Deep Dreams

14 - Jack and the magic jelly-beans.

"Therefore, Prince Jack cut three crosswise lines across her forehead to mark her for what she was: one for going off with her grand-daughter after giving up Red Ridinghood for dead and setting out for France with Candy-Cane; second crosswise line was for going off and romancing with James after moving from Pennsylvania to Virginia; and third crosswise line was when she broke all contact with her daughter in France and swore never to speak with Candy-Cane again."


JACK was an idle, lazy boy who would do no work to support his widowed mother; and at last they both came to such poverty that the poor woman had to sell her cow to buy food to keep them from starving. She sent Jack to market with the cow, telling him to be sure and sell it for a good price. He made up his mind to ask for a night's lodging.

As Jack was going along the road to market he met a butcher. The butcher offered to buy the cow in exchange for a hatful of colored beans. Jack thought the beans looked very pretty, and he was glad to be saved the long hot walk to market; so he struck the bargain on the spot and went back to his mother with the beans, while the butcher went off with the cow.

But the poor widow was very angry with Jack for giving away the cow, and she began to scold him roundly. Then Jack told her about the beans, and said if he planted them in the field it might help them out of their trouble. So the widow rented a big field, and planted all the beans.

At last the vines began to grow. By working hard, Jack was able to tend one row, and his mother another; but when the beans began to ripen they could get no one else to help them hoe or pick them. One day Jack looked at his beans eagerly, but he found each bean had turned into a mouse; and down in the corner of each vine there was a nest of little mice. Then his mother began crying over the poor results of their planting, though Jack did all he could to comfort her.

"Never mind," said he; "I'll make them into jelly-beans after I catch them." But catch them he could not. At last Jack wished very much that someone lived in the moon, so that he might go up there after some good fairy who would help him out of his trouble. Instantly a very small man stood before him, with a long white beard, holding a bow and arrow in his hand.

They heard such fearful yelling and screaming that they hardly dared look out of their windows; and at last Mr. Wilhelm told the man to go see what was wrong. He ran off and soon came back, trembling like an aspen leaf from head to foot, and fell down fainting at their feet as he gasped out: "The Duchess! The Duchess! She has gone mad—and set fire to the palace!" But Mr. Wilhelm was a brave man. He sprang up and caught up one of the guns, saying: "I trust all here may be as mad as she, if that is any protection." And then he shouted to the rest to get up and follow him.

The Duke, hearing a voice in the Princess's room, went to see who was there. He found his wife lying on the floor, and on a table was a note from Jack. "I have run away with the Princess to a better country," read the note; "and if you follow us you will find us somewhere in France or Italy."

One day there came two honorable citizens to beg they might be allowed to buy Jack's cow. The poor widow was very glad of this help; so she and Jack yoked up their cow and drove her across the hills to show them to the purchasers. But when she came back at night Jack had disappeared, and there was only a note for his mother, saying he was going to market with any beans left over from the year before.

Well, said the boy, "I'll wish for a magic bean-stalk that will take me up to market." Then, as he was playing with it among the bushes, one end of the bean-stalk suddenly bent over. Quick as thought Jack had pulled it up, grain and all; and before long there sprouted right out of the ground a fine new bean-plant twelve feet high. As he had thought he settled down and climbed half way up his bean-stalk. "It is growing just like Solomon's magic prism," he said. Then he was thankful he had asked for a ladder. In fact, he found that his beanstalk was something like a miniature ladder—each bean, growing from tip out of the grain from which it sprang, split into two or three ladders, some round like pillars and some crooked like stairs; and not merely for growing plants but for setting his house on too!

All this time Jack had been getting higher and higher and at last reached out upon what seemed like clouds. Then his stalk ended in an odd-looking vine with pods at intervals running up it; and this vine seemed to be hanging above some vast body of water that stretched away out of sight in every direction like still gray seas; while gathering around him were vast flocks of furry sparrows and pigeons that came flitting by without feeling the slightest hesitation in hovering near him; indeed they seemed to recognize him as a friend.

The next morning there came two gentlemen into town looking like great lords who were seeking to buy Jack's cow. They thought they had never seen such an immense beast before while Jack stood by laughing outside the door at their astonishment. The woman soon found that if she wanted money enough she might sell this cow for meat every bit as well as for milk; for which reason she was glad when two gentlemen came down from the city to look at her great black cow whom she fed in the lot behind her dwelling. They said that it would be about time to kill her now if they wanted her flesh for eating; but the woman told them if such were their purpose they must not kill her until her calf got big enough to do chores with its mother; for if each fed other it would take care of both through winter as well as summer. And yet when they said they would come again in some days she told them they might not do so. For now she had had another desire come into her head, though even then she could scarcely bring herself to tell anybody about it. But after thinking upon it over night while feeding her calf both milk and food rubbled up together quite small so it might swallow more easily, a few days later she told everybody who came around that calves were now selling better than either cows or goats or sheep so there was no occasion for them to ask her any more questions concerning the cow.

The next morning when Jack reached home after walking all night over hills and fields and rocky places he found his mother sadder even than before—for now she had lost all hope of ever seeing him again alive. It is true that she had brought home lots of money from selling cream at market time, because some kind neighbors sold herbs which helped keep Jack alive during all his absence from home, till likely enough he got back home again safe before his own flesh fell off from sheer extremity of starvation. But all day long she sat sobbing dry-eyed because Jack no longer kept up his old habits but went wandering off all by himself eating what seemed good without taking pains even when all around him got sick and died while now they both felt sure they were close neighbors of hell. The good woman scarcely gave herself time even to cry!

