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JACK THE GIANT KILLER
N the reign of the famous King Arthur there lived near
the Land's End of England, in the country of Cornwall,
a worthy farmer who had an only son named jack. Jack
was a bold boy; 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
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 did not care much for 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 courage always made him the
In those days there lived on St. Michael's Mount of
Cornwall, which rises out of the sea at some distance
from the mainland, a huge giant. He was eighteen feet
high and three yards round, and his fierce and savage
looks were the terror of all his neighbors. He dwelt
in a gloomy cavern on the very top of the mountain, and
used to wade over to the mainland in search of his
When he came near, the people left their houses; and
after he had feasted 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
re-  solved to destroy him. He therefore took a horn,
shovel, pickax, and a dark lantern, and early in the
long winter's evening he swam to the Mount. There he
set to work at once, and before morning he had dug a
pit twenty-two feet deep, and almost as many feet
broad. He covered it over with sticks and straw, and
strewed some earth over these, 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 toward 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 coming one step
farther he stumbled 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 n ow? Will nothing serve you for
breakfast this cold morning but broiling Jack?"
The giant now tried to arise, but Jack struck him a
blow on the crown of the head with his pickax, 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 great deeds soon spread over the
western parts of England; and another giant, called Old
Blunderbore, vowed to revenge on Jack if it ever should
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
very wood; and as he was 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, who was
sadly afraid when he found himself in the clutches of
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 locked Jack up in a large 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;
"Haste, valiant stranger, haste away,
Lest you become the giant's prey.
On his return he'll bring another
Still more savage than his brother:
A horrid, cruel monster, who,
Before he kills you will torture you.
Oh, valiant stranger! haste away,
Or you'll become these giants' prey."
This warning was so shocking to poor Jack that he was
ready to go mad. He ran to the window, and saw the two
giants coming along, arm in arm. This window was right
over the gates of the castle.
"Now," thought Jack, "either my death or freedom is at
There were two strong cords in the room; Jack made a
 large noose with a slip-knot at the ends of both these,
and as the giants were coming through the gates, he
threw open the ropes over their heads. He then made
the other ends fast to a beam in the ceiling, and
pulled with all his might till he had almost strangled
them. When he saw that they were both quite black in
the face and had not the least strength left, he drew
his sword and slid down the ropes. He then killed the
giants, and thus saved himself from a cruel death.
Jack next took a great bunch of keys from the pocket of
Blunderbore and went into the castle again. He made a
strict search through all the rooms, and in them found
three ladies tied up by the hair of their heads and
almost starved to death. They told him their husbands
had been killed by the giants, who had condemned them
to be starved to death.
"Ladies," said Jack, "I have put an end to the monster
and his wicked brother; and I give you this castle and
all the riches it contains to make you some amends for
the dreadful pains you have felt."
He then very politely gave them the keys of the castle,
and went farther on his journey to Wales. As Jack had
not taken any of the giant's riches for himself, and so
had very little money of his own, he thought it best to
travel as fast as he could. At length he lost his way,
and when night came on he was in a lonely valley
between two lofty mountains, where he walked about for
some hours without seeing any dwelling place, so he
thought himself very lucky at last in finding a large
and handsome house.
He went up to it boldly and knocked loudly at the gate,
when, to his great terror and surprise, there came
forth a monstrous giant with two beards. he spoke to
Jack very civilly, for he was a Welsh giant, and all
the mischief he did was by private and secret malice,
under the show of friendship and kindness. Jack told
him that he was a traveler who had lost his way, on
which the huge monster made him welcome, and led him
into a room
 where there was a good bed to pass the night in. Jack
took off his clothes quickly; but though he was so
weary, he could not go to sleep. Soon after this he
heard the giant walking backward and forward in the
next room, and saying to himself:
"Though here you lodge with me this night,
You shall not see the morning light;
My club shall dash your brains out quite."
"Say you so?" thought Jack. "Are these your tricks
upon travelers? But I hope to prove myself as cunning
Then getting out of bed, he gropes about the room, and
at last found a large, thick billet of wood, which he
laid in his own place in the bed, and then hid himself
in a dark corner of the room.
In the middle of the night the giant came with his
great club and struck many heavy blows on the bed, in
the very place where Jack had lain the billet; and t
hen he went back to his own room, thinking all Jack's
bones were broken. Early in the morning Jack put a
bold face upon the matter, and walked into the giant's
room to thank him for his lodging.
