Friday, November 28, 2008

Giant Boots

By David Edgren

This has been accepted for illustration and publication by Stanborough Press in England!
(look forward to the book shaped, fully illustrated, version!)

1—The Village

Once upon a time, in a beautiful valley not so very far from here, there was a village. The people in the village lived a comfortable life and were happy most of the time.

Until the bears came.

The bears were big, mean and angry. Having lived under the mountain for most of their lives, the bears were not used to meeting anyone and attacked the villagers and any other creature they saw. One day they found their way to the peaceful little valley through a system of caves that lead through the heart of the mountain.

They would come out of their cave and head toward the sound of joyful talking and laughter coming from the village. Once the bears were close enough they would rush at the villagers, swinging their sharp claws.

The villagers were quick enough and smart enough to go to their houses and lock the doors whenever the bears came.

Every day the bears would come—but never at the same time of day. The people were never quite sure when to expect the bears, so they built a watchtower and took turns watching. When the bears would come, the huge bell in the watchtower would ring out a warning and the people would hurry to their homes.

The village wasn’t as happy as it once had been. The children were afraid to play outside, the adults were scared to talk in the streets and the men were too nervous to spend much time hunting for game in the surrounding forest.

2—The Hunter

One day, a lone bear came. The warning was sounded and the villagers ran to their houses. Except for one of the men, who was a powerful hunter. He took his spear and headed toward the bear. He was tired of these bears ruining the little village and decided to do something about it. As the bear came bounding toward him, the hunter threw his spear. It was a perfect throw and hit the bear in the middle of his broad chest.

The hunter watched in shocked amazement as the spear bounced off the chest of the bear and clattered to the ground. It had been the hunter’s best, hardest throw—and he knew it. The bear’s fur was just too thick and it’s hide too tough. The bear kept running toward him, angrier now than ever. The hunter turned and ran toward the watchtower as fast as he could. He made it inside and locked the door behind him just as the bear slammed into the tower and roared in frustration, clawing at the door.

Finally the bear gave up. It wandered through the village looking down each street just in case a villager happened to wander into view. When it realised there was no one to attack, the bear lumbered back to the cave.

The villagers wondered what they should do. Should they build a wall around the village? Should they move to another valley?

Then without warning, one cold day, the bears didn’t come. They didn't come the next day, either. For days and days they didn’t come. The villagers thought maybe the bears had gone away. Then one of the children, who had been reading about bears at school, told the grown-ups that bears sleep all winter.

The adults realised the child was right. The bears were hibernating. They also realised the bears would be back when winter finished. The hunter who had faced the bear took a group of men to the cave and they piled rocks until the entire mouth of the cave was closed in. Hopefully the bears would see the entrance was blocked and go back into the mountain and find another way out, in a different place.

3—The Doctor

During the winter, Larry came home.

Larry grew up in the village. Everyone always knew he was going to be something great one day. When he was in school, he was smarter than any of the other kids. He was even smarter than some of the adults in the village. When he finished school, the villagers sent him to a university far away to become a doctor.

The village needed a doctor. When people would become sick, there was an old woman who usually knew what to do. But, when something really bad happened—like a broken bone or bad sickness—the villagers could only watch helplessly. Sending Larry to medical school was the best idea the villagers had come up with for a very long time, or so the village councellors said.

Larry had been gone for four years. Now he was back and he was a doctor.

There was just one problem with Larry. He had always had this problem. He was proud of himself—very proud. Proud that he was the smartest. Proud that he could get answers before the other students. Proud that he could figure out tough puzzles. Proud that he was better than anyone else. And now, he was very proud indeed that he was a Doctor.

"Larry! Larry!" shouted one of the villagers as he banged on the doctors door. "Larry, help me! My arm is broken."

"It's Lawrence, not Larry!" the response came from inside. Larry had decided that his name was too short for a doctors name. So, he wanted to be called Lawrence. It was his real name, after all.

"Sorry, Lawrence." The man replied, "Please let me in. Please help me!"

