Then the master went to his wife and said, "You are right. That laundry-maid of yours is a very wise girl."
So the butler and the coachman and James had nothing to do but look sheepish and hold their tongues, and the laundry-maid went on with her duties without further trouble.
Then when the seven years and a day were over, who should drive up to the door in a fine gilded coach but the bird-husband restored to his shape as a handsome young man. And he carried the laundry-maid off to be his wife again, and her master and mistress were so pleased at her good fortune that they ordered all the other servants to stand on the steps and give her good luck. So as she passed the butler she put a bag with seventy pounds in it into his hand and said sweetly, "That is to recompense you for shutting the shutters."
And when she passed the coachman she put a bag with forty pounds into his hand and said, "That is your reward for bringing in the clothes." But when she passed the footman she gave him a bag with a hundred pounds in it, and laughed, saying, "That is for the drop of brandy you never brought me!"
So she drove off with her handsome husband, and lived happy ever after.
Once upon a time there was a boy whose name was Jack, and he lived with his mother on a common. They were very poor, and the old woman got her living by spinning, but Jack was so lazy that he would do nothing but bask in the sun in the hot weather, and sit by the corner of the hearth in the winter-time. So they called him Lazy Jack. His mother could not get him to do anything for her, and at last told him, one Monday, that if he did not begin to work for his porridge she would turn him out to get his living as he could.
This roused Jack, and he went out and hired himself for the next day to a neighbouring farmer for a penny; but as he was coming home, never having had any money before, he lost it in passing over a brook.
"You stupid boy," said his mother, "you should have put it in your pocket."
"I'll do so another time," replied Jack.
Well, the next day, Jack went out again and hired himself to a cowkeeper, who gave him a jar of milk for his day's work. Jack took the jar and put it into the large pocket of his jacket, spilling it all, long before he got home.
"Dear me!" said the old woman; "you should have carried it on your head."
"I'll do so another time," said Jack.
So the following day, Jack hired himself again to a farmer, who agreed to give him a cream cheese for his services. In the evening Jack took the cheese, and went home with it on his head. By the time he got home the cheese was all spoilt, part of it being lost, and part matted with his hair.
"You stupid lout," said his mother, "you should have carried it very carefully in your hands."
"I'll do so another time," replied Jack.
Now the next day, Lazy Jack again went out, and hired himself to a baker, who would give him nothing for his work but a large tom-cat. Jack took the cat, and began carrying it very carefully in his hands, but in a short time pussy scratched him so much that he was compelled to let it go.
When he got home, his mother said to him, "You silly fellow, you should have tied it with a string, and dragged it along after you."
"I'll do so another time," said Jack.
So on the following day, Jack hired himself to a butcher, who rewarded him by the handsome present of a shoulder of mutton. Jack took the mutton, tied it with a string, and trailed it along after him in the dirt, so that by the time he had got home the meat was completely spoilt. His mother was this time quite out of patience with him, for the next day was Sunday, and she was obliged to do with cabbage for her dinner.
"You ninney-hammer," said she to her son, "you should have carried it on your shoulder."
"I'll do so another time," replied Jack.
Well, on the Monday, Lazy Jack went once more and hired himself to a cattle-keeper, who gave him a donkey for his trouble. Now though Jack was strong he found it hard to hoist the donkey on his shoulders, but at last he did it, and began walking home slowly with his prize. Now it so happened that in the course of his journey he passed a house where a rich man lived with his only daughter, a beautiful girl, who was deaf and dumb. And she had never laughed in her life, and the doctors said she would never speak till somebody made her laugh. So the father had given out that any man who made her laugh would receive her hand in marriage. Now this young lady happened to be looking out of the window when Jack was passing by with the donkey on his shoulders; and the poor beast with its legs sticking up in the air was kicking violently and heehawing with all its might. Well, the sight was so comical that she burst out into a great fit of laughter, and immediately recovered her speech and hearing. Her father was overjoyed, and fulfilled his promise by marrying her to Lazy Jack, who was thus made a rich gentleman. They lived in a large house, and Jack's mother lived with them in great happiness until she died.
JACK THE GIANT-KILLER
When good King Arthur reigned with Guinevere his Queen, there lived, near the Land's End in Cornwall, a farmer who had one only son called Jack. Now Jack was brisk and ready; of such a lively wit that none nor nothing could worst him.
In those days, the Mount of St. Michael in Cornwall was the fastness of a hugeous giant whose name was Cormoran.
He was full eighteen feet in height, some three yards about his middle, of a grim fierce face, and he was the terror of all the country-side. He lived in a cave amidst the rocky Mount, and when he desired victuals he would wade across the tides to the mainland and furnish himself forth with all that came in his way. The poor folk and the rich folk alike ran out of their houses and hid themselves when they heard the swish-swash of his big feet in the water; for if he saw them, he would think nothing of broiling half-a-dozen or so of them for breakfast. As it was, he seized their cattle by the score, carrying off half-a-dozen fat oxen on his back at a time, and hanging sheep and pigs to his waistbelt like bunches of dip-candles. Now this had gone on for long years, and the poor folk of Cornwall were in despair, for none could put an end to the giant Cormoran.
It so happened that one market day Jack, then quite a young lad, found the town upside down over some new exploit of the giant's. Women were weeping, men were cursing, and the magistrates were sitting in Council over what was to be done. But none could suggest a plan. Then Jack, blithe and gay, went up to the magistrates, and with a fine courtesy—for he was ever polite—asked them what reward would be given to him who killed the giant Cormoran.
"The treasures of the Giant's Cave," quoth they.
"Every whit of it?" quoth Jack, who was never to be done.
"To the last farthing," quoth they.
"Then will I undertake the task," said Jack, and forthwith set about the business.
It was winter-time, and having got himself a horn, a pickaxe, and a shovel, he went over to the Mount in the dark evening, set to work, and before dawn he had dug a pit, no less than twenty-two feet deep and nigh as big across. This he covered with long thin sticks and straw, sprinkling a little loose mould over all to make it look like solid ground. So, just as dawn was breaking, he planted himself fair and square on the side of the pit that was farthest from the giant's cave, raised the horn to his lips, and with full blast sounded:
"Tantivy! Tantivy! Tantivy!"
just as he would have done had he been hunting a fox.
Of course this woke the giant, who rushed in a rage out of his cave, and seeing little Jack, fair and square blowing away at his horn, as calm and cool as may be, he became still more angry, and made for the disturber of his rest, bawling out, "I'll teach you to wake a giant, you little whipper-snapper. You shall pay dearly for your tantivys, I'll take you and broil you whole for break—"
He had only got as far as this when crash—he fell into the pit! So there was a break indeed; such an one that it caused the very foundations of the Mount to shake.
But Jack shook with laughter. "Ho, ho!" he cried, "how about breakfast now, Sir Giant? Will you have me broiled or baked? And will no diet serve you but poor little Jack? Faith! I've got you in Lob's pound now! You're in the stocks for bad behaviour, and I'll plague you as I like. Would I had rotten eggs; but this will do as well." And with that he up with his pickaxe and dealt the giant Cormoran such a most weighty knock on the very crown of his head, that he killed him on the spot.
Whereupon Jack calmly filled up the pit with earth again and went to search the cave, where he found much treasure.
Now when the magistrates heard of Jack's great exploit, they proclaimed that henceforth he should be known as—
JACK THE GIANT-KILLER.
And they presented him with a sword and belt, on which these words were embroidered in gold:
Here's the valiant Cornishman Who slew the giant Cormoran.
Of course the news of Jack's victory soon spread over all England, so that another giant named Blunderbore who lived to the north, hearing of it, vowed if ever he came across Jack he would be revenged upon him. Now this giant Blunderbore was lord of an enchanted castle that stood in the middle of a lonesome forest.
It so happened that Jack, about four months after he had killed Cormoran, had occasion to journey into Wales, and on the road he passed this forest. Weary with walking, and finding a pleasant fountain by the wayside, he lay down to rest and was soon fast asleep.
Now the giant Blunderbore, coming to the well for water, found Jack sleeping, and knew by the lines embroidered on his belt that here was the far-famed giant-killer. Rejoiced at his luck, the giant, without more ado, lifted Jack to his shoulder and began to carry him through the wood to the enchanted castle.
But the rustling of the boughs awakened Jack, who, finding himself already in the clutches of the giant, was terrified; nor was his alarm decreased by seeing the courtyard of the castle all strewn with men's bones.
"Yours will be with them ere long," said Blunderbore as he locked poor Jack into an immense chamber above the castle gateway. It had a high-pitched, beamed roof, and one window that looked down the road. Here poor Jack was to stay while Blunderbore went to fetch his brother-giant, who lived in the same wood, that he might share in the feast.
