Molly Whuppie

An English Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a married couple who had so many children that they could not feed them all. One day they called the three youngest children to them, gave each one a slice of bread and butter and sent them into the forest to collect firewood. The children walked far, far into the woods searching for kindling. At last they sat down to eat their bread, but when they got up to go home, they discovered that they could not find the way. They searched and searched, but they were completely lost and without knowing it, they walked deeper into the forest with each step.

Soon it began to get dark and they noticed a light shining from the window of a house. Now the boldest and youngest of the three children was named Molly Whuppie. And she marched up to the door of that house and knocked as loudly as she could. When the door opened, a woman said to the children, "What do you want?" "Something to eat," they said in unison. "Eat?" said the woman. "My husband is a giant and he would gobble you up if he ever saw you." But the children were so cold and tired and hungry that they begged and pleaded with her until she let them in, sat them down by the fire and gave them each a bowl of broth.

They had barely begun to eat when a terrible loud thumping was heard at the door. In came the giant, roaring, "What Have We Here?" "Oh, just three lost, cold, hungry children who will soon be on their way," said the giant's wife. "You sit down and have your supper and leave them to me." The giant sat at the table and glowered at the three little girls while he crunched the bones that were on his platter. When he was through chomping the bones, he insisted that the children spend the night.

Now the giant had three daughters, himself, and his wife planned to put the six children into the same bed to keep them safe. But just before they retired for the night, the giant called the children to him and placed a golden chain about the neck of each of his daughters. Around the necks of Molly and her sisters he placed three necklaces made of straw. Then they all went to bed and to sleep. All except Molly, that is. She stayed awake until everyone else was asleep and the giant was snoring and snuffling loudly. Then she crept out of bed quietly and softly removed the golden chains from the giant's children, replacing them with the straw necklaces. She put the golden chains around her own and her sisters' necks. Then she got back into bed and waited. Several hours later she heard the giant slinking into the room to the bed where the girls were sleeping. He reached out and touched each necklace. Then he snatched up the three girls with the straw necklaces and rushed down the stairs and locked them up in his great, dark, damp cellar. Then he went back to his bed and fell asleep.

When Molly heard him snoring again, she woke her sisters and they crept down the stairs and out of the house, into the great forest. They started running and they never stopped until the sun began to come up. As the sun rose, they saw that they were near a magnificent castle. So Molly went in and told her story to the king. Now the king knew this giant and had suffered the loss of some property at his hands. So he said to Molly, "You have done very well for yourself, but I have another task that would be even better. If you will go back to the giant's house and bring me the sword that hangs over his bed, I will give my oldest son to your oldest sister in marriage."

Molly thought this over and decided that she would do it, for her sister had set her cap for the eldest prince. So she slipped into the forest that very night and made her way back to the giant's house. Seeing that the giant was busy wolfing down his supper, Molly stole into the house and hid herself under his bed. When all was quiet, except for the giant's snoring, Molly silently crept out from under his bed, climbed up on the frame and lifted the sword down from the wall. She was just tiptoeing out the door, when the sword rattled in its sheath. The giant woke up, jumped out of bed and chased after her. They ran and ran until they came to the bank of a huge, swift river. Then Molly plucked a hair from her head and laid it across the river, from bank to bank, and ran over it. But the giant could not run over it, so he shook his fist at her and roared, "WOE BE TO YE MOLLY WHUPPIE, IF EVER YOU COME BACK AGAIN." But Molly just laughed and called back, "Maybe again I'll come and see ye, if I come to Spain."

Then Molly took the sword to the king, and her oldest sister and the king's oldest son were married. And there was a great celebration that lasted three days. When it was over the king came to Molly and said, "That was a good thing that you did, Molly, but I know another that would be better yet. Go back to the giant's house and get the purse that lies under his pillow and I will give my second son to your second sister in marriage." Molly gave this a little more consideration, but she thought she might try it, for her second sister was becoming fond of the middle prince. So, once again, she set out for the giant's house when the sun had set and the forest was dark.

Traveling by moonlight, at last she reached the giant's door. First she peeked in the window to see if he was awake, and she saw that he was dozing and snorting in his chair by the fire. So she sneaked in the door and tiptoed behind his chair, crept up the stairs and hid under his bed, in the dark and waited. Soon the giant and his wife came upstairs and went to bed. Molly waited until they were both snoring, before she left her hiding place. Then slowly, slowly she slipped her hand under his pillow until she touched the purse. And slowly, slowly she pulled the purse toward her until she had it in her hand. But a golden coin dropped from the purse onto the floor and the giant heard it and woke up. Then Molly ran for the door and giant was right behind her. She ran down the stairs and out the door and into the forest with the giant on her heels. They ran and ran until they came to the river and Molly just got over the Bridge of the One Hair, but the giant couldn't get over it. So he made a dreadful face at her and shouted, "WOE BE TO YE MOLLY WHUPPIE, IF EVER YOU COME BACK AGAIN." And Molly laughed again and called back to him, "Maybe once again I'll come and see ye, if I come to Spain." And she ran off to the castle and gave the purse of golden coins to the king.

