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The Giant’s Heart
by [?]

At the same instant Tricksey-Wee heard a sound like the wind in a tree full of leaves, and could not think what it could be; till, looking up, she found that it was the giantess whispering to her; and when she tried very hard she could hear what she said well enough.

“Run away, dear little girl,” she said, “as fast as you can; for my husband will be home in a few minutes.”

“But I’ve never been naughty to your husband,” said Tricksey-Wee, looking up in the giantess’s face.

“That doesn’t matter. You had better go. He is fond of little children, particularly little girls.”

“Oh, then he won’t hurt me.”

“I am not sure of that. He is so fond of them that he eats them up; and I am afraid he couldn’t help hurting you a little. He’s a very good man though.”

“Oh! then–” began Tricksey-Wee, feeling rather frightened; but before she could finish her sentence she heard the sound of footsteps very far apart and very heavy. The next moment, who should come running towards her, full speed, and as pale as death, but Buffy-Bob. She held out her arms, and he ran into them. But when she tried to kiss him, she only kissed the back of his head; for his white face and round eyes were turned to the door.

“Run, children; run and hide!” said the giantess.

“Come, Buffy,” said Tricksey; “yonder’s a great brake; we’ll hide in it.”

The brake was a big broom; and they had just got into the bristles of it when they heard the door open with a sound of thunder, and in stalked the giant. You would have thought you saw the whole earth through the door when he opened it, so wide was it; and when he closed it, it was like nightfall.

“Where is that little boy?” he cried, with a voice like the bellowing of a cannon. “He looked a very nice boy indeed. I am almost sure he crept through the mousehole at the bottom of the door. Where is he, my dear?”

“I don’t know,” answered the giantess.

“But you know it is wicked to tell lies; don’t you, my dear?” retorted the giant.

“Now, you ridiculous old Thunderthump!” said his wife, with a smile as broad as the sea in the sun, “how can I mend your white stockings and look after little boys? You have got plenty to last you over Sunday, I am sure. Just look what good little boys they are!”

Tricksey-Wee and Buffy-Bob peered through the bristles, and discovered a row of little boys, about a dozen, with very fat faces and goggle eyes, sitting before the fire, and looking stupidly into it. Thunderthump intended the most of these for pickling, and was feeding them well before salting them. Now and then, however, he could not keep his teeth off them, and would eat one by the bye, without salt.

He strode up to the wretched children. Now, what made them very wretched indeed was, that they knew if they could only keep from eating, and grow thin, the giant would dislike them, and turn them out to find their way home; but notwithstanding this, so greedy were they, that they ate as much as ever they could hold. The giantess, who fed them, comforted herself with thinking that they were not real boys and girls, but only little pigs pretending to be boys and girls.

“Now tell me the truth,” cried the giant, bending his face down over them. They shook with terror, and every one hoped it was somebody else the giant liked best. “Where is the little boy that ran into the hall just now? Whoever tells me a lie shall be instantly boiled.”

“He’s in the broom,” cried one dough-faced boy. “He’s in there, and a little girl with him.”

“The naughty children,” cried the giant, “to hide from me!” And he made a stride towards the broom.

“Catch hold of the bristles, Bobby. Get right into a tuft, and hold on,” cried Tricksey-Wee, just in time.