The Fairy bade them follow her to the castle, and they marched thither in a body, and Jack blew the horn and demanded admittance.
The old Giantess saw them coming from the turret loophole. She was very much frightened, for she guessed that something had happened to her husband; and as she came downstairs very fast she caught her foot in her dress, and fell from the top to the bottom and broke her neck.
When the people outside found that the door was not opened to them, they took crowbars and forced the portal. Nobody was to be seen, but on leaving the mall they found the body of the Giantess at the foot of the stairs.
Thus Jack took possession of the castle. The Fairy went and brought his mother to him, with the hen and the harp. He had the Giantess buried, and endeavored as much as lay in his power to do right to those whom the Giant had robbed.
Before her departure for fairyland, the Fairy explained to Jack that she had sent the butcher to meet him with the beans, in order to try what sort of lad he was.
"If you had looked at the gigantic Beanstalk and only stupidly wondered about it," she said, "I should have left you where misfortune had placed you, only restoring her cow to your mother. But you showed an inquiring mind, and great courage and enterprise, therefore you deserve to rise; and when you mounted the Beanstalk you climbed the Ladder of Fortune."
She then took her leave of Jack and his mother.
Retold by Joseph Jacobs
ONCE upon a time there was a Wood-cutter and his wife who had seven children, all boys. The eldest was only ten years old. They were very poor, and their seven children were a great burden, since not one of them was able to earn his living.
What troubled them still more was the fact that the youngest was not only very delicate, but silent, which they took for stupidity, but which was really a mark of his good sense. He was very small, and when he was born he was scarcely bigger than one's thumb, which caused him to be called little "Hop-o'-My-Thumb." This poor child was the scapegoat of the house, and was blamed for everything. He was, however, sharper and wiser than all his brothers, and though he spoke little, he listened a great deal.
At last there came a bad year, and so great a famine, that the poor people resolved to rid themselves of their children. One evening, when the children were all in bed, and the Wood-cutter with a sorrowful heart, was sitting by the fire with his wife, he said to her: "You know that we can no longer support our children. I cannot let them die of hunger before my eyes, and I am resolved to take them to the wood to- morrow, and lose them. It will be easy to do this, for, while they amuse themselves tying my sticks, we have only to slip away without their seeing us.
"Ah!" cried his Wife, "would you then destroy your children?" In vain did her husband set forth to her their great poverty: she would not consent. She was poor, she said. But she was their mother. At last, having considered what a grief it would be to her to have them die of hunger before her eyes, she agreed to her husband's plan, and went, weeping, to bed.
Hop-o'-My-Thumb had listened to all that they had said, for having heard them, from his bed, talking of family matters, he had risen softly and slipped under his father's stool, in order to hear without being seen. He then went back to bed, but lay awake the rest of the night, thinking what he should do. He rose early and went to a brook, where he filled his pocket with little white pebbles, and then returned to the house.
Soon after, they all set off, but Hop-o'-My-Thumb did not tell his brothers anything of what he knew. They went into a forest, so thick that they could not see each other at a distance of ten paces. The Wood-cutter began to fell a tree, while the children gathered sticks to make up into bundles. The father and mother, seeing them thus employed, slipped away unnoticed, and then fled rapidly, by a little winding path.
When the children found they were alone, they began to scream and cry with all their strength. Hop-o'-My-Thumb let them cry, knowing well how to get home; for, while walking, he had dropped along the path the little white pebbles which he had in his pockets.
He therefore said to them, "Fear not, brothers, my father and mother have left us here, but I will lead you to the house only follow me."
They obeyed at once, and he led them home along the same path by which they had come into the forest at first. They did not dare to go into the house, but placed themselves near the door, in order to hear what their father and mother were saying.
Now it had so happened that, just as the Woodcutter and his Wife reached home, the lord of the village had sent them ten crowns, which he had long owed them, and which they had never hoped to obtain. This gave them new life, for the poor creatures were almost dead from hunger.
The Wood-cutter immediately sent his Wife to the butcher's, where, as it was long since they had eaten anything, she bought three times as much meat as was needed for the supper of two people.
When they were seated at table, the Wife said, "Alas! where now are our poor children? They would make good cheer with what we have left.
But it is you who wished to lose them. I always said we should repent it. What are they doing now in the forest? Alas! alas! perhaps the wolves have already eaten them! You were most cruel thus to lose your children."
The Wood-cutter at last grew impatient, for she repeated more than twenty times that they would repent what they had done, and that she had told him so. He threatened to beat her if she was not silent. The Wood-cutter did not do this because he was less sorry than his Wife, but because her reproaches angered him. His Wife now shed tears, and cried out, "Alas! where are my children, my poor children?"
She said this so loud that the children, who were at the door, heard her, and all cried out together, "Here we are! here we are!"
