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Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

About four months after the death of Cormoran


style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XVIII

JACK THE GIANT KILLER

In the reign of the famous 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, conjurers, 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 any one 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 main land, 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 main land 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 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, 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 mountain. "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 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 his power. This 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 these lines:


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