Once upon a time, there was a poor widow who had only a son named Jack, and a cow named Daisy-Mae. Quite some time prior, when Jack was but a mere baby in his mother's arms, a mean giant ogre had sent Jack's father to a faraway land, stealing the family's fortune in gold and treasures before doing so. Presently, all they had to live on was the milk Daisy-Mae gave every morning, which they carried to the market and sold. But one morning, Daisy-Mae gave no milk, and they didn’t know what to do.
“What shall we do, what shall we do?” said the widow, wringing her hands. “Fear not, mother,” said Jack, “today I will go to market, and I will sell Daisy-Mae there; then, we shall see what we can do.”
So he took the Daisy-Mae’s halter in his hand, and off he started to market. He hadn’t gone far when he met a funny-looking old man who said to him, “Good morning, Jack.” “Good morning to you,” said Jack, and wondered how the old man knew his name. “Well, Jack, and where are you off to?” said the old man. “I’m going to market to sell our cow.”
“Oh, you look the proper sort of chap to sell cows,” said the old man, “I wonder if you know how many beans make five.” “Two in each hand and one in your mouth,” said Jack, as sharp as a needle. “Right you are,” said the old man, “and here they are, the very beans themselves,” he went on pulling out of his pocket a number of strange-looking beans. “As you are so sharp,” said the old man, “I don’t mind doing a swap with you — these beans for your cow.”
“Good deal for you!” said Jack, “wouldn’t you like that?” “Ah! But you don’t know what these beans are,” said the old man, “if you plant them overnight, by morning they grow right up to the sky.” “Really?” said Jack, “you don’t say so.” “Yes, that is so, and if it doesn’t turn out to be true, you can have your cow back.” “Then you shall have a deal,” said Jack, as he handed over Daisy-Mae’s halter to the old man and pocketed the beans.
And with that Jack started on his way home. “What back so soon, Jack?” said his mother, “I see you haven’t got Daisy-Mae, so you must have sold her. How much did you get?” “You’ll never guess, mother,” said Jack. “No, you don’t say! What a good boy you are Jack! Five pounds, ten, fifteen, no, it can’t be twenty!” said Jack’s mother with increasing excitement.
“I said you’ll never guess — just what would you say to these beans; they’re magical; plant them overnight and…”
“What!” snapped Jack’s mother, “how could you have been such a dolt — such a fool — to have given away my Daisy-Mae for a set of paltry beans?" Grabbing the beans from Jack's hand, she continued, "As for your precious beans — here they go out of the window. And as for you — off to bed! As punishment, not a sip shall you drink, and not a bit shall you swallow this very night.”
So Jack went upstairs to his little room in the attic. Sad and sorry was he, to be sure, as much for his mother’s sake, as for the loss of his supper. It took some time, but at last, he dropped off to sleep.
When he awoke, the room looked quite different. The sun was shining into part of it, and yet all the rest was quite dark and shady. Jack jumped up suddenly, dressed, and went over to the window. And what do you think he saw? Why, the beans his mother had thrown out of the window into the garden had sprung up into a huge beanstalk, which went up and up and up till it reached the sky, so high that Jack couldn’t even see where it ended. It seems the man had spoken the truth after all.
The beanstalk grew up very close to Jack’s window, so all he had to do was to open it and give a jump onto the beanstalk, which seemed to Jack like a big plaited ladder. So Jack climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed till at last, he reached the tippety-top. And when he got there he found a long, broad road going as straight as an arrow. So Jack walked along, and he walked along, and he walked along, and he walked along, and he walked along till at last, he came to a great big tall house, and on the doorstep, there was a great big tall woman.
“Good morning, mum,” said Jack, quite polite-like. “Could you be so kind as to give me some breakfast.” For, as you know, he hadn’t had anything to eat the night before and was as hungry as a hunter. “It’s breakfast you want, is it?” said the great big tall woman, “it’s breakfast YOU’LL BE if you don’t move off from here. My husband is a mean giant ogre; you’d better be moving on — he’ll soon be coming.” “Oh! Please mum, do give me something to eat, mum. I’ve had nothing to eat since yesterday morning, really and truly, mum,” whimpered Jack. “I may as well BE breakfast for your husband — the mean giant ogre — as die of hunger.”
Well, the mean giant ogre’s wife wasn’t such a bad sort, after all. So she took Jack into the kitchen and gave him a chunk of bread, a thick of cheese, and a jug of milk. Jack hadn’t even half-finished his tasty food when he heard: Thump! Thump! Thump! And the whole house began to tremble with the noise of someone coming. “Goodness gracious me! It’s the mean giant ogre,” said the great big tall woman, “what on earth shall we do? Here, come quick and jump in here.” And she bundled Jack into the oven — just as the mean giant ogre came in.
He certainly was a giant one, to be sure. And apparently very mean for as he walked in, he said in a booming voice, "Ah what’s this I smell? — Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman." “Nonsense, dear,” said the great big tall woman, “you must be dreaming. Here, you go, wash and tidy up. By the time you come back, your breakfast’ll be ready for you.”
So the mean giant ogre left, and just then Jack started to climb out of the oven to run-off when the great big tall woman told him, “No! Wait till he’s asleep — he always has a snooze after breakfast.”
Well, the mean giant ogre had his breakfast, and after that, he went to a big chest and took out a couple of bags of gold. He then sat counting the treasure till at last, his head began to nod, and he began to snore till the whole house shook again.
Then Jack crept out on tiptoe from the oven and began to leave. Just as he was passing the mean giant ogre, Jack took the bags of gold and tucked them under his arm; then, off Jack ran till he came to the beanstalk. There, he threw down the bags of gold, which of course fell straight into his mother’s garden. After that, Jack quickly climbed down, down, down, down, down the beanstalk — till at last, he got home. Once safe and sound, he told his mother what had happened, showed her the gold, and said: “Well, mother, wasn’t I right about the beans. They really are magical, you see.”
