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Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

Though the giant could not see him


said Jack, "if this be the case I will kill you at once." So saying, he slipped nimbly behind him, and jumping upon the block of timber, as the giant rose from it, he stabbed him in the back; when, after a few howls, he dropped down dead. Jack cut off his head, and sent it with the head of his brother, whom he had killed before in the forest, to King Arthur, by a wagon which he hired for that purpose, with an account of all his exploits. When Jack had thus killed these two monsters, he went into their cave in search of their treasure: he passed through many turnings and windings, which led him to a room paved with freestone; at the end of it was a boiling caldron, and on the right hand stood a large table where the giants used to dine. He then came to a window that was secured with iron bars, through which he saw a number of wretched captives, who cried out when they saw Jack, "Alas! alas! young man, you are come to be one among us in this horrid den." "I hope," said Jack, "you will not stay here long; but pray tell me what is the meaning of your being here at all?" "Alas!" said one poor old man, "I will tell you, sir. We are persons that have been taken by the giants who hold this cave, and are kept till they choose to have a feast, then one of us is to be killed, and cooked to please their taste. It is not long since they took three for the same purpose." "Well," said Jack, "I have given them such a dinner that it will be long enough before they have any more." The captives
were amazed at his words. "You may believe me," said Jack; "for I have killed them both with the edge of the sword, and have sent their large heads to the court of King Arthur, as marks of my great success."

To show them that what he said was true, he unlocked the gate, and set them all free. Then he led them to the great room, placed them round the table, and set before them two quarters of beef, with bread and wine; upon which they feasted to their fill. When supper was over, they searched the giants' coffers, and Jack shared the store in them among the captives, who thanked him for their escape. The next morning they set off to their homes, and Jack to the knight's house, whom he had left with his lady not long before. It was just at the time of sunrise that Jack mounted his horse to proceed on his journey.

He arrived at the knight's house, where he was received with the greatest joy by the thankful knight and his lady, who, in honour of Jack's exploits, gave a grand feast, to which all the nobles and gentry were invited. When the company were assembled, the knight declared to them the great actions of Jack, and gave him, as a mark of respect, a fine ring, on which was engraved the picture of the giant dragging the knight and the lady by the hair, with this motto round it:

"Behold, in dire distress were we, Under a giant's fierce command; But gained our lives and liberty, From valiant Jack's victorious hand."

Among the guests then present were five aged gentlemen, who were fathers to some of those captives who had been freed by Jack from the dungeon of the giants. As soon as they heard that he was the person who had done such wonders, they pressed round him with tears of joy, to return him thanks for the happiness he had caused to them. After this the bowl went round, and every one drank to the health and long life of the gallant hero. Mirth increased, and the hall was filled with peals of laughter and joyful cries. But, on a sudden, a herald, pale and breathless with haste and terror, rushed into the midst of the company, and told them that Thundel, a savage giant with two heads, had heard of the death of his two kinsmen, and was come to take his revenge on Jack; and that he was now within a mile of the house; the people flying before him like chaff before the wind. At this news the very boldest of the guests trembled; but Jack drew his sword, and said: "Let him come, I have a rod for him also. Pray, ladies and gentlemen, do me the favour to walk into the garden, and you shall soon behold the giant's defeat and death." To this they all agreed, and heartily wished him success in his dangerous attempt. The knight's house stood in the middle of a moat, thirty feet deep and twenty wide, over which lay a drawbridge. Jack set men to work to cut the bridge on both sides, almost to the middle; and then dressed himself in his coat of darkness, and went against the giant with his sword of sharpness. As he came close to him, though the giant could not see him, for his invisible coat, yet he found some danger was near, which made him cry out:

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