The giant started when he saw him, and he began to
stammer out: "Oh, dear me! Is it you? Pray how did
you sleep last night? Did you hear anything in the
dead of night?"
"Nothing worth speaking of," said Jack, carelessly. "A
rat, I believe, gave me three or four slaps with his
tail, and disturbed me a little; but I soon went to
The giant wondered more and more at this; yet he did
not answer a word, but went to bring two great bowls of
hasty-pudding for their breakfast. Jack tried to make
the giant believe that he could eat as much as himself;
so he contrived to button a leathern bag inside his
coat, and slipped the hasty-pudding into his bag, while
he seemed to put it into his mouth.
When breakfast was over, he said to the giant: "Now I
 show you a fine trick; I can cure all wounds with a
touch; I could cut off my head one minute, and the next
put it sound again on my shoulders. You shall see an
He then took hold of the knife, ripped up the leathern
bag, and all the hasty-pudding tumbled out upon the
"Ods splutter hur nails!" cried the Welsh giant, who
was ashamed to be outdone by such a little fellow as
Jack; "hur can do that hurself."
So he snatched up the knife, plunged it into his own
stomach, and in a moment dropped down dead.
As soon as Jack had thus tricked the Welsh monster, he
went farther on his journey; and a few days after he
met with King Arthur's only son, who had his father's
leave to travel into Wales to deliver a beautiful lady
from the power of a wicked magician, who held her in
his enchantments, When Jack found out that the young
prince had no servants with him, he begged leave to
attend him; and the prince at one agreed to this, and
gave Jack many thanks for his kindness. The prince was
a handsome, polite, and brave knight, and so
good-natured that he gave money to everybody he met.
At length he gave his last penny to an old woman, and
then turned to Jack and said: "How shall we be able to
get good for ourselves the rest of our journey?"
"Leave that to me, sir," said Jack. "I will provide
for my prince."
Night now came on, and the prince began to grow uneasy
at thinking where they should lodge.
"Sir," said Jack, "be of good heart; two miles further
there lives a large giant, whom I know well. He has
three heads, and will fight five hundred men, and make
them fly before him."
"Alas!" replied the king's son, "we had better never
have been born than to meet with such a monster."
 "My lord, leave me to manage him, and wait here in
quiet till I return."
The prince now staid behind, while Jack rode on at full
speed; and when he came to the gates of the castle, he
gave a loud knock.
The giant, with a voice like thunder, roared out: "Who
And Jack made answer and said: "No one but your poor
"Well," said the giant, "what news, nephew Jack?"
"Dear uncle," said Jack, "I have heavy news."
"Pooh!" said the giant; "what heavy news can come to
me? I am a giant with three heads; and can fight five
hundred men, and make them fly before me."
"Alas!" said Jack, "here is the king's son, coming with
two thousand men to kill you and to destroy the castle
and all that you have."
"Oh, Jack," said the giant, "this is heavy news,
indeed! But I have a large cellar under ground, where
I will hide myself, and you shall lock, bolt, and bar
me in, and keep the keys till the king's son is gone."
Now when Jack had made the giant fast in the vault, he
went back and fetched the prince to the castle. They
both made themselves merry with wine and other dainties
that were in the house. So that night they rested very
pleasantly, while the giant lay trembling and shaking
with fear under in the cellar under the ground. Early
in the morning Jack gave the king's son gold and silver
out of the giant's treasure, and set him three miles
forward on his journey. Then Jack went to let his
uncle out of the hole, who asked Jack what he should
give him as a reward for saving his castle.
"Why, good uncle," said Jack, "I desire nothing but the
old coat and cap, with the old rusty sword and
slippers, which are hanging at your bed's head."
 Then said the giant: "You shall have them; and pray
keep them for my sake, for they are things of great
use: the coat will keep you invisible, the cap will
give you knowledge, the sword will cut through
anything, and the shoes are of vast swiftness. These
may be useful to you in all times of danger; so take
them with all my heart."
Jack gave many thanks to the giant, and then set off to
the prince. When he had come up with the king's son,
they soon arrived at the dwelling of the beautiful
lady, who was under the power of a wicked magician.
She received the prince very politely, and made a noble
feast for him; and when it was ended, she rose and,
wiping her mouth with a fine handkerchief, said: "Mu
lord, you must submit to the custom of my palace;
tomorrow morning I command you to tell me on whom I
bestow this handkerchief, or lose your head."