"It's Doctor Lawrence, actually," came the reply from inside.

"Sorry, Doctor Lawrence!" The man was crying now, "Please, Doctor Lawrence. Please help me!"

Larry opened the door and let the hurt man in. Larry knew what to do. He straightened the man's broken arm and put it in plaster. Then he put it in a sling. He did his work in silence.

"You're done," Larry said. "Keep it in the sling and don't use it." Larry pushed the man out of the house and slammed the door.

"Thank you, Doctor Lawrence," the man said from outside. But Larry didn't hear. He didn't want to hear it. He didn't need people or their thanks. He had himself and he was proud to be Doctor Lawrence.

4—Spring Comes

As time went by, the winter rains lessened and the temperature outside slowly rose. The snow melted from the trees and started the slow climb up the mountain—spring was here. When the sun came out and stayed, the people knew winter was gone for another year.

They had become used to moving freely around the village. The watchtower hadn't been used for over two months. They had almost forgotten about the bears. But some villagers still wondered, "Would the bears return? Would they break through the pile of stones in the cave's mouth?"

The answer came just a few days into spring. A shout burst from a man as he ran into the village. "BEARS! BEARS! BEARS!" The call passed quickly from villager to villager until they were all safely in their houses.

Larry had been told about the bears during the winter. At first he had thought they were just ridiculous stories. Then, after hearing the stories from enough people, he believed the bears were real. But he didn't think they were as big and as scary as the people said.

As he heard the bell ring, Larry came out of his doctor's office into the street. He watched people running into their houses and slamming their doors. Soon it was quiet in the village as all the houses swallowed the people and their yelling. It was like a ghost town—dead quiet.

Then Larry saw one—it was a huge bear, brown, almost black. It walked down the road stopping to sniff at each door that, only moments before, had been touched by a panicked villager. Then more bears came from between the houses. There were so many!

Larry stood staring, forgetting he was outside—until the big bear stopped in the middle of the road, swiveled his head to face Larry and sniffed. The bear's head tilted to one side. He looked directly into Larry's eyes. The fur on his neck stood on end. Huge lips curled away from razor sharp teeth. Then the air split with an earth shattering roar.

Larry spun around and lurched toward the open doorway of his office. He missed—smashing into the wall next to the door. He tried again and made it inside, slamming the door behind him. Moments later, as the doctor rubbed his forehead where he had hit the wall, the bear slammed against the door. Another blood-curtling roar. The door rattled on its hinges, and Larry crumpled to the ground, shaking in fear.

The bears wandered around the streets, looking for something to do, something to eat or something to attack. After awhile, unsucessful, they made their way out of the village.

Every day the bears came. And every day people rushed into their houses when the warning rang from the watchtower. Everyone was afraid and no one knew what to do.

5—Winter Again

The villagers were relieved when winter came again and the bears returned to hibernate in their cave. The hunter led a search for bigger, heavier stones to block the cave entrance. They needed to find something the bears could not move.

They found some huge blocks of granite. They were so heavy that it took three or four men to carry each. They moved them the long distance to the cave. After a few days, they had built a waist-high wall in the mouth of the cave. It was slow work, but together they could get it done before the snow started.

As the hunter and his group of men were returning to get another block, a boy stopped him.

"Yes?" the hunter asked.

"You should use this boulder," the boy said, placing his hand on a massive rock. "It's huge. I think it would block the entire cave!"

The hunter looked at the boulder. He walked around it, exploring all sides. He was amazed—it was perfect! And they had been walking right past it, many times every day! "Help me men," he said to his group. "Let's see if we can move this thing."

The four men put their full weight behind it. They pushed. They pulled. They tried using a stick as a lever. Nothing would make the huge stone even wobble. As other teams of men walked past they stopped and helped. Soon, ever man in the village was putting his complete strength into trying to move the boulder. Every man except the Doctor, of course.

There was no use. It would not budge. The hunter thanked the boy, turned to the group of men and said, "We need to finish the wall. This boulder is too big for us to move. Let's keep building with the granite blocks."