Now, after a time, Jack, watching through the window, saw the two giants tramping hastily down the road, eager for their dinner.
"Now," quoth Jack to himself, "my death or my deliverance is at hand." For he had thought out a plan. In one corner of the room he had seen two strong cords. These he took, and making a cunning noose at the end of each, he hung them out of the window, and, as the giants were unlocking the iron door of the gate, managed to slip them over their heads without their noticing it. Then, quick as thought, he tied the other ends to a beam, so that as the giants moved on the nooses tightened and throttled them until they grew black in the face. Seeing this, Jack slid down the ropes, and drawing his sword, slew them both.
So, taking the keys of the castle, he unlocked all the doors and set free three beauteous ladies who, tied by the hair of their heads, he found almost starved to death. "Sweet ladies," quoth Jack, kneeling on one knee—for he was ever polite—"here are the keys of this enchanted castle. I have destroyed the giant Blunderbore and his brutish brother, and thus have restored to you your liberty. These keys should bring you all else you require."
So saying he proceeded on his journey to Wales.
He travelled as fast as he could; perhaps too fast, for, losing his way, he found himself benighted and far from any habitation. He wandered on always in hopes, until on entering a narrow valley he came on a very large, dreary-looking house standing alone. Being anxious for shelter he went up to the door and knocked. You may imagine his surprise and alarm when the summons was answered by a giant with two heads. But though this monster's look was exceedingly fierce, his manners were quite polite; the truth being that he was a Welsh giant, and as such double-faced and smooth, given to gaining his malicious ends by a show of false friendship.
So he welcomed Jack heartily in a strong Welsh accent, and prepared a bedroom for him, where he was left with kind wishes for a good rest. Jack, however, was too tired to sleep well, and as he lay awake, he overheard his host muttering to himself in the next room. Having very keen ears he was able to make out these words, or something like them:
"Though here you lodge with me this night, You shall not see the morning light. My club shall dash your brains outright."
"Say'st thou so!" quoth Jack to himself, starting up at once, "So that is your Welsh trick, is it? But I will be even with you." Then, leaving his bed, he laid a big billet of wood among the blankets, and taking one of these to keep himself warm, made himself snug in a corner of the room, pretending to snore, so as to make Mr. Giant think he was asleep.
And sure enough, after a little time, in came the monster on tiptoe as if treading on eggs, and carrying a big club. Then—
WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!
Jack could hear the bed being belaboured until the Giant, thinking every bone of his guest's skin must be broken, stole out of the room again; whereupon Jack went calmly to bed once more and slept soundly! Next morning the giant couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Jack coming down the stairs fresh and hearty.
"Odds splutter hur nails!" he cried, astonished. "Did she sleep well? Was there not nothing felt in the night?"
"Oh," replied Jack, laughing in his sleeve, "I think a rat did come and give me two or three flaps of his tail."
On this the giant was dumbfoundered, and led Jack to breakfast, bringing him a bowl which held at least four gallons of hasty-pudding, and bidding him, as a man of such mettle, eat the lot. Now Jack when travelling wore under his cloak a leathern bag to carry his things withal; so, quick as thought, he hitched this round in front with the opening just under his chin; thus, as he ate, he could slip the best part of the pudding into it without the giant's being any the wiser. So they sate down to breakfast, the giant gobbling down his own measure of hasty-pudding, while Jack made away with his.
"See," says crafty Jack when he had finished. "I'll show you a trick worth two of yours," and with that he up with a carving-knife and, ripping up the leathern bag, out fell all the hasty-pudding on the floor!
"Odds splutter hur nails!" cried the giant, not to be outdone. "Hur can do that hurself!" Whereupon he seized the carving-knife, and ripping open his own belly fell down dead.
Thus was Jack quit of the Welsh giant.
Now it so happened that in those days, when gallant knights were always seeking adventures, King Arthur's only son, a very valiant Prince, begged of his father a large sum of money to enable him to journey to Wales, and there strive to set free a certain beautiful lady who was possessed by seven evil spirits. In vain the King denied him; so at last he gave way and the Prince set out with two horses, one of which he rode, the other laden with gold pieces. Now after some days' journey the Prince came to a market-town in Wales where there was a great commotion. On asking the reason for it he was told that, according to law, the corpse of a very generous man had been arrested on its way to the grave, because, in life, it had owed large sums to the money-lenders.
"That is a cruel law," said the young Prince. "Go, bury the dead in peace, and let the creditors come to my lodgings; I will pay the debts of the dead."
So the creditors came, but they were so numerous that by evening the Prince had but twopence left for himself, and could not go further on his journey.
Now it so happened that Jack the Giant-Killer on his way to Wales passed through the town, and, hearing of the Prince's plight, was so taken with his kindness and generosity that he determined to be the Prince's servant. So this was agreed upon, and next morning, after Jack had paid the reckoning with his last farthing, the two set out together. But as they were leaving the town, an old woman ran after the Prince and called out, "Justice! Justice! The dead man owed me twopence these seven years. Pay me as well as the others."
And the Prince, kind and generous, put his hand to his pocket and gave the old woman the twopence that was left to him. So now they had not a penny between them, and when the sun grew low the Prince said:
"Jack! Since we have no money, how are we to get a night's lodging?"
Then Jack replied, "We shall do well enough, Master; for within two or three miles of this place there lives a huge and monstrous giant with three heads, who can fight four hundred men in armour and make them fly from him like chaff before the wind."
"And what good will that be to us?" quoth the Prince. "He will for sure chop us up in a mouthful."
"Nay," said Jack, laughing. "Let me go and prepare the way for you. By all accounts this giant is a dolt. Mayhap I may manage better than that."
So the Prince remained where he was, and Jack pricked his steed at full speed till he came to the giant's castle, at the gate of which he knocked so loud that he made the neighbouring hills resound.
On this the giant roared from within in a voice like thunder:
Then said Jack as bold as brass, "None but your poor cousin Jack."
"Cousin Jack!" quoth the giant, astounded. "And what news with my poor cousin Jack?" For, see you, he was quite taken aback; so Jack made haste to reassure him.
"Dear coz, heavy news, God wot!"
"Heavy news," echoed the giant, half afraid. "God wot, no heavy news can come to me. Have I not three heads? Can I not fight five hundred men in armour? Can I not make them fly like chaff before the wind?"
"True," replied crafty Jack, "but I came to warn you because the great King Arthur's son with a thousand men in armour is on his way to kill you."
At this the giant began to shiver and to shake. "Ah! Cousin Jack! Kind cousin Jack! This is heavy news indeed," quoth he. "Tell me, what am I to do?"
"Hide yourself in the vault," says crafty Jack, "and I will lock and bolt and bar you in; and keep the key till the Prince has gone. So you will be safe."
Then the giant made haste and ran down into the vault, and Jack locked, and bolted, and barred him in. Then being thus secure, he went and fetched his master, and the two made themselves heartily merry over what the giant was to have had for supper, while the miserable monster shivered and shook with fright in the underground vault.
Well, after a good night's rest Jack woke his master in early morn, and having furnished him well with gold and silver from the giant's treasure, bade him ride three miles forward on his journey. So when Jack judged that the Prince was pretty well out of the smell of the giant, he took the key and let his prisoner out. He was half dead with cold and damp, but very grateful; and he begged Jack to let him know what he would be given as a reward for saving the giant's life and castle from destruction, and he should have it.
"You're very welcome," said Jack, who always had his eyes about him. "All I want is the old coat and cap, together with the rusty old sword and slippers which are at your bed-head."
When the giant heard this he sighed and shook his head. "You don't know what you are asking," quoth he. "They are the most precious things I possess, but as I have promised, you must have them. The coat will make you invisible, the cap will tell you all you want to know, the sword will cut asunder whatever you strike, and the slippers will take you wherever you want to go in the twinkling of an eye!"
So Jack, overjoyed, rode away with the coat and cap, the sword and the slippers, and soon overtook his master; and they rode on together until they reached the castle where the beautiful lady lived whom the Prince sought.
Now she was very beautiful, for all she was possessed of seven devils, and when she heard the Prince sought her as a suitor, she smiled and ordered a splendid banquet to be prepared for his reception. And she sate on his right hand, and plied him with food and drink.
And when the repast was over she took out her own handkerchief and wiped his lips gently, and said, with a smile:
"I have a task for you, my lord! You must show me that kerchief to-morrow morning or lose your head."
And with that she put the handkerchief in her bosom and said, "Good-night!"
