Jack and the Big Wind

Date 1956
Track ID 14393
Part 1

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Jack has his revenge on the Big Wind that has blown away his hay and thatch.

An old woman and her son Jack had a small farm away in the north of Scotland. One night, the thatch blew off the roof and the haystack disappeared. Jack set out to find the Big Wind and get revenge. Eventually he was directed to a castle where the Big Wind, who was a two-headed giant, was taking things away. The king provided Jack with a boat to get to the island where the giant lived. The giant threatened to kill Jack unless he could eat as much as him. An enormous tub of brose and two spoons were brought and they began to eat. Jack had an old pillowcase in which his mother had wrapped his piece [snack] and he put it down his front and spooned the brose into it. When the giant could eat no more, Jack asked for a knife, and cut open the pillowcase so that all the brose came out. The giant thought Jack had stabbed himself, copied his action, and killed himself. The king rewarded Jack with plenty of money and they were never again troubled by the Big Wind.

Bella Higgins heard her father tell this tale when he was a young man.


English, Scots






Bella Higgins: Well, onest in times - it wis nivver in your time, nor yet in my time, but it wis in somebody's time, ye know? There [were] onest away in the north o Scotland, in the wilds, a lady an her son - an old wummin an her son. An they lived on this wee farm. They'd only the one cow, an two or three sheep, a hen or two, an two or three pigs. The young man, he got up and he cuts his corn an gets it stacked, and maybe, ken, a ruck with his puckle hay, pit up his puckle hey. He says: That'll be the winter fir ma cow.

But however, come the back end o year, an oh! there come on a night it wis somethin terrible, wi high wind that wis liftin the thatch aff the house. "Oh, mother," he says, "the house'll need tae be sorted up," he says, "fir the half o the thatch is aa blown aff!" "Ay, son," she says, "it's been an affa night." Out he comes. He says: "I'll have tae go an feed the cow." An he come out - there weren't the straw tae be seen of his stack, nor there weren't the seed of hay fir whit wis all blown away. He come in and told his mother. "Ah," she says, "that's the Big Wind that done that last night." "Ah, well, mother" he says, "two meals o meat I'll no take up the one table; not two nights I'll no sleep in the one bed, tae I get ahold o that Big Wind." "When I dae get ahold of it," he says, "I'll make it a wind - hold on."
He goes an gets his old patched jacket on, an his aald cut boots that he had fir goin through the muirs an the mosses, an his stick in his hand, an his oatcake and a bit pork. They killed their own pigs an ate it in they days, an hung them up an cured them. So she boiled a lump o pork fir him an put it ontae his oatcake, an he's away across this mountains. On and on and on fir miles an miles before he come tae the next house - in these days the houses wis affa far between.

But however, he come tae a farm - oh a good size o a farm. He goes tae the door an sees the farmer. He says tae the farmer: "Had you the Big Wind here?" "Oh," says the farmer, "the Big Wind? Ay!," he says,"It has nivver left me with nothin! It has took nearly every pile o straw an hay I have about the house. Only what I had in the barn is all I'm left wi" he says. "Ah, well," he says, "that's anither pee in the Big Wind's pot. That'll be aa the mair fir me tae give him when I get him!" "He wis helluva greedy, that Big Wind" he says. "If he had hae come an asked a puckle ae straw or a puckle ae hay," he says, "I wid hae give it tae him, but he took the whole lot away." He says: "Is it far tae the next dwellin house or farm?" "Ay!" he says, "Ye've a long road. But I think ye're on a straight line fir the Big Wind." He says: "Fir I heard my forefathers talkin aboot the Big Wind." He says: "Hold on! That's alright fir me - I'm glad I'm on the track o't", he says.

So he bid goodbye wi the farmer an away he goes. An he's trampin on through muirs in his aal cut boots an no a sole on them. An the jags an the whins wis aa goin through his boots. An oh! but he's tired - fair tired out. He sit doon awhile an he had a couple o hours sleep. Then he wanders on again. But it took him a couple o day tae land tae the next house, an he wis travellin late an early. When he comes tae this farmhouse: "Man!" he says, "an affa size o a castle! That's some gentleman that's there, some big man that's there" he says. "I'll have tae gie him a call tae see did the Big Wind dae any harm tae his stock or his straw.

