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The Giant’s Plaything
by [?]

Long ago, giants lived among the lonely mountains. Now there was a great castle, called Burg Niedeck, that stood on top of the highest mountain of Alsace, and here the most powerful of the giants lived with his wife and family. He had one child, named Freda.

Freda was as tall as a church steeple. She was a curious child, and very fond of prying about and looking at things which she had been told to leave alone. She was allowed to roam all about the mountains, and to play in the woods and forest, but she was not allowed to go down into the valley where the little people lived.

These little peasants tilled the ground, and planted corn and wheat and barley, and pruned their vines, and dug ditches, things the giants could not do. And the giants lived by taking what the little people raised. Now, it was said that the first time a peasant found his way up into Burg Niedeck it would be the end of the giants. But Burg Niedeck was very high and difficult to reach and no peasant had ever thought of trying to get there.

One day Freda was playing outside the castle gates in the sunshine. The valley looked so cool and green and shady that, seeing no one about, she went down the mountain-side to find out what was below.

Presently she saw, in a field in which she was standing, a peasant plowing. He had two horses and the iron of the plow shone and glistened.

With a cry of delight Freda knelt down.

“What a dear little toy!” she said. “I will take it home to play with.”

Spreading out her handkerchief on the ground, she carefully lifted the plow and the horses and the poor peasant and set them down in the middle. Then, taking the corners of the handkerchief in her hand, she ran up the mountain-side, skipping and jumping for pleasure. It was like the coming of an earthquake.

Her father met her at the gate.

“Well, little one,” he said, “what is pleasing you so?”

“Look!” said Freda, spreading out her handkerchief. “I have found a most wonderful new toy.” And she lifted out the plow and the peasant.

The old giant frowned, and shook his head in anger.

“What have you done, thoughtless one?” he stormed. “That is no toy. Have you not heard that as soon as a peasant comes to Burg Niedeck there will be an end of the giants forever? Take it back instantly to the valley and perhaps the spell will not break.”

Sadly Freda took the plow and the horses and the peasant back and set them in the field. But it was too late. That night all the giants disappeared, and in the morning Burg Niedeck stood in ruins. And to this day no giant has ever been seen there.