The Beanstalk & the Shoes

A fairytale mashup by Amanda Pizzolatto (Rated G)

Once upon a time, in a far away land, a king was facing a rather perplexing problem. The shoes of his twelve daughters had holes in them every morning, despite the fact that their bedroom door was locked every night! Desperate for an answer, and receiving none from his daughters, the king sent out a proclamation, decreeing that whosoever discovered the secret of the holes in the shoes would be rewarded greatly. 

Not far from the castle lived Jack and his mother. In stark contrast to the fineries of the castle, they barely had enough to get by each week. One day, not long after the king sent out his proclamation, Jack and his mother decided to see if the king could help them with their financial problems by selling him their cow. Jack was on his way to the castle when two things made him pause. The first was the proclamation being repeated; the other was a merchant offering five magic beans for his cow. Promised that the beans would help him win the reward, Jack was persuaded into trading the cow. He rushed home and explained everything to his mother and the two planted the beans together before preparing for Jack’s visit to the castle the next day to try his luck at solving the mystery.

The next morning, they found, to their astonishment, that the beans had grown rapidly overnight into a giant beanstalk. Thinking that the beanstalk’s powers were hidden in a pod, Jack began to climb. He soon found what he was looking for – a portal in one of the pods. He stepped through, and found himself in a fantastic land. The ground was made of a sandy-colored dirt, the trees had tiger’s eye wood and rose-gold leaves, the sky was a silvery grey, and the sun was almost a blinding white, based on the quick look Jack got as it rose in the sky. Wanting to prove where he had been, Jack climbed a tree and snapped off one of its lower branches. As he climbed down, he noticed the roof of a tower. Placing the branch by the portal, Jack went to investigate, passing through two groves of trees to get to the tower, attached to a castle. One grove had silver leaves, the other had gold. Jack took a branch from each and laid it in the direction he needed to go to get back to the portal. Upon sneaking into the castle, Jack soon learned that it was home to a giant who owned a magical harp and was quite fond of dancing. Thinking he had hit upon the answer to the king’s problem, Jack raced back to the portal and climbed down the beanstalk as fast as he could with the three branches. After explaining everything to his mother, he set out immediately for the castle. 

The king wasn’t sure how Jack would succeed where others had failed, but gave him three nights to find out what was going on. Jack slept through the first night, but when he realized that his wine was being drugged, he tossed it out. When the princesses thought he was sound asleep, they began to get ready, and to talk. Jack was able to piece together that the sound of the harp made whoever heard it want to dance, and to do whatever the giant told them to do. The drug they put in the wine had clearly worked in keeping their guards and any other men from the giant’s influence. Jack quickly stuffed his ears with cotton from a pillow, just before a low thrum vibrated through the room. Worried, Jack peeked out the door into the adjacent room, where the princesses were descending into a chamber beneath a bed. Jack waited a few minutes before following them down the leafy staircase and to a portal. The portal took them straight to the castle doors, which were wide open. The princesses waltzed right in, and Jack snuck in behind them. He watched the party for a little while before turning his attention to figuring out how to separate the giant from the harp, but the two were inseparable the whole night. Jack had to put all thoughts aside as he rushed back to his place so the princesses would think he was still sleeping. The next day, he consulted his mother and the local priest, the three trying to come up with a plan to rescue the princesses from the giant.

Jack followed the princesses again that night, this time taking the cotton out of his ears after they reached the ballroom. He got close to the giant, and soon learned that the giant was going to keep the princesses so they could dance for him all the time, and if any refused, they were to be sent off the side of the cliff. Jack’s heart pounded as an idea formed in his mind. There might be one way to do this, and it had to be done the next day. When the king called him in to give an account of his nights, Jack told him to meet him at his cottage later that afternoon, and all would be explained. He rushed to his cottage, where his mother and the priest had been waiting for him. Jack then quickly explained everything he had found out and his plan before getting everything set into motion. Jack climbed the beanstalk and rushed towards the castle. As he had suspected, the giant was taking a nap to the sound of the harp playing. Jack snatched up the harp, its screeches for help waking up its master. When the giant realized what was happening, he was up and after Jack, chasing him all the way back to the beanstalk and climbing down after him. Jack had enough of a head start that he was able to reach the bottom and, with the help of his mother and the priest, began chopping down the beanstalk. The king and his daughters rode into the yard and the beanstalk fell, the giant tumbling to his death. Jack explained everything to the king, and they all rejoiced over the release of the princesses from the giant. Jack and his mother became constant guests at the palace, their financial problems all gone. Jack and the youngest princess eventually fell in love and were married. And they lived in peace and prosperity till the end of their days.

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