The Big Mean Giant and the Tiny Village
Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a tiny village that lived in the shadow of a mighty beanstalk over which white clouds always hung and made a nice shade that dappled sun over all the village. In this same village, the people had once been content and happy with simple lives and simple pleasures, and their trade was amongst each other for the simple goods they needed to live. Then one day above the villagers, it began to rain down silver upon them.
For a full sixteen months it rained silver pieces big enough to be coins each day upon all the houses and villagers, and the village then grew wealthy. Their trade with other villages increased, and all villagers that collected silver from their thatched roofs and pastures and the streets around them grew their houses and bedecked themselves in all manner of reasonable finery. As the silver and goods continued to flow, the villagers grew to want more, to know what new luxuries might be afforded with just a little more wealth, and to look upon those the sky might favor more greatly in its rains of silver with envy. Then one day, the silver did not come and all about the village grew worried and fearful, praying that in the next day the silver would rain again. The next day their prayers were answered two-fold, for above the villagers, it began to rain down gold upon them.
For a full sixteen months it rained gold pieces big enough to be coins each day upon all the houses and villagers, and the village then grew further wealthy. Their trade with other villages reached envious levels and people crowded the tiny village hoping for the gold rain to fall upon them. Great fences were built to keep the gold that fell upon properties and the mayor declared the trespassing on any property during the gold rain to be an offense worthy of death. All the villagers that hoarded the gold from their thatched roofs and pastures and the streets around them grew their houses and bedecked themselves in all manner of opulent finery. They grew to want even more, to know what amazing luxuries might be afforded with just a little more wealth, and to look upon those the sky might favor more greatly in its rains of gold with venom. Then one day, after sixteen months, the gold did not come and the village grew worried and fearful, praying that in the next day the gold would rain again. But this time their prayers were not answered.
Days and weeks passed and villagers that had spent the gold and silver that rained upon them on luxury and finery began to fear. They had forgotten the need for food or goods for trade or even the cost of care for their luxuries. The mayor called a meeting in the town center as the villagers showed more and more unrest and his own home began to see marks of care that needed to be given every day but for which he did not have the full coffers.
"We must have the gold back," he told his townspeople, and there was a great murmuring of agreement. "Who has the courage to climb the stalk and find what has happened to our gold?"
In the crowd was a young peasant named Bram. His house lay at the edge of the village where it always had, and it had not seen much of the gold and silver rain. He thought in his mind, "If I were to go, I might be rewarded or able to pocket what I find for myself then gain finery to match my neighbors."
"I will go," he said in a loud, clear voice while visions of wealth danced in his eyes.
Up, up, and up the beanstalk he began to climb while the village watched, looking for any clues as he moved up into the clouds. As he rose through the white mists of the clouds that had always shadowed their village, Bram saw stones floating in air as if fixed into the ground just atop the mists. From there, the stones made a path under the clear blue, the path led just above the clouds, and an enormous cottage sat at the end of the path.
He hopped the stones to the huge cottage, making his way to an impossibly large door. Finding a crack between the great boards that formed the door, Bram squeezed his way in to look upon the cottage inside. Within he saw a simple, single room of a cottage, an enormous bed to one side, a table to the other that he could not see the top of, and in the corner a cozy hearth formed of great boulders whereat there sat a giant man, tending a boiling pot above the fire.
While Bram stood in awe of the new surroundings and walked further in, the giant in his simple brown pants and rough linen shirt had heard the scuttling and before Bram knew to run, the giant turned, took two steps, and had him gripped in in his meaty palm.
"Little morsel on my stoop,
Something solid for my soup!"
The giant's voice boomed around him, and Bram thought quick, for he was clever among the village. "Wait! If you put me in your soup, you shall never hear the mystery I come to solve."
The giant stopped and looked curious for a moment. He looked down at Bram. "What mystery?"
To Bram the giant seemed slow-witted, and he being clever among the village only had to keep him wondering now. "The mystery of the raining gold and silver."
"What are 'gold and silver'?" The giant asked with his eyebrows raising.
"Set me on your table instead of in your pot and I shall tell you."
The big mean giant took Bram over to the table. Now as he was set upon it, he could see that it was crossed in squares as a game board might be. And on either side, an arrangement of sixteen figures, each as tall as Bram himself, one set carved intricately from silver and the other from gold. Bram thought quick again and believed he had found what he'd come for.
As he was set down on the table, Bram looked up at the giant with admiration in his face. "Did you carve all these beautiful pieces yourself?"
The giant beamed at the appreciation of his craft. "Indeed. The hill man visited me many evenings ago and taught me a new game for the night. I loved the game, and so he brought me all the beautiful rocks that shine in two different colors so that I might make a set myself. Each piece has taken me a month to carve and then sweep out my cottage after each morning of work, but when he comes again we will use them."
