Molly Whuppie and the Two-Faced Giant
Molly Whuppie and the Two-Faced Giant
Once upon a time there was a poor man and his wife. They were so poor, in fact, that they were unable to feed all of their children. So the parents decided to take the three youngest children, all girls, and leave them in the forest.
Now the two eldest were just ordinary girls, but the youngest, whose name was Molly Whuppie, was brave. She told her sisters not to worry, but to try and find some house where they might spend the night. They set off through the forest but couldn't see any houses. It began to grow dark and all three of the sisters started to feel hungry. At last in the distance they saw a great big light. When they came closer, they saw that it came from a large window in a huge house.
“It must be a giant's house,” said the two elder girls, trembling with fright.
“I don't care if giants do live there. I'm hungry,” said Molly Whuppie and she knocked at the huge door. The giant's wife opened the door, but she shook her head when Molly Whuppie asked for food and a night's lodging.
“You wouldn't thank me for it,” she said, “for my husband is a giant. When he comes home, he will certainly kill you.”
“But if you give us supper right away,” said Molly craftily, “we'll finish it before he comes home.”
Now, the giant's wife was not a mean person, and her three daughters, who were the same ages as Molly and her sisters, wanted these strangers to stay. So she let the girls in and gave them each a bowl of bread and milk. But they had hardly begun to gobble it up before the door burst open, and a fearful giant walked in saying: “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the smell of some earthly one.”
“Don't put yourself about, my dear,” said the giant's wife trying to make the best of it. “See for yourself. They are only three poor little girls like our girls. They were cold and hungry, so I gave them some supper. They have promised to go away as soon as they have finished. Please let them be.”
Now this giant was not at all a straightforward giant. He was a two-faced giant. So he only said, “Umph!” and remarked that as they had come, they had better stay all night since they could easily sleep with his three daughters. After he had had his supper, he made himself quite pleasant and plaited chains of straw for the little strangers to wear round their necks, to match the gold chains his daughters wore. Then he wished them all pleasant dreams and sent them to bed.
But instead of going to sleep like the others, Molly Whuppie stayed awake. She took off her and her sisters' straw chain necklaces, put them around the necks of the giant's daughters, and placed their gold chains around her own and her sisters' necks.
In the very middle of the night when it was pitch-dark, the giant came in, felt for the straw chain necklaces, and then dragged those girls out of their beds and put them in his rather nasty, wet dungeon.
Molly Whuppie, who had not yet gone to sleep, immediately woke up her sisters, and they all fled the giant's home. Soon they came to a moat, which was spanned by a drawbridge that hung by a single strand of hair. Molly's sisters were scared to cross it, but Molly skipped happily and quickly across and came upon a king's castle. Now it so happened that the very giant whom Molly had tricked was the terror of the whole countryside, and it was to keep him away that the Bridge of One Hair had been made. The sentry listened to Molly Whuppie's tale and then took her to the king, saying, “My lord! Here is a girl who has tricked the giant!”
When the king had heard the story, he said, “You are a clever girl, Molly Whuppie. Now, if you could steal the giant's sword, I will let your eldest sister marry my eldest son.”
Molly Whuppie thought this would be a very good match, so she decided to try and steal the sword.
That evening, all alone, she ran across the Bridge of One Hair and kept running until she came to the giant's house. She slipped unnoticed into the house, crept up to the giant's room, and tiptoed behind the bed. By and by the giant came home, ate a huge supper, and stomped up the stairs to his bed. Molly kept very still and held her breath. Soon the giant fell asleep and began to snore. Then Molly crept out and grabbed the sword. Unfortunately, her movements woke the giant, and up he jumped and ran after Molly. She ran as she had never run before, carrying the sword over her shoulder. They both ran until they came to the Bridge of One Hair. Molly fled over it, but the giant couldn't cross. So he stopped and yelled angrily after her, “You'll be sorry, Molly Whuppie!”
