Jack The Giant Killer
: Favorite Fairy Tales.
In the reign of King Arthur there lived in the County of Cornwall a
worthy farmer, who had an only son, named Jack. Jack was strong and
brave and very daring, and was never backward when danger was in the
Now, in those days there lived a huge giant in a gloomy cavern on St.
Michael's Mount, which rises out of the sea near the shores of Cornwall.
The Cornish people had suffered greatly from his thefts
for he used to wade through the sea to the mainland, and carry off half
a dozen or more of their oxen at a time.
At last Jack made up his mind to destroy this monster. He took a horn,
a shovel, a pickaxe, and a dark lantern, and one winter's evening swam
over the sea to the Mount. Then he set to work, and before morning had
dug a great pit. He covered it carefully over with sticks and straw,
and strewed some earth on the top to make it look like solid ground.
And then he blew his horn so loudly that the Giant awoke, and came
out roaring like thunder:
"You impudent villain--you shall pay dearly for disturbing my rest. I
will broil you for my breakfast!"
But almost as he spoke, he tumbled headlong into the pit.
"Oh, ho, Mr. Giant!" said Jack. "How is your appetite now! Will nothing
serve you for breakfast but broiling poor Jack?" Then he struck the
giant such a blow on the head with a pickaxe that he killed him.
When the Justices of Cornwall heard of this valiant deed, they sent
for Jack, and declared that he should always be called Jack the Giant
Killer; and they gave him a sword, and a belt upon which was written,
in letters of gold:
"This is the valiant Cornishman
Who slew the giant Cormoran."
There was another giant in England called Blunderbore, who vowed to take
revenge on Jack for this exploit. One day, as Jack was passing through a
wood on a journey to Wales, he fell asleep by the side of a fountain.
The Giant, coming along, found him there; and, seeing by the writing on
the belt who Jack was, he lifted him on his shoulder and carried him off
to his castle.
When Jack awoke and found himself in the clutches of Blunderbore he was
terribly frightened. The giant carried him into a room and locked him
up, while he went to fetch another giant who lived close by to help him
eat Jack for dinner. While he was gone, Jack heard dreadful shrieks and
groans from different parts of the castle, and soon after he heard a
mournful voice saying:
"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 will torture you!"
Poor Jack looked out of the window, which was just over the gate of the
castle, and saw two giants coming along arm in arm.
"Now," thought he, "death or freedom is at hand." There happened to
be two strong cords in the room, and Jack made a large noose with a
slip-knot in each of them. Then, just as the giants were coming through
the gate he threw the ropes over their heads, and, fastening the other
ends to a beam in the ceiling, he pulled the ropes with all his might
until he had nearly strangled the giants. Then he drew his sword and
slipped down the ropes and killed them both.
Next Jack took the keys from Giant Blunderbore and searched through the
castle. In one of the rooms he found three ladies who told him that
their husbands had been killed by the giant, who had afterwards
condemned them to be starved to death.
Jack gave them the castle and all the riches it contained to make some
amends for the dreadful pains they had suffered, and then went on his
After traveling some days, he lost himself in a lonely valley; but, when
he had wandered about some while, he at length succeeded in finding a
large house. He went up to it and knocked loudly at the gate, when, to
his great horror, a monstrous giant with two heads came forth. He spoke
very civilly, however, and took Jack into the house, leading him to a
room where there was a good bed, in which he could pass the night.
Jack took off his clothes; but, though he was very tired, he could not
go to sleep. Presently he heard the giant walking about in the
bedchamber, which was the next room, 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."
When he heard this, Jack got out of bed, and, taking a large, thick
piece of wood, he laid it in his own place in the bed, and hid himself
in a dark corner of the room.
In the middle of the night, the giant came with his great club, and
struck several heavy blows upon the bed. Then he went off, thinking he
had broken all Jack's bones.
Early next morning Jack walked into the giant's room and thanked him
for the night's lodging. The giant was terribly startled to see him,
and stammered out:
"Oh, dear me! Is it you? Pray, how did you sleep last night? Did you
hear or see anything to disturb you?"