The Prince was in despair, but Jack said nothing till his master was in bed. Then he put on the old cap he had got from the giant, and lo! in a minute he knew all that he wanted to know. So, in the dead of the night, when the beautiful lady called on one of her familiar spirits to carry her to Lucifer himself, Jack was beforehand with her, and putting on his coat of darkness and his slippers of swiftness, was there as soon as she was. And when she gave the handkerchief to the Devil, bidding him keep it safe, and he put it away on a high shelf, Jack just up and nipped it away in a trice!
So the next morning, when the beauteous enchanted lady looked to see the Prince crestfallen, he just made a fine bow and presented her with the handkerchief.
At first she was terribly disappointed, but, as the day drew on, she ordered another and still more splendid repast to be got ready. And this time, when the repast was over, she kissed the Prince full on the lips and said:
"I have a task for you, my lover. Show me to-morrow morning the last lips I kiss to-night or you lose your head."
Then the Prince, who by this time was head over ears in love, said tenderly, "If you will kiss none but mine, I will." Now the beauteous lady, for all she was possessed by seven devils, could not but see that the Prince was a very handsome young man; so she blushed a little, and said:
"That is neither here nor there: you must show me them, or death is your portion."
So the Prince went to his bed, sorrowful as before; but Jack put on the cap of knowledge and knew in a moment all he wanted to know.
Thus when, in the dead of the night, the beauteous lady called on her familiar spirit to take her to Lucifer himself, Jack in his coat of darkness and his shoes of swiftness was there before her.
"Thou hast betrayed me once," said the beauteous lady to Lucifer, frowning, "by letting go my handkerchief. Now will I give thee something none can steal, and so best the Prince, King's son though he be."
With that she kissed the loathly demon full on the lips, and left him. Whereupon Jack with one blow of the rusty sword of strength cut off Lucifer's head, and, hiding it under his coat of darkness, brought it back to his master.
Thus next morning when the beauteous lady, with malice in her beautiful eyes, asked the Prince to show her the lips she had last kissed, he pulled out the demon's head by the horns. On that the seven devils, which possessed the poor lady, gave seven dreadful shrieks and left her. Thus the enchantment being broken, she appeared in all her perfect beauty and goodness.
So she and the Prince were married the very next morning. After which they journeyed back to the court of King Arthur, where Jack the Giant-Killer, for his many exploits, was made one of the Knights of the Round Table.
This, however, did not satisfy our hero, who was soon on the road again searching for giants. Now he had not gone far when he came upon one, seated on a huge block of timber near the entrance to a dark cave. He was a most terrific giant. His goggle eyes were as coals of fire, his countenance was grim and gruesome; his cheeks, like huge flitches of bacon, were covered with a stubbly beard, the bristles of which resembled rods of iron wire, while the locks of hair that fell on his brawny shoulders showed like curled snakes or hissing adders. He held a knotted iron club, and breathed so heavily you could hear him a mile away. Nothing daunted by this fearsome sight, Jack alighted from his horse and, putting on his coat of darkness, went close up to the giant and said softly: "Hullo! is that you? It will not be long before I have you fast by your beard."
So saying he made a cut with the sword of strength at the giant's head, but, somehow, missing his aim, cut off the nose instead, clean as a whistle! My goodness! How the giant roared! It was like claps of thunder, and he began to lay about him with the knotted iron club, like one possessed. But Jack in his coat of darkness easily dodged the blows, and running in behind, drove the sword up to the hilt into the giant's back, so that he fell stone dead.
Jack then cut off the head and sent it to King Arthur by a waggoner whom he hired for the purpose. After which he began to search the giant's cave to find his treasure. He passed through many windings and turnings until he came to a huge hall paved and roofed with freestone. At the upper end of this was an immense fireplace where hung an iron cauldron, the like of which, for size, Jack had never seen before. It was boiling and gave out a savoury steam; while beside it, on the right hand, stood a big massive table set out with huge platters and mugs. Here it was that the giants used to dine. Going a little further he came upon a sort of window barred with iron, and looking within beheld a vast number of miserable captives.
"Alas! Alack!" they cried on seeing him. "Art come, young man, to join us in this dreadful prison?"
"That depends," quoth Jack: "but first tell me wherefore you are thus held imprisoned?"
"Through no fault," they cried at once. "We are captives of the cruel giants and are kept here and well nourished until such time as the monsters desire a feast. Then they choose the fattest and sup off them."
On hearing this Jack straightway unlocked the door of the prison and set the poor fellows free. Then, searching the giants' coffers, he divided the gold and silver equally amongst the captives as some redress for their sufferings, and taking them to a neighbouring castle gave them a right good feast.
Now as they were all making merry over their deliverance, and praising Jack's prowess, a messenger arrived to say that one Thunderdell, a huge giant with two heads, having heard of the death of his kinsman, was on his way from the northern dales to be revenged, and was already within a mile or two of the castle, the country folk with their flocks and herds flying before him like chaff before the wind.
Now the castle with its gardens stood on a small island that was surrounded by a moat twenty feet wide and thirty feet deep, having very steep sides. And this moat was spanned by a drawbridge. This, without a moment's delay, Jack ordered should be sawn on both sides at the middle, so as to only leave one plank uncut over which he in his invisible coat of darkness passed swiftly to meet his enemy, bearing in his hand the wonderful sword of strength.
Now though the giant could not, of course, see Jack, he could smell him, for giants have keen noses. Therefore Thunderdell cried out in a voice like his name:
"Fee, 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!"
"Is that so?" quoth Jack, cheerful as ever. "Then art thou a monstrous miller for sure!"
On this the giant, peering round everywhere for a glimpse of his foe, shouted out:
"Art thou, indeed, the villain who hath killed so many of my kinsmen? Then, indeed, will I tear thee to pieces with my teeth, suck thy blood, and grind thy bones to powder."
"Thou'lt have to catch me first," quoth Jack, laughing, and throwing off his coat of darkness and putting on his slippers of swiftness, he began nimbly to lead the giant a pretty dance, he leaping and doubling light as a feather, the monster following heavily like a walking tower, so that the very foundations of the earth seemed to shake at every step. At this game the onlookers nearly split their sides with laughter, until Jack, judging there had been enough of it, made for the drawbridge, ran neatly over the single plank, and reaching the other side waited in teasing fashion for his adversary.
On came the giant at full speed, foaming at the mouth with rage, and flourishing his club. But when he came to the middle of the bridge his great weight, of course, broke the plank, and there he was fallen headlong into the moat, rolling and wallowing like a whale, plunging from place to place, yet unable to get out and be revenged.
The spectators greeted his efforts with roars of laughter, and Jack himself was at first too overcome with merriment to do more than scoff. At last, however, he went for a rope, cast it over the giant's two heads, so, with the help of a team of horses, drew them shorewards, where two blows from the sword of strength settled the matter.
After some time spent in mirth and pastimes, Jack began once more to grow restless, and taking leave of his companions set out for fresh adventures.
He travelled far and fast, through woods, and vales, and hills, till at last he came, late at night, on a lonesome house set at the foot of a high mountain. Knocking at the door, it was opened by an old man whose head was white as snow.
"Father," said Jack, ever courteous, "can you lodge a benighted traveller?"
"Ay, that will I, and welcome to my poor cottage," replied the old man.
Whereupon Jack came in, and after supper they sate together chatting in friendly fashion. Then it was that the old man, seeing by Jack's belt that he was the famous Giant-Killer, spoke in this wise:
"My son! You are the great conqueror of evil monsters. Now close by there lives one well worthy of your prowess. On the top of yonder high hill is an enchanted castle kept by a giant named Galligantua, who, by the help of a wicked old magician, inveigles many beautiful ladies and valiant knights into the castle, where they are transformed into all sorts of birds and beasts, yea, even into fishes and insects. There they live pitiably in confinement; but most of all do I grieve for a duke's daughter whom they kidnapped in her father's garden, bringing her hither in a burning chariot drawn by fiery dragons. Her form is that of a white hind; and though many valiant knights have tried their utmost to break the spell and work her deliverance, none have succeeded; for, see you, at the entrance to the castle are two dreadful griffins who destroy every one who attempts to pass them by."
Now Jack bethought him of the coat of darkness which had served him so well before, and he put on the cap of knowledge, and in an instant he knew what had to be done. Then the very next morning, at dawn-time, Jack arose and put on his invisible coat and his slippers of swiftness. And in the twinkling of an eye there he was on the top of the mountain! And there were the two griffins guarding the castle gates—horrible creatures with forked tails and tongues. But they could not see him because of the coat of darkness, so he passed them by unharmed.
