|The Blue Fairy Book|
|by Andrew Lang|
|A favorite collection of the best-known fairy tales, drawn from the folklore of many nations. It is the first and one of the best volumes in the series of colored fairy books produced by Andrew Lang at the turn of the twentieth century. Like the other volumes in the series, it includes engaging black and white illustrations that enliven the text. Inside you will find such favorites as Cinderella, Jack the Giant Killer, the Princess on the Glass Hill, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, and dozens of others. Ages 8-12 |
THE HISTORY OF JACK THE GIANT-KILLER
N the reign of the famous King Arthur there lived
in Cornwall a lad named Jack, who was a boy of a bold
temper, and took delight in hearing or reading of conjurers,
giants, and fairies; and used to listen eagerly to
the deeds of the knights of King Arthur's Round Table.
In those days there lived on St. Michael's Mount, off
Cornwall, a huge giant, eighteen feet high and nine feet
round; his fierce and savage looks were the terror of all
who beheld him.
He dwelt in a gloomy cavern on the top of the
mountain, and used to wade over to the mainland in search
of prey; when he would throw half-a-dozen oxen upon
his back, and tie three times as many sheep and hogs
round his waist, and march back to his own abode.
The giant had done this for many years when Jack
resolved to destroy him.
Jack took a horn, a shovel, a pickaxe, his armour, and
a dark lantern, and one winter's evening he went to the
mount. There he dug a pit twenty-two feet deep and
twenty broad. He covered the top over so as to make
it look like solid ground. He then blew
such a tantivy that the giant awoke and came out of his den
crying out: "You saucy villain! you shall pay for this.
I'll broil you for my breakfast!"
He had just finished, when, taking one step further,
he tumbled headlong into the pit, and Jack struck him
a blow on the head with his pickaxe which killed him.
Jack then returned home to cheer his friends with the
Another giant, called Blunderbore, vowed to be
revenged on Jack if ever he should have him in his power.
This giant kept an enchanted castle in the midst of a
lonely wood; and some time after the death of Cormoran
Jack was passing through a wood, and being
weary sat down and went to sleep.
The giant, passing by and seeing Jack, carried him
to his castle,
 where he locked him up in a large room,
the floor of which was covered with the bodies, skulls
and bones of men and women.
Soon after the giant went to fetch his brother who
was likewise a giant, to take a meal off his flesh; and Jack
saw with terror through the bars of his prison the two
Jack, perceiving in one corner of the room a strong
cord, took courage, and making a slip-knot at each end,
he threw them over their heads, and tied it to the window-bars;
he then pulled till he had choked them. When they
were black in the face he slid down the rope and stabbed
them to the heart.
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 one
of them found three ladies tied up by the hair of their
heads, and almost starved to death. They told him
that their husbands had been killed by the giants, who
had then condemned them to be starved to death
because they would not eat the flesh of their own dead
 "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 some amends for
the dreadful pains you have felt." He then very politely
gave them the keys of the castle, and went further on
his journey to Wales.
As Jack had but little money, he went on as fast as
possible. At length he came to a handsome house.
Jack knocked at the door, when there came forth a
Welsh giant. Jack said he was a traveller who had lost
his way, on which the giant made him welcome, and let
him into a room where there was a good bed to sleep in.
Jack took off his clothes quickly, but though he was
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 travellers? But I hope to prove as cunning as you
are." Then, getting out of bed, he groped about the
room, and at last found a large thick billet of wood. He
laid it in his own place in the bed, and then hid himself
in a dark corner of the room.
The giant, about midnight, entered the apartment,
and with his bludgeon struck a many blows on the bed,
in the very place where Jack had laid the log; and then
he went back to his own room, thinking he had broken
all Jack's bones.
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 began to stammer out: "Oh! dear me; is it you?
Pray how did you sleep last night? Did you hear or see
anything in the dead of the night?"
"Nothing to speak of," said Jack, carelessly: "a rat, I
believe, gave me three or four slaps with its tail, and
disturbed me a little; but I soon went to sleep again."
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 wanted
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 slip the hasty-pudding into this bag, while
he seemed to put it into his mouth.
 When breakfast was over he said to the giant: "Now
I will show you a fine trick. I can cure all wounds with
a touch: I could cut off my head in one minute, and the
next put it sound again on my shoulders. You shall
see an example." He then took hold of the knife,
ripped up the leathern bag, and all the hasty-pudding
tumbled out upon the floor.
"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.
Jack, having hitherto been successful in all his undertakings,
resolved not to be idle in future; he therefore
furnished himself with a horse, a cap of knowledge, a
sword of sharpness, shoes of swiftness, and an invisible
coat, the better to perform the wonderful enterprises
that lay before him.
He travelled over high hills, and on the third day he
came to a large and spacious forest through which his
road lay. Scarcely had he entered the forest when he
beheld a monstrous giant dragging along by the hair
of their heads a handsome knight and his lady. Jack
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, but wounded his
thighs in several places; and at length putting both
hands to his sword and aiming with all his might, he
cut off both his legs. Then Jack, setting his foot upon
his neck, plunged his sword into the giant's body, when
the monster gave a groan and expired.
The knight and his lady thanked Jack for their
deliverance, and invited him to their house, to receive a
proper reward for his services. "No," said Jack, "I
cannot be easy till I find out this monster's
habitation." So taking the knight's directions, he mounted his horse
and soon after came in sight of another giant, who was
sitting on a block of timber waiting for his brother's
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
"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 travelled 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
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 with 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 then 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
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