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The Giant’s Heart
by [?]

The giant caught up the broom, and seeing nothing under it, set it down again with a force that threw them both on the floor. He then made two strides to the boys, caught the dough-faced one by the neck, took the lid off a great pot that was boiling on the fire, popped him in as if he had been a trussed chicken, put the lid on again, and saying, “There, boys! See what comes of lying!” asked no more questions; for, as he always kept his word, he was afraid he might have to do the same to them all; and he did not like boiled boys. He like to eat them crisp, as radishes, whether forked or not, ought to be eaten. He then sat down, and asked his wife if his supper was ready. She looked into the pot, and throwing the boy out with the ladle, as if he had been a black beetle that had tumbled in and had had the worst of it, answered that she thought it was. Whereupon he rose to help her; and taking the pot from the fire, poured the whole contents, bubbling and splashing, into a dish like a vat. Then they sat down to supper. The children in the broom could not see what they had; but it seemed to agree with them, for the giant talked like thunder, and the giantess answered like the sea, and they grew chattier and chattier. At length the giant said,–

“I don’t feel quite comfortable about that heart of mine.” And as he spoke, instead of laying his hand on his bosom, he waved it away towards the corner where the children were peeping from the broom-bristles, like frightened little mice.

“Well, you know, my darling Thunderthump,” answered his wife, “I always thought it ought to be nearer home. But you know best, of course.”

“Ha! ha! You don’t know where it is, wife. I moved it a month ago.”

“What a man you are, Thunderthump! You trust any creature alive rather than your wife.”

Here the giantess gave a sob which sounded exactly like a wave going flop into the mouth of a cave up to the roof.

“Where have you got it now?” she resumed, checking her emotion.

“Well, Doodlem, I don’t mind telling you,” answered the giant, soothingly. “The great she-eagle has got it for a nest egg. She sits on it night and day, and thinks she will bring the greatest eagle out of it that ever sharpened his beak on the rocks of Mount Skycrack. I can warrant no one else will touch it while she has got it. But she is rather capricious, and I confess I am not easy about it; for the least scratch of one of her claws would do for me at once. And she has claws.”

I refer anyone who doubts this part of my story to certain chronicles of Giantland preserved among the Celtic nations. It was quite a common thing for a giant to put his heart out to nurse, because he did not like the trouble and responsibility of doing it himself; although I must confess it was a dangerous sort of plan to take, especially with such a delicate viscus as the heart.

All this time Buffy-Bob and Tricksey-Wee were listening with long ears.

“Oh!” thought Tricksey-Wee, “if I could but find the giant’s cruel heart, wouldn’t I give it a squeeze!”

The giant and giantess went on talking for a long time. The giantess kept advising the giant to hide his heart somewhere in the house; but he seemed afraid of the advantage it would give her over him.

“You could hide it at the bottom of the flour-barrel,” said she.

“That would make me feel chokey,” answered he.

“Well, in the coal-cellar. Or in the dust-hole–that’s the place! No one would think of looking for your heart in the dust-hole.”

“Worse and worse!” cried the giant.

“Well, the water-butt,” suggested she.