Jack and his mother lived on the bags of gold, but after some time, the gold began to run out, so Jack made up his mind to try his luck once more up at the top of the beanstalk. One fine morning he got up early and got onto the beanstalk, where he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed till at last he got on the road again and came to the great big tall house he had been to before. There, sure enough, was the great big tall woman again standing on the doorstep.
“Good morning, mum,” said Jack, as bold as brass, “could you be so kind as to give me something to eat?” “Go away, my boy,” said the great big tall woman, “or else my man will eat you up for breakfast. But aren’t you the youngster who came here once before? Do you know, that very day you were here, my man missed his bags of gold.” “That’s strange, mum,” said Jack, “I dare say I could tell you something about that but I’m so hungry I can’t speak till I’ve had something to in my tummy.”
Well, the great big tall woman was just that curious, so she took Jack in and gave him something to eat. But he scarcely had begun munching it as slowly as he could when he heard: Thump! Thump! Thump! — once again, it was the mean giant ogre’s footsteps, so once again, his wife hid Jack away in the oven.
It all happened as it had before. In came the mean giant ogre, and he said, "Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman." “Nonsense, my dear,” said his wife, “you’re dreaming."
Satisfied with that, the mean giant ogre ravenously ate his breakfast. Then he said, “Wife, bring me the hen that lays the golden eggs.” So great big tall woman brought it, and the mean giant ogre commanded, “Lay,” and the hen laid an egg of solid gold. Then the mean giant ogre began to nod his head and snore so loudly this time that the house about shook off its foundation.
Once the mean giant ogre was asleep, Jack crept out of the oven on tiptoe and caught hold of the hen that laid the golden egg! And he was off before you could say, “Jack Robinson.” But this time the hen gave a cackle, which woke the mean giant ogre! Just as Jack got out of the house, he heard him roaring, “Wife, wife, what have you done with my golden hen?”
But that was all Jack heard, for he rushed off to the beanstalk and climbed down like a house on fire. When he got home, he showed his mother the wonderful hen and firmly said, “Lay!” And the cooperative hen laid a golden egg for Jack!
But, Jack was not content, and it wasn’t very long before he determined to have another try at his luck up there at the top of the beanstalk. So one fine morning, he got up early and went on to the beanstalk, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed till he got to the top. But this time Jack knew better than to go straight to the mean giant ogre’s house. When Jack got near it, he waited behind a bush till he saw the great big tall woman come out with a pail to get some water, and then he crept into the house and got into a large copper pot. He hadn’t been there long when he heard: Double Thump! Thump! Thump! This time, in came the mean giant ogre and his wife, the great big tall woman.
“Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman,” bellowed the mean giant ogre, “I smell him, wife, I smell him.” “Do you, my dearie?” said the great big tall woman. “Then if it’s that little rogue that stole your gold and the hen that lays the golden eggs he’s sure to have got into the oven to hide.” On that, they both rushed to look. Luckily, Jack wasn’t there!
Trying to forget about Jack, the mean giant ogre sat down to the breakfast and ate it, but now and then he would mutter and sputter: “Well, I could have sworn----” and then he’d get up and search around the kitchen for Jack. He looked in the larder and the cupboards, in the woodbin and everywhere — only he never thought to look in the large copper pot.
After breakfast was over, the mean giant ogre called out, “Wife, wife, bring me my golden harp.” So the great big tall woman brought the harp and put it on the table before him. Then he commanded, “Sing!” and the golden harp sang most beautifully. And it went on singing till the mean giant ogre fell asleep, and commenced to snore like thunder.
At that moment, Jack lifted up the lid of the large copper pot and very quietly, got down like a little mouse, and crept on hands and knees till he got to the table where the mean giant ogre was still fast asleep. There he sprung up, caught hold of the golden harp, and dashed with it towards the door. But the harp sang out quite loud, “Master! Master!” and the mean giant ogre woke up just in time to see Jack running off with his harp.
Jack ran as fast as he could, and the giant came charging after, and would soon have caught him only Jack had a start, dodged him a bit, and knew where he was going. When he got to the beanstalk, the mean giant ogre was not more than twenty yards away. Jack quickly disappeared out of sight. When the mean giant ogre reached the end of the road, he saw Jack below climbing down for dear life. Suddenly, the mean giant ogre swung himself down on to the beanstalk, which violently shook under his weight. Down climbed Jack, and after him climbed the mean giant ogre. By this time Jack had climbed down and climbed down and climbed down and climbed down and climbed down till he was very nearly home. At that point, he cried out, “Mother! Mother! Bring me an axe! Bring me an axe!”
And his mother came rushing out with the axe in her hand, but when she came to the beanstalk she stood completely still with fright, for there she saw the mean giant ogre just coming down below the clouds — almost on the heels of her boy Jack.
But Jack jumped down and got hold of the axe and gave a good swift chop at the beanstalk, which cut it half in two. The mean giant ogre felt the beanstalk shake and quiver, and this stopped him in his tracks. Then Jack gave another mighty chop with the axe, and as the beanstalk was cut in two again, it finally began to topple over. The mean giant ogre fell down, broke his crown, and the beanstalk came toppling after.
Jack showed his mother the golden harp and she began to weep for this was a wondrous day! Finally the gold coins, the goose that lays the golden eggs, and the golden harp — each treasures that had been stolen from her husband (Jack's father) so many years prior — were now in the hands of their rightful owners once again. All on account of Jack’s courage!