NCE there was a poor woman who had a son named Jack,
and they lived on the edge of a wood. Times were hard,
and they did not always have enough to eat, and at last
the woman said to her son, "Jack, you must now go out
into the wide world; for if you stay here we shall both
starve. We have only half a loaf of bread left, but you
shall take that with you, and I wish it were larger.
The world lies on the other side of the forest. Find
your way to it and gain your living honestly."
So she bade Jack good-by, and he started. On he went,
farther and farther into the forest, and he walked all
day and saw no farm or dwelling or path. Then he knew
that he was lost, but he kept on as long as daylight
lasted, and when it became dark he lay down and slept.
During the day he had eaten nearly all of his bread,
and the next morning he ate what was left and wandered
on again through the trackless woods until
 evening. Night came, and he was looking for a spot
where he could lie down and sleep when he saw lights
before him. So he went toward the lights and presently
came to a large palace. He knocked at the entrance and
a beautiful young woman opened the door.
"My good lady," said Jack, "I have been lost for two
days in this great forest, and I beg that you will give
me something to eat."
"No, no," said she, "go away as quickly as you can. The
owner of this palace is a giant. He will soon come home
and he will surely eat you."
"Can't you hide me?" asked Jack."Unless I have food and
shelter I shall die."
"I could not hide you so but that he would find you,"
said she."Oh, do go away at once!"
"Perhaps he would not eat me," argued Jack."He has not
"That is because he wants me to take care of his house
and cook his food," said she; "but I do not know how
soon he will change his mind. Please, sir, hurry away,
or it will be too late."
However, Jack insisted that rather than starve in the
forest he would risk death at the hands of the giant.
So finally she yielded and allowed
him to enter,
and when she had given him something to eat hid him in
a cupboard beside the fireplace.
After a while the giant came banging at the door,
shouting, "Featherflight, let me in, let me in!"
She unlocked the door, and as he came tramping into the
room he said, "Where's that man? I began to smell him
ten miles away as I was coming through the woods."
"Don't you think you were mistaken?" asked
But the giant did not reply. He sniffed the air for a
moment and then went to the cupboard beside the
fireplace and pulled Jack out.
"Did you mean him?" said Featherflight."Why, that is
nothing but a poor, thin, little fellow who would
scarcely make you half a mouthful, and his bones would
stick in your throat. Would n't it be better to keep
him and make him work for you? But your supper is ready
now, and you can think about what to do with him
So she set before the giant a vast quantity of meat and
drink, and he ate so much and gobbled it down so fast
that the sight made Jack's hair stand on end as he
stood watching him. When the giant had finished, he
looked at Jack
scorn-  fully and remarked, "Ah, it is
as Featherflight said—you are only half a mouthful:
but there is room for flesh on your bones, and we shall
have to fatten you. Meanwhile, you must earn your
victuals. See here, my young snip, can you do a day's
work in a day?"
 "Yes," answered Jack bravely, "I can do a day's
work in a day as well as another."
So the giant said, "Well, go to bed now. I will tell
you what your work shall be in the morning."
Jack went to bed, and early the next day the giant took
him out to the farmyard and showed him a large barn
from the roof of which a recent storm had blown off the
thatch. "Behind this barn," said the giant, "you will
find a great heap of feathers. Thatch me this barn with
those feathers, and if the job is not done by the time
I come back to-night, I shall eat you at once, without
waiting for you to get any fatter."
Then he left, laughing as he went; for he thought he
had given Jack a job he could not possibly do.
Jack found a ladder and a basket and began work. He
filled the basket and climbed the ladder, and tried
hard to lay and fasten the feathers in place on the
roof, but the wind would catch them and scatter them
far and wide. He kept at his task for hours, and the
heap of feathers was half gone. Yet he had only
succeeded in thatching a narrow strip along one edge of
the roof. Finally, he sat down at the foot of the
discouraged. Pretty soon Lady
Featherflight came with some food for him, and he told
her his troubles.
"Well," said she, "while you are eating I will see what
I can do to help you."
Then she began walking around the barn, singing as she
"Birds of land and birds of sea,
Come and thatch this roof for me."
She was walking around the second time when the sky
grew dark with what seemed like a heavy cloud that hid
the sun. The cloud came nearer and nearer to the earth,
and at length proved to be made of hundreds and
thousands of birds. They came directly to the barn, and
each alighted on the roof with a feather in its beak,
and after tucking the feather neatly in flew away. Thus
by the time Jack's meal was finished the roof was
Then Featherflight said, "Now let us talk and enjoy
ourselves until the giant comes home."
So they walked about the garden and grounds, and Jack
thought those hours were the pleasantest he had ever
known in his life. Toward evening they went into the
house and Jack helped Feather flight prepare the
giant's supper, which consisted
 of fourteen loaves
of bread, two sheep roasted whole, and a pudding you
could not have put in a bushel basket.
By and by the giant came back and pounded at the door
with his fists, shouting, "Let me in, let me in!"
As soon as he entered he called to Jack and asked how
he had got on with his thatching.