She then went out of the room. The young prince went
to bed very mournful; but Jack put on his Cap of
Knowledge, which told him that the lady was forced by
the power of enchantment to meet the wicked magician
every night in the middle of the forest. Jack now put
on his Coat of Darkness, and his Shoes of Swiftness,
and was there before her. When the lady came, she gave
the handkerchief to the magician. Jack with his Sword
of Sharpness, at one blow, cut off his head; the
enchantment was then ended that moment, and the lady
was restored to her former virtue and goodness.
She was married to the prince on the next day, and soon
after went back with her royal husband and a great
company to the court of King Arthur, where they were
received with loud and joyful welcomes; and the valiant
hero Jack, for the many great exploits he had done for
the good of his country, was made one of the Knights of
the Round Table. As Jack had been so lucky in all his
adventures, he resolved not to be idle for the future,
but still to do what services he could for the honor of
 and the nation. He therefore humbly begged his Majesty
to furnish him with a horse and money, that he might
travel in search of new and strange exploits.
"For," said he to the king, "there are many giants yet
living in the remote parts of Wales, to the great
terror and distress of your Majesty's subjects;
therefore if it pleases you, sire, to favor me in my
design, I will soon rid your kingdom of these giants
and monsters in human shape."
Now when the king heard this offer, and began to think
of the cruel deeds of these blood-thirsty giants and
savage monsters, he gave Jack everything proper for
such a journey. After this Jack took leave of the
prince, and all the knights, and set off, taking with
him his Cap of Knowledge, his Sword of Sharpness, his
Shoes of Swiftness, and his Invisible Coat, the better
to perform the great exploits that might fall in his
He went along over high hills and lofty mountains, and
on the third day he came to a large wide forest, when
on a sudden he heard very dreadful shrieks and cries.
He forced his way through the trees, and saw a
monstrous giant dragging along by the hair a handsome
knight and his beautiful lady. Their tears and cries
melted the heart of honest Jack to pity and compassion;
he alighted from his horse, and tying him to an oak
tree, put on his Invisible Coat, under which he carried
his Sword of Sharpness.
When he came up to the giant, he made several strokes
at him, but could not reach his body, on account of the
enormous height of the terrible creature; but he
wounded his thighs in several places; and at length, he
cut off both the giant's legs just below the garter;
and the trunk of his body tumbling to the ground, made
not only the trees shake, but the earth itself tremble
with the force of his fall.
 Then Jack, putting his foot upon his neck, exclaimed:
"Thou barbarous and savage wretch, behold I come to
execute upon thee the just reward for all thy crimes";
and instantly killed him, whilst the noble knight and
virtuous lady were both joyful spectators of his sudden
death and their deliverance. The courteous knight and
his fair lady not only returned Jack hearty thanks for
their deliverance, but also invited him to their house,
to refresh himself after his dreadful encounter, and
also to receive a reward for his good services.
"No," said Jack, "I cannot be at ease till I find out
the den that was that monster's inhabitation."
The knight on hearing this grew very sorrowful, and
replied: "Noble stranger, it its too much to run a
second hazard. This monster lived in a den under
yonder mountain, with a brother of his, more fierce and
cruel than himself. Therefore, if you should go
thither, and perish in the attempt, it would be a
heartbreaking thing to me and my lady; so let me
persuade you to go with us, and desist from any further
"Nay," answered Jack, "if there be another, even if
there were twenty, I would shed the last drop of blood
in by body before one of them should escape my fury.
When I have finished this task, I will come and pay my
respects to you." So when they told him where to find
them again, he got on his horse and went after the dead
Jack had not gone a mile and a half before he came in
sight of the mouth of the cavern; and nigh the entrance
of it he saw waiting for his brother the other giant,
sitting on a huge block of fine timber, with a knotted
iron club lying by his side. His eyes looked like
flames of fire, his face was grim and ugly, and his
cheeks seemed like to flitches of bacon; the bristles
of his beard seemed to be thick rods of iron wire, and
his long locks of hair hung down upon his broad
shoulders like curling snakes. Jack got down from his
horse, and turned him into a thicket;
 then he put on his Coat of Darkness, and drew a little
nearer to behold this figure, and said softly: "O
monster! are you there? It will not be long before I
shall take you fast by the beard."
The giant all this while could not see him, by reason
of his Invisible Coat, so Jack came quite close to him
and struck a blow at his head with his Sword of
Sharpness; but he missed his aim, and only cut off his
nose, which made the giant roar like loud claps of
thunder. And though he rolled his glaring eyes round
on every side, he could not see who had given him the
blow; yet he took up his iron club, and began to lay
about him like one that was mad with pain and fury.
