|The Book of Fables and Folk Stories|
|by Horace Elisha Scudder|
|A choice collection of old folk tales and fables, attractively arranged and illustrated. Between each of the longer tales appear several short fables, offering a varied reading experience for the young reader for whom it is intended. Ages 6-9 |
JACK AND THE BEAN-STALK
THE BEANS ARE PLANTED
IN the days of King Alfred a poor woman lived in a
country village in England. She had an only son, Jack,
who was a good-natured, idle boy. She was too easy
with him. She never set him at work, and soon there
was nothing left them but their cow. Then the mother
 weep and to think that she had brought up her
boy very ill.
"Cruel boy!" she said. "You have at last made me a
beggar. I have not money enough to buy a bit of bread.
We cannot starve. We must sell the cow, and then what
shall we do?"
At first Jack felt very badly and wished he had done
better. But soon he began to think what fun it would
be to sell the cow. He begged his mother to let him go
with the cow to the nearest village. She was not very
willing. She did not believe Jack knew enough to sell
a cow, but at last she gave him leave.
Off went Jack with the cow. He had not gone far when
he met a Butcher.
"Where are you going with your cow?" asked the Butcher.
"I am going to sell it," said Jack. The Butcher held
his hat in his hand and shook it. Jack looked into the
hat and saw some odd looking beans. The Butcher saw
him eye them. He knew how silly Jack was, so he said
"Well, if you wish to sell your cow, sell her to me. I
will give you all these beans for her."
Jack thought this a fine bargain. He gave the Butcher
the cow and took the beans. He
 ran all the way home
and could hardly wait to reach the house. He called
out to his mother to see what he had got for the cow.
When the poor woman saw only a few beans, she burst
into tears. She was so vexed that she threw the beans
out of the window. She did not even cook them for
supper. They had nothing else to eat, and they went to
Jack awoke early the next morning and thought it very
dark. He went to the window and could hardly see out
of it, for it was covered with something green. He ran
downstairs and into the garden. There he saw a strange
The beans had taken root and shot up toward the clouds.
The stalks were as thick as trees, and were wound about
each other. It was like a green ladder, and Jack at
once wished to climb to the top.
He ran in to tell his mother, but she begged him not to
climb the bean-stalk. She did not know what would
happen. She was afraid to have him go. Who ever saw
such bean-stalks before?
But Jack had set his heart on climbing, and he told his
mother not to be afraid. He would soon see what it all
meant. So up he climbed. He climbed for hours. He
went higher and
 higher, and at last, quite tired out,
he reached the top.
JACK CAPTURES A HEN
THEN he looked about him. It was all new. He had
never seen such a place before. There was not a tree
or plant; there was no house or shed. Some stones lay
here and there, and there were little piles of earth.
He could not see a living person.
Jack sat down on one of the stones. He wished he were
at home again. He thought of his mother. He was
hungry, and he did not know where to get anything to
eat. He walked and walked, and hoped he might see a
He saw no house, but at last he saw a lady walking
alone. He ran toward her, and when he came near, he
pulled off his cap and made a bow. She was a beautiful
lady, and she carried in her hand a stick. A peacock
of fine gold sat on top of the stick.
The lady smiled and asked Jack how he came there. He
told her all about the bean-stalk. Then she said:—
"Do you remember your father?"
 "No," said Jack. "I do not know what became of him.
When I speak of him to my mother, she cries, but she
tells me nothing."
"She dare not," said the lady, "but I will tell you. I
am a fairy. I was set to take care of your father, but
one day I was careless. So I lost my power for a few
years, and just when your father needed me most I could
not help him, and he died."
Jack saw that she was very sorry as she told this
story, but he begged her to go on.
"I will," she said, "and you may now help your mother.
But you must do just as I tell you."
"Your father was a good, kind man. He had a good wife,
he had money, and he had friends. But he had one false
friend. This was a Giant. Your father had once helped
this Giant, but the Giant was cruel. He killed your
father and took all his money. And he told your mother
she must never tell you about your father. If she did,
then the Giant would kill her and kill you too.
