The Forest Lad and the Wicked Giant
The woman who had lived so many years in the forest was not easily frightened. “Who are you and what are you doing in my house?” she shouted at the giant in the loudest tones she could muster.
One might have expected that the giant would have killed her instantly, but on the contrary her bold answer pleased him exceedingly. He laughed so hard that he had to lean against the wall to keep from falling.
“So you think that this is your house, do you?” said the giant as soon as he could regain his voice. “Well, I’ll tell you what we can do. I like you, and we can share this house if you will consent to be my wife.”
“I am not alone,” said the lad’s mother as soon as she could recover from her surprise sufficiently to find words. “My son is with me and I am expecting him any moment to return from the forest whither he has gone to procure food for us.”
“I can dispose of your son very quickly, just as I have destroyed all the inhabitants of this city,” said the giant with a frown.
“You cannot dispose of my son so easily as you may think,” replied his mother. “He has grown in the deep forest and is very strong, far stronger than the city dwellers. Besides his great strength, he is surrounded by the magic circle of his mother’s love.”
“I do not know what the magic circle of a mother’s love is like,” said the giant. “I don’t remember having seen one anywhere. Nevertheless I like you, and because I like you I will endeavour to dispose of your son as painlessly as possible. I believe you say you are expecting him any moment. Just lie down here and pretend that you are sick. When the boy comes in tell him that you have a terrible pain in your eyes. As you have lived long in the forest you will know that the best remedy for a pain in your eyes is the oil of the deadly cobra of the jungle. Send the lad out into the jungle to obtain this oil for you, and I promise you he will never return alive. I’ll go back into my room and bar the door so the boy will never see me, but I shall listen through the wall to know whether you carry out my command.