HANS AND THE FOUR BIG GIANTS
 Once upon a time there
lived a little boy whose name was Hans. His home was
in a village where the tall trees shaded the green grass
that grew around the houses. Hans loved his home very much.
He loved to hear the birds sing and to watch them fly high in
the air, and he often threw crumbs upon the ground for them
to eat. He loved the bright red and blue and yellow flowers
which grew in the garden behind the house. He delighted
in the sweet odors which came all unseen from their very
hearts. So he gladly watered them
when they looked thirsty. His mother soon taught him
how to place strong straight sticks beside the weak vines so
that they, too, could climb up and get the sunlight. Hans
loved the dear old hens and their downy little chickens
that were not afraid to peck the grain out of his hand. In
fact, Hans loved everything and everybody about him, from
the small naked worms which crawled about among the clods of
earth, up to the strange and
 beautiful stars which shone so high above his head.
He was a very happy, little fellow, always busy, always
finding something to do for somebody.
By and by, when he grew to be a tall, strong lad, he used to
go with his father to the forest to chop wood and thus help
earn money which went to buy food and clothes for his mother
and his three younger brothers, for Hans' father was poor
and money was scarce in his family.
After a time, when Hans had grown so tall that you and I
would call him a young man, his father said to him: "Hans,
my boy, it is time now that you started out to hunt some
work for yourself. Your next younger brother can help me
with the wood chopping and the smaller ones can help the
mother in the work about the house. You must go out into
the world and learn how to take care of yourself, and
perhaps some day you may have to take care of your mother
and me when we grow too old to work."
So Hans' mother packed his clothes in a little bundle, and,
as she kissed him good-bye, she said: "Hans, my precious
son, always be brave and true, and the good God will take
 care of you." Hans then bade farewell to his father and his
younger brothers and started on his journey.
He walked a long way until by and by he came to a great
city, where the houses looked dingy with smoke and the
rattle of the carts and wagons made an incessant roar. After
a time he found some work in the shop of a blacksmith, and
although the work was grimy and rather hard to do Hans used
to like to see the sparks fly from the red hot iron every
time he struck a blow with his heavy hammer. He was very
proud when at last he could shape the hard iron into a fine
horseshoe almost as well as the smith himself. Hans did not
know it, but this very work was making his arms grow big and
strong and his chest broad and full.
Every day Hans used to see a beautiful princess drive past
the blacksmith's shop. She was the most beautiful princess
in the world, and although her blue eyes and golden hair
were admired by everyone, she was chiefly beloved because of
her sweet smile. Hans used often to say to himself: "How I
wish I could serve this lovely young princess." At last one
day he went to the palace gate and asked the gatekeeper if
there was not some work in the palace which he could do.
 "What can you do?" asked the gatekeeper.
"I am willing to do any kind of work which the king may
need to have done," answered Hans.
Then the gatekeeper passed him on to the keeper of the
"What can you do?" again asked the keeper of
the king's palace.
"I am willing to do any kind of work which the king may
need to have done," replied Hans.
So the keeper of the palace told the king that there was a
strong, tall young man without who wanted to serve him.
"Bring him to me," said the king. When Hans came into
the presence of the mighty king the monarch looked at him
very hard for a few moments and then said: "What can you
do, young man?" And again Hans replied: "I am willing to
do anything that you may need to have done. I would like to
serve the beautiful princess."
"You would, would you?" cried the king. "Now I will test
you. In the bottom of the North Sea there lies a string
of enchanted pearls. If you will get those pearls and
bring them to me you shall serve my daughter, the
 princess, and in time I may make you governor over one of my
provinces; who knows?" And the king laughed to himself.
Hans was wild with delight and, turning, hastened out of the
palace. The very next day he started on his journey to the
North Sea. He walked and walked a long way until he was very
tired. At length, just ahead of him, he saw a big giant
rushing along in the strangest fashion.
said Hans, as he caught up with the giant.
"What a very large giant you are!"
"Yes," replied the giant, looking down at Hans, "I have
need to be both large and strong. Where are you going,
"I am going," answered Hans, "to the North Sea to try to
get a string of enchanted pearls which lies at the bottom of
"Ah!" said the tall giant, "it will take you a long time
to get there. Now if you could walk as fast as I can, it
would be an easy matter."
"How fast can you walk?" asked Hans.
"I can walk faster than a greyhound can run," said the
giant, "and when I run, the swift river cannot keep pace
"Can you, indeed?" exclaimed Hans.