Well, he come tae the farm an he told the farmer whit he wis efter. "Oh," he says, "ye hinna very far tae go now fir the Big Wind. If ye just go up tae the big house there," he says, "ye'll get word o where the Big Wind stays." So up he goes tae this king's castle. When he comes tae the king's castle, he wis showed intae the king. "You're the very man I want," he says, "for that's the wylest man that ever was in the whole land round and round. He takes everything," he says, "ma sheep, ma cattle, and takes them all away - one every day he comes for." And he says: "He's always something away. But," he says, "he has two heads, and he's very large - a big, big man." He says: "If he gets ye, ye'll nivver be able tae [...] come off the island - he lives over on that island," he says. "He lives over there in a kind o a big old ruined-lookin castle. He's the very man I want."

So ower he goes - he gets a boat fae the king - the king gives him a rowin boat tae pit hisel over. An he's goin along the shore - he's at the seaside just on an island, ye see. An he sees thon kinna grass, like rushes or grass, comin in one line here an one line there along the shore - ye've often seen bits of straws. "Ay," he says, "I knew it wis him that took my straw, an aw the famers' straw aroon about the place. I see the track o't - I see whaar my straw went."

He comes tae the giant's castle: an he's out o the door lookin up at the sky - the giant wis lookin right up at the elements. "Ah" he says. The two heads spoke at once. "What are you doin here?" He says: "You'll soon know what I've got to do here!" "Well," he says, "if you do whit I tell ye, ye might have a chance o your life. But if you don't do whit I tell ye," he says, "or can do whit I'm gonna give ye tae do, I'm goin tae kill ye. I'll drink yer bluid," he says,"I'll drink every drap o bluid that's in yer body!" "Jack," he says," I dinnae ken if ye could or no - we'll see tae that." "Well," he says, "if you can sit down an eat more food than whit I can do, I'll let you free. But," he says, "if ye can't eat as much as whit I can do, you're goin tae be destroyed." "Come on, then!" says Jock. An whit does Jock get, but the aul cotton pillacase or somethin that his mother rowed his piece in, ye see, when he wis goin away. An he took it an pit the pillacase down the front of him an just kept a bit open here, ye see.

So in he goes, an here this wife - the giant's wife or his mistress, whoever she was - she taen in a big tub, a great big tub o brose an milk, an two long-handled horn spoons. An they're suppin, an they're suppin, an they're suppin, an they're suppin, tae the giant wis begginin tae lie back an rub his tummy, ye know, he's rubbin his tummy. I guarantee there were aboot three pecks o oatmeal in this tub - it was as big as this house - that wis taen intae this big hall. He says: "Jack, are you finished?" "No," he says, "I could go a droppie yet!" So he's suppin on. But Jack, ye see, he's always pittin it down in this pilla, an he's gettin swelled up this pillacase, ye know, at the front o his tummy.

But hooever, the giant gave in - this giant wi the two heids - he gave in. He says: "I can't sup anither bite." "Well," he says, "I'll show ye whit I'll do, an I'll be able tae finish whit's all left in the tub." So Jack, he says: "Have ye a knife?" tae the giant. "Ah, yes," he says, "I've a dagger here." So he handed Jack the dagger. He says: "Watch this!" So Jack took his knife an he just done that: rip!. An all the porridge, or brose or whitever it wis, all went on the floor o the hall. "Oh!," he says, "you're a good man tae show me whit ye can do! I can do that?" "Yes," says Jack, "anybody can do that - the same as what I did." He says: "Give me the knife!" So he got the knife an he jist rippit his belly - just right down! An his puddins an all his harigals [viscera] all fell out on the floor. So there now - he wis dead! And the king gave Jack goodness knows how much money fir his goodness. But they were nivver bothered wi the giant anymore - he was killed!

[Comments from fieldworkers, and description of learning the story from father]

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