Once upon a time, a poor mother and her two children lived on a struggling farm. Things had gotten so bad that one day the mother sent her son Jack into town to trade the family cow for enough food to see them through the winter.
When Jack was on the road to town, he met a stranger who offered Jack a bag of magic beans if he would give him the cow in return.
Jack was delighted, and he made the exchange at once.
When he returned home though, his mother was furious.
“What will we eat now, you foolish boy? These beans will barely make a single meal!”
And she threw the bag of beans out of the kitchen window.
Her daughter Jazz watched all this with irritation. Then she sighed, walked outside and planted the beans in the dirt, watering them a little in the hopes that they would one day grow.
The next day, to everyone’s immense surprise, Jazz discovered that her beans had sprouted into a giant beanstalk overnight. Jack rubbed his eyes, sure that he was still dreaming, as he joined her in the garden.
“I’m going to climb this beanstalk and see where it leads. Are you coming?” she asked.
Jack looked up at the winding stalk that disappeared into the clouds above.
“Not a chance!” he cried, “What if I should fall?”
“Please yourself” his sister replied, and she clambered up the stalk as far as the eye could see.
When she’d made it through the clouds, she discovered an enormous castle, bigger than any house she’d ever seen. The doors and walls were so big that her neck was sore from looking up at them. She snuck under the front door and stood in wonder at what she found on the inside. Treasures and gold, rubies and wonders from all over the world. Then, all at once, there was a booming sound and the floor shuck like an earthquake.
A terrifying voice roared through the air:
“FEE FI FO FUN! I smell the blood of a young woman!”
And though Jazz tried to hide amongst the treasure the giant who lived in the castle soon smelled her out. He picked her up by her hair and lifter her hundreds of feet above the ground.
“A thief! What are you doing in my castle young lady!?”
Jazz explained that she had planted some beans and in the search for something to feed her hungry family, she had climbed the beanstalk to see what she could find that would help.
“If I don’t return then the people of the town will surely come up to try and find me. But if you give me some gold then I will tell no one that you live here and chop the beanstalk down so that no one ever bothers you again” said Jazz.
The giant laughed at her audacity.
“Why should I pay,” said the giant, “to chop down a beanstalk that I didn’t plant?”
Jazz could see his point, and she promised that she would come up with a compromise when she returned the following day.
With that, the giant let her go and she scurried under the door to climb back down the way she came. Before she left though, Jazz realised that she recognised many of the treasures that were stored in the castle. They must surely have been stolen from the town and the residents who lived below.
Upon her return her mother scolded her for taking such a risk and asked what she had found at the top of the beanstalk.
“Oh, just a beautiful view mother, but the wind up there was quite terrifying, I wouldn’t advise that anyone try to climb it again…”
Jack looked on at his sister with suspicion. He could always tell when his sister was lying.
The next morning Jazz had come up with a plan and she climbed the beanstalk again to see if she could do a deal with the giant. Jack, meanwhile, watched his sister go. This time, he plucked up his courage and decided to follow her.
When Jazz reached the top, she asked giant, who had smelt her coming, if he was lonely all alone up here in his castle.
“Why of course!” the giant replied.
“Then why not let me bring up tourists from the town to see you? They can pay us a fee and you and I will split the money equally.”
The giant wanted more than half and while the two were haggling Jack now appeared from underneath the castle door.
“Come sister, let us grab some gold and get out of here!”
Jazz was exasperated.
“Damn it Jack, I’m about to close a deal that will make us rich!”
But Jack would not listen.
“If you don’t come now sister then I will cut down the beanstalk and you’ll be trapped up here forever!”
And with that he grabbed a gold coin as big as his head and started to clamber down the beanstalk.
The giant’s slow brain had not yet worked out what has happening, and he scratched his head as Jazz shot under the door and after her brother.
By the time the time he’d opened all the locks on his castle front door, she had made it to the beanstalk. By the time he had started to climb down himself, Jazz was halfway to the bottom.
Down below, Jack looked around for an axe, but none was to be found. He cursed his clever sister. For she was not so daft as to leave an axe lying around where her brother could find it when she was thousands of feet up a beanstalk!
Jack could do nothing but pace up and down until his sister reached the bottom. She quickly retrieved the axe from where she’d hidden it and shouted up at the giant:
“Go home giant! Forget about this quarrel and I will chop down this beanstalk so that no one will bother you!”
“What about my gold?” The giant replied.
Jazz looked over at her brother whose face was covered with defiance. From above they could hear the giant getting closer.
Jazz sighed, and she passed the axe to her brother who hacked through the beanstalk as quickly as he could.
Down came the beanstalk with an almighty crash and the giant was no more.
For years later, Jack would brag to anyone who would listen about the courage and the trickery that allowed him to take down a giant and make his family rich.
Others might suggest that the enormous yield of his sister’s thriving bean business, built from the offshoots of the beanstalk she planted, had made the family’s fortune.
But I leave it to the reader to be the judge.