She ran quickly to open the door, and said, as she embraced them, "How overjoyed I am to see you again, my darling children! you must be very tired and very hungry; and you, Peter, how muddy you are! come, let me brush you." Peter was her eldest son, whom she loved more than all the others.
The children then sat down at the table, and ate with an appetite which delighted their father and mother, to whom they described, all speaking at once, how frightened they had been in the forest.
These good people were filled with joy to have their children with them again, and this joy lasted as long as the ten crowns held out. But when the money was spent, they fell back into their former misery, and resolved to lose them once more; and in order not to fail again, they determined to take them much further into the forest than the first time.
They could not, however, speak of this so secretly but that they were overheard by Hop-o'-My-Thumb, who laid his plans to escape as before.
Although he got up early in order to go out and pick up some little stones, he could not succeed in his purpose, for he found the door of the house shut and double-bolted. He was wondering what he should do, when, his mother having given them each a bit of bread for breakfast, he thought that he might use his bread instead of pebbles by dropping crumbs along the paths as they walked. He therefore slipped the bread into his pocket.
Their father and mother led them this time into the thickest and darkest part of the forest, and, as soon as they were there, ran away and left them.
Hop-o'-My-Thumb was not much troubled, because he believed he could easily find his way by means of the bread which he had scattered as he passed along. What was his surprise when he could not find a single crumb: the birds had come and eaten it all.
Now was their lot indeed wretched; the more they wandered about, the deeper they buried themselves in the forest. Night came, and a great wind arose which frightened them terribly. They thought they heard on all sides the howling of hungry wolves coming to eat them up. They did not dare to speak, or even turn their heads. Rain began to fall, which wet them to the skin. They slipped at every step, and, if they fell, got up so covered with mud that they could hardly move their hands.
Finally, Hop-o'-My-Thumb climbed to the top of a tree, to see if he could not discover something. Having looked on all sides, he at last saw a little gleam of light, like that from a candle, but it was very far off, beyond the forest. He got down from the tree: but when he was on the ground he no longer saw anything, which troubled him greatly.
However, having walked for some time with his brothers in the direction where he had seen the light, he again saw it as they came out of the wood. At last they reached the house where the candle was, though not without many alarms, for they lost sight of it whenever they descended unto a hollow place.
They knocked at the door, which was opened to them by a woman. She asked them what they wanted. Hop-o'-My-Thumb replied that they were poor children who had lost themselves in the forest, and who asked, for charity's sake, a place to sleep.
The woman, seeing how bitter they were, began to weep, and said to them, "Alas! my poor children, whence do you come? Do you not know that this is the house of an Ogre, who eats little children?"
"Alas, madam," said Hop-o'-My-Thumb, who like his brothers was shaking with fear, "what shall we do? The wolves of the forest will certainly devour us to-night, if you will not give us shelter. This being the case, we had rather be eaten by the Ogre, and he, perhaps, will take pity on us, if you will beg him to do so."
The Ogre's wife, who thought she might be able to conceal them from her husband till the next morning, let them come in, and placed them near a good fire, where a whole sheep was roasting for the Ogre's supper.
When they had begun to get warm, they heard three or four heavy knocks at the door. It was the Ogre. His wife hastily hid the children under the bed, and then opened the door.
The Ogre asked first if supper was ready, and the wine drawn; and then sat down at the table. The mutton was nearly raw, but he liked it all the better on that account.
He then began to sniff about, saying that he smelled fresh meat.
"It must be this calf which I have just been dressing that you smell,"
said the wife.
"I smell fresh meat, I tell you again," said the Ogre, looking fiercely at his wife; "and there is something more of which I do not know."
Saying these words, he rose from the table and went straight to the bed, where he found the poor children.
"Ah!" said he, "this, then, is the way you wish to deceive me, wicked woman. I know not what prevents me from eating you, too. Here is game, which comes to me very conveniently to treat three Ogres of my acquaintance, who are coming to visit me about this time."
He then drew the little boys from under the bed, one after another.
The poor children threw themselves on their knees begging for pardon.
But they had to do with the most cruel of all the Ogres, who, far from having pity, devoured them already with his eyes, and said to his wife that they would be delicious morsels fried, when she had made a good sauce for them.
He took out a great knife, and, approaching the poor children, began to sharpen it on a long stone, which he held in his left hand. He then seized one of them, when his wife said to him, "Why do you begin at this time of night? Shall you not have time to-morrow?"
"Be silent," replied the Ogre; "they will be more tender if I kill them now."
"But you have already so much meat on hand," replied his wife. "Here are a calf, two sheep, and half a pig."
"You are right," said the Ogre; "give them a good supper, that they may not grow thin, and put them to bed."