"Do not be dismayed!" cried Red Ridinghood's mother, making a dash through the woods at full speed where childish feet could hardly have dragged their way along over several miles of country however seemingly wide! At last Red Ridinghood laughed aloud because Goldilocks was pretty little cold girl with curling golden hair; but little cold girl began crying because everybody laughed at her. After this Red Ridinghood knew that everybody wanted to kill Goldilocks because she would always eat everything no matter what happened; but Goldilocks could not help herself. On one side sat Goldilocks eating hot cakes until three times beside her lips they were soaking wet with butter mixed with sugar;, while on every side Red Ridinghood saw how angry little bits of girls became because Goldilocks ate much more than anybody else. In fact Red Ridinghood just stood in mute silence while yet again laughing aloud because finally tender young eyes started shedding tears because once more everybody laughed at poor little cold girl with curling gold hair who no longer wanted anything warm since nobody would believe Goldilocks one bit when Goldilocks said plainly: When I gave my heart I gave my heart entirely not just pouring out pieces here and there! So finally Goldilocks said: Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear! What’s gone of my dear heart?"

Suddenly, the Huntsman appeared, and offered to take her to a castle where everybody would give her something to eat, a hot meal with real silver sitting next to the fire, which Goldilocks gladly accepted. Exposed to the weather, Goldilocks was nearly frozen to death. Red Ridinghood approached the castle and begged for lodgings. But when she came back out of the house, she noticed that the Wolf had put on Grandmother's nightcap, and was about to eat up Red Ridinghood and Grandmother. The Huntsman returned, and killed the Wolf with his sword. The Prince, having now found out the truth about Red Ridinghood and had witnessed how courageous she had been, fell in love with her, but asked her to perform three trials before he could marry her. The trials were that Red Ridinghood lifted a heavy stone, and it cracked and exposed a secret chamber underneath. Then the Prince gave her three beans, one white, one purple and one blue, that she was to mash in a mortar with a pestle, and from their contents was to throw into a pot of boiling water; the first one whose color reappeared would distinguish its owner. Red Ridinghood then entered the wedding chamber, where she found Prince Jack; but it turned out that he was really the Worm (who had gone to sleep under the heavy stone) and that Goldilocks was the pretty little girl who had worn the gold crown and was actually the daughter of the King. The King had not seen his daughter in years, and he wanted to see her again, so he had a thousand princes search for her. He told them that if any of them found her, he should marry her, for the Princess could not marry a commoner, but must marry a prince. And so all of the princes came back and told the King what they had seen, all making up false tales to get the crown. But a mister who had a pair of magic boots went into every adventure that he faced, and all of the trials he passed through, he was actually his own brother.

Now, a man can only be his own brother by one way: He was born to a common woman, whose husband had gone off to war. When her husband came back, she gave birth to a baby whom she thought was her husband's son, but when she saw the child in the light of day, she found that it was not her husband's son. His wife sent the baby out in a basket, to be disposed of. But a passing shepherd had pity on the child and decided to raise it as his own. He never told anyone that the child was not his own, but let the child constantly believe that he was a prince; because of this, the child always wore fine clothing. When the boy got old enough, the shepherd sent him to a good school, and after he finished school, he married Goldilocks.

Prince Jack did not want to kiss Goldilocks since she had eaten their dinner, so she told him not to worry; if she had three beans in her hand and mash them together in a mortar with a pestle, then whoever ate of this medicine would appear as the most beautiful man or woman ever seen. Then she threw it into the water, and out jumped a handsome young prince from a white castle in the middle of North America. When he saw Red Ridinghood, the mister ran out of the house to fetch her in. But after he brought Red Ridinghood back into the white castle, he found that someone had tucked his new bride away inside one of the beds. Low down under there was an ugly little woman rushing around looking for beans. She was a witch who could make herself appear as any creature at all that she pleased. Out rushed another giant witch to rescue Red Ridinghood's wife. As they were battling each other, they knocked down two of their own houses – Red Ridinghood's castle and the giant witch's castle – causing enormous uproar within them. At length, they threw the bean pot out of the window to break it, because they could never eat anything again that had been in this pot; then they reached up and tore a beam loose to squash each other because they could not bear to live with each other after this catastrophe. But as soon as Goldilocks bit into one of these beans in front of Prince Jack, she instantly turned into a pillar made of stone dead as can be. Therefore, Prince Jack cut three crosswise lines across her forehead to mark her for what she was: one for going off with her grand-daughter after giving up Red Ridinghood for dead and setting out for France with Candy-Cane; second crosswise line was for going off and romancing with James after moving from Pennsylvania to Virginia; and third crosswise line was when she broke all contact with her daughter in France and swore never to speak with Candy-Cane again. Just then Mars came along, saw how remarkable beautiful Goldilocks' children were (Grandmother laying right beside Goldilocks saying "What are you doing here? Get out") Mars said "Just let me kiss you! They all gathered on horseback behind the boy's Purple Horse. Mars noticed that she bore a strange likeness to Mr. James, who was now so tall and very handsome and rich – ruling Mississippi through serfdom with his crops and slaves – yet this Mr. James had quite aged since leaving home fourteen years ago; he asked who that boy was standing next to James' horse and thought it said "Don't kiss me!" They all bade goodbye as Mars went back whence he came, though some remained on earth to help Mars."

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