 "What a fine fellow you are! I wish you
would come along with me. After I find the string of
pearls I want to get back to the king's palace as soon as
possible, for I am to serve the beautiful princess."
"If that's the case," said the giant, "I think I will go
along with you."
The two walked along, chatting together, until they saw what
Hans thought must be a huge round stone lying in the road.
When, however, they came up to it, he saw that it was
another big giant lying asleep by the road side. The hot sun
was pouring down upon his face. "Stay here," said Hans,
"until I can cut a branch from some tree to shade that poor
fellow's face. The sun is so hot it will soon blister him."
At these words the tall giant laughed aloud. "Ho, ho!" he
cried, "don't you know who that is? He is a neighbor of
mine. He has such strong eyes that he can see a fly on a
leaf of a tree a mile away."
The loud laugh of the tall giant awoke the sleeping giant,
and he opened his great eyes and stared at Hans. "What are
you doing, young man?" growled he.
"Oh, nothing," said Hans. "I was merely sticking
these branches into the ground so
that they might keep the sun out of your eyes."
"Bah!" cried the great giant, sitting up, "did you not
know that my eyes were so strong that I could look the
noonday sun straight in the face?"
"Indeed! Indeed!" said Hans. "What
a wonderful giant you must be. I wish you
would come with me. I may need your strong eyes, for I
am on my way to the North Sea to search for an enchanted
necklace of pearls which lies at the bottom of the sea."
"Oh ho!" said the giant, "if that's the case I
think I will go with you."
So Hans and the two big giants walked on together. They had
not gone more than three or four miles when Hans spied
another great giant sitting under a tall tree. As they came
up to him the wind blew his hat off his head. "I will
fetch it for you," cried Hans, as he ran forward after the
hat; but before he could get to the spot where the hat lay,
the big giant reached out his long arm and himself picked up
his hat and put it again on his head. At this all three of
the huge giants laughed.
"Didn't you know that he was the giant who could reach 500
yards?" asked the long-legged giant.
 "No," exclaimed Hans, clapping his hands with delight.
"You are just the giant I need. When I get to the North Sea
you can reach down to the bottom of it and pick up the
enchanted necklace of pearls. Will you not come and help
The new giant thought for a minute or two and then said:
"Oh, yes; I will go along if I can be of any use to you."
So Hans and the three big giants started gayly forward on
their journey to the North Sea. They had not gone far before
Hans saw in the distance another giant quietly leaning up
against a very large rock. He seemed so deep in thought
that he did not see Hans and his fellow travelers until
they came near to where he stood. Hans noticed that
both of this giant's ears were stopped with cotton.
the earache?" asked Hans. "Perhaps I can do something
to ease your pain."
"Oh, no," said the giant, "I merely stuffed cotton into my
ears to shut off some of the sounds about me. I can hear so
well that I can tell what men are saying a hundred miles
away from me."
"What a valuable giant you must be!" exclaimed Hans.
"Will you not come with me? When I get the enchanted
 pearls you can tell me whether it will be safe to take it
back to the king's palace."
The giant being very good-natured, said: "You think you
will need me, do you? Well, I'll go along."
So Hans and the four big giants walked until they came to
the North Sea. Then they got into a boat and rowed out to
the deep water. The giant
who could see so far soon found
the place where the necklace lay on the sand at the bottom
of the sea. Then the giant whose arms were so long
reached down and picked up the necklace and laid it in the
boat. Hans and the giants now rowed back to the shore.
As soon as they had landed, the giant who could hear so well
took the cotton out of his right ear and listened to what
was being said at the king's palace. He heard the people in
the palace talking of a grand festival which was to take
place the next night in honor of the birthday of the
beautiful princess. He then told Hans of what he had heard,
and the giant who could run so fast stooped down and let
Hans climb up and seat himself on his great shoulders and
away the two sped, faster than a bird could fly. They
reached the palace in time for Hans to give the enchanted
 necklace of pearls to the king, just as he was about to seat
his beautiful daughter upon a throne beside his own.
The king was so pleased to get the necklace that he at once
gave Hans the office of serving the beautiful princess. Hans
served her so faithfully that she learned to love him
dearly, and in time they were married. When the old king
died Hans was made king and the beautiful princess was a
queen. Hans, you may be sure, took good care of his old
father and mother and both he and his queen did everything
they could to make all the people in their kingdom
industrious and happy.
Hans persuaded his four friends, the giants, to come and
live in his kingdom, and through them it became the richest
and most prosperous country on the face of the earth, so
that travelers came from all over the world to visit it.