And hung to the doors of the gateway he found a golden trumpet on a silver chain, and beneath it was engraved in red lettering:
Whoever shall this trumpet blow Will cause the giant's overthrow. The black enchantment he will break, And gladness out of sadness make.
No sooner had Jack read these words than he put the horn to his lips and blew a loud
"Tantivy! Tantivy! Tantivy!"
Now at the very first note the castle trembled to its vast foundations, and before he had finished the measure, both the giant and the magician were biting their thumbs and tearing their hair, knowing that their wickedness must now come to an end. But the giant showed fight and took up his club to defend himself; whereupon Jack, with one clean cut of the sword of strength, severed his head from his body, and would doubtless have done the same to the magician, but that the latter was a coward, and, calling up a whirlwind, was swept away by it into the air, nor has he ever been seen or heard of since. The enchantments being thus broken, all the valiant knights and beautiful ladies, who had been transformed into birds and beasts and fishes and reptiles and insects, returned to their proper shapes, including the duke's daughter, who, from being a white hind, showed as the most beauteous maiden upon whom the sun ever shone. Now, no sooner had this occurred than the whole castle vanished away in a cloud of smoke, and from that moment giants vanished also from the land.
So Jack, when he had presented the head of Galligantua to King Arthur, together with all the lords and ladies he had delivered from enchantment, found he had nothing more to do. As a reward for past services, however, King Arthur bestowed the hand of the duke's daughter upon honest Jack the Giant-Killer. So married they were, and the whole kingdom was filled with joy at their wedding. Furthermore, the King bestowed on Jack a noble castle with a magnificent estate belonging thereto, whereon he, his lady, and their children lived in great joy and content for the rest of their days.
THE THREE SILLIES
Once upon a time, when folk were not so wise as they are nowadays, there lived a farmer and his wife who had one daughter. And she, being a pretty lass, was courted by the young squire when he came home from his travels.
Now every evening he would stroll over from the Hall to see her and stop to supper in the farm-house, and every evening the daughter would go down into the cellar to draw the cider for supper.
So one evening when she had gone down to draw the cider and had turned the tap as usual, she happened to look up at the ceiling, and there she saw a big wooden mallet stuck in one of the beams.
It must have been there for ages and ages, for it was all covered with cobwebs; but somehow or another she had never noticed it before, and at once she began thinking how dangerous it was to have the mallet just there.
"For," thought she, "supposing him and me was married, and supposing we was to have a son, and supposing he were to grow up to be a man, and supposing he were to come down to draw cider like as I'm doing, and supposing the mallet were to fall on his head and kill him, how dreadful it would be!"
And with that she put down the candle she was carrying and, seating herself on a cask, began to cry. And she cried and cried and cried.
Now, upstairs, they began to wonder why she was so long drawing the cider; so after a time her mother went down to the cellar to see what had come to her, and found her, seated on the cask, crying ever so hard, and the cider running all over the floor.
"Lawks a mercy me!" cried her mother, "whatever is the matter?"
"O mother!" says she between her sobs, "it's that horrid mallet. Supposing him and me was married, and supposing we was to have a son, and supposing he was to grow up to be a man, and supposing he was to come down to draw cider like as I'm doing, and supposing the mallet were to fall on his head and kill him, how dreadful it would be!"
"Dear heart!" said the mother, seating herself beside her daughter and beginning to cry: "How dreadful it would be!"
So they both sat a-crying.
Now after a time, when they did not come back, the farmer began to wonder what had happened, and going down to the cellar found them seated side by side on the cask, crying hard, and the cider running all over the floor.
"Zounds!" says he, "whatever is the matter?"
"Just look at that horrid mallet up there, father," moaned the mother. "Supposing our daughter was to marry her sweetheart, and supposing they was to have a son, and supposing he was to grow to man's estate, and supposing he was to come down to draw cider like as we're doing, and supposing that there mallet was to fall on his head and kill him, how dreadful it would be!"
"Dreadful indeed!" said the father and, seating himself beside his wife and daughter, started a-crying too.
Now upstairs the young squire wanted his supper; so at last he lost patience and went down into the cellar to see for himself what they were all after. And there he found them seated side by side on the cask a-crying, with their feet all a-wash in cider, for the floor was fair flooded. So the first thing he did was to run straight and turn off the tap. Then he said:
"What are you three after, sitting there crying like babies, and letting good cider run over the floor?"
Then they all three began with one voice, "Look at that horrid mallet! Supposing you and me/she was married, and supposing we/you had a son, and supposing he was to grow to man's estate, and supposing he was to come down here to draw cider like as we be, and supposing that there mallet was to fall down on his head and kill him, how dreadful it would be!"
Then the young squire burst out a-laughing, and laughed till he was tired. But at last he reached up to the old mallet and pulled it out, and put it safe on the floor. And he shook his head and said, "I've travelled far and I've travelled fast, but never have I met with three such sillies as you three. Now I can't marry one of the three biggest sillies in the world. So I shall start again on my travels, and if I can find three bigger sillies than you three, then I'll come back and be married—not otherwise."
So he wished them good-bye and started again on his travels, leaving them all crying; this time because the marriage was off!
Well, the young man travelled far and he travelled fast, but never did he find a bigger silly, until one day he came upon an old woman's cottage that had some grass growing on the thatched roof.
And the old woman was trying her best to cudgel her cow into going up a ladder to eat the grass. But the poor thing was afraid and durst not go. Then the old woman tried coaxing, but it wouldn't go. You never saw such a sight! The cow getting more and more flustered and obstinate, the old woman getting hotter and hotter.
At last the young squire said, "It would be easier if you went up the ladder, cut the grass, and threw it down for the cow to eat."
"A likely story that," says the old woman. "A cow can cut grass for herself. And the foolish thing will be quite safe up there, for I'll tie a rope round her neck, pass the rope down the chimney, and fasten t'other end to my wrist, so as when I'm doing my bit o' washing, she can't fall off the roof without my knowing it. So mind your own business, young sir."
Well, after a while the old woman coaxed and codgered and bullied and badgered the cow up the ladder, and when she got it on to the roof she tied a rope round its neck, passed the rope down the chimney, and fastened t'other end to her wrist. Then she went about her bit of washing, and young squire he went on his way.
But he hadn't gone but a bit when he heard the awfullest hullabaloo. He galloped back, and found that the cow had fallen off the roof and got strangled by the rope round its neck, while the weight of the cow had pulled the old woman by her wrist up the chimney, where she had got stuck half-way and been smothered by the soot!
"That is one bigger silly," quoth the young squire as he journeyed on. "So now for two more!"
He did not find any, however, till late one night he arrived at a little inn. And the inn was so full that he had to share a room with another traveller. Now his room-fellow proved quite a pleasant fellow, and they forgathered, and each slept well in his bed.
But next morning, when they were dressing, what does the stranger do but carefully hang his breeches on the knobs of the tallboy!
"What are you doing?" asks young squire.
"I'm putting on my breeches," says the stranger; and with that he goes to the other end of the room, takes a little run, and tried to jump into the breeches.
But he didn't succeed, so he took another run and another try, and another and another and another, until he got quite hot and flustered, as the old woman had got over her cow that wouldn't go up the ladder. And all the time young squire was laughing fit to split, for never in his life did he see anything so comical.
Then the stranger stopped a while and mopped his face with his handkerchief, for he was all in a sweat. "It's very well laughing," says he, "but breeches are the most awkwardest things to get into that ever were. It takes me the best part of an hour every morning before I get them on. How do you manage yours?"
Then young squire showed him, as well as he could for laughing, how to put on his breeches, and the stranger was ever so grateful and said he never should have thought of that way.
"So that," quoth young squire to himself, "is a second bigger silly." But he travelled far and he travelled fast without finding the third, until one bright night when the moon was shining right overhead he came upon a village. And outside the village was a pond, and round about the pond was a great crowd of villagers. And some had got rakes, and some had got pitchforks, and some had got brooms. And they were as busy as busy, shouting out, and raking, and forking, and sweeping away at the pond.
"What is the matter?" cried young squire, jumping off his horse to help. "Has any one fallen in?"
"Aye! Matter enough," says they. "Can't 'ee see moon's fallen into the pond, an' we can't get her out nohow."
And with that they set to again raking, and forking, and sweeping away. Then the young squire burst out laughing, told them they were fools for their pains, and bade them look up over their heads where the moon was riding broad and full. But they wouldn't, and they wouldn't believe that what they saw in the water was only a reflection. And when he insisted they began to abuse him roundly and threaten to duck him in the pond. So he got on his horse again as quickly as he could, leaving them raking, and forking, and sweeping away; and for all we know they may be at it yet!
