One wintry day, three sisters lost their way in the forest. As the sun began to set, they shivered at the sound of howling wolves in the distance. On they walked, growing tired and hungry, until at last they glimpsed a light in the distance. They began to run toward it, and soon they saw a house tucked deep in the gloomy woods. They raced to the door and knocked.
When a woman answered, the youngest girl, whose name was Molly Whuppie, said, "Please, we are lost and cold and hungry. Can you give us shelter and food?""Oh no," said the woman. "My man is a giant. If he comes home and sees you, he will eat you up."
"Let us at least warm ourselves by your fire awhile," Molly begged.
The woman could not refuse. Glancing outside to make certain her husband was nowhere near, she let them in and set them before the fire. She fed them warm milk and thick slices of bread. Suddenly they heard heavy feet at the door. And then came a rumbling, grumbling voice.
"Fee, fie, fo, fum, I smell the blood of some earthly one."
The giant's wife called out, "Dear husband, it is only three poor hungry lassies." Her voice was trembling, for she feared her giant husband. "They will soon be on their way again."
The giant came inside. He said not a word. He sat down near the fire and ate a meal big enough for 10. Then he turned to the girls. They were staring hard at him, for he was a giant indeed, three times as big as any normal man. "Stay all night, lassies," said the giant. "We have lassies of our own. You can sleep in their bed with them."
Molly Whuppie sensed something was strange, but she was clever, so she stayed quiet. She watched the giant as he placed straw ropes around her neck and around her sisters' necks before they went to bed. She said nothing as he placed around his daughters' necks large golden chains. Then he said good night.
Molly took care to stay awake until she heard the giant's snores. The house rumbled with the noise. Molly slipped quietly out of bed. Lifting the ropes from her sisters' necks and from her own, she put them on the giant's daughters' necks. She removed the daughters' golden chains and placed these on her neck and on her sisters'. Then she lay down and pretended to sleep.
A while later the giant rose and sneaked into the girls' room. He leaned over the bed and felt in the dark for the straw ropes. He picked up each of the girls wearing straw and put them in a sack. He took the sack out to a shed, intending to eat them for his breakfast.
After he had left, Molly shook her sisters awake. "Up and away," she whispered. The girls ran out of the house. They ran until the sun rose over a distant mountain. Upon the mountaintop they saw, haloed by the sun's bright rays, a castle.
They ran to the castle and asked to speak to the king. Molly told the king their tale.
"Molly," said the king, "you have done well. The whole country fears the giant and his powers. And now I must ask you to do something more. Go back and steal his magic sword. If you do this, I will adopt your eldest sister and raise her as my own."
Molly did not hesitate. She ran fast as she could back to the giant's house, climbed in through an open window and hid beneath the giant's bed.
Stomp, stomp, stomp came the giant's footsteps. He walked into the house, ate a huge meal and went to bed.
When Molly heard his snores, she slipped from beneath the bed. She took his sword from the wall. Alas, she knocked her leg against the bed, and it rattled. Up jumped the giant. Out of the house ran Molly, the sword in her hand.
She ran and ran, fast as the wind. The giant ran after her. Molly came to the narrow Bridge of One Hair, which crossed a deep gorge and a fast, cold river. Molly raced across. The giant stopped. He knew the bridge could never carry his enormous weight.
"Molly Whuppie, never come again!" he cried, shaking his fist in the air.
Molly took the sword to the king. "Now I will adopt your eldest sister," said the king. "And if you steal the purse full of gold that lies beneath the giant's pillow, I will adopt your second sister." Molly said she would try.
The next day, she set off again for the giant's house. She sneaked inside and hid beneath the giant's bed.
Stomp, stomp, stomp came the giant's footsteps. Again the giant walked inside, ate a gigantic meal and went to bed.
When he was snoring, Molly slipped from beneath the bed, took the purse from beneath the giant's pillow and ran to the door. It creaked as she opened it. The giant awoke and jumped from his bed, and began to chase her over hill and valley until they came to the Bridge of One Hair. Molly raced across.
"Woe to you, Molly Whuppie!" cried the giant.
Molly took the purse to the king, and he adopted her second sister. "You have done well," said the king. "You are a clever child, and brave. If you steal the giant's magic ring, I will adopt you, too." Molly said she would try.
The next day, she ran back to the giant's house, sneaked inside and hid herself beneath his bed. Before long, the giant returned home, ate his supper and went to bed.
When Molly heard his rumbling snores, she crept out and reached for his hand. She pulled and pulled at the ring on his finger. Just as it came loose, he woke and grabbed Molly.
"Now I have caught you, Molly Whuppie," he bellowed. "If I had done as much to you as you have done to me, what would you do?
"I would put you in a sack and put the cat inside with you, and I would put the dog in, too. I would put a thread and needle and some shears inside. And I would hang you up upon the wall. And then I would leave you to your fate."
"Well, that's just what I'll be doing to you!" The giant found a sack and stuffed Molly inside. He threw in the cat and the dog, and a needle and thread and some shears. He hung her up on the wall, and walked off to the forest to hunt.
Molly began to sing out, "Oh, if only you saw what I see."
"What's that?" asked the giant's wife.
"Oh, if only you saw what I see," Molly repeated.
"Let me see, please, Molly?" the giant's wife begged. "Let me climb into the sack and see." And so Molly cut a hole in the sack and climbed out. She helped the giant's wife inside, and then, with the thread and needle, she sewed up the hole.
"I see nothing, Molly Whuppie," cried the giant's wife. "Please let me down." But Molly did not hear her, for she was already running as fast as she could run toward the castle, with the giant's ring in her hand.
When the giant came home his wife cried out from the sack, "It's me, husband. Let me out!" But the giant could not hear her words over the howling dog and meowing cat. It took a while before the giant's wife could convince him that it was she and not Molly in the sack.
Back at the castle, the king said, "You are a good girl, Molly Whuppie. You have destroyed the giant's magic powers, and my kingdom no longer has to live in fear. You will be my daughter from this day on." And Molly and her sisters lived happily ever after in the palace, daughters of the king.