Jack and the Beanstalk

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There once was a poor widow who had a son named Jack. The widow cherished her only son, especially after the death of her husband. The widow made sure Jack was as happy as she could make him. As a consequence, Jack had very few chores and was almost never put to work on their small patch of land in which to farm. This left him with his mind to wander and his imagination to soar, taking him to the deepest depths of a dragons cave (in the cupboards), or fighting for glory on a foreign battlefield (in the neighboring fields). He even managed to slay a "bushy" looking troll on the edge of the town woods. Though they were poor, Jack's mother always made sure to milk her only cow and sell the milk at the market so she could buy food for her adventurous young son. One very rough winter Jack's mother caught a very nasty fever and could not work the land, neither could Jack given his young age and inexperience. For unknown reasons the cow would give no milk. With days gone by and what little food they had almost gone the mother saw only one option: sell the cow. Because she was ill, Jack's mother had decided to give the task down to her brave, but naive, son. He child was not hard of hearing but she still explained what needed to be done five times. So as Jack bundled up for the cold and took hold of the cow's halter, he repeated the instructions to himself over and over.

One: Bundle up for the cold. Two: Do not let go of the rope. Three: Walk to the market and nowhere else! Four: Sell the cow to the butcher and head home!

And Jack walked off down the road. Further along down the road Jack seen an old man sitting off to the side on a stump. When he was within distance the old man started talking to Jack, asking what a child was doing out alone in the cold, guiding a cow. Jack explained his mother was sick and they needed money for food that they couldn't farm from the land. Jack was startled when the old man hopped to his feet and came in close to whisper something in his ear. The old man whispered about a trade; special beans for the cow. Jack took a step back shaking his head, again telling the old man what he needed to do and why. And Jack walked off down the road. Even further along down the road Jack couldn't help but let his imagination run wild. He thought of special powers the beans may give, of the luck they may grant, and many other things. After selling the cow for a small pouch full of gold, Jack began to head home. Once again, there was the same old man on the same stump. And once again he spoke to Jack of the special beans. Jack tried his best not to look in his direction and explained that he had sold the cow and was going home to his sick mother. The old man, once again, hopped to his feet but stood in front of Jack this time. He warned Jack that this was not an opportunity to be missed and if he did it would not come around ever again. He promised Jack that these were no ordinary beans, that when the beanstalks sprouted they would reach the clouds and the kingdoms that lie upon them overnight! He also promised that should they not grow, he would return the gold pouch just as he accepted it, with every last coin inside. When the old man poured te beans into his palm Jack's eyes lit up. He'd never seen beans quite like these. Different colors and shapes shouting at him an end to all his family's problems. In a flash he set down the gold coin pouch on the stump, snatched the beans out of the old man's palm, and ran home. Jack's mother was aching and moaning from her illness, worrying about her son. Pangs of fear would suddenly tear at her over sending her only child out alone and in the cold. She felt a bit of relief when she heard his footsteps rapidly approaching and even more when she heard him shout out for her, announcing his return. He entered the house with a burst of cold air and blinding light. Jack's mother felt proud to see him with the small pouch and for a moment they smiled at each other with the thought of no more worries for now. Jack handed his mother the pouch, smiling. And she, smiling at him, received it. She emptied the pouch into her hand and a sudden sense of dread overcame her. Tears were running down her cheeks as she asked him, over and over, what this was. He explained that the beans would take them to the kingdoms in the sky. That they could show the people in this village, and from all over, the sky kingdoms. That they would be famous and rich and if they didn't work they can always take them back to the old man for a full refund! Jack's mother stopped him and demanded to know more about the old man, and Jack obeyed. After she wrapped herself up, she took Jack to show her where he met the old man. Jack approached the stump and looked all around, insisting to his mother that he was here and he wasn't lying. Back home Jack's mother sat in her bed crying, holding Jack under one arm and the beans in her other hand. Jack spent the rest of the day trying to comfort her, urging her to let him plant the beans so he could show her they work and that she doesn't have to be sad. After his mother had cried herself to sleep, Jack took the beans out to the garden and buried them in the darkness of the night. His hands were cold and hurting but he couldn't stop. When he buried each one he placed his hands over it and looked to the stars, asking his father to make it work. The next day Jack's mother woke to him standing at the door peering outside toward the garden. She let him hold on to hope while she tried to think of someway to get food, but she couldn't think of anything. She awoke to him doing the same thing the next morning but she was too weak to tell him he was letting the warm air out. On the third day she was too weak from hunger didn't wake at all. Jack ran out to the garden and dug up the beans and placed them back in his pouch. He didn't bundle up so well this time. And he walked off down the road. He checked near the stump for any signs of the old man but found none. He headed toward the market and asked everyone if they'd seen him, but no-one did. Jack made it home late and sat down next to his mother's bed, she didn't respond to him shaking her when he wanted to apologize. Hunger was setting in on Jack real bad. He was getting a fever. A tear rolled down his cheek as he squashed the beans in his fist.

Created: Feb 17, 2012

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