But the young squire said to himself, "There are many more sillies in this world than I thought for; so I'll just go back and marry the farmer's daughter. She is no sillier than the rest."
So they were married, and if they didn't live happy ever after, that has nothing to do with the story of the three sillies.
THE GOLDEN BALL
Once upon a time there lived two lasses, who were sisters, and as they came from the fair they saw a right handsome young man standing at a house door before them. They had never seen such a handsome young man before. He had gold on his cap, gold on his finger, gold on his neck, gold at his waist! And he had a golden ball in each hand. He gave a ball to each lass, saying she was to keep it; but if she lost it, she was to be hanged.
Now the youngest of the lasses lost her ball, and this is how. She was by a park paling, and she was tossing her ball, and it went up, and up, and up, till it went fair over the paling; and when she climbed to look for it, the ball ran along the green grass, and it ran right forward to the door of a house that stood there, and the ball went into the house and she saw it no more.
So she was taken away to be hanged by the neck till she was dead, because she had lost her ball.
But the lass had a sweetheart, and he said he would go and get the ball. So he went to the park gate, but 'twas shut; then he climbed the railing, and when he got to the top of it an old woman rose up out of the ditch before him and said that if he wanted to get the ball he must sleep three nights in the house: so he said he would.
Well! when it was evening, he went into the house, and looked everywhere for the ball, but he could not find it, nor any one in the house at all; but when night came on he thought he heard bogles moving about in the courtyard; so he looked out o' window, and, sure enough, the yard was full of them!
Presently he heard steps coming upstairs, so he hid behind the door, and was as still as a mouse. Then in came a big giant five times as tall as the lad, and looked around; but seeing nothing he went to the window and bowed himself to look out; and as he bowed on his elbows to see the bogles in the yard, the lad stepped behind him, and with one blow of his sword he cut him in twain, so that the top part of him fell in the yard, and the bottom part remained standing looking out of the window.
Well! there was a great cry from the bogles when they saw half the giant come tumbling down to them, and they called out, "There comes half our master; give us the other half."
Then the lad said, "It's no use of thee, thou pair of legs, standing alone at the window, as thou hast no eye to see with, so go join thy brother"; and he cast the lower part of the giant after the top part. Now when the bogles had gotten all the giant they were quiet.
Next night the lad went to sleep in the house again, and this time a second giant came in at the door, and as he came in the lad cut him in twain; but the legs walked on to the fire and went straight up the chimney.
"Go, get thee after thy legs," said the lad to the head, and he cast the other half of the giant up the chimney.
Now the third night nothing happened, so the lad got into bed; but before he went to sleep he heard the bogles striving under the bed, and he wondered what they were at. So he peeped, and saw that they had the ball there, and were playing with it, casting it to and fro.
Now after a time one of them thrust his leg out from under the bed, and quick as anything the lad brings his sword down, and cuts it off. Then another bogle thrust his arm out at t'other side of the bed, and in a twinkling the lad cuts that off too. So it went on, till at last he had maimed them all, and they all went off, crying and wailing, and forgot the ball! Then the lad got out of bed, found the ball, and went off at once to seek his true love.
Now the lass had been taken to York to be hanged; she was brought out on the scaffold, and the hangman said, "Now, lass, thou must hang by the neck till thou be'st dead." But she cried out:
"Stop, stop, I think I see my mother coming! O mother, hast thou brought my golden ball And come to set me free?"
And the mother answered:
"I've neither brought thy golden ball Nor come to set thee free, But I have come to see thee hung Upon this gallows-tree."
Then the hangman said, "Now, lass, say thy prayers for thou must die." But she said:
"Stop, stop, I think I see my father coming! O father, hast thou brought my golden ball And come to set me free?"
And the father answered:
"I've neither brought thy golden ball Nor come to set thee free, But I have come to see thee hung Upon this gallows-tree."
Then the hangman said, "Hast thee done thy prayers? Now, lass, put thy head into the noose."
But she answered, "Stop, stop, I think I see my brother coming!" And again she sang her little verse, and the brother sang back the same words. And so with her sister, her uncle, her aunt, and her cousin. But they all said the same:
"I've neither brought thy golden ball Nor come to set thee free, But I have come to see thee hung Upon this gallows-tree."
Then the hangman said, "I will stop no longer, thou'rt making game of me. Thou must be hung at once."
But now, at long last, she saw her sweetheart coming through the crowd, so she cried to him:
"Stop, stop, I see my sweetheart coming! Sweetheart, hast thou brought my golden ball And come to set me free?"
Then her sweetheart held up her golden ball and cried:
"Aye, I have brought to thee thy golden ball And come to set thee free; I have not come to see thee hung Upon this gallows-tree."
So he took her home, then and there, and they lived happy ever after.
THE TWO SISTERS
Once upon a time there were two sisters who were as like each other as two peas in a pod; but one was good, and the other was bad-tempered. Now their father had no work, so the girls began to think of going to service.
"I will go first and see what I can make of it," said the younger sister, ever so cheerfully, "then you, sis, can follow if I have good luck."
So she packed up a bundle, said good-bye, and started to find a place; but no one in the town wanted a girl, and she went farther afield into the country. And as she journeyed she came upon an oven in which a lot of loaves were baking. Now as she passed, the loaves cried out with one voice:
"Little girl! Little girl! Take us out! Please take us out! We have been baking for seven years, and no one has come to take us out. Do take us out or we shall soon be burnt!"
Then, being a kind, obliging little girl, she stopped, put down her bundle, took out the bread, and went on her way saying:
"You will be more comfortable now."
After a time she came to a cow lowing beside an empty pail, and the cow said to her:
"Little girl! Little girl! Milk me! Please milk me! Seven years have I been waiting, but no one has come to milk me!"
So the kind girl stopped, put down her bundle, milked the cow into the pail, and went on her way saying:
"Now you will be more comfortable."
By and by she came to an apple tree so laden with fruit that its branches were nigh to break, and the apple tree called to her:
"Little girl! Little girl! Please shake my branches. The fruit is so heavy I can't stand straight!"
Then the kind girl stopped, put down her bundle, and shook the branches so that the apples fell off, and the tree could stand straight. Then she went on her way saying:
"You will be more comfortable now."
So she journeyed on till she came to a house where an old witch-woman lived. Now this witch-woman wanted a servant-maid, and promised good wages. Therefore the girl agreed to stop with her and try how she liked service. She had to sweep the floor, keep the house clean and tidy, the fire bright and cheery. But there was one thing the witch-woman said she must never do; and that was look up the chimney!
"If you do," said the witch-woman, "something will fall down on you, and you will come to a bad end." Well! the girl swept, and dusted, and made up the fire; but ne'er a penny of wages did she see. Now the girl wanted to go home as she did not like witch-service; for the witch used to have boiled babies for supper, and bury the bones under some stones in the garden. But she did not like to go home penniless; so she stayed on, sweeping, and dusting, and doing her work, just as if she was pleased. Then one day, as she was sweeping up the hearth, down tumbled some soot, and, without remembering she was forbidden to look up the chimney, she looked up to see where the soot came from. And, lo and behold! a big bag of gold fell plump into her lap.
Now the witch happened to be out on one of her witch errands; so the girl thought it a fine opportunity to be off home.
So she kilted up her petticoats and started to run home; but she had only gone a little way when she heard the witch-woman coming after her on her broomstick. Now the apple tree she had helped to stand straight happened to be quite close; so she ran to it and cried:
"Apple tree! Apple tree, hide me So the old witch can't find me, For if she does she'll pick my bones, And bury me under the garden stones."
Then the apple tree said, "Of course I will. You helped me to stand straight, and one good turn deserves another."
So the apple tree hid her finely in its green branches; and when the witch flew past saying:
"Tree of mine! O Tree of mine! Have you seen my naughty little maid With a willy willy wag and a great big bag, She's stolen my money—all I had?"
The apple tree answered:
"No, mother dear, Not for seven year!"
So the witch flew on the wrong way, and the girl got down, thanked the tree politely, and started again. But just as she got to where the cow was standing beside the pail, she heard the witch coming again, so she ran to the cow and cried:
"Cow! Cow, please hide me So the witch can't find me; If she does she'll pick my bones, And bury me under the garden stones!"
"Certainly I will," answered the cow. "Didn't you milk me and make me comfortable? Hide yourself behind me and you'll be quite safe."
And when the witch flew by and called to the cow:
"O Cow of mine! Cow of mine! Have you seen my naughty little maid With a willy willy wag and a great big bag, Who stole my money—all that I had?"
She just said politely:
"No, mother dear, Not for seven year!"
