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Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

Which parted off a dismal dungeon


"The

day on which you met the butcher, as you went to sell your mother's cow, my power was restored. It was I who secretly prompted you to take the beans in exchange for the cow. By my power, the bean-stalk grew to so great a height, and formed a ladder. I need not add that I inspired you with a strong desire to ascend the ladder. The giant lives in this country: you are the person appointed to punish him for all his wickedness. You will have dangers and difficulties to encounter, but you must persevere in avenging the death of your father, or you will not prosper in any of your undertakings, but will always be miserable. As to the giant's possessions, you may seize on all you can; for every thing he has is yours, though now you are unjustly deprived of it. One thing I desire--do not let your mother know you are acquainted with your father's history, till you see me again. Go along the direct road, you will soon see the house where your cruel enemy lives. While you do as I order you, I will protect and guard you; but, remember, if you dare disobey my commands, a most dreadful punishment awaits you."

When the fairy had concluded, she disappeared, leaving Jack to pursue his journey. He walked on till after sunset, when, to his great joy, he espied a large mansion. This agreeable sight revived his drooping spirits; he redoubled his speed, and soon reached it. A plain-looking woman was at the door--he accosted her, begging she would give him a morsel

of bread and a night's lodging. She expressed the greatest surprise at seeing him; and said it was quite uncommon to see a human being near their house, for it was well known that her husband was a large and very powerful giant, and that he would never eat any thing but human flesh, if he could possibly get it; that he did not think any thing of walking fifty miles to procure it, usually being out the whole day for that purpose.

This account greatly terrified Jack, but still he hoped to elude the giant, and therefore he again entreated the woman to take him in for one night only, and hide him where she thought proper. The good woman at last suffered herself to be persuaded, for she was of a compassionate and generous disposition, and took him into the house. First, they entered a fine large hall, magnificently furnished; they then passed through several spacious rooms, all in the same style of grandeur; but they appeared to be quite forsaken and desolate. A long gallery was next; it was very dark--just light enough to show that, instead of a wall on one side, there was a grating of iron, which parted off a dismal dungeon, from whence issued the groans of those poor victims whom the cruel giant reserved in confinement for his own voracious appetite. Poor Jack was half dead with fear, and would have given the world to have been with his mother again, for he now began to fear that he should never see her more, and gave himself up for lost; he even mistrusted the good woman, and thought she had let him into the house for no other purpose than to lock him up among the unfortunate people in the dungeon. At the farther end of the gallery there was a spacious kitchen, and a very excellent fire was burning in the grate. The good woman bid Jack sit down, and gave him plenty to eat and drink. Jack, not seeing any thing here to make him uncomfortable, soon forgot his fear, and was just beginning to enjoy himself, when he was aroused by a loud knocking at the street-door, which made the whole house shake: the giant's wife ran to secure him in the oven, and then went to let her husband in. Jack heard him accost her in a voice like thunder, saying: "Wife, I smell fresh meat." "Oh! my dear," replied she, "it is nothing but the people in the dungeon." The giant appeared to believe her, and walked into the very kitchen where poor Jack was concealed, who shook, trembled, and was more terrified than he had yet been. At last, the monster seated himself quietly by the fire-side, whilst his wife prepared supper. By degrees Jack recovered himself sufficiently to look at the giant through a small crevice. He was quite astonished to see what an amazing quantity he devoured, and thought he never would have done eating and drinking. When supper was ended, the giant desired his wife to bring him his hen. A very beautiful hen was then brought, and placed on the table before him. Jack's curiosity was very great to see what would happen: he observed that every time the giant said "Lay!" the hen laid an egg of solid gold. The giant amused himself a long time with his hen; meanwhile his wife went to bed. At length the giant fell asleep by the fire-side, and snored like the roaring of a cannon.


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