frightened, "Oh, oh, here comes my husband, what shall I
do; if he sees you he will have you roasted!" Jack was rather nervous
at this, so he asked the woman to hide him, and she put him in the
copper. Then there was
a terrible knocking and
stamping, and in came
the Giant.

"Fee, 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," sang
the Giant, and his voice
sounded like the wind
among the trees on a
very stormy day, or like
lions in a menagerie at
feeding time, and he
walked all around sniffing
and snuffing, and peep-
ing and prying into all
corners and places where
he thought anyone might
be hidden; then at last
he thought he must have made a mistake, and that it was his dinner
he had smelt, and he sat down to the table, and he ate a great deal,
and drank a great deal, and Jack lifted up the cover of the copper, just
a little way, and watched him.

When the Giant had eaten till he could eat no more, he took some
bags full of gold out of his pocket and placed them by his side, and then
he was so tired, that he lay back in his chair and went to sleep.

"Now," thought Jack, "is my time;" so he climbed out of the
copper and crept up to the Giant. He seized the bags of gold and ran
to the window, jumped out, climbed down the beanstalk and so reached

Jack's mother was delighted to see him again, and very much
astonished and pleased was she when she saw the gold.

Now while the Giantess was feeding Jack, she had told him of a
wonderful hen which her husband owned, which, she said, laid golden
eggs. Jack thought, "If we had that hen we should never be poor any

So next day he climbed up the beanstalk again and went to the
Castle. This time no one was at home, so he took the hen and got
back safely, although she cackled so loudly that he thought the Giant
must hear, wherever he might be.

And once more Jack went to the Castle, this time to fetch a lovely
golden harp which sang beautiful songs when it was told. He got into
the Castle all right, and took the harp while the Giant was having his
afternoon sleep.

But the harp began to call out in a very loud voice, "Master! Master!
Wake! Wake!"

And the Giant did wake, and he rushed after Jack with his dreadful
club in his hand.

Jack came to the
beanstalk and clambered
down as quickly as he

As he got to the
bottom he felt the stalk
swaying terribly, and,
looking up, he saw that
big, fierce Giant coming
down after him.

Jack's mother came
running out of the cot-
tage, and she fetched a
hatchet, which she gave
to Jack, and he hacked
away at the beanstalk
and at last cut it right
through. Then it came tumbling down, and the Giant too, and he fell
on his head and was killed dead as a stone.

So I think, and so do you, I am sure, that Jack and his mother
received very good value for the cow, for they now had enough and to
spare and lived happily the rest of their days.