"Nothing worth speaking of, thank you," answered Jack, carelessly. "A
rat, I believe, gave me three or four slaps with his tail; but that was
The giant said nothing; but went and fetched two bowls of hasty pudding
for their breakfast.
Jack did not wish the giant to think that he could not eat as much as
himself, so he contrived to fasten a leathern bag inside his coat. He
then managed to slip the pudding into this bag, while pretending to eat
it. When breakfast was done, he said to the giant:
"Now I will show you a fine trick. I can cure all wounds with a touch.
You shall see an example." He then took a knife, ripped up the leathern
bag, and all the hasty pudding tumbled out upon the floor.
"Ods splutter hur nails!" cried the giant, who was ashamed to be outdone
by such a little fellow. "Hur can do that hurself!" and, snatching up
the knife, he plunged it into his stomach and fell down dead.
After this, Jack went farther on his journey. In a few days he met King
Arthur's only son, who was traveling into Wales to deliver a beautiful
lady from the power of a wicked magician. Jack attached himself to the
Prince, and they traveled on together.
The Prince was very generous, and soon gave away all the money he
After having parted with his last penny to an old beggar-woman, he was
very uneasy as to where they were to pass the night.
"Sir," said Jack, "two miles farther on there lives a giant with three
heads, who can fight five hundred men at once and make them fly. I will
go on and visit him--do you wait here until I return."
Jack rode on to the gates of the castle, and gave a loud knock. The
giant, with a voice like thunder, roared out:
"Who is there?"
"No one but your poor Cousin Jack."
"Well, what news, Cousin Jack?"
"Dear Uncle, I have bad news for you. Here is the King's son coming
with two thousand men to kill you!"
"Cousin Jack, this is bad news indeed! But I have a large cellar
underground, where I shall hide myself, and you shall lock, bolt
and bar me in until the King's son is gone."
So Jack locked, bolted and barred the giant in the cellar, and then
went back and fetched the Prince, and they feasted and made merry,
and spent the night very comfortably in the castle.
In the morning Jack gave the Prince gold and silver from the giant's
treasury. Then the Prince set forth on his journey, while Jack let
the giant out of the cellar.
The giant thanked Jack very much for saving him, and asked what he
should give him as a reward?
"Why, good Uncle," said Jack, "I desire nothing but the coat and cap,
with the rusty sword and the slippers which are hanging beside the
"Take them," said the giant, "and keep them for my sake. They will be
very useful to you. The coat will make you invisible; the cap will give
you knowledge; the sword will cut through anything, no matter what it
may be, and the shoes are of vast swiftness."
Jack took the gifts, thanked the giant, and then quickly caught up with
After a few day's further journey they reached the dwelling of the
beautiful lady whom the Prince had come to rescue.
She received the Prince very graciously and made a feast for him. When
it was ended she rose, and, taking her handkerchief, said:
"My lord; to-morrow morning I command you to tell me on whom I have
bestowed this handkerchief--or else lose your head."
The Prince went to bed very mournfully; but Jack put on the 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 forest.
He, therefore, 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 cut off his head with
one blow; and the enchantment was ended in a minute.
The next day the lady was married to the Prince, and soon after went
with her husband to the Court of King Arthur, where Jack was made one
of the Knights of the Round Table for his heroism.
Very soon Jack set off in search of new adventures. On the third day of
his travel he came to a wide forest. Hardly had he entered it when he
heard dreadful shrieks and cries, and soon he saw a monstrous giant
dragging along by the hair of their heads a handsome knight and a
beautiful lady. Their tears and cries melted Jack's heart. He alighted
from his horse, and put on his invisible coat, and immediately attacked
the giant. He could not reach up to the giant's body; so, taking a
mighty blow, he cut off both the monster's legs just below the garter,
so that he fell full length upon the ground. Then Jack set his foot upon
his neck and plunged his sword into the giant's body.
The knight and the lady, overjoyed, begged Jack to come to their house
to refresh himself after this fight; but Jack, hearing that the giant
had a brother who was more cruel and wicked even than himself, would
not rest until he had also destroyed him.