"You were a little child then, and your mother carried
you away in her arms. I could not help her at the
time, but my power came back to me yesterday. So I
made you go off
 with the cow, and I made you take the
beans, and I made you climb the bean-stalk.
"This is the land where the Giant lives. You must find
him and rid the world of him. All that he has is
yours, for he took it from your father. Now go. You
must keep on this road till you see a great house. The
Giant lives there. I cannot tell you what you must do
next, but I will help you when the time comes. But you
must not tell your mother anything."
The fairy disappeared and Jack set out. He walked all
day, and when the sun set, he came to the Giant's
house. He went up to it and saw a plain woman by the
door. This was the Giant's wife. Jack spoke to her
and asked her if she would give him something to eat
and a place where he could sleep.
"What!" she said. "Do you not know? My husband is a
Giant. He is away now, but he will be back soon.
Sometimes he walks fifty miles in a day to see if he
can find a man or a boy. He eats people. He will eat
you if he finds you here."
Jack was in great fear, but he would not give up. He
asked the Giant's wife to hide him somewhere in the
house. She was a kind woman, so she led him in. They
went through a great hall,
 and then through some large
rooms. They came to a dark passage, and went through
it. There was a little light, and Jack could see bars
of iron at the side. Behind the bars were wretched
people. They were the prisoners of the Giant.
Poor Jack thought of his mother and wished himself at
home again. He began to think the Giant's wife was as
bad as the Giant, and had brought him in to shut him up
here. Then he thought of his father and marched boldly
They came to a room where a table was set. Jack sat
down and began to eat. He was very hungry and soon
forgot his fears. But while he was eating, there came
a loud knock at the outside door. It was so loud that
the whole house shook. The Giant's wife turned pale.
"What shall I do?" she cried. "It is the Giant. He
will kill you and kill me too! What shall I do?"
"Hide me in the oven," said Jack. There was no fire
under it, and Jack lay in the oven and looked out. The
Giant came in and scolded his wife, and then he sat
down and ate and drank for a long time. Jack thought
he never would finish. At last the Giant leaned back
in his chair and called out in a loud voice:—
"Bring me my hen!"
 His wife brought a beautiful hen and placed it on the
"Lay!" roared the Giant, and the hen laid an egg of
"Lay another!" And the hen laid another. So it went
on. Each time the hen laid a larger egg than before.
The Giant played with the hen for some time. Then he
sent his wife to bed, but he sat in his chair. Soon he
fell asleep, and then Jack crept out of the oven and
seized the hen. He ran out of the house and down the
road. He kept on till he came to the bean-stalk, and
climbed down to his old home.
THE GIANT'S MONEY-BAGS
JACK'S mother was very glad to see him. She was afraid
that he had come to some ill end.
"Not a bit of it, mother," said he. "Look here!" and
he showed her the hen. "Lay!" he said to the hen, and
the hen laid an egg of gold.
Jack and his mother now had all they needed, for they
had only to tell the hen to lay, and she laid her
golden egg. They sold the egg and had money enough.
But Jack kept thinking of
 his father, and he longed to
make another trial. He had told his mother about the
Giant and his wife, but he had said nothing about the
fairy and his father.
His mother begged Jack not to climb the bean-stalk
again. She said the Giant's wife would be sure to know
him, and he never would come back alive. Jack said
nothing, but he put on some other clothes and stained
his face and hands another color. Then, one morning, he
rose early and climbed the bean-stalk a second time.
He went straight to the Giant's house. The Giant's
wife was again at the door, but she did not know him.
He begged for food and a place to sleep. She told him
about the Giant, and then she said:—
"There was once a boy who came just as you have come.
I let him in, and he stole the Giant's hen and ran
away. Ever since the Giant has been very cruel to me.
No, I cannot let you come in."
But Jack begged so hard that at last, she let him in.
She led him through the house, and he saw just what he
had seen before. She gave him something to eat, and
then she hid him in a closet. The Giant came along in
his heavy boots. He was so big, that the house shook.
