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The Blinded Giant, Dalton


The following tale of a North Yorkshire giant appeared in 'English Fairy and Other Folk Tales' by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1890] who cited 'Notes on the Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties of England and the Borders.'

AT Dalton, near Thirsk, in Yorkshire, is a mill. It has quite recently been rebuilt; but when I was at Dalton, six years ago, the old building stood. In front of the house was a long mound, which went by the name of "the giant's grave," and in the mill was shown a long blade of iron something like a scythe-blade, but not curved, which was said to have been the giant's knife. A curious story was told of this knife. There lived a giant at this mill, and he ground men's bones to make his bread. One day he captured a lad on Pilmoor, and instead of grinding him in the mill he kept him as his servant, and never let him get away. Jack served the giant many years, and never was allowed a holiday. At last he could bear it no longer. Topcliffe fair was coming on, and the lad entreated that he might be allowed to go there to see the lasses and buy some spice. The giant surlily refused leave: Jack resolved to take it.

The day was hot, and after dinner the giant lay down in the mill with his head on a sack and dozed. He had been eating in the mill, and had laid down a great loaf of bone bread by his side, and the knife was in his hand, but his fingers relaxed their hold of it in sleep. Jack seized the moment, drew the knife away, and holding it with both his hands drove the blade into the single eye of the giant, who woke with a howl of agony, and starting up barred the door.

Jack was again in difficulties, but he soon found a way out of them. The giant had a favourite dog, which had also been sleeping when his master was blinded. Jack killed the dog, skinned it, and throwing the hide over his back ran on all-fours barking between the legs of the giant, and so escaped.


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