« PreviousContinue »
To show the truth of his words he unlocked the gate and set the captives free. Then he led them all into the great banquet hall, put before them two quarters of beef with plenty of bread and wine, and bade them eat their fill. When supper was over they searched the giant's coffers, and Jack divided the rich contents equally among them all.
Next morning the prisoners set off to their homes, while Jack returned to the palace of the knight and lady whom he had left not long before. It was about noon when Jack arrived at the knight's house, where he was received with great joy; and his host joined in giving, in honor of the Giant-Killer, a great feast, to which all the nobles and gentry were invited.
When the guests were all assembled the knight told the story of Jack's remarkable exploits and presented him with a splendid ring on which was engraved a picture of a giant dragging a knight and a lady by their hair, with the following inscription:
"Behold, in dire distress were we,
But gained our lives and liberty
From valiant Jack's victorious hand."
Among the guests at this feast were five aged gentlemen, fathers of some of the captives whom Jack had released. All gathered around the happy young warrior and with tears in their eyes thanked him for what he had done. Every one drank to the success of the hero, and the walls of the great hall echoed with laughter and cries of joy.
Suddenly into the midst of all this gaiety came a herald, pale and breathless with haste, who cried out that Thunderdale, a savage giant with two heads, had heard of the death of his two kinsmen and was hastening to take his revenge on Jack. He was scarcely a mile away, and people were flying before him like chaff before the wind. None of this frightened Jack, although every one of the guests trembled with fear. As for Jack, he merely drew his sword and said, "Let him come on. I have the rod for him also, and I beg you ladies and gentlemen to walk into the garden, where you shall see the grim giant's defeat and destruction."
Wishing Jack every success, they hurried out after him. Now the knight's castle was surrounded by a moat thirty feet deep and twenty feet wide, over which lay a drawbridge. Jack set men to work to cut the bridge on both sides nearly to the middle, and then putting on his coat of darkness he seized his sword of sharpness and lay in wait for the giant. When the latter approached he could not see Jack because of the coat of darkness, but he felt that danger was near and cried out:
"Fee, Fie, Fo, Fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."
"Say you so, my friend? You are a great miller, indeed."
"Art thou," cried the giant, "the villain who slew my kinsmen? Then will I surely tear thee with my teeth and grind thy bones to flour."
"You must catch me first," said Jack and throwing off his coat of darkness and putting on his shoes of swiftness he flew toward the castle, the giant following with his heavy tread which made the earth shake at every step. Around and around the walls of the house Jack led the monster until every one had a chance to see him, and then he led him to the drawbridge. Jack passed over in safety, but as the giant reached the middle the great weight of his body broke the cut drawbridge, and he fell into the moat, tumbling about like a huge whale among the pieces of the bridge. Jack stood by and laughed at him, saying over and over again, "I think you said you would grind my bones to flour. When will you commence?"
Although the giant plunged furiously from side to side of the moat he was unable to climb out, and so could not revenge himself on his foe. At last Jack threw a rope over the giant's shoulders, and with a team of horses drew him ashore. As soon as he reached the shore, Jack cut off both his heads with his sword of sharpness, and before he either ate or drank, sent them by a messenger to King Arthur.
Then the mirth and frolic were renewed, and Jack stayed with his friends for some time, enjoying himself heartily.
But at last he wearied of so idle a life and set forth in search of new adventures. After he had traveled over hills and down dales and through many forests he came at length to the foot of a high mountain, where, late at night, he found a lonesome house, at the door of which he knocked. In response to his summons an old man with hair as white as snow opened the door and let him in.
"Good father," said Jack, "can you lodge a traveler who has lost his way?"
"Certainly," said the old man; "you are very welcome to iny poor cottage if you can put up with such fare as I have." Whereupon Jack entered, and the old man gave him a supper of bread and fruit.
THUNDERDALE FELL INTO THE MOAT
Before Jack had fully eaten, the old man said, "My son, I see by the belt you wear that you are the famous Jack the Giant-Killer. Behold, my son, on the top of this mountain is an enchanted castle kept by a huge giant named Gallagantis, the very last of his race. This old fiend, by the help of a foul magician who lives with him, has captured many knights and carried them into his castle, where he changes them into many different shapes and forms. I grieve more, however, for a duke's daughter whom they fetched from her father's garden and brought hither in a fiery chariot drawn by two terrible dragons. When he had secured her he turned her into a beautiful doe. This had been a favorite trial with many knights, but none have been able to destroy the enchantment and deliver her, because the gates of the castle are guarded by two fiery griffins who destroy all who come near. Perhaps, my son, you may pass them undiscovered because of your coat of darkness, and if you can once reach the gates of the castle you will find engraved thereon directions for breaking the spell."
Jack promised that in the morning he would go to the castle, break the enchantment and release the young lady and her companions.
As soon as it was light, Jack clothed himself in his magic coat, hat and shoes and prepared himself for battle. When he had reached the summit of the mountain he saw the two fiery griffins, but by means of his coat of darkness he was able to pass between them without being seen. When he reached the castle gate he found a golden trumpet suspended by a silver chain, under which were written these lines:
"Whoever can this trumpet blow
Shall soon the giant overthrow,
And break the black enchantment straight;
So all shall be in happy state."