"Nay," 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, together with an account of all his exploits,
with the head of his brother, whom he had killed in the
forest, to King Arthur, by a wagon which he hired for
that purpose. 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 cauldron, 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 you being here at
"Alas!" said one poor old man, "I will tell you, sir.
We are persons who have been taken by the giants who
hold this cave, and are kept till they choose to keep 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 that 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 great
heads to the court of King Arthur as marks of my
To show them what he said was true, he unlocked the
gate, and set them all free. Then h e 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
divided the store among the captives, who thanked him
for their escape. The next morning they set off to
their homes, and Jack went to the house of the knight
and his lady, who, in honor of Jack's exploits, gave a
grand feast, to which all the nobles and gentry were
When the company was assembled, the knight declared to
them the great deeds 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 stress were we,
Under a giant's free 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
 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 brought to
them. After this the bowl went round and every one
drank to the health and long life of the gallant hero.
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 favor 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 the Sword of
Sharpness. As he came close to him, though the giant
could not see him for his invisible cloak, yet he found
some danger was near, which made him cry out:
"Fa, fe, fi, fo, fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman;
Let him be alive, or let him be dead,
I'll grind his bones to make me bread."
"Say you so, my friend?" said Jack, "you are a
monstrous miller indeed."
 "Art thou," cried the giant, "the villain that killed
my kinsmen? Then I will tear thee with my teeth and
grind thy bones to powder!"
"You must catch me first," said Jack; and throwing off
his Coat of Darkness, and putting on his Shoes of
Swiftness he began to run, the giant following him like
a walking castle, making the earth shake at every step.
Jack led him round and round the walls of the house,
that the company might see the monster; and to finish
the work Jack ran over the drawbridge, the giant going
after him with his club. But when the giant came to
the middle where the bridge had been cut on both sides,
the great weight of his body made it break, and he
tumbled into the water and rolled about like a large
whale. Jack now stood by the side of the moat, and
laughed and jeered at him, saying, "I think you told me
you would grind my bones to powder; when will you
The giant foamed at both his horrid mouths with fury,
and plunged from side to side of the moat; but he could
not get out to have revenge on his little foe. At last
Jack ordered a cart rope to be brought to him. He then
drew it over his two heads, and by the help of a team
of horses dragged him to the edge of the moat, where he
cut off the monster's heads; and before he either ate
or drank he sent them both to the court of King Arthur.
He then went back to the table with the company, and
the rest of the day was spent in mirth and good cheer.
After staying with the knight for some time, Jack grew
weary of such an idle life, and set out again in search
of new adventures. He went over hills and dales
without meeting any, till he came to the foot of a very
high mountain. Here he knocked at the door of a small
and lonely house, and an old man, with a head as white
as snow, let him in.
"Good father," said Jack, "can you lodge a traveler who
has lost his way?"
 "Yes," said the hermit, "I can, if you will accept such
fare as my poor house affords."
Jack entered, and the old man set before him some bread
and fruit for his supper.
When Jack had eaten as much as he chose, the hermit
said: "My son, I know you are the famous conqueror of
giants; now on the top of this mountain is an enchanted
castle, kept by a giant named Galligantus, who, by the
help of a vile magician, gets many knights into his
castle, where he changes them into the shape of beasts.
"Above all, I lament the hard fate of a duke's
daughter, whom they seized as she was walking in her
father's garden, and brought thither through the air in
a chariot drawn by two fiery dragons, and turned her
into the shape of a deer.
"Many knights have tried to destroy the enchantment and
deliver her; yet none have been able to do it, by
reason of two fiery griffins who guard the gate of the
castle, and destroy all who come nigh. But as you, my
son, have an Invisible Coat, you may pass by them
without being seen; and on the gates of the castle you
will find engraved some words which tell by what means
the enchantment may be broken."
Jack promised that in the morning, at 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
the two fiery griffins; but he passed between them
without the least dear 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 to fly
open, and the very castle itself to tremble. The giant
and the conjuror now knew that their wicked course was
at an end, and they stood biting their thumbs and
shaking with fear.
Jack, with his Sword of Sharpness, soon killed the
giant, and the magician was then carried away by a
whirlwind; and all the knights and beautiful ladies 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 spread through the whole country; and
at the king's desire the duke gave him his daughter in
marriage, to the joy of all the 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 content.