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Jack and the Beanstalk


Draft of letter from Margaret Beyond, Q.C., Managing Partner


Dear Sir:

Although your story about climbing a beanstalk and the subsequent occurrences seems somewhat odd, your production of several golden eggs in payment of your retainer has led us to accept your case. Accordingly, it is my duty to advise you of a number of problems, both civil and criminal, which you may be facing.

  1. The Village officials are claiming that, since your erection of the Beanstalk enabled you to climb to the Giant’s level, you required either a Building Permit or a Crane Licence, depending on how they classify the Beanstalk. Because its nature is uncertain, I think a few motions and a small “settlement” payment may enable us to deal with this.
  2. Unfortunately, when you chopped down the Beanstalk, it fell across three properties adjoining your home, killing the giant in the process. This has created the following problems:
      1. The Gottfrieds, as adjoining landowners, are claiming damages for trespass and destruction of property; their henhouse was damaged, and they claim that three valuable hens were destroyed. We can probably buy them a new henhouse (I understand your supply of golden eggs increases daily), and our preliminary investigation shows that they have never paid more than three copper pennies for any of their hens.
      2. Widow Munsch says that her cow was so frightened it slipped and fell, and aborted the calf which she claims it was carrying. However, I think a few well-chosen words about the remoteness of this negligence claim and the consequences of frivolous actions may deal with this problem as well.
    1. Far more serious is the complaint from the Village that, regardless of whether the Beanstalk was a structure or a crane, you lacked a demolition permit and had no right to chop it down, especially since it landed across the road to the Market town and is impeding traffic. In this case we are exploring a different approach — rather than defending you against whatever claims they may make, we are going to point out that the trunk of the Beanstalk has fallen across the river so that it acts as a bridge and that, by using this crossing, it is unnecessary to travel along that part of the road which has been blocked. We have suggested that, if they can overlook the problem with the road, you are prepared to “donate” the fluvial portion of the Beanstalk to the Village so that it will thereafter be known as Jack’s Ford or Jack’s Bridge, whichever you prefer.
  1. By far the most troubling group of claims will come from the Giant’s widow. She is demanding the return of the property which you took, including the bird that lays the golden eggs and the singing harp which she says was a priceless antique, made by an associate of Stradivarius. Fortunately, she has put her claims in writing and included a threat to have you charged with murder if you do not comply with her demands. Since such a threat constitutes Extortion under the Criminal Code, we will have one of our paralegals point out the error of her ways.

Since your experience is the most current, I would like your opinion as to whether the Giant was, in fact, simply a large human being or a member of some other species. If the latter, this would neatly dispose of any charges of murder and make it much simpler to ensure that, since you are under age, any other charges would be disposed of in Juvenile Court.