Jack and the Beanstalk

Read by Chazz Palminteri

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"Jack and the Beanstalk" by Joseph Jacobs

Once upon a time, there was a poor widow who lived in a little cottage with her son Jack.

One day the widow sent her son to the market to sell their cow so that they could have some money.

But on the way, Jack met a man who offered him some beans in exchange for the cow.

Jack took the beans but when he got home, his mother was very upset that he had brought them beans instead of money.

Jack said that they could plant the beans to grow food but his mother did not feel any better.

Jack planted the beans anyway.

The next morning, a great, huge beanstalk appeared where Jack had planted the beans.

Jack wanted to climb the beanstalk to see where it led, and so he said goodbye to his mother and up the stalk he went.

He climbed and climbed until he was in the clouds.

Finally, he reached an enormous, green valley in the sky.

When he climbed onto the grassy surface, he immediately saw a huge castle.

Then he noticed an old woman nearby.

Jack approached the woman and said, "Hello Madam, is that your home?"

"No," said the old lady. "But I can tell you the story of that castle... Once upon a time there was a noble knight, who lived in that castle, which is on the border of Fairyland. He and his wife and children were liked by all of their neighbors.

One day an evil giant attacked the castle and took away the man and his children but the wife and the youngest child were not at home. They were visiting an old nurse. When news of the giant's attack reached the wife, she knew she had to stay with the nurse to protect her son and herself. Eventually, the old nurse passed away and the woman and her son continued to live at the nurse's house but they became very poor.

The giant and his wife moved into the castle and still live there today.

Now, I will tell you who the woman and her son are... The son is you and the woman is your mother, and that castle belonged to your father.

You must take it back from the Giant for you and your mother to own."

Jack was shocked. "My poor mother," he said.

"Do you have the courage to fight the Giant?" asked the old woman.

"I must have the courage to do what is right," said Jack.

"Good, now to defeat the Giant you must enter the castle, and if possible take the hen that lays the golden eggs and the harp that speaks. Remember you are not stealing because everything in the castle belongs to you and your family."

Then suddenly the woman vanished and Jack realized that she was a fairy.

Jack ran to the castle and rang the bell.

The Giant's wife opened the door.

She looked down and saw Jack and grabbed him and dragged him into the castle.

Then she told Jack that he was to be her servant and to help her with her chores, but that when her husband was home, he would have to hide in her closet so that he would not eat him.

Just then, Jack heard a loud thump on the stairs and a booming voice called out,

"Fe, fa, fi-fo-fum,
I smell the breath of an Englishman.
Let him be alive or let him be dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."

"Wife," cried the Giant, "there is a man in the castle. Let me have him for breakfast."

But the Giant's Wife shouted back that he was wrong and that no one was in the castle.

Later, the giant left for a walk and Jack helped the Giant's Wife with all her many chores around the huge castle.

That evening, the Giant returned for supper and Jack hid back in the closet.

He watched as the giant and his wife sat at the dining table, and he saw that at the giant's feet was a hen.

A few minutes later, the hen laid a golden egg and Jack realized that this was the hen that the fairy had told him to take.

So, when the giants had gone to sleep, he snuck into the dining room and snatched the hen.

Then just as he was leaving the room, he noticed a large bag of gold coins sitting on the serving table and he remembered that the fairy had said that everything in the castle belonged to him and his mother, and so he took the bag as well.

He rushed out of the castle and down the beanstalk to his mother's house.

Jack woke his mother and showed her the hen and the bag of gold and told her about the giants.

She was shocked and happy for the gold and the hen, which would save them from being poor.

But, she wanted Jack to stay and not return to the castle, but Jack convinced her that he must go back and fight for their family's castle.

Jack snuck back into the castle and back into the closet before the giants awoke.

The next day the giant and the giantess had their breakfast and afterwards the giant lay down and said, "Wife, bring me my harp, and I will listen to some music while you take your walk."

The giantess returned with a beautiful harp, which sparkled with diamonds and rubies and had gold strings.

The giant looked at the harp and said, "Play!"

And the harp played a very beautiful lullaby, for this was the giant's naptime.

Once the giant was asleep and the Giant's wife went out to take her walk, Jack crept out of the closet and quickly and silently grabbed the harp and started to dash away from the sleeping giant.

But the harp began to shout, "Help! Master! I am being stolen!"

Jack told the harp that he was the son of the knight who owned the castle and the harp stopped shouting.

But it was too late.

The giant was already awake and chasing them.

Jack ran out of the castle and all the way down the beanstalk to his mother's home.

He grabbed an ax from their woodshed and cut down the beanstalk.

And, the giant, who was following them down the stalk, fell to the ground and broke his neck.

Then the old fairy appeared and took Jack and his mother back to the castle by magic.

Jack rang the doorbell and the Giant's wife who was worried about her missing husband came running and fell and broke her neck and died.

And so, Jack and his mother moved back into their castle and live happily ever after.