Jack alighted from his horse, and, putting on his invisible coat, approached and aimed a blow at the Giant's head, but missing his aim he only cut off his nose. On this the Giant seized his club and laid about him most unmercifully.
"Nay," said Jack, "if this be the case I'd better dispatch you!" So jumping upon the block, he stabbed him in the back, when he dropped down dead.
Jack then proceeded on his journey, and traveled over hills and dales till, arriving at the foot of a high mountain, he knocked at the door of a lonely house, when an old man let him in.
When Jack was seated the hermit thus addressed him: "My son, on the top of this mountain is an enchanted castle, kept by the Giant Galligantus and a vile magician. I lament the fate of a duke's daughter, whom they seized as she was walking in her father's garden, and brought hither transformed into a deer."
Jack promised that in the morning, at the risk of his life, he would break the enchantment; and after a sound sleep he rose early, put on his invisible coat, and got ready for the attempt.
When he had climbed to the top of the mountain he saw two fiery griffins; but he passed between them without the least fear of danger, for they could not see him because of his invisible coat. On the castle gate he found a golden trumpet, under which were written these lines:
Whoever can this trumpet blow
Shall cause the giant's overthrow.
As soon as Jack had read this he seized the trumpet and blew a shrill blast, which made the gates fly open and the very castle itself tremble.
The Giant and the conjurer now knew that their wicked course was at an end, and they stood biting their thumbs and shaking within fear. Jack, with his sword of sharpness, soon killed the Giant, and the magician was then carried away by a whirlwind; and every knight and beautiful lady who had been changed into birds and beasts returned to their proper shapes. The castle vanished away like smoke, and the head of the Giant Galligantus was sent to King Arthur.
The knights and ladies rested that night at the old man's hermitage, and next day they set out for the Court. Jack then went up to the King and gave his Majesty an account of all his fierce battles.
Jack's fame had now spread through the whole country, and at the King's desire the Duke gave him his daughter in marriage, to the joy of all his kingdom. After this the King gave him a large estate, on which he and his lady lived the rest of their days in joy and contentment.
Retold by Joseph Jacobs
IN the days of the great Prince Arthur, there lived a mighty magician, named Merlin, the most learned and skillful enchanter the world has ever seen.
This famous magician, who could take any form he pleased, was travelling about as a poor beggar, and being very tired he stopped at the cottage of a Ploughman to rest himself, and asked for some food.
The countryman bade him welcome, and his wife, who was a very good- hearted woman, brought him some milk in a wooden bowl and some coarse brown bread on a platter.
Merlin was much pleased with the kindness of the Ploughman and his wife; but he could not help noticing that though everything was neat and comfortable in the cottage, they both seemed to be very unhappy.
He therefore asked them why they were so melancholy, and learned that they were miserable because they had no children.
The Poor Woman said, with tears in her eves: "I should be the happiest creature in the world if I had a son although he was no bigger than my husband's thumb."
Merlin was so much amused with the idea of a boy no bigger than a man's thumb that he determined to grant the Poor Woman's wish. Accordingly, in a short time after, the Ploughman's wife had a son, who, wonderful to relate! was not a bit bigger than his father's thumb.
The Queen of the fairies, wishing to see the little fellow, came in at the window, while the mother was sitting up in bed admiring him. The Queen kissed the child, and, giving it the name of Tom Thumb, sent for some of the fairies, who dressed her little godson according to her orders:
An oak-leaf hat he had for his crown;
His shirt of web by spiders spun;
With jacket wove of thistle's down;
His trousers were of feathers done.
His stockings, of apple rind, they tie
With eyelash from his mother's eye:
His shoes were made of mouse's skin,
Tann'd with the downy hair within.
Tom never grew any larger than his father's thumb, but as he got older he became very cunning and full of tricks. When he was old enough to play with the boys, and had lost all his own cherry stones, he used to creep into the bags of his play-fellows, fill his pockets, and, getting out without their noticing him, would again join in the game.
One day, as he was coming out of a bag of cherry stones, where he had been stealing as usual, the boy to whom it belonged chanced to see him.
