Joseph Jacobs

There 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.

"We've tried that before, and nobody would take you," said his

mother; "we must sell Milky-white and with the money start shop,

or something."

"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."

So he took the cow's halter in his hand, and off he started. He

hadn't gone far when he met a funny-looking old man, who said to

him: "Good morning, Jack."

"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.

"Right you are," says 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 a swop with you---your cow for these beans."

"Go along," says Jack; "wouldn't you like it?"

"Ah! 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


"Really?" said 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.

"Back already, Jack?" said his mother; "I see you haven't

got Milky-white, so you've sold her. How much did you get for


"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---"

"What!" 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."

So 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 his supper.

At last he dropped off to sleep.

When 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.

The 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

ran up just like a big 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 till he came to a great big tall

house, and on the doorstep there was a great big tall woman.

"Good morning, mum," says Jack, quite politely. "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.

"It's 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."

"Oh! 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."

Well, the ogre's wife was not half so bad after all. So she took

Jack into the kitchen, and gave him a chunk 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

some one coming.

"Good 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 of it 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 big tall

house he had been to before. There, sure enough, was the great

big 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! thump! they heard

the giant's footstep, and his wife hid Jack away in the oven.

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 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 rose up early, and got 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 came 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."

"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 out 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 ax, bring me an

ax." And his mother came rushing out with the ax 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 ax 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 ax, 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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