Then Molly's second sister was married to the king's second son and there was a grand feast that lasted a week. And everyone in the kingdom rejoiced with merrymaking and revelry. When the feast was over and the bride and groom had gone off on their honeymoon, the king came to Molly and said, "Well, Molly, that was a grand thing that you did, but I know another thing that would be the best thing of all. If you would go back to the giant's house one more time and bring me the gold ring that he wears on his thumb, I will give my youngest son to you in marriage." Well, Molly thought about that, and blushed, for he was her favorite of all the king's sons. So, again she slipped out into the dark forest and set off for the giant's house.

The moon shone down on her path through the woods, and Molly reached the giant's house more quickly than ever before. She crouched down outside his window and peered in through the little square panes. The giant was chomping and slurping his way through his supper, and all of his attention was on his plate, so Molly sneaked into the house and found her way up to the giant's bedroom. This time she hid behind the giant's dresser. It was very dusty back there and she had to be careful not to sneeze and reveal her hiding place. But soon the giant and his wife were in bed asleep, snorting, snuffling and snoring. Then Molly slipped out from her place behind the great chest of drawers and made her way to the side of the bed. Fortunately for her, the hand that the giant wore the ring on was hanging down the side of the bed. Clever Molly had brought a little vial of oil with her, so she put a few drops of oil on the giant's thumb near the ring. Then she reached up and pulled lightly at the ring. Little by little she drew the ring down and gently tugged it over the knuckle. The ring came off into her hand, and she slipped it into her pocket and turned to go.

But just then the giant awoke bellowing, "AT LAST I'VE CAUGHT YE MOLLY WHUPPIE!" And with that he grabbed her and held her up in front of his face. "If I'd done the ill to you that you've done to me, what would I be getting for my pains?" he asked her. Molly thought for a minute and then she said, "I'd get a big sack and put you into it with the cat and the dog and a needle and thread and a big pair of scissors and I'd hang you up on the wall and go into the forest to cut a huge stick and then I'd come back and take you down and pound you into a pudding." Then the giant laughed and said, "That's exactly what I'm going to do to you, Molly." So he found a huge sack and he put Molly into it. And he rounded up the dog and the cat and in they went too. Then he took a needle and thread and his wife's shears from her sewing basket and put them in too. Then he hung the sack on a nail by the fireplace and went off into the woods to look for an enormous branch to use as a cudgel.

As soon as she heard the giant leave, Molly began to call out in a loud, cheerful voice, "Oh, if only you could see what I see, Oh, if only you could see what I see." She sang this over and over, until the giant's wife, filled with curiosity, said "What do you see, Molly." But Molly wouldn't answer her and just kept saying over and over, "Oh, if only you could see what I see, Oh, if only you could see what I see." Soon the giant's wife was imploring Molly to let her into the bag. Molly cut a hole in the bag with the scissors, and climbed out of the bag with the needle and thread. She helped the giant's wife into the bag, sewed up the hole and ran to hide behind the door. Of course the giant's wife could see nothing in the bag, so she called out to Molly to let her out again. But Molly didn't answer her. She just waited behind the door.

Soon the giant came back with a monstrous cudgel. He took the sack down from the wall and began beating it. His wife cried out for him to stop, but the dog was barking and growling and the cat was yowling and hissing so loudly that he couldn't hear her. Then Molly slipped out from behind the door and ran into the forest, but the giant's saw her and took after her. Then they ran and they ran and they came to the river and Molly ran over the Bridge of One Hair, but the giant couldn't. The he waved his cudgel at her and hollered, "WOE BE TO YE, MOLLY WHUPPIE, IF EVER YOU COME BACK AGAIN." But Molly laughed and waved and shouted, "Never again I'll come and see ye, even if I come to Spain."

Then Molly skipped back to the castle with a light heart, and gave the golden ring to the king. And Molly and the king's youngest son were married. And there was a splendid celebration that lasted for a month. Everyone from kingdom and all the neighboring countries were invited. Everyone except the giant, that is. And there was feasting and merrymaking, music and dancing. And everyone lived happily until the next adventure.

Adapted by Toni Murphy