Jack the Giant-Killer

When he saw that they were both quite black in the face, he drew his sword, and slid down the ropes; he then killed the giants. Jack next took a great bunch of keys from the pocket of Blunderbore, and went into the castle again. He searched all the rooms, and in them found three ladies tied up by the hair of their heads, and almost starved to death. They told him 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 husbands. “Ladies,” says Jack, “I have put an end to the monsters and I give you this castle, and all the riches that it contains, to make amends for the pains you have felt.” He then gave them the keys of the castle, and went further on his journey.

Jack gives the keys of the castle to the Giant's victims

At length he lost his way; and when night came on, he was in a lonely valley, where he thought himself very lucky at last in finding a large and handsome house. He went up 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; all the mischief he did was by secret malice, under the show of 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.

Jack took off his clothes quickly, but though he was weary, he could not sleep. Soon after this he heard the giant walking backward and forward in the next room, 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 are.” Getting out of bed, he found a large thick billet of wood, and laid it in his own place in the bed, and then 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 away thinking he had broken all Jack’s bones.

The giant strikes heavy blows on Jack's bed, not knowing he's striking a billet of wood

Early in the morning Jack walked into the giant’s room to thank him for his lodging. The giant started when he saw him, and began to stammer out—“O! dear me! is it you? Pray how did you sleep last night? Did you hear or see any thing 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, yet did not answer a word, but went to bring two bowls of hasty-pudding for their breakfast. Jack wanted to make the giant believe that he could eat as much as himself; so he buttoned a leathern bag inside his coat, and slipt 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 could cut off my head in one minute, and the next put it sound again on my shoulders. You shall see an example.” He then took hold of a 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 hurself;” so he snatched up the knife, plunged it into his stomach, and dropped down dead.

As soon as Jack had thus tricked the Welsh monster, he went further and met with King-Arthur’s only son, who was travelling into Wales to deliver a beautiful lady from the power of a magician. Jack begged leave to attend him; and the prince at once agreed to this, and gave Jack many thanks for his kindness.

This prince was a handsome, 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, and said, “How are we to get food the rest of the journey?” “Leave that to me, sir,” said Jack. Night came on, and the prince began to grow uneasy. “Sir,” said Jack, “be of good heart. Two miles further 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!” replied the king’s son, “we had better never have been born than meet him.” “My lord,” said Jack, “leave me to manage him; and wait here in quiet till I return.”

The prince now staid 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?” and Jack made answer “No one but your poor cousin Jack.”

“Well,” said the giant, “what news, cousin Jack?” “Dear uncle,” said Jack, “heavy news.” “Pooh!” said the giant, “what heavy news can come to me? I 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.” “Oh! cousin Jack,” said the giant, “this is heavy news indeed; but I have a large cellar where I will hide myself, and you shall lock me in, and keep the keys till the king’s son is gone.”

From Jack the giant-killer: being the history of all his wonderful exploits against the giants; embellished with beautiful coloured plates. Glasgow: J. Lumsden & Son. 1815.

Classics Fairy tales


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