Once upon a time, there lived a widow woman and her son, Jack, on their small farm in the country.
Every day, Jack would help his mother with the chores – chopping the wood, weeding the garden and milking the cow. But despite all their hard work, Jack and his mother were very poor with barely enough money to keep themselves fed.
“What shall we do, what shall we do?” said the widow, one spring day. “We don’t have enough money to buy seed for the farm this year! We must sell our cow, Old Bess, and with the money buy enough seed to plant a good crop.”
“All right, mother,” said Jack, “it’s market-day today. I’ll go into town and sell Bessy.”
So Jack took the cow’s halter in his hand, walked through the garden gate and headed off toward town. He hadn’t gone far when he met a funny-looking, old man who said to him, “Good morning, Jack.”
“Good morning to you,” said Jack, wondering how the little, old man knew his name.
“Where are you off to this fine morning?” asked the man.
“I’m going to market to sell our cow, Bessy.”
“Well what a helpful son you are!” exclaimed the man, “I have a special deal for such a good boy like you.”
The little, old man looked around to make sure no one was watching and then opened his hand to show Jack what he held.
“Beans?” asked Jack, looking a little confused.
“Three magical bean seeds to be exact, young man. One, two, three! So magical are they, that if you plant them over-night, by morning they grow right up to the sky,” promised the funny little man. “And because you’re such a good boy, they’re all yours in trade for that old milking cow.”
“Really?” said Jack, “and you’re quite sure they’re magical?”
“I am indeed! And if it doesn’t turn out to be true you can have your cow back.”
“Well that sounds fair,” said Jack, as he handed over Bessy’s halter, pocketed the beans and headed back home to show his mother.
“Back already, Jack?” asked his mother; “I see you haven’t got Old Bess — you’ve sold her so quickly. How much did you get for her?”
Jack smiled and reached into his pocket, “Just look at these beans, mother; they’re magical, plant them over-night and—-“
“What!” cried Jack’s mother. “Oh, silly boy! How could you give away our milking cow for three measly beans.” And with that she did the worst thing Jack had ever seen her do – she burst into tears.
Jack ran upstairs to his little room in the attic, so sorry he was, and threw the beans angrily out the window thinking, “How could I have been so foolish – I’ve broken my mother’s heart.” After much tossing and turning, at last Jack dropped off to sleep.
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