"You'll have no fault to find," said Jack."I told you I
could do a day's work in a day as well as another, and
The giant made no response, but sat down and ate his
supper. The next morning he had Jack go out with him
while he looked at the barn roof."I know very well that
was not your doing," he remarked.
Then he went on a little beyond the barn and showed
Jack a vast heap of grain seeds of many different
kinds."Here is your day's work," said he."Separate the
seeds each into its own pile, and if the job isn't done
by the time I come back to-night I shall eat you at
once, without fail."
So saying he left, laughing to himself as he went.
Jack sat down before the heap, took a handful of seeds,
put wheat in one pile, rye in another,
 barley in
another, and oats in another. But though he worked very
industriously, the great heap was scarcely diminished
at all when noon came. Jack was tired out, and he sat
down with his back against the foundation wall of the
barn, feeling very sorrowful. Pretty soon Featherflight
came with some food for him, and he told her how badly
he was getting along with his day's task.
"Well," said she, "while you are eating I will see what
I can do to help you."
Then she began walking around the heap of seeds,
singing as she went,
"Little insects, far and near,
Come and sort the seeds heaped here."
She was walking around the heap the second time when
the ground all about appeared as if it were moving.
From behind each lump of earth, each daisy stem and
blade of grass, there came some little insect, gray,
black, brown, or green, and began to work at the seeds;
and there was such a multitude of insects that by the
time Jack's meal was finished the sorting was done.
For the rest of the day Jack and Lady Featherflight
walked and talked in the garden to their hearts'
content. With the approach of evening they went into
the palace, and Jack helped get
 supper, and then
the giant came thumping at the door, and shouting, "Let
me in, let me in!"
As soon as Featherflight opened the door the giant
called to Jack to know how he had succeeded with his
"You'll have no fault to find," said Jack; "for I spoke
only the truth when I told you I could do a day's work
in a day as well as another."
Then the giant sat down and ate with a great appetite
four fat pigs, three hens and a gander, finishing off
with a monster pudding. After he had disposed of these
things he was so sleepy he could not hold his head up,
and he said to Jack, "Go to bed, youngster; I'll see
your work to-morrow."
In the morning he called Jack early out to the
farmyard, and looked at the seeds."You never did that
sorting alone," said he.
Then he walked on a little farther and showed Jack a
heap of sand and said, "From this sand you must make me
a hundred ropes with which I may tether my herd of
cows, and if the job is not done by the time I am back
to-night I shall eat you immediately."
So saying he turned on his heel and went away laughing.
Jack took some sand into his hands to see if he
could by any means twist it into the form of a rope.
But his efforts were wasted, and he threw the sand away
and went into the palace to tell Featherflight how
things were."I know you would help me if you could,"
said he; "but this task is beyond you, and I feel
myself between the giant's teeth already."
"Don't be so disheartened," she responded.
"Sit down and we will plan what to do."
They talked and planned all the day until at last they
had to stop to get the giant's supper ready. At length
the giant came slamming at the door, and he was no
sooner in than he wanted to know how Jack had got along
with his rope-making.
"It is as I told you," replied Jack; "I can do a day's
work in a day as well as another, and you are welcome
to see what I have done in the morning."
Then the giant sat down and ate heartily and went off
to bed. But Jack and Lady Featherflight waited in the
kitchen until they heard the giant snoring, and then
Featherflight took the keys of the treasure-room and
they went together and got several bags of gold. After
 hurried out and selected the best horse
in the best stable, and Jack mounted with Featherflight
behind him and off they went.
At three o'clock the next morning the giant woke and
called out, "Jack, get up;" for Jack's room was near
by, and the giant's command would certainly have been
heard had Jack been in his room as the giant supposed.
But there was no response, and the giant turned over
and went to sleep. At four o'clock the giant woke again
and called out, "Jack, get up!"
But he received no reply, and he turned over and went
to sleep. At five o'clock he awoke the third time and
shouted, "JACK, GET UP!"
"What ails the fellow?" he growled when he received no
answer."I'll rouse him out in a way he won't like," and
the giant went stamping along the passage.
Of course Jack's room was empty, and after the giant
had looked in and noticed that the bed had not been
slept in he went downstairs to the kitchen. Everything
was cold and silent there—no fire, no Jack, no
Featherflight."Ah, ha!" he exclaimed, "they've like
enough run away."
Then he hastened out to the farmyard and found the door
of his best stable open and his
 best horse gone.
But the giant was so big and strong that he could
outrun any horse in the world, and he went after Jack
and Feathernight as swift as the wind. They had been
galloping all the night, but now the day was come and
presently Jack heard a sound behind them, and turning
to look he saw the giant striding along to catch
them."Oh, Feathernight," he cried, "all is lost!"
But Feathernight said, "Keep steady. Jack, let the
horse go right on."
Then she took from her pocket a little stick and threw
it back over her left shoulder. Immediately there grew
up behind them a hardwood forest so dense and tangled
the giant could not get through it.
"We are saved," said Jack.
