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Age Rating 8 Plus.

Jack and his golden snuff box.

From English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)

Start of Story

Once upon a time, and a very good time it was, though it was neither in my time nor in your time nor in any one else's time, there was an old man and an old woman, and they had one son, and they lived in a great forest. And their son never saw any other people in his life, but he knew that there was some more in the world besides his own father and mother, because he had lots of books, and he used to read every day about them. And when he read about some pretty young women, he used to go mad to see some of them; till one day, when his father was out cutting wood, he told his mother that he wished to go away to look for his living in some other country, and to see some other people besides them two. And he said, "I see nothing at all here but great trees around me; and if I stay here, maybe I shall go mad before I see anything." The young man's father was out all this time, when this talk was going on between him and his poor old mother. The old woman begins by saying to her son before leaving, "Well, well, my poor boy, if you want to go, it's better for you to go, and God be with you."--(



"But stop a bit before you go. Which would you like best for me to make you, a little cake and bless you, or a big cake and curse you?" "Dear, dear!" said he, "make me a big cake. Maybe I shall be hungry on the road." The old woman made the big cake, and she went on top of the house, and she cursed him as far as she could see him. He presently meets with his father, and the old man says to him: "Where are you going, my poor boy?" when the son told the father the same tale as he told his mother. "Well," says his father, "I'm sorry to see you going away, but if you've made your mind to go, it's better for you to go." The poor lad had not gone far, when his father called him back; then the old man drew out of his pocket a golden snuff-box, and said to him: "Here, take this little box, and put it in your pocket, and be sure not to open it till you are near your death." And away went poor Jack upon his road, and walked till he was tired and hungry, for he had eaten all his cake upon the road; and by this time night was upon him, so he could hardly see his way before him.



He could see some light a long way before him, and he made up to it, and found the back door and knocked at it, till one of the maid-servants came and asked him what he wanted. He said that night was on him, and he wanted to get some place to sleep. The maid-servant called him in to the fire, and gave him plenty to eat, good meat and bread and beer; and as he was eating his food by the fire, there came the young lady to look at him, and she loved him well and he loved her. And the young lady ran to tell her father, and said there was a pretty young man in the back kitchen; and immediately the gentleman came to him, and questioned him, and asked what work he could do. Jack said, the silly fellow, that he could do anything. (He meant that he could do any foolish bit of work, that would be wanted about the house.)



"Well," says the gentleman to him, "if you can do anything, at eight o'clock in the morning I must have a great lake and some of-the largest man-of-war vessels sailing before my mansion, and one of the largest vessels must fire a royal salute, and the last round must break the leg of the bed where my young daughter is sleeping. And if you don't do that, you will have to forfeit your life." "All right," said Jack; and away he went to his bed, and said his prayers quietly, and slept till it was near eight o'clock, and he had hardly any time to think what he was to do, till all of a sudden he remembered about the little golden box that his father gave him. And he said to himself: "Well, well, I never was so near my death as I am now;" and then he felt in his pocket, and drew the little box out. And when he opened it, out there hopped three little red men, and asked Jack: "What is your will with us?" "Well," said Jack, "I want a great lake and some of the largest man-of-war vessels in the world before this mansion, and one of the largest vessels to fire a royal salute, and the last round to break one of the legs of the bed where this young lady is sleeping." "All right," said the little men; "go to sleep."

       



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