He sat by
 the fire for a time. Then he looked about
"Wife, I smell fresh meat."
"Yes," she said. "The crows have been flying about.
They left some raw meat on top of the house. Then she
made haste and got some supper for the Giant. He kept
talking about his hen, and was very cross. So it went
on as before. The Giant ate and drank. Then he called
to his wife:—
"Bring me something. I want to be amused. You let
that rascal steal my hen. Bring me something."
 "What shall I bring?" she asked meekly.
"Bring me my money-bags; they are as heavy as
anything." So she tugged two great bags to the table.
One was full of silver and one was full of gold. The
Giant sent his wife to bed. Then he untied the
strings, emptied his bags, and counted his money. Jack
watched him, and said to himself:—
"That is my father's money."
By and by the Giant was tired. He put the money back
into the bags and tied the strings. Then he went to
sleep. He had a dog to watch his money, but Jack did
not see the dog. So when the Giant was sound asleep,
Jack came out of the closet and laid hold of the bags.
At this the dog barked, and Jack thought his end had
come. But the Giant did not wake, and Jack just then
saw a bit of meat. He gave it to the dog, and while
the dog was eating it, Jack took the two bags and was
IT was two whole days before he could reach the
bean-stalk, for the bags were very
 heavy. Then he
climbed down with them. But when he came to his house
the door was locked. No one was inside, and he knew
not what to do.
After a while he found an old woman who showed him
where his mother was. She was very sick in another
house. The poor thing had been made ill by Jack's
going away. Now that he had come back, she began to
get well, and soon she was in her own house again.
Jack said no more about the Giant and the bean-stalk.
For three years he lived with his mother. They had
money enough, and all seemed well. But Jack could not
forget his father. He sat all day before the
bean-stalk. His mother tried hard to amuse him, and
she tried to find out what he was thinking about. He
did not tell her, for he knew all would then go wrong.
At last he could bear it no longer. He had changed in
looks now, and he changed himself still more. Then,
one bright summer morning, very early in the day, he
climbed the bean-stalk once more. The Giant's wife did
not know him when he came to the door of the house. He
had hard work to make her let him in.
This time he was hidden in the copper boiler.
Giant again came home, and was in a great rage.
"I smell fresh meat!" he cried. His wife could do
nothing with him, and he began to go about the room.
He looked into the oven, and into the closet, and then
he came to the great boiler. Jack felt his heart stop.
He thought now his end had come, surely. But the Giant
did not lift the lid. He sat down by the fire and had
When supper was over, the Giant told his wife to bring
his harp. Jack peeped out of the copper and saw a most
beautiful harp. The Giant placed it on the table, and
Jack never heard such music as the harp played. No
hands touched it. It played all by itself. He thought
he would rather have the harp than the hen or all the
money. By and by the harp played the Giant to sleep.
Then Jack crept out and seized the harp. He was
running off with it, when some one called loudly:—
It was the harp, but Jack would not let it go. The
Giant started up, and saw Jack with the harp running
down the road.
"Stop, you rascal!" he shouted. "You stole
 my hen and
my money-bags. Do you steal my harp? I'll catch you,
and I'll break every bone in your body!"
"Catch me if you can!" said Jack. He knew he could run
faster than the Giant. Off they went,
 Jack and the
harp, and the Giant after them. Jack came to the
bean-stalk. The harp was all the while playing music,
but now Jack said:—
"Stop!" and the harp stopped playing. He hurried down
the bean-stalk with the harp. There sat his mother, by
the cottage, weeping.
"Do not cry, mother," he said. "Quick, bring me a
hatchet! Make haste!" He knew there was not a minute
to spare. The Giant was already coming down. He was
half-way down when Jack took his hatchet and cut the
bean-stalk down, close to its roots. Over fell the
bean-stalk, and down came the Giant upon the ground.
He was killed on the spot.
In a moment the fairy was seen. She told Jack's mother
everything, and how brave he had been. And that was
the end. The bean-stalk never grew again.
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