"That's not so certain," responded Featherflight; "but
at any rate we have gained some time."
The giant was obliged to go home to get an ax. However,
he quickly returned and hacked and hewed his way
through the woods and was on the trail again. Presently
Jack heard him coming."Oh, Feathernight," he said,
"there is the giant! He will soon overtake us. We
cannot escape him this time."
 "Keep steady. Jack," she said, "and let the horse
go straight on."
Then she took from her pocket a little vial of water
and threw it back over her right shoulder, and the vial
broke when it fell to the ground, and the water became
a deep lake between them and the giant. Jack was so
elated then that he stopped the horse and waved his hat
toward the giant who was standing on the farther shore.
The giant shook his fist at them and looked this way
and that, in doubt what to do next.
"How can I get over?" the monster bellowed.
"Drink your way through," shouted Jack.
So the giant stooped down and drank and drank and drank
until he burst, and that was the end of him.
As for Jack and Featherflight, they went on now more
leisurely, for they no longer feared pursuit. By and by
they came near to a town and stopped under a
tree."Featherflight," said Jack, "you climb this tree
and hide, and I will go to the town to get a parson to
come and marry us. Another thing I must do is to buy a
suit of fine clothes before I am seen with so beautiful
a lady as yourself."
So Featherflight climbed the tree and hid in the
 thick, leafage. She found a comfortable place to sit
among the branches, and then she observed that directly
below her was a clear spring into which she could look
and see the reflection of her face as in a mirror. This
spring was used by all the housewives of the town, and
every morn and noon and evening they resorted thither
to gossip and fill their pails and pitchers. No water
was so sweet anywhere else. Featherflight had not been
long in the tree when the carpenter's wife came and
bent over the spring. There she saw Featherflight's
lovely face reflected; but she thought it was her own
and she looked with astonishment, exclaiming, "What! I
a carpenter's wife and so handsome; and here I am a
common drudge come to this spring for water. Well, I'll
do no more such work! I'll go away from this poor
little town and seek my fortune."
So she threw down her pitcher, and off she went along
the road that led away from the town.
The next woman who came for water was the butcher's
wife, and as she bent over the clear spring she saw
Featherflight's lovely face; but she thought it was her
own. She gazed with astonishment, exclaiming, "What! I
a butcher's wife
 and so handsome; yet here I am a
common drudge. Well, I'll do no more housework! I'll
leave this poor little town at once and seek my
So she threw down the pail she had in her hand, and off
she went along the road that led away from the town.
In the same manner all the other wives of the town came
and looked in the spring and were surprised at what
they thought was their own beauty and went away to seek
But presently the men of the town began to want their
dinners, and one by one they went out on the streets
each to ask the others if they had by any chance seen
his wife. No, not a wife had been seen since they had
gone for water. Then the men began to fear foul play,
and all together they walked out of the town to the
spring. When they reached it they found many broken
pitchers and overturned pails strewn around, and were
certain then their wives had met with some mysterious
disaster. One of the men happened to glance into the
spring and saw a face reflected. He knew it was not his
own, and he began to look about. In a moment or two he
saw Lady Featherflight among the branches of the tree,
and he called to his comrades, "Here is some
in the tree. I'll wager she knows what has become of
our wives, and has had something to
do with spiriting them away."
"Yes!" cried another."Here is the enchantress. She has
bewitched our wives. Let us kill her!"
They began to drag her out of the tree in spite of all
she could say or do; but just then Jack came galloping
back on his horse with the parson mounted behind; and
in his fine new clothes you would hardly have known him
to be the poor ragged fellow who passed over the road
in the other direction only a short time previous. As
he drew near he saw the crowd and shouted, "What's the
matter? What are you doing with that lady?"
The men replied, "We are going to hang her. She has
bewitched our wives, and murdered them, too, for all we
Then the parson got down off the horse from behind Jack
and told the men to stop and let Lady Featherflight
tell her own story. So they asked her what she had to
say for herself, and when she told them how their wives
had mistaken her face in the spring for theirs and what
the wives had said they were silent for a few moments,
 and then one and all exclaimed, "Well, if that is
what our wives think of themselves we will seek for
them no farther. They can come home when they get
ready;" and the men turned and walked back to the town.
The parson married Jack and Lady Featherflight on the
spot, and then they also went to the town, and there
they saw a splendid mansion they thought they would
like and Jack bought it. In that they lived happily for
many months, but at last Jack began to wish for more of
the giant's treasure and proposed that they should go
back after it."But how could we cross the lake you
made?" said he.
"We might build a bridge," replied Lady Featherflight.
The bridge was built and they went over it with many
wagons and horses, and loaded the wagons at the giant's
palace with great riches. But as the wagons on their
return were crossing the bridge the last one broke the
bridge down, and all the gold and silver and jewels on
that wagon were lost in the lake.
"Alas!" Jack lamented, "now the bridge is gone and we
can get nothing more from the giant's treasure-room."
 But Lady Featherflight said, "Why not mend the
"To be sure!" said Jack, "why not?"
So the bridge was mended
And my story's ended.