There was once upon a time a poor widow who had an only son named Jack, and a cow named Milky-white. And all they had to live on was the milk the cow gave every morning which they carried to the market and sold. But one morning Milky-white gave no milk and they didn't know what to do.
"What shall we do, what shall we do?" said the widow, wringing her hands.
"Cheer up, mother, I'll go and get work somewhere," said Jack.
"We've tried that before, and nobody would take you," said his mother; "we must sell Milky-white and with the money do something, start shop, or something."
"All right, mother," says Jack; "it's market-day today, and I'll soon sell Milky-white, and then we'll see what we can do."
So he took the cow's halter in his hand, and off he starts. 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, and wondered how he knew his name.
"Well, Jack, and where are you off to?" said the man.
"I'm going to market to sell our cow here."
"Oh, you look the proper sort of chap to sell cows," said the man; "I wonder if you know how many beans make five."
"Two in each hand and one in your mouth," says Jack, as sharp as a needle.
"Right you are," said the man, "and here they are the very beans themselves," he went on pulling out of his pocket a number of strange-looking beans. "As you are so sharp," says he, "I don't mind doing a swop with you –-- your cow for these beans."
"Walker!" says Jack; "wouldn't you like it?"
"Ah! you don't know what these beans are," said the man; "if you plant them overnight, by morning they grow right up to the sky."
"Really?" says Jack; "you don't say so."
"Yes, that is so, and if it doesn't turn out to be true you can have your cow back."
"Right," says Jack, and hands him over Milky-white's halter and pockets the beans.