Then the old witch went on in the wrong direction, and the girl started afresh on her way home; but just as she got to where the oven stood, she heard that horrid old witch coming behind her again; so she ran as fast as she could to the oven and cried:
"O Oven! Oven! hide me So as the witch can't find me, For if she does she'll pick my bones, And bury them under the garden stones."
Then the oven said, "I am afraid there is no room for you, as another batch of bread is baking; but there is the baker—ask him."
So she asked the baker, and he said, "Of course I will. You saved my last batch from being burnt; so run into the bakehouse, you will be quite safe there, and I will settle the witch for you."
So she hid in the bakehouse, only just in time, for there was the old witch calling angrily:
"O Man of mine! Man of mine! Have you seen my naughty little maid With a willy willy wag and a great big bag, Who's stole my money—all I had?"
Then the baker replied, "Look in the oven. She may be there."
And the witch alighted from her broomstick and peered into the oven: but she could see no one.
"Creep in and look in the farthest corner," said the baker slyly, and the witch crept in, when——
he shut the door in her face, and there she was roasting. And when she came out with the bread she was all crisp and brown, and had to go home as best she could and put cold cream all over her!
But the kind, obliging little girl got safe home with her bag of money.
Now the ill-tempered elder sister was very jealous of this good luck, and determined to get a bag of gold for herself. So she in her turn packed up a bundle and started to seek service by the same road. But when she came to the oven, and the loaves begged her to take them out because they had been baking seven years and were nigh to burning, she tossed her head and said:
"A likely story indeed, that I should burn my fingers to save your crusts. No, thank you!"
And with that she went on till she came across the cow standing waiting to be milked beside the pail. But when the cow said:
"Little girl! Little girl! Milk me! Please milk me, I've waited seven years to be milked——"
She only laughed and replied, "You may wait another seven years for all I care. I'm not your dairymaid!"
And with that she went on till she came to the apple tree, all overburdened by its fruit. But when it begged her to shake its branches, she only giggled, and plucking one ripe apple, said:
"One is enough for me: you can keep the rest yourself." And with that she went on munching the apple, till she came to the witch-woman's house.
Now the witch-woman, though she had got over being crisp and brown from the oven, was dreadfully angry with all little maid-servants, and made up her mind this one should not trick her. So for a long time she never went out of the house; thus the ill-tempered sister never had a chance of looking up the chimney, as she had meant to do at once. And she had to dust, and clean, and brush, and sweep ever so hard, until she was quite tired out.
But one day, when the witch-woman went into the garden to bury her bones, she seized the moment, looked up the chimney, and, sure enough, a bag of gold fell plump into her lap!
Well! she was off with it in a moment, and ran and ran till she came to the apple tree, when she heard the witch-woman behind her. So she cried as her sister had done:
"Apple tree! Apple tree, hide me So the old witch can't find me, For if she does she'll break my bones, Or bury me under the garden stones."
But the apple tree said:
"No room here! I've too many apples."
So she had to run on; and when the witch-woman on her broomstick came flying by and called:
"O Tree of mine! Tree of mine! Have you seen a naughty little maid With a willy willy wag and a great big bag, Who's stolen my money—all I had?"
The apple tree replied:
"Yes, mother dear, She's gone down there."
Then the witch-woman went after her, caught her, gave her a thorough good beating, took the bag of money away from her, and sent her home without a penny payment for all her dusting, and sweeping, and brushing, and cleaning.
THE LAIDLY WORM
In Bamborough Castle there once lived a King who had two children, a son named Childe Wynde, and a daughter who was called May Margret. Their mother, a fair woman, was dead, and the King mourned her long and faithfully. But, after his son Childe Wynde went to seek his fortune, the King, hunting in the forest, came across a lady of such great beauty that he fell in love with her at once and determined to marry her.
Now Princess May Margret was not over-pleased to think that her mother's place should be taken by a strange woman, nor was she pleased to think that she would have to give up keeping house for her father the King. For she had always taken a pride in her work. But she said nothing, though she stood long on the castle walls looking out across the sea wishing for her dear brother's return; for, see you, they had mothered each other.
Still no news came of Childe Wynde; so on the day when the old King was to bring the new Queen home, May Margret counted over the keys of the castle chambers, knotted them on a string, and after casting them over her left shoulder for luck—more for her father's sake than for the new Queen's regard—she stood at the castle gate ready to hand over the keys to her stepmother.
Now as the bridal procession approached with all the lords of the north countrie, and some of the Scots lords in attendance, she looked so fair and so sweet, that the lords whispered to one another of her beauty. And when, after saying in a voice like a mavis—
"Oh welcome, welcome, father, Unto your halls and towers! And welcome too, my stepmother, For all that's here is yours!"
she turned upon the step and tripped into the yard, the Scots lords said aloud:
"Forsooth! May Margret's grace Surpasses all that we have met, she has so fair a face!"
Now the new Queen overheard this, and she stamped her foot and her face flushed with anger as she turned her about and called:
"You might have excepted me, But I will bring May Margret to a Laidly Worm's degree; I'll bring her low as a Laidly Worm That warps about a stone, And not till the Childe of Wynde come back Will the witching be undone."
Well! hearing this May Margret laughed, not knowing that her new stepmother, for all her beauty, was a witch; and the laugh made the wicked woman still more angry. So that same night she left her royal bed, and, returning to the lonely cave where she had ever done her magic, she cast Princess May Margret under a spell with charms three times three, and passes nine times nine. And this was her spell:
"I weird ye to a Laidly Worm, And such sail ye ever be Until Childe Wynde the King's dear son Comes home across the sea. Until the world comes to an end Unspelled ye'll never be, Unless Childe Wynde of his own free will Sail give you kisses three!"
So it came to pass that Princess May Margret went to her bed a beauteous maiden, full of grace, and rose next morning a Laidly Worm; for when her tire-women came to dress her they found coiled up in her bed an awesome dragon, which uncoiled itself and came towards them. And when they ran away terrified, the Laidly Worm crawled and crept, and crept and crawled down to the sea till it reached the rock of the Spindlestone which is called the Heugh. And there it curled itself round the stone, and lay basking in the sun.
Then for seven miles east and seven miles west and seven miles north and south the whole country-side knew the hunger of the Laidly Worm of Spindlestone Heugh, for it drove the awesome beast to leave its resting-place at night and devour everything it came across.
At last a wise warlock told the people that if they wished to be quit of these horrors, they must take every drop of the milk of seven white milch kine every morn and every eve to the trough of stone at the foot of the Heugh, for the Laidly Worm to drink. And this they did, and after that the Laidly Worm troubled the country-side no longer; but lay warped about the Heugh, looking out to sea with its terrible snout in the air.
But the word of its doings had gone east and had gone west; it had even gone over the sea and had come to Childe Wynde's ears; and the news of it angered him; for he thought perchance it had something to do with his beloved sister May Margret's disappearance. So he called his men-at-arms together and said:
"We must sail to Bamborough and land by Spindlestone, so as to quell and kill this Laidly Worm."
Then they built a ship without delay, laying the keel with wood from the rowan tree. And they made masts of rowan wood also, and oars likewise; and, so furnished, set forth.
Now the wicked Queen knew by her arts they were coming, so she sent out her imps to still the winds so that the fluttering sails of silk hung idle on the masts. But Childe Wynde was not to be bested; so he called out the oarsmen. Thus it came to pass that one morn the wicked Queen, looking from the Keep, saw the gallant ship in Bamborough Bay, and she sent out all her witch-wives and her impets to raise a storm and sink the ship; but they came back unable to hurt it, for, see you, it was built of rowan wood, over which witches have no power.
Then, as a last device, the Witch Queen laid spells upon the Laidly Worm saying:
"Oh! Laidly Worm! Go make their topmast heel, Go! Worm the sand, and creep beneath the keel."
Now the Laidly Worm had no choice but to obey. So:
"The Worm leapt up, the Worm leapt down And plaited round each plank, And aye as the ship came close to shore She heeled as if she sank."
Three times three did Childe Wynde attempt to land, and three times three the Laidly Worm kept the good ship from the shore. At last Childe Wynde gave the word to put the ship about, and the Witch Queen, who was watching from the Keep, thought he had given up: but he was not to be bested: for he only rounded the next point to Budley sands. And there, jumping into the shoal water, he got safely to land, and drawing his sword of proof, rushed up to fight the awesome Worm. But as he raised his sword to strike he heard a voice, soft as the western wind:
"Oh quit thy sword, unbend thy bow, And give me kisses three, For though I seem a Laidly Worm No harm I'll do to thee!"