Soon he came in sight of the cavern where the giants lived. There was
the other giant sitting on a huge block of timber, with a knotted iron
club lying by his side. Jack, in his coat of darkness, was quite
invisible. He drew close up to the giant and struck a blow at his head
with his sword of sharpness; but he missed his aim and only cut off his
nose. The giant roared with pain, and his roars were like claps of
thunder. He took up his iron club and began to lay about him, but not
being able to see Jack, he could not hit him; for Jack slipped nimbly
behind, and jumping upon the block of wood, stabbed the giant in the
back; and after a few howls, the monster dropped down dead.
Having thus killed the two monsters Jack entered the cave to search for
the treasure. One room contained a great boiling cauldron and a dining
table, where the giants feasted. Another part of the cave was barred
with iron and was full of miserable men and women whom the giants had
imprisoned. Jack set them all free and divided the treasure among them.
Jack cut off the giant's head, and sent it with the head of his brother
to the Court of King Arthur; then he returned to the house of the knight
and his lady.
He was received with the greatest joy; and the knight gave a grand feast
in his honor. When all the company was gathered together, the knight
presented Jack with a ring, on which was engraved the picture of the
giant dragging the knight and the lady by the hair, with this motto
"Behold, in dire distress were we,
Under a giant's fierce command,
But gained our lives and liberty
From valiant Jack's victorious hand."
But while the merriment was at its height, a herald rushed into the room
and told the company 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. The guests trembled with terror and fright; but Jack only drew
his sword and said, "Let him come!"
The knight's house was surrounded by a moat over which there was a
drawbridge. Jack set men to work to cut the bridge on both sides, nearly
to the middle, and then, dressed in his magic coat, went out to meet the
giant. As the giant came along, although he could not see Jack, yet he
could tell that someone was near for he cried out:
"Fa, fe, fi, fo, fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."
"Say you so, my friend," cried Jack. "You are indeed a monstrous
"Ah!" cried the giant; "you are the villain that killed my kinsmen! I
will tear you with my teeth, and grind your bones to powder!"
"You must catch me first!" said Jack. Then he threw off his coat and put
on his shoes of swiftness, and began to run, the giant following him
like a walking castle. Jack led him round and round the house, and then
he ran over the drawbridge, while the giant rushed after him with his
club. But when he came to the middle of the bridge, where it had been
cut on both sides, his great weight broke it, and he tumbled into the
Jack now got a cart rope and flung it over his two heads, and then, by
the help of a team of horses, drew him to the edge of the moat, where
he cut off his heads.
Once again, Jack set out in search of new adventures. He went over
fields and dales without meeting with any, until he came to the foot of
a high mountain. Here was a little, lonely house; and when he knocked at
the door it was opened by an old man with a beard as white as snow. This
old man was a good hermit, and when Jack had eaten well, he said:
"My son, I know that you are the famous conqueror of giants. I know, at
the top of this mountain there is an enchanted castle, kept by a giant
named Galligantes, who, by the help of a magician, gets many knights
into his power--whom he changes into beasts. Above all, I lament the
hard fate of a duke's daughter, whom they have changed into a deer. Many
knights have tried to destroy the enchantment, yet none have been able
to do so, because of two fiery griffins who guard the gates of the
castle. But as you, my son, have an invisible coat, you may pass them by
without being seen. On the gates of the castle you will find engraved
the means by which the enchantment may be broken."
Jack promised that in the morning he would risk his life in an endeavor
to break the enchantment; and, after a sound sleep, he arose early and
set out on his attempt.
He passed by the fiery griffins 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 hanging, under which were
written these words--
"Whoever can this trumpet blow,
Shall cause the giant's overthrow."
Jack seized the golden trumpet and blew a mighty blast, which made the
gates fly open and shook the castle to its foundations. The giant and
the magician, knowing that their end was now near, stood biting their
thumbs and shaking with terror. Jack, with his magic sword, soon killed
the giant, and the magician was carried off by a whirlwind. The castle
vanished away like smoke, and the duke's daughter and all the knights
and lovely ladies who had been turned into birds and beasts returned to
their proper shape.
Jack's fame rang through the whole country, and the King gave him a
large estate to reward him for all his brave and knightly deeds. And
Jack married the duke's daughter, and lived in joy and contentment for
the rest of his days.