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JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

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HOW THE BEANS WERE PLANTED

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2. ONG, long years ago, a poor widow

lived in a little cottage near one of the pretty villages in England. She had a son, Jack, a good-natured, idle fellow, but an affectionate boy, willing to help his mother, although she had never

set him to work. They had had a hard winter; their food was all gone, and the widow, who was just getting better from a long sickness, saw only starvation ahead, unless they sold their cow.

One morning she called the boy to her and said, “We are almost beggars. I have no money to buy us bread to eat. We must sell our cow, and then what shall we do? I am not strong enough to go to market, Jack, so you must take the cow and sell her.”

Jack was a happy boy when he started off to market with his cow, but his mother did not think he knew how to get the most for the animal.

Jack had gone but a little way when he met a butcher.

"Where are you going with that cow?" asked the butcher. “I am going to sell it,” said Jack.

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As they were talking, the butcher was shaking some beautiful beans in his hands, and Jack watched them with great curiosity. The butcher knew that Jack was admiring the beans, so he said, “Why don't you sell your cow to me? I will give you all these beans for her, and they are of much more value than she is.”

Jack wanted the beans, so a bargain was quickly struck, and he hurried off to his mother to show her what wonderful things he had. When the poor woman saw only a few odd-looking beans and knew that Jack had traded the cow for them, she cried hard and scolded Jack roundly for his foolishness. That night they went to bed hungry, for they had nothing to eat. The mother was so angry that she would not even cook the beans, which she said were nothing but common ones.

Early in the morning Jack arose and went out into the garden. “Maybe these are only common beans,” he said, “but I will plant them here at the foot of the cliff that shelters the cottage and we shall see what will happen.”

II

HOW THE BEANS GREW

ALL that day Jack was a very hungry boy, and A that night he could scarcely sleep, for they had had little or nothing to eat. Besides, he was filled with sorrow and grief at his foolish bargain.

It was just daybreak next morning when Jack crawled out of his bed and opened the cottage door. What was his amazement to find that the beans he had planted the day before had sprouted and grown up till their tops were lost to sight above the cliff! The stalks had twined and twisted themselves together until they seemed like a great green ladder, that tempted Jack with the wish to climb.

“Mother, mother,” he called. “Come out and see what the wonderful beans have done. They have made a ladder right up into the sky, and I want to climb it.”

His mother was as much astonished as Jack himself at the wonderful growth of the beanstalk, but she was afraid to have Jack climb it, and begged him not to go.

“Who ever saw such beanstalks before?” she said · “How do we know that they will bear your weight, or how can we tell where they lead to?”

“The way to tell that is to climb and see,” said Jack. “Don't you be afraid; I shall soon find out what it all means.”

III

JACK CLIMBS THE BEANSTALK

TNSTANTLY he ran from his mother's side and I began to climb. Up, up, and up he went on the ladder-like stalks till everything he had left behind him, the cottage, the village and even the tall church tower, looked very small; and still he could not see the top of the beanstalk. He grew tired and thought of going back, but something urged him on, and he knew he would succeed if he persevered, so after taking a good long rest he began to climb again. It was hours and hours since he left the ground, and when at last he reached the top he took but a hasty glance downwards, for it made him feel dizzy and faint when he found that the cottage and the village had all faded out of sight.

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But when Jack stepped from the top of the beanstalk he found himself in a beautiful place, such as he had never seen before. There were stately groves and lovely meadows covered with sheep. A stream of pure water ran through the pastures, and not far from him he could see a strong castle on a hill. Jack wondered very much that he had never heard of this land or castle before, but still he walked on toward it, looking at it all the time and hoping that he might get something to eat, for he was very hungry after his long climb.

But the castle was farther away than he thought, and finally, growing very weary, he sat down on a pile of stones and rested his head on his hands. After a while he looked up and saw standing before him a beautiful lady, carrying in her hand a small wand, on the top of which was a peacock of pure gold. Jack jumped up, pulled off his cap and made a low bow.

The lady, who wore a pointed red cap of quilted satin turned up with ermine, and whose beautiful hair streamed over her shoulders, smiled at Jack's respectful behavior and said, “Where do you come from, young man?”

In reply, Jack told her all about trading his cow, planting the beans and climbing the beanstalk. When he had finished she surprised him by asking this question:

“Do you remember your father?”

“No,” said Jack, "and I do not know what became of him. Whenever I mention him, my mother cries, but she will never tell me anything.”

“She doesn't dare to speak about him," said the lady, “but I will tell you.”

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