Once upon a time, there was an old woman, a widow who had a cow named Milky-White, and an only son named Jack. As they were poor, they had to live from the milk the cow gave every morning, which they carried to the market and sold there. One morning the cow Milky-White gave no milk, so they were worried and didn't know what to do.
"What shall we do, what shall we do?" said the widow, wringing her hands.
Jack comforted his mother, told her to cheer up, and said that he'll go out and get some work. The widow told him that it was pointless as they already tried that before and no one has employed him. The only thing they could do is to sell their Milky-White and use the money for starting a shop.
Jack agreed. Since it was a market day, Jack took the Milky-White, and off he started. While heading to the market, he met an old man who greeted Jack.
"He hadn't gone far when he met a funny-looking old man, who said to him, "Good morning, Jack."
Jack greeted back but was wondering how this funny-looking old man knew his name. The old man asked him where he was going and Jack told him he was going to the market to sell their only cow. The old man said he's looking just like boys who sell cows and asked him if he knows how many beans make five. Although the strange question, Jack answered:
"Two in each hand and one in your mouth," says Jack, as sharp as a needle.
The old man told him he was right, showed him the beans pulling out of his pocket, and offered him a trade - his beans for Jack's cow. Jack refused the idea and told him to go away thinking that man is trying to trick him, but the old man planted a seed of doubt by telling him that these are the magic beans and that if Jack plants them overnight, the beans will grow right up to the sky.
Now interested, Jack agreed to the trade. He handed the old man his cow's halter and put the beans in his pocket. When he returned home it was almost dark. His mother, not seeing their cow, asked him how much he get for her. Jack, proud of his trade, told his mom she'll never guess.
"You'll never guess, mother," says Jack.
"No, you don't say so. Good boy! Five pounds? Ten? Fifteen? No, it can't be twenty."
He shows her the beans and says they are magical. His mother was so mad she called him names and sent him to bed without dinner.
"What!" says Jack's mother. "Have you been such a fool, such a dolt, such an idiot, as to give away my Milky-White, the best milker in the parish, and prime beef to boot, for a set of paltry beans? Take that! Take that! Take that! And as for your precious beans here they go out of the window. And now off with you to bed. Not a sup shall you drink, and not a bit shall you swallow this very night."
So Jack went to the attic to his little room. He was sorry and sad because he disappointed his mother, and for losing his dinner. , to be sure, as much for his mother's sake as for the loss of his supper. Soon he fell asleep.
In the morning, when Jack woke up, his room seemed strange and funny. It was all shady and dark with only one part of the room shined with the sun. Jack hopped off his bed, dressed, and went to the window to see what obscures the view of the sun. He soon realized that the beans his mother threw out the window last night sprung into a large beanstalk. It went all up to the sky as the old man said it would.
Since the beanstalk grew close to Jack’s window, he opened it and jumped right onto the beanstalk, and climbed until he reached the sky. When he got to the end he saw that there is a long road so he walked until he came to the big, tall house where a big tall woman was standing at the doorstep.
Jack politely greeted the woman calling her "mom" (as this was custom back then) and asked the woman if she could give him some breakfast. He explained he hadn’t had anything for dinner
"Good morning, mum," says Jack, quite polite-like. "Could you be so kind as to give me some breakfast?" For he hadn't had anything to eat, you know, the night before, and was as hungry as a hunter.
The tall woman said that he’ll have breakfast if he doesn’t run as her husband is an ogre and he likes eating little boys broiled on toast. But, Jack begged her to give him something to eat.
"It's breakfast you want, is it?" says the great big tall woman. "It's breakfast you'll be if you don't move off from here. My man is an ogre and there's nothing he likes better than boys broiled on toast. You'd better be moving on or he'll be coming."
"Oh! please, mum, do give me something to eat, mum. I've had nothing to eat since yesterday morning, really and truly, mum," says Jack. "I may as well be broiled as die of hunger."
Since the ogre's wife was good, she took Jack to the kitchen and fed him with a jug of milk and bread and cheese. Jack didn’t even finish eating when he heard stumps of an ogre coming. The ogre’s wife got scared, bundled Jack, and told him to hide in the oven.
"Goodness gracious me! It's my old man," said the ogre's wife. "What on earth shall I do? Come along quick and jump in here." And she bundled Jack into the oven just as the ogre came in.
The ogre was a big one. He had a belt with three calves which he unhooked when he settled down by the table and demanded his wife to give him breakfast. Soon, he sensed the smell of a little boy hiding.
