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Once upon a time there was a very poor woman who lived in a little country village, many miles from the nearest city. She was a widow, and had one child, a son named Jack. She felt so bad that Jack had no father, and that they were so poor, that she spoiled him. She did all the chores, chopped the wood for the fire, and all the cooking.
Jack was not stupid, but as he grew up he did not know how to do anything well at all. For it is only by doing things that you can learn.
It is tough for one person to work and feed a growing boy, and the little family grew poorer and poorer. The mother sold the furniture from the living room, and even her wedding ring, to get money for food. Soon all they had left was the cow - and she was so old and so ill-fed that she could no longer even give milk.
Finally, there was not even enough food for one more day, and of course no milk.

The poor woman one day met Jack with tears in her eyes; she said, "I have not money enough to purchase even a bit of bread for another day—nothing now remains to sell but my poor cow! I am sorry to part with her; but we must not starve."
As he was going along, he met a butcher, who inquired why he was driving the cow from home? Jack replied, he was going to sell it. The butcher held some curious beans in his hat. The beans were of various colours.
The butcher smiled and told Jack, "These are magic beans! Make a wish on them and you'll never want for money again!" Silly Jack was excited - he traded the cow for the beans. Jack ran home, calling aloud to his mother before he reached home, thinking to surprise her.
His mother was shoked and angry. She threw the beans out the window, and sent Jack to bed without dinner - because of course there was no dinner to be had and no money to buy any.
Jack woke early in the morning, and looked out the window. He couldn't believe it! The beans had taken root, and sprung up surprisingly: the stalks were of an immense thickness, and had so entwined, that they formed a ladder nearly like a chain in appearance.
Jack began to climb the beanstalk. After climbing for some hours, reached the top of the bean-stalk, fatigued and quite exhausted. Looking around, he found himself in a strange country; it appeared to be a desert, quite barren, not a tree, shrub, house, or living creature to be seen; here and there were scattered fragments of stone.
Suddenly a young woman appeared at a distance: she was dressed in the most elegant manner, and had a small white wand in her hand, on the top of which was a peacock of pure gold - she was a fairy!
The fairy asked Jack about his mother and father. Jack replied that his mother was a widow, which means his father has passed on. His mother had never told him why, or even anything about his father which made Jack sad.
The fairy told Jack the story of his father. She told him that when Jack was a baby, his father had been rich, and generous. He had always fed the poor, and boutght medicine for the sick, and invited them into his home. An evil giant came. The giant pretended to be poor, and was invited to eat by Jack's father - but he ate him up instead!
He kicked the mother and the baby out and told her if she ever said anything to anyone, that the Giant would kill Jack! So that is why Jack's mother never told him of his father, and why they lived in a little shack so far away from anyone.
The fairy said, "Imagine how your mother has felt all these years, not being able to tell you the secret of your father because she was afraid! I was your father's guardian when he was young; but when I tried to protect him from the Giant, I broke fairy law - they took away my magic powers for 12 years.
"Now I have them back, but I am still weak - all I could do was enchant those ordinary beans! Follow this road and you will see the Giant's castle - everything he owns is really yours. Do not tell your mother anything till we know she is safe. Danger lies ahead."
Jack saw the castle looming ahead. He knocked on the heavy door. To his surprise it was opened by a kind-looking giantess. He asked to stay the night, but she said that her husband was a powerful giant, who loved to eat human flesh. Jack was scared - but he asked the woman to take him in for one night, and to hide him.
The good woman took him into the house. Poor Jack was half dead with fear. The woman fed him a delicious dinner - he was very hungry. He was just feeling wonderful, when he heard the booming of footsteps as loud as explosions. The woman hid him in the oven.
Jack heard him accost her in a voice like thunder, saying: "Fee Fie foe fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman! Wife, I smell fresh meat." "My dear," she replied, "it is nothing but the people in the dungeon."
The giant appeared to believe her, and walked into the very kitchen where poor Jack was concealed, who shook, trembled, and was more terrified than he had yet been. Jack peeked through a crack. The giant ate a huge supper. When he was done, the giant asked his wife to bring him his hen.
A very beautiful hen was then brought, and placed on the table before him. Jack was amazed to see that every time the giant said "Lay!" the hen laid an egg of solid gold. While the giantwas playing with the hen, his wife went to bed. At length the giant fell asleep by the fire-side, and snored like the roaring of a cannon.
At daybreak, Jack crept softly out of his hiding-place, seized the hen, and ran off with her. He easily found the way to the beanstalk, and descended it better than he expected. His mother was overjoyed to see him! Jack showed his mother the hen, and shouted "Lay!" The hen produced as many golden eggs as they desired: they sold them, and in a little time became possessed of as much riches as they wanted.
For some months Jack and his mother lived very happily together; but Jack thought of his journey again and again. One day while his mother was napping, he disguised himself. He put on a costume so the giant's wife would not recognize him, and climbed the bean-stalk a second time. He reached the castle late in the evening: the woman was at the door as before.
In his disguise Jack begged for food and a night's lodging. She said she should not, because the last time she let a poor boy in he was a thief and stole from her. But Jack convinced her, and she let him in and fed him dinner. When the footeteps boomed she hid him in a cupboard.
The wife replied that it was his dinner she was cooking - roast peasant. The giant ate his huge supper, and said to his wife: "Bring me my harp." Jack peeped out of his hiding place, and saw the most beautiful harp that could be imagined: it was placed by the giant on the table, who said, "Play!" and it instantly played by itself, without being touched. The music soon lulled the giant into a sound sleep. Jack jumped down and carried off the harp!
But the harp was enchanted by a fairy: it called out loudly: "Master! master!" The giant awoke, stood up, and ran after Jack; but he had eaten and drunk so much, that he could hardly stand. Poor Jack ran as fast as he could. The giant called after him in a voice like thunder. The moment Jack got down the bean-stalk he called out for his mother. She grabbed ane axe and began to chop down the beanstalk - Jack never had learned how to chop wood!
The giant was climbing down the beanstalk! He was shouting, "Fee fie foe fum - I'll kill you then I'll eat your mum!" Jack's mother chopped and chopped at the beanstalk near root - suddenly here was a cracking, splitting sound, and the beanstalk shook and tottered. The Giant screamed as the beanstalk fell sideways, pulling him through the clouds til he fell headlong into Jack's garden. He was dead as a doornail.
Suddenly in a flash of light the fairy appeared: she bowed to Jack's mother and explained Jack's journeys up the bean-stalk. The fairy told Jack to follow his father's good example. Generosity of spirit, and to learn by doing, is the only way to be happy.
The fairy disappeared. Jack begged his mother's forgiveness for all the hardships he had caused her. She forgave him, and they lived in their beautiful house, with the harp and the hen - happily ever after.
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