Molly gave the sword to the king. As he had promised, his eldest son married her eldest sister.
After the marriage festivities were over, the king said again to Molly Whuppie, “You're a clever girl, Molly. If you could manage to steal the giant's purse, I will marry my second son to your second sister. Be careful, though, because the giant sleeps with the purse under his pillow!”
Molly thought this would be a good match, so she agreed to try.
That evening she ran over the Bridge of One Hair and ran until she came to the giant's house. She slipped into the house unnoticed, stole up to the giant's room, and crept in below the giant's bed. The giant came home, ate a hearty supper, stomped upstairs, and soon fell asleep. Then Molly Whuppie slipped from under the bed and grabbed the purse. Her movements woke up the giant, and he ran after her until she reached the Bridge of One Hair. Molly sped across it while the giant shook his fist at her, and cried, “You'll be sorry!”
So she took the purse to the king, and he ordered a splendid marriage feast for his second son and her second sister. But after the wedding was over, the king said to her, “Molly! You are very clever. If you steal the giant's ring from his finger, I will give you my dearest, youngest, best-looking son for yourself.”
Now Molly thought the king's son was the nicest young prince she had ever seen, so she said she would try. That evening, all alone, she sped across the Bridge of One Hair and ran, until she came to the giant's house. She slipped inside, stole upstairs, and crept under the bed in no time. The giant came in, ate a rather enormous dinner, and stomped up to bed. He began to snore, louder than he had ever snored before.
As you might remember, though, he was a two-faced giant; so perhaps he snored louder on purpose. For no sooner had Molly Whuppie begun to tug at his ring than the giant sat up with a loud roar! He held her tightly between his finger and thumb and said, “Molly Whuppie, you are a clever girl! Now, if I had done as much harm to you as you have done to me, what would you do to me?”
Molly thought for a moment and she said, “I'd put you in a sack, and I'd put the cat inside with you, and I'd put the dog inside with you. Then I'd put a needle and thread and a pair of shears inside with you, and I'd hang you up on a nail. Next, I'd go to the wood and cut the thickest stick I could get, and come home and take you down and bang you with the stick.”
“Right you are!” cried the giant gleefully, “and that's just what I'll do to you!” So he got a sack and put Molly into it with the dog and the cat and the needle and thread and the shears. Then he hung her on a nail in the wall and went out to the woods to choose a stick.
What is that clever Molly up to?
Now the giant's wife was sitting in the next room, and when she heard the commotion she went in to see what was up.
“Whatever is the matter?” she asked.
“Nothing,” answered Molly Whuppie from inside the sack, laughing like anything! “If you saw what we see you'd laugh too.”
And no matter how the giant's wife begged to know what she saw, there never was any answer but “Ho, ho! Ha, ha!”
At last the giant's wife begged Molly to let her see, so Molly took the shears, cut a hole in the sack, jumped out, helped the giant's wife in, and sewed up the hole! For of course she had taken the needle and thread out with her.
Just at that very moment, the giant burst in. Molly had barely time to hide behind the door before he rushed at the sack, tore it down, and began to batter it with a huge tree he had cut in the wood.
“Stop! Stop!” cried his wife. “It's me! It's me!”
But he couldn't hear because, you see, the dog and the cat had tumbled on top of each other, and such a growling and spitting, and yelling and caterwauling you've never heard! The giant went on with his big stick until he caught sight of Molly Whuppie escaping with the ring he had left on the table.
He threw down the tree and ran after her. You've never seen such a race. They ran, and they ran, and they ran, and they ran, until they came to the Bridge of One Hair. And then, balancing herself with the ring like a hoop, Molly Whuppie sped over the bridge light as a feather. But the giant had to stand on the other side, and shake his fist at her, and cry louder than ever, “You'll be sorry, Molly!”
Molly laughed, for she and the handsome young prince were to be married. And indeed they were, and lived happily ever after. The two-faced giant was never heard from again.