Bram was thinking quick again. "But now you have no one with which to play the game, even though your pieces are finished."
"Yes, that is true. And only one little morsel for one bite of soup," the giant said sadly.
"Then how do you feel about one game before your dinner? And a wager to top it. Let us play the game. If I win, you let me keep your king and return home with it as a trophy."
The giant sat in thought for a moment looking at Bram. "I do so wish to play the gentleman's game with my pretty pieces. Very well, 'tis a wager. And if I win, I shall swallow you up before my soup."
Bram nodded and moved to where the silver king stood. He toppled it off the table and stood in its place then had another clever thought to make the villagers happy. "Since our wager is for keeping the king, I shall stand in place of silver and marshal my forces here. Roll the silver king out the door please, as I am too small."
The giant raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"It is a gentleman's game as you said. And tradition states that the gentlemen roll each taken piece out the door then collect them when the game is through."
The big mean giant looked dubious about this, but he knew he was not wise in the ways of gentlemen. So he stood and opened the door to roll the silver king outside where he did not notice it falling through the wispy clouds and down to the village. Then he returned to his stool at the table and looked at his little guest.
"That lighter color makes the first move, if I remember the gentleman's rules right."
"That is too correct, my new friend," Bram said amiably. "And even if you swallow me up before your soup, I admire you for abiding the rules."
So the game began, Bram taking considerable time to move his pieces and remember where he was meant to stand after. Soon the giant allowed him to call where he wanted the pieces moved and moved them himself, obeying every rule and wanting to seem a gentleman. For his part, Bram focused all his energy on taking as many pieces as he could in the course of their match so that they would be rolled out the door and fall down to the village. The cleverness he took pride in was shining, and he knew the village would reward him for sending much more gold down to them. Yet in all his cleverness to obtain pieces, Bram did not see to his own defense and before he saw them coming, the giant had him hemmed between a knight, a rook, and a pawn with nowhere to move.
Bram shivered to realize he'd been so foolish and had now lost his wager while the big giant's bearded face split into a grin. The giant looked to him and licked his lips. "My first checkmate! The game was fun, little gentleman, and I admire you playing honest. But the wager is won, and now I take my prize." The giant reached out and plucked him off the board, carrying Bram up to his face. "'Tis a shame there be not more to you, but one tasty mouthful is better than none."
Once more thinking quick, Bram shouted, "But there are more below! There is a village of morsels for you to enjoy. And if you will but grant me my life, which is now rightfully yours to consume, I shall take you there."
The giant's eyes brightened. "Would they be as flavorful as you smell to me?"
"They are better than me," Bram said, thinking quick once more. "Many are much more plump and tender from years of ease and tastier by far."
The big mean giant grinned. "Then they shall be a perfect feast after the nice little snack I've won."
Before Bram could try any further clever thoughts or trickery, the giant popped him into his mouth. He rolled him around for a few moments and then with a loud gulp! Bram was gone down the throat and into the giant's belly.
"Such a yummy little treat
And below much more to eat!"
The giant looked out the door and saw that all his lovely pieces had fallen through the clouds below. Cursing that he would have to collect them again from his little snack's trickery, the giant tossed a sack over his shoulder and headed down the path of stones to visit the world below. He began to climb down the stalk and looked down to see villagers tussling over his game pieces and dragging them to their homes.
Boom! went the big mean giant as he jumped off the beanstalk. He landed in the town square and looked while villagers screamed and ran in a panic, yet some would not let go of his pieces. He picked up one shining knight while a plump woman still clung to it and would not let go. With a swipe of his tongue, he slurped her off and swallowed her down then put his piece into his sack.
Looking for more of his pieces, the big mean giant leaned over a thatched roof and blew hard until all of it was swept away on the wind. Inside a little man and woman were shivering in fear while the gold queen stood in the center of their house. He picked up the piece and put it in the sack then plucked up the two of them and stuffed them into his mouth and gulped them down. The big mean giant licked his fingers clean and enjoyed having the little bits to eat while he scoured for his pieces that had been so much hard work.
The giant noticed a tiny house that was larger than the others and this was the mayor's house that had grown to have two floors to it when the gold had rained. The big mean giant pulled the roof off the house and began gathering extra villagers up and putting them inside and making sure they could not get out while he gathered up his pieces and occasionally gulped down another little snack that wouldn't let go of a part of his game.
Soon he had accounted for all his pieces in his sack and had gathered up every man, woman, and child in the village into the mayor's house where they were trapped. They clawed and shoved at each other to avoid his gaze and turned their finery and luxury into tatters and wreckage in attempt to find a way out. The giant sat cross-legged before the opened house and looked over them.
"My soup can keep tonight I feel,
For this, a much more filling meal!"
Then the big mean giant gobbled up the whole village … and lived happily ever after.