"Ah, ah! my little Tommy," said the boy, "so I have caught you stealing my cherry stones at last, and you shall be rewarded for your thievish tricks." On saying this, he drew the string tight round his neck, and gave the bag such a hearty shake that poor little Tom's legs, thighs and body were sadly bruised. He roared out with pain and begged to be let out, promising never to steal again.
A short time afterwards his mother was making a batter pudding, and Tom, being anxious to see how it was made, climbed up to the edge of the bowl; but his foot slipped, and he plumped over head and ears into the batter, without his mother noticing him, who stirred him into the pudding-bag, and put him in the pot to boil.
The batter filled Tom's mouth, and prevented him from crying; but, upon feeling the hot water, he kicked and struggled so much in the pot that his mother thought that the pudding was bewitched, and, pulling it out of the pot, she threw it outside the door. A poor tinker, who was passing by, lifted up the pudding, put it in his bag, and walked off.
As Tom had now got his mouth cleared of the batter, he began to cry aloud, which so frightened the tinker that he flung down the pudding and ran away. The pudding being broke to pieces by the fall, Tom crept out covered all over with the batter, and walked home. His mother, who was very sorry to see her darling in such a woeful state, put him into a teacup and soon washed off the batter; after which she kissed him and laid him in bed.
Soon after the adventure of the pudding, Tom's mother went to milk her cow in the meadow, and she took him along with her. As the wind was very high, for fear of being blown away, she tied him to a thistle with a piece of fine thread. The cow soon observed Tom's oak-leaf hat, and liking the appearance of it, took poor Tom and the thistle at one mouthful. While the cow was chewing the thistle Tom was afraid of her great teeth, which threatened to crush him in pieces, and he roared out as loud as he could: "Mother, mother!"
"Where are you, Tommy, my dear Tommy?" said his mother.
"Here, mother," replied he, "in the red cow's mouth."
His mother began to cry and wring her hands; but the cow, surprised at the odd noise in her throat, opened her mouth and let Tom drop out.
Fortunately his mother caught him in her apron as he was falling to the ground, or he would have been dreadfully hurt. She then put Tom in her bosom and ran home with him.
Tom's father made him a whip of barley straw to drive the cattle with, and having one day gone into the fields, Tom slipped a foot and rolled into the furrow. A raven, which was flying over, picked him up and flew with him over the sea, and there dropped him.
A large fish swallowed Tom the moment he fell into the sea, which was soon after caught and bought for the table of King Arthur. When they opened the fish in order to cook it, every one was astonished at finding such a little boy, and Tom was quite delighted at being free again. They carried him to the King, who made Tom his dwarf, and he soon became a great favorite at court; for by his tricks and gambols he not only amused the King and Queen, but also the Knights of the Round Table.
It is said that when the King rode out on horseback he often took Tom along with him, and if a shower came on he used to creep into his Majesty's waistcoat pocket, where he slept till the rain was over.
King Arthur one day asked Tom about his parents, wishing to know if they were as small as he was, and whether they were well off. Tom told the King that his father and mother were as tall as anybody about the court, but in rather poor circumstances. On hearing this, the King carried Tom to his treasury, the place where he kept all his money, and told him to take as much money as he could carry home to his parents, which made the poor little fellow caper with joy. Tom went immediately to procure a purse which was made of a water-bubble, and then returned to the treasury, where he received a silver three-penny piece to put into it.
Our little hero had some difficulty in lifting the burden upon his back; but he at last succeeded in getting it placed and set forward on his journey. Without meeting with any accident, and after resting himself more than a hundred times by the way, in two days and two nights he reached his father's house in safety.
Tom had traveled forty-eight hours with a huge silver piece on his back, and was almost tired to death, when his mother ran out to meet him and carried him into the house. But he soon returned to court.
As Tom's clothes had suffered much in the batter pudding and the inside of the fish, his Majesty ordered him a new suit of clothes, and to be mounted as a knight on a mouse.
Of Butterfly's wings his shirt was made,
His boots of chicken's hide;
And by a nimble fairy blade,
Well learned in the tailoring trade,