The Blinded Giant
The Blinded Giant
Once upon a time, there lived a fierce giant at a mill in Yorkshire. He had no friends, except for his dog, Hamlet. The giant's ears were abnormally large, and his hands were the size of wagon wheels. His head itself was the size of a wagon, and he had a wart the size of a loaf of bread at the end of his bulbous nose. To make matters worse for this rather hideous fellow, he had only one eye, placed like a bull's-eye in the middle of his broad forehead. Along with being ugly, he had a rather nasty diet. What was his preferred meal? One hundred giant loaves of bread that he made from the bones of people he ground in his mill.
As you can imagine, grinding the bones for all of this bread was a rather Herculean task. In fact, the giant thought long and hard (his head was large, but his brain was not!) about how to find an assistant to help him with the bone grinding and bread making. He was so completely feared and loathed that he thought it unlikely anyone would volunteer for this odious job. So, he decided to find a capable youth and steal him away.
He spent some time wandering through the local countryside, looking for the right assistant. He wanted a hard worker who wouldn't complain and wouldn't run away from him. After weeks of searching, he found his desired prey — a boy named Jack. He'd watched Jack help his mother and father without ever uttering a complaint. The giant liked Jack's polite demeanor, so he scooped him up and took the boy back to the mill.
Of course, Jack thought he was destined to be bone meal for the next batch of bread. But instead, the giant roared, “Fee, fi, fo, find. I want you to help me grind!”
And, so it went. Jack was so relieved at not being made into the giant's next meal that he agreed to stay on and work as a servant. It was hard and torturous work, running the mill all day; but Jack stayed and did as he was told, fearing for his life if he did otherwise.
Jack served the fierce giant for seven long years. In all of that time, the mean giant never gave Jack so much as one day off. Jack had no bed — just a pile of straw on a cold stone floor — and very little to eat. Finally, Jack was fed up. He couldn't bear it for one more minute. The county fair was coming and Jack begged to go. Everybody in the land went to the fair to see the traveling musicians, to meet their friends, and eat exotic foods. The giant, though, showed no mercy.
“No, no,” roared the giant. “You will never leave this mill. You are to work for me forever!”
“I've been grinding and grinding for seven years,” said Jack, “and I haven't had one day off. I haven't had one good night's rest, because the floor is so hard and so cold. I get barely enough food to live, and I've had enough! I'm taking a day off to go to the fair. I don't care what you have to say about it!”
“Don't talk to me like that,” yelled the giant. “You absolutely will not be allowed to go to the fair.”
Feeling defeated, as if he might never set foot outside the giant's mill, Jack went back to his grinding, weeping quietly. The day dragged on and became hotter and hotter. It was the middle of summer, and the sun was high and strong and burning bright in the sky. The giant ate his usual lunch of bread and then decided to take a nap.
He put his giant, one-eyed head on a burlap sack stuffed with straw and dozed off almost instantly. He was napping right next to the huge table where he'd had his midday meal. There, he had laid down the last great loaf of bone bread. But he still held a giant-size knife in his hand. As he napped and his snores shook the stones of the mill, his gnarled fingers relaxed their grip on the knife, and it started to slip out of his hand.
Jack had been watching all of this while he worked at his grinding. He knew that while the giant was sleeping, he had a chance to escape, so he flew into action. Jack sprinted like the wind across the mill floor and seized the knife from the giant's relaxed hand. Then, holding the huge weapon with both hands, he drove the blade into the giant's single eye. The giant awoke with a terrible howl of agony, and then lurched up and moved to block the mill's door.
“Oh, no!” thought Jack. “How will I escape now? Surely, with the giant blocking the door, I am going to be made into his next loaf of bread!”
But Jack didn't lose his wits. He quickly came up with a plan to outsmart the ugly, warted giant. He grabbed the giant knife again and then captured the giant's dog. Then, he skinned it and threw the dog's hide over his back.
“Woof, woof,” said Jack, imitating as best he could the voice of the dog.
“Go get him, Hamlet,” said the giant, fooled by Jack's voice. “Get this horrible, ungrateful wretch who has blinded my only eye.”
“Woof, woof,” said Jack again. Then, he ran between the giant's legs on all fours, barking till he got to the door. He unlatched it and ran away as fast as he could from the giant's mill.
He returned to his home in the village, and his mother and father cried with joy to have their son back. The villagers celebrated his return and applauded him for blinding the giant who had terrorized their country for so many years.