And the voice seemed to him like the voice of his dear sister May Margret. So he stayed his hand. Then once again the Laidly Worm said:
"Oh quit thy sword, unbend thy bow, My laidly form forget. Forgive the wrong and kiss me thrice For love of May Margret."
Then Childe Wynde, remembering how he had loved his sister, put his arms round the Laidly Worm and kissed it once. And he kissed the loathly thing twice. And he kissed it yet a third time as he stood with the wet sand at his feet.
Then with a hiss and a roar the Laidly Worm sank to the sand, and in his arms was May Margret!
He wrapped her in his mantle, for she trembled in the cold sea air, and carried her to Bamborough Castle, where the wicked Queen, knowing her hour was come, stood, all deserted by her imps and witch-wives, on the stairs, twisting her hands.
Then Childe Wynde looking at her cried:
"Woe! Woe to thee, thou wicked Witch! An ill fate shalt thine be! The doom thou dreed on May Margret The same doom shalt thou dree.
Henceforth thou'lt be a Laidly Toad That in the clay doth wend, And unspelled thou wilt never be Till this world hath an end."
And as he spoke the wicked Queen began to shrivel, and she shrivelled and shrivelled to a horrid wrinkled toad that hopped down the castle steps and disappeared in a crevice.
But to this day a loathsome toad is sometimes seen haunting Bamborough Keep; and that Laidly Toad is the wicked Witch Queen!
But Childe Wynde and Princess May Margret loved each other as much as ever, and lived happily ever after.
TITTY MOUSE AND TATTY MOUSE
Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse both lived in a house.
Titty Mouse went a-gleaning, and Tatty Mouse went a-gleaning.
So they both went a-gleaning.
Titty Mouse gleaned an ear of corn, and Tatty Mouse gleaned an ear of corn.
So they both gleaned an ear of corn.
Titty Mouse made a pudding, and Tatty Mouse made a pudding.
So they both made a pudding.
And Tatty Mouse put her pudding into the pot to boil.
But when Titty went to put hers in, the pot tumbled over, and scalded her to death, and Tatty sat down and wept.
Then the three-legged stool said, "Tatty, why do you weep?"
"Titty's dead," said Tatty, "and so I weep."
"Then," said the stool, "I'll hop," so the stool hopped.
Then a broom in the corner of the room said, "Stool, why do you hop?"
"Oh!" said the stool, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, and so I hop."
"Then," said the broom, "I'll sweep," so the broom began to sweep.
Then said the door, "Broom, why do you sweep?"
"Oh!" said the broom, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool hops, and so I sweep."
"Then," said the door, "I'll jar," so the door jarred.
Then the window said, "Door, why do you jar?"
"Oh!" said the door, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool hops, and the broom sweeps, and so I jar."
"Then," said the window, "I'll creak," so the window creaked.
Now there was an old form outside the house, and when the window creaked, the form said, "Window, why do you creak?"
"Oh!" said the window, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and so I creak!"
"Then," said the old form, "I'll gallop round the house." So the old form galloped round the house.
Now there was a fine large walnut tree growing by the cottage, and the tree said to the form, "Form, why do you gallop round the house?"
"Oh!" says the form, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, and so I gallop round the house."
"Then," said the walnut tree, "I'll shed my leaves." So the walnut tree shed all its beautiful green leaves.
Now there was a little bird perched on one of the boughs of the tree, and when all the leaves fell, it said, "Walnut tree, why do you shed your leaves?"
"Oh!" said the tree, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, the stool hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, the old form gallops round the house, and so I shed my leaves."
"Then," said the little bird, "I'll moult all my feathers," so he moulted all his gay feathers.
Now there was a little girl walking below, carrying a jug of milk for her brothers' and sisters' supper, and when she saw the poor little bird moult all its feathers, she said, "Little bird, why do you moult all your feathers?"
"Oh!" said the little bird, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, the stool hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, the old form gallops round the house, the walnut tree sheds its leaves, and so I moult all my feathers."
"Then," said the little girl, "I'll spill the milk." So she dropt the pitcher and spilt the milk.
Now there was an old man just by on the top of a ladder thatching a rick, and when he saw the little girl spill the milk, he said, "Little girl, what do you mean by spilling the milk? your little brothers and sisters must go without their suppers."
Then said the little girl, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, the stool hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, the old form gallops round the house, the walnut tree sheds all its leaves, the little bird moults all its feathers, and so I spill the milk."
"Oh!" said the old man, "then I'll tumble off the ladder and break my neck."
So he tumbled off the ladder and broke his neck; and when the old man broke his neck, the great walnut tree fell down with a crash and upset the old form and house, and the house falling knocked the window out, and the window knocked the door down, and the door upset the broom, and the broom upset the stool, and poor little Tatty Mouse was buried beneath the ruins.
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
A long long time ago, when most of the world was young and folk did what they liked because all things were good, there lived a boy called Jack.
His father was bed-ridden, and his mother, a good soul, was busy early morns and late eves planning and placing how to support her sick husband and her young son by selling the milk and butter which Milky-White, the beautiful cow, gave them without stint. For it was summer-time. But winter came on; the herbs of the fields took refuge from the frosts in the warm earth, and though his mother sent Jack to gather what fodder he could get in the hedgerows, he came back as often as not with a very empty sack; for Jack's eyes were so often full of wonder at all the things he saw that sometimes he forgot to work!
So it came to pass that one morning Milky-White gave no milk at all—not one drain! Then the good hard-working mother threw her apron over her head and sobbed:
"What shall we do? What shall we do?"
Now Jack loved his mother; besides, he felt just a bit sneaky at being such a big boy and doing so little to help, so he said, "Cheer up! Cheer up! I'll go and get work somewhere." And he felt as he spoke as if he would work his fingers to the bone; but the good woman shook her head mournfully.
"You've tried that before, Jack," she said, "and nobody would keep you. You are quite a good lad but your wits go a-wool-gathering. No, we must sell Milky-White and live on the money. It is no use crying over milk that is not here to spill!"
You see, she was a wise as well as a hard-working woman, and Jack's spirits rose.
"Just so," he cried. "We will sell Milky-White and be richer than ever. It's an ill wind that blows no one good. So, as it is market-day, I'll just take her there and we shall see what we shall see."
"But—" began his mother.
"But doesn't butter parsnips," laughed Jack. "Trust me to make a good bargain."
So, as it was washing-day, and her sick husband was more ailing than usual, his mother let Jack set off to sell the cow.
"Not less than ten pounds," she bawled after him as he turned the corner.
Ten pounds, indeed! Jack had made up his mind to twenty! Twenty solid golden sovereigns!
He was just settling what he should buy his mother as a fairing out of the money, when he saw a queer little old man on the road who called out, "Good-morning, Jack!"
"Good-morning," replied Jack, with a polite bow, wondering how the queer little old man happened to know his name; though, to be sure, Jacks were as plentiful as blackberries.
"And where may you be going?" asked the queer little old man. Jack wondered again—he was always wondering, you know—what the queer little old man had to do with it; but, being always polite, he replied:
"I am going to market to sell Milky-White—and I mean to make a good bargain."
"So you will! So you will!" chuckled the queer little old man. "You look the sort of chap for it. I bet you know how many beans make five?"
"Two in each hand and one in my mouth," answered Jack readily. He really was sharp as a needle.
"Just so, just so!" chuckled the queer little old man; and as he spoke he drew out of his pocket five beans. "Well, here they are, so give us Milky-White."
Jack was so flabbergasted that he stood with his mouth open as if he expected the fifth bean to fly into it.
"What!" he said at last. "My Milky-White for five common beans! Not if I know it!"
"But they aren't common beans," put in the queer little old man, and there was a queer little smile on his queer little face. "If you plant these beans over-night, by morning they will have grown up right into the very sky."
Jack was too flabbergasted this time even to open his mouth; his eyes opened instead.
"Did you say right into the very sky?" he asked at last; for, see you, Jack had wondered more about the sky than about anything else.
"RIGHT UP INTO THE VERY SKY" repeated the queer old man, with a nod between each word. "It's a good bargain, Jack; and, as fair play's a jewel, if they don't—why! meet me here to-morrow morning and you shall have Milky-White back again. Will that please you?"
"Right as a trivet," cried Jack, without stopping to think, and the next moment he found himself standing on an empty road.
"Two in each hand and one in my mouth," repeated Jack. "That is what I said, and what I'll do. Everything in order, and if what the queer little old man said isn't true, I shall get Milky-White back to-morrow morning."
So whistling and munching the bean he trudged home cheerfully, wondering what the sky would be like if he ever got there.
"What a long time you've been!" exclaimed his mother, who was watching anxiously for him at the gate. "It is past sun-setting; but I see you have sold Milky-White. Tell me quick how much you got for her."
