Jack, After the Giant
Jack had gone from being the part-owner of one old cow to owning a magic harp, a magic chicken, and a big bag of gold. All it took was a few days and a few magic beans. His mother was happy, he was happy, and it looked like they would live happily ever after.
Of course the giant wasn’t happy, but that didn’t really matter to Jack. The giant had stolen the treasures anyway, so they didn’t belong to him in the first place. Besides, he’d threatened to eat Jack, so Jack didn’t really feel all that sympathetic.
He went to bed feeling like he was on top of the world. He left the bag of gold on the table by his bed, so that it would be the first thing he saw when he woke up. It was a nice idea, but it didn’t work.
The first thing Jack saw when he woke up was a tiny person waving a tiny sword an inch from his eye. Without even thinking about it, Jack tried to swat the tiny person with his hand. He hit the tiny sword instead. Or maybe it hit him. Either way, the tiny sword was as sharp as a needle.
Jack screeched in pain and sat up. The little man tumbled off Jack’s pillow. With a mocking laugh, he slid down the bedding and ran across the floor. Jack jumped up and chased him.
Just as the tiny man ran into a mouse hole in the wall, Jack realized that the little man had a gold coin strapped to his back. Jack peered into the mouse hole. He couldn’t see anything.
He raced back to the table by his bed. The bag of gold was suspiciously flat. Jack snatched it up and opened it. It was empty.
It took just a few minutes to discover that his magic chicken and magic harp were gone also. That terrible tiny man had stolen all his wealth, and he didn’t even have a cow left to trade for more magic beans. What would he do?
Trudging into the kitchen, he slumped into his chair at the table. “Mother, I have bad news.”
She looked up from the steaming pot she was stirring. “What happened? Is the terrible giant back?”
“Even worse,” Jack said. “A tiny man came and stole everything that I got from the giant.”
“A tiny man? Are you sure?”
“As sure as I am that I saw a giant.”
His mother sighed. “I knew it was too good to be true. Well, easy come, easy go.”
Jack frowned. “Mother, I assure you that it was not easy to take things from a giant.”
“It was probably as easy for you to steal from the giant as it was for the tiny man to steal from you.”
Jack wasn’t really sure how to respond to that. So he changed the subject. “But what will we do now? We don’t even have a cow to sell.”
“Luckily, you did get those magic beans.”
Jack sighed. “But they’re gone now. Besides, I took all of the giant’s treasure. They wouldn’t do me any good.”
“Who needs the giant’s treasure? We still have the beanstalk.” She pointed out the window dramatically.
Jack looked out the window at the remains of the beanstalk, now a tangled mess in the backyard. “What good is a beanstalk? It will dry out and be too brittle to build with. No one wants a beanstalk.”
“Foolish child, have you forgotten what grows on a beanstalk?”
“Beans?” Jack sat up in surprise. “Are they magic beans?”
“Not as far as I can tell. But they are giant beans.” She pointed to a neatly stacked pile next to the stove.
Jack had initially mistaken it for a pile of wood for the fire. But, they were too green to be logs. “They’re giant beans,” he yelled.
His mother sighed. “I just said that. We have enough to sell at all the major markets in the country and have some leftover to save for seeds.”
That sounded promising. “So we aren’t going to starve to death, even though a tiny person came and robbed me of everything I rightfully stole? We’re going to be fine?”
“That’s right. We’ll be better than fine. With a little effort, we’re going to be able to earn a respectable living for the rest of our lives.”
“Oh. Well, that’s okay then.” Jack thought for a moment. “Maybe I should send an apology letter to the giant. It wasn’t very nice of me to steal from him, was it? I didn’t like it when someone stole from me.”
“You do that,” his mother said. “We’ll give it to him next time we see him. I’ll call you in when breakfast is ready. I hope you like beans.”