“Mom, I’m home,” Jack said.
“So what did you find up there?” Jack’s mom asked.
“It can’t really be called that.” Jack’s mom folded her arms.
Jack smiled. “Who cares? It’s what I’m calling it. The giant lives in a huge house.”
“Of course he does. What’s inside?”
“I don’t know. I wasn’t going to go inside to check. A giant lives there!” Jack laughed.
The door behind him opened a little wider. Jack’s mom looked down and screamed. She ran forward with a frying pan in hand. Jack snatched the thing up in his arms. “Stop, mom! It’s a ladybug. She can play catch and shake hands and fly. I’m pretty sure she’ll eat dog food. Can we keep her?”
Jack’s mom set the frying pan on the table beside her with a sigh. “Jack, we couldn’t afford to keep a cow, and that was useful.”
“Why don’t you sell your famous applesauce? Or some apple butter or apple pies?” Jack asked, patting the giant ladybug on the head.
She sighed. “Jack, you always were a silly child. We don’t have any apples.”
“I brought some apples back with me,” Jack said. “The squirrels helped me bring them down.”
Jack’s mom sat down and put her head in her hands. “Giant squirrels, I suppose?”
“That’s right. They can communicate with hand signals for now, but I should probably teach them to talk too. I told them they could make a nest in the barn now that Bessie’s gone.” Jack smiled. “I’m sure they wouldn’t mind helping around the house or fetching more apples.”
“Why do they want to move here? We have nothing here,” Jack’s mom said.
“The giant really likes squirrel soup.” Jack set the ladybug down. It flew around him in a loop and then out the door. “Would you like to see the apples?”
“Jack, won’t the giant notice the apples are gone and find the beanstalk and come after us?”
Jack patted her shoulder and held out a hand. When she took it he pulled her up out of her chair. “The squirrels say he sleeps in late. As long as he doesn’t see us, we should be fine. He doesn’t count his apples, and he has lots. Maybe we could get some of the wildflowers to sell at market too. They were amazing.”
He pushed the door completely open and she followed him out. The apples were each as big as their little barn. Jack’s mom started feeling hopeful. With the flowers to sell first, she could get the extra ingredients and supplies to jar and sell applesauce or make pies.
She tripped over something and looked down. “Jack, is that a golden plate?”
“Oh, yeah, the squirrels gave me some pocket change the giant dropped. So, can I keep the ladybug? She won’t be any trouble. Watch.” He crouched in front of the ladybug and held out a hand. “Shake!”
The ladybug held out a leg and Jack shook it. Jack grinned. Jack’s mom sighed. “That’s fine Jack. Why didn’t you tell me about the gold first?”
“I really don’t know how we’d sell it without explaining where we got it,” Jack said.
Jack’s mom laughed. “Jack, everyone from miles around can see the beanstalk.”
“Yes, but if they don’t know about the gold, they won’t be trying to take the beanstalk from us. Big flowers that you have to climb for an hour to get are a lot less appealing than gold. Especially if you have to get through giant squirrels to get to the beanstalk.” Jack threw a stick and the ladybug flew after it.
“Jack…that was surprisingly clever. You’re right. We’ll have to find a way to sell the gold in smaller pieces and not very often…” Jack’s mom sat on a bucket and started to mutter to herself.
Jack grinned again as the ladybug flew back and dropped the stick at his feet. “Mom, I think I know what I’ll call her.”
Jack’s mom looked up. “What?”
“I’ll name her Spot,” he said.
Jack’s mom laughed. “I guess you’re still my silly boy after all.”