At length he was espied by the giant, who was in a rage at his boldness, but consoled himself by thinking that Tom and the beer would soon become his prey. “Sir,” said the monster, “who gave you permission to come this way? Do you not know how I make all stand in fear of me? and you, like an impudent rogue, must come and fling my gates open at your pleasure! Are you careless of your life? Do not you care what you do? But I will make you an example for all rogues under the sun! Dost thou not see how many thousand heads hang upon yonder tree—heads of those who have offended against my laws? But thy head shall hang higher than all the rest for an example!” But Tom made him answer: “You shall not find me to be one of them.” “No!” said the giant, in astonishment and indignation; “and what a fool you must be if you come to fight with such a one as I am, and bring never a weapon to defend yourself!” Quoth Tom, “I have a weapon here that will make you know you are a traitorous rogue.” This speech highly incensed the giant, who immediately ran to his cave for his club, intending to dash out Tom’s brains at one blow. Tom was now much distressed for a weapon, as by some chance he had forgot one, and he began to reflect how very little his whip would help him against a monster twelve feet in height and six feet round the waist. But while the giant was gone for his club, Tom bethought himself, and turning his cart upside down, adroitly took out the axletree, which would serve him for a staff, and removing a wheel, fitted it to his arm instead of a shield—very good weapons indeed in time of trouble, and worthy of Tom’s wit. When the monster returned with his club, he was amazed to see the weapons with which Tom had armed himself; but uttering a word of defiance, he bore down upon the poor fellow with such heavy strokes that it was as much as Tom could do to defend himself with his wheel. Tom, however, at length cut the giant such a blow with the axletree on the side of his head, that he nearly reeled over. “What!” said Tom, “have you drunk of my strong beer already?” This inquiry did not, as we may suppose, mollify the giant, who laid on his blows so sharply and heavily that Tom was obliged to defend himself. By-and-by, not making any impression on the wheel, the giant grew tired, and was obliged to ask Tom if he would let him drink a little, and then he would fight again. “No,” said Tom, “my mother did not teach me that wit: who would be fool then?” The end may readily be imagined; Tom having beaten the giant, cut off his head, and entered the cave, which he found completely filled with gold and silver.
The news of this victory rapidly spread throughout the country, for the giant had been a common enemy to the people about. They made bonfires for joy, and showed their respect to Tom by every means in their power. A few days afterwards Tom took possession of the cave and all the giant’s treasure. He pulled down the former, and built a magnificent house on the spot; but as for the land stolen by the giant, part of it he gave to the poor for their common, merely keeping enough for himself and his good old mother, Jane Hickathrift.