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I'll have his bones to grind my bread."
His wife told him that he’s dreaming and that there are no humans in this house or perhaps he senses the smell of a young boy he had for dinner last night. She told him to go wash himself until she prepares breakfast.
So the ogre went to tidy himself up, and Jack was about to jump out of the oven and run away when the ogre’s wife told him to wait until the ogre fell asleep.
After he had his breakfast, the ogre took out a couple of bags of gold, left them on the table, and began to snore. Jack quietly stepped out of the oven and tried to pass ogre on his tiptoes. He took one bag of gold and hurried towards the beanstalk. He threw down the bag and climbed down the beanstalk until he came home. He showed his mother the gold and told her that he was right, that this beanstalk is magical.
"Well, mother, wasn't I right about the beans? They are really magical, you see."
So they lived from that gold for a longer period of time, but soon, they spent it all, so Jack made a decision to try his luck with the ogre one more time. One morning, he climbed on the beanstalk until he came to the ogre’s house. Again ,a tall woman was standing on the doorstep.
He greeted her nicely and asked her for some food, but she told him to go away remembering that this is the little boy who stole her husband’s bag of gold. Jack told her this was not him and again asked for some food.
"Go away, my boy," said the big tall woman, "or else my man will eat you up for breakfast. But aren't you the youngster who came here once before? Do you know, that very day my man missed one of his bags of gold."
"That's strange, mum," said Jack, "I dare say I could tell you something about that, but I'm so hungry I can't speak till I've had something to eat."
The tall woman was curious so she decided to give him something to eat. As soon as Jack started eating he heard big footsteps and the tall woman once again hid him in the oven. The ogre asked his wife for breakfast - a hen that lays golden eggs. She brought the hen and when the ogre said "Lay" the hen laid a golden egg. Soon he fell asleep.
Jack slowly stepped out the oven and once more tiptoed around the ogre taking the golden hen. But, this time, the hen made a sound and woke up the ogre. Luckily, Jack was already out of the house running towards the beanstalk. The ogre asked his wife where’s his hen, but this is everything Jack heard as he already climbed down the beanstalk.
When he got home he showed his mother a beautiful hen and sad "Lay" and the hen laid a golden egg every time he said "Lay"
Even though he had a magic hen, Jack was not happy so he decided to try his luck with the ogre once more. One morning, he climbed on the beanstalk and soon got to the ogre’s house, but this time, he didn’t ask for food, but he hid in the bush waiting for the ogre to come out for some water. He wasn’t waiting for long when he heard big footsteps and saw ogre and his wife. Ogre smelled the human blood and his wife told him that this must be an Englishman who stole his bag of gold and a hen that laid golden eggs. They both hurried to the oven, but Jack wasn’t there.
"Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman," cried out the ogre. "I smell him, wife, I smell him."
"Do you, my dearie?" says the ogre's wife. "Then, if it's that little rogue that stole your gold and the hen that laid the golden eggs he's sure to have got into the oven." And they both rushed to the oven.
Ogre's wife told him that it must have been the smell of the boy he caught last night and ate for breakfast.
"There you are again with your fee-fi-fo-fum. Why, of course, it's the boy you caught last night that I've just broiled for your breakfast. How forgetful I am, and how careless you are not to know the difference between live and dead after all these years."
So the ogre sat down for breakfast telling that he could have sworn he smelled the human. After he finished with his breakfast he asked his wife to bring him his golden harp.
She put it on the table in front of him and the ogre said: "Sing". The golden harp sang beautifully and the ogre soon fell asleep. Jack quietly took the golden harp and rushed towards the door, but the harp called his master and the ogre woke up just in time to catch Jack.
Jack ran as fast as he could towards the beanstalk and once he finally made it he climbed down as quickly as he could. The ogre didn’t trust that he could climb down the beanstalk, so he stood there and waited, but soon he heard his harp cry out, making him hurry to save him.
When Jack climbed down, he hurried home calling his mom to bring him an ax. His mother came rushing with an ax. She saw the ogre’s legs through the clouds and when Jack chopped the beanstalk with an ax, the ogre fell down.
Then Jack gave another chop with the ax, and the beanstalk was cut in two and began to topple over. Then the ogre fell down and broke his crown, and the beanstalk came toppling after.
Happy with the ending, Jack showed his mother a golden harp. So with the hen laying golden eggs and a golden sharp, Jack became very rich. In the end, he married a beautiful princess and they lived happily ever after.