"You'll never guess," began Jack.
"Laws-a-mercy! You don't say so," interrupted the good woman. "And I worriting all day lest they should take you in. What was it? Ten pounds—fifteen—sure it can't be twenty!"
Jack held out the beans triumphantly.
"There," he said. "That's what I got for her, and a jolly good bargain too!"
It was his mother's turn to be flabbergasted; but all she said was:
"What! Them beans!"
"Yes," replied Jack, beginning to doubt his own wisdom; "but they're magic beans. If you plant them over-night, by morning they—grow—right up—into—the—sky—Oh! Please don't hit so hard!"
For Jack's mother for once had lost her temper, and was belabouring the boy for all she was worth. And when she had finished scolding and beating, she flung the miserable beans out of window and sent him, supperless, to bed.
If this was the magical effect of the beans, thought Jack ruefully, he didn't want any more magic, if you please.
However, being healthy and, as a rule, happy, he soon fell asleep and slept like a top.
When he woke he thought at first it was moonlight, for everything in the room showed greenish. Then he stared at the little window. It was covered as if with a curtain by leaves. He was out of bed in a trice, and the next moment, without waiting to dress, was climbing up the biggest beanstalk you ever saw. For what the queer little old man had said was true! One of the beans which his mother had chucked into the garden had found soil, taken root, and grown in the night....
Up to the very sky? Jack meant to see at any rate.
So he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed. It was easy work, for the big beanstalk with the leaves growing out of each side was like a ladder; for all that he soon was out of breath. Then he got his second wind, and was just beginning to wonder if he had a third when he saw in front of him a wide, shining white road stretching away, and away, and away.
So he took to walking, and he walked, and walked, and walked, till he came to a tall, shining white house with a wide white doorstep.
And on the doorstep stood a great big woman with a black porridge-pot in her hand. Now Jack, having had no supper, was hungry as a hunter, and when he saw the porridge-pot he said quite politely:
"Good-morning, 'm. I wonder if you could give me some breakfast?"
"Breakfast!" echoed the woman, who, in truth, was an ogre's wife. "If it is breakfast you're wanting, it's breakfast you'll likely be; for I expect my man home every instant, and there is nothing he likes better for breakfast than a boy—a fat boy grilled on toast."
Now Jack was not a bit of a coward, and when he wanted a thing he generally got it, so he said cheerful-like:
"I'd be fatter if I'd had my breakfast!" Whereat the ogre's wife laughed and bade Jack come in; for she was not, really, half as bad as she looked. But he had hardly finished the great bowl of porridge and milk she gave him when the whole house began to tremble and quake. It was the ogre coming home!
Thump! THUMP!! THUMP!!!
"Into the oven with you, sharp!" cried the ogre's wife; and the iron oven door was just closed when the ogre strode in. Jack could see him through the little peep-hole slide at the top where the steam came out.
He was a big one for sure. He had three sheep strung to his belt, and these he threw down on the table. "Here, wife," he cried, "roast me these snippets for breakfast; they are all I've been able to get this morning, worse luck! I hope the oven's hot?" And he went to touch the handle, while Jack burst out all of a sweat, wondering what would happen next.
"Roast!" echoed the ogre's wife. "Pooh! the little things would dry to cinders. Better boil them."
So she set to work to boil them; but the ogre began sniffing about the room. "They don't smell—mutton meat," he growled. Then he frowned horribly and began the real ogre's rhyme:
"Fee-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."
"Don't be silly!" said his wife. "It's the bones of the little boy you had for supper that I'm boiling down for soup! Come, eat your breakfast, there's a good ogre!"
So the ogre ate his three sheep, and when he had done he went to a big oaken chest and took out three big bags of golden pieces. These he put on the table, and began to count their contents while his wife cleared away the breakfast things. And by and by his head began to nod, and at last he began to snore, and snored so loud that the whole house shook.
Then Jack nipped out of the oven and, seizing one of the bags of gold, crept away, and ran along the straight, wide, shining white road as fast as his legs would carry him till he came to the beanstalk. He couldn't climb down it with the bag of gold, it was so heavy, so he just flung his burden down first, and, helter-skelter, climbed after it.
And when he came to the bottom, there was his mother picking up gold pieces out of the garden as fast as she could; for, of course, the bag had burst.
"Laws-a-mercy me!" she says. "Wherever have you been? See! It's been rainin' gold!"
"No, it hasn't," began Jack. "I climbed up—"
Then he turned to look for the beanstalk; but, lo and behold! it wasn't there at all! So he knew, then, it was all real magic.
After that they lived happily on the gold pieces for a long time, and the bed-ridden father got all sorts of nice things to eat; but, at last, a day came when Jack's mother showed a doleful face as she put a big yellow sovereign into Jack's hand and bade him be careful marketing, because there was not one more in the coffer. After that they must starve.
That night Jack went supperless to bed of his own accord. If he couldn't make money, he thought, at any rate he could eat less money. It was a shame for a big boy to stuff himself and bring no grist to the mill.
He slept like a top, as boys do when they don't overeat themselves, and when he woke....
Hey, presto! the whole room showed greenish, and there was a curtain of leaves over the window! Another bean had grown in the night, and Jack was up it like a lamp-lighter before you could say knife.
This time he didn't take nearly so long climbing until he reached the straight, wide, white road, and in a trice he found himself before the tall white house, where on the wide white steps the ogre's wife was standing with the black porridge-pot in her hand.
And this time Jack was as bold as brass. "Good-morning, 'm," he said. "I've come to ask you for breakfast, for I had no supper, and I'm as hungry as a hunter."
"Go away, bad boy!" replied the ogre's wife. "Last time I gave a boy breakfast my man missed a whole bag of gold. I believe you are the same boy."
"Maybe I am, maybe I'm not," said Jack, with a laugh. "I'll tell you true when I've had my breakfast; but not till then."
So the ogre's wife, who was dreadfully curious, gave him a big bowl full of porridge; but before he had half finished it he heard the ogre coming—
Thump! THUMP! THUMP!
"In with you to the oven," shrieked the ogre's wife. "You shall tell me when he has gone to sleep."
This time Jack saw through the steam peep-hole that the ogre had three fat calves strung to his belt.
"Better luck to-day, wife!" he cried, and his voice shook the house. "Quick! Roast these trifles for my breakfast! I hope the oven's hot?"
And he went to feel the handle of the door, but his wife cried out sharply:
"Roast! Why, you'd have to wait hours before they were done! I'll broil them—see how bright the fire is!"
"Umph!" growled the ogre. And then he began sniffing and calling out:
"Fee-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."
"Twaddle!" said the ogre's wife. "It's only the bones of the boy you had last week that I've put into the pig-bucket!"
"Umph!" said the ogre harshly; but he ate the broiled calves, and then he said to his wife, "Bring me my hen that lays the magic eggs. I want to see gold."
So the ogre's wife brought him a great big black hen with a shiny red comb. She plumped it down on the table and took away the breakfast things.
Then the ogre said to the hen, "Lay!" and it promptly laid—what do you think?—a beautiful, shiny, yellow, golden egg!
"None so dusty, henny-penny," laughed the ogre. "I shan't have to beg as long as I've got you." Then he said, "Lay!" once more; and, lo and behold! there was another beautiful, shiny, yellow, golden egg!
Jack could hardly believe his eyes, and made up his mind that he would have that hen, come what might. So, when the ogre began to doze, he just out like a flash from the oven, seized the hen, and ran for his life! But, you see, he reckoned without his prize; for hens, you know, always cackle when they leave their nests after laying an egg, and this one set up such a scrawing that it woke the ogre.
"Where's my hen?" he shouted, and his wife came rushing in, and they both rushed to the door; but Jack had got the better of them by a good start, and all they could see was a little figure right away down the wide white road, holding a big, scrawing, cackling, fluttering black hen by the legs!
How Jack got down the beanstalk he never knew. It was all wings, and leaves, and feathers, and cacklings; but get down he did, and there was his mother wondering if the sky was going to fall!
But the very moment Jack touched ground he called out, "Lay!" and the black hen ceased cackling and laid a great, big, shiny, yellow, golden egg.
So every one was satisfied; and from that moment everybody had everything that money could buy. For, whenever they wanted anything, they just said, "Lay!" and the black hen provided them with gold.
But Jack began to wonder if he couldn't find something else besides money in the sky. So one fine moonlight midsummer night he refused his supper, and before he went to bed stole out to the garden with a big watering-can and watered the ground under his window; for, thought he, "there must be two more beans somewhere, and perhaps it is too dry for them to grow." Then he slept like a top.