The men nodded in agreement and got back to work. After the other men started to walk away, one man climbed to the top of the boulder and jumped up and down trying to make it move. Instead, he slipped, banged his head and fell to the ground.

Two men saw it happen and rushed to help him. He had a huge bump on his head and a cut on his leg. The men worked together and carried him to see the doctor.

"Larry! Larry!" shouted one of the men as he banged on the doctor's door. "Larry, help us! We've got an injured man here."

"It's Lawrence, not Larry!" came the response.

"Sorry, Lawrence." The man replied, "Please let us in. He needs help!"

"It's Doctor Lawrence, actually." Came the stuffy reply from inside.

"Sorry, Doctor Lawrence!" The man was angry now, "Please, Doctor Lawrence. HELP NOW!"

Larry opened the door and let them in. Once they had laid the man down, Larry made the others go outside. He cleaned the cut and put six stitches in the man's leg. He put an icepack on the bump on his head. "Your fine now," he said as he stood the man up and pushed him out the door. "Now be more careful. People who climb on things, fall from things. So use your head for thinking, not bumping!" He slammed the door behind the man.

In just under two weeks, the wall was finished. It was huge and blocked the entire cave entrance.

"I doubt the bears will make a dent in that!" The hunter said. "They do not know how to use their strength together, like we do."

The villagers waited, with anxious talk and high hopes, for winter to end.

6—The Wall

The first day of full sunlight the people heard roaring from the cave. It was a frustrated muffled roaring.

The hunter took a few men to see how the wall was holding. When they got close, the roaring was much louder. But they could see the wall was still standing. They heard a huge thud as a bear ran, full speed, into the wall from the other side. The wall shook. But the stones stayed in place.

Another huge thud resulted in the same shaking of the wall. The bears seemed to be taking turns running at the wall. Over and over they thudded into the other side of the wall. Each time causing the wall to shake—without falling.

Then the thuds and shaking stopped. There was silence for a long time.

"Perhaps they have gone!" the hunter said with a smile. "Let's go closer and listen."

The group of men approached the wall. As they got closer they noticed a steady new noise. A sort of scratch, scratch, scratching.

"What's that noise?" asked one of the men.

"I think it's the bears," replied the hunter.

"What are they doing?" another man asked.

"It sounds like they are trying a different strategy," said the hunter.

The scratching moved across the wall from one side to the other. Then it went down to the bottom of the wall and then up—up to the top of the wall—to the weakest spot. One of the huge chunks of rock wobbled at the top of the wall.

"How are they reaching way up there?" asked one of the men.

"I think I was wrong," said the hunter. "They are working together. I think the bears are climbing on top of each other to get to the top of the wall."

Just then, the block that had been wobbling lurched forward and fell from the top of the wall. Then the next block began to wobble.

"It won't be long," said the hunter. "The wall is coming down. Hurry back to the village. We must tell the village council. They must think of something to get rid of these bears!"

As the men jogged back to the village they could hear the roaring of the bears getting louder, punctuated all to often by the thud of another block hitting the ground outside of the wall.

7—New Strategy

The village council had been in discussion since the men returned. It was now late in the evening. They knew the bears would be out in the next day or two.

Every grown-up in the village was at the meeting. Most of the kids huddled outside, listening through the walls.

A number of ideas were offered. Some said they should trap the bears. Others said the villagers should pack up and leave. The hunter thought he might be able to make stronger spears. There wasn't any solution that pleased everyone.

Larry had sat in silence. Finally he spoke. "Why don't you just put something bigger in the cave entrance? Make a stronger wall, get bigger blocks."

The hunter spoke, "There is a boulder that would block the hole for good. But, we tried to move it. Every man in the village helped. It won't budge."

"Well, I wasn't there," said the Doctor. "I didn't help."

Some of the men snickered. The hunter replied, "Doctor Lawrence, it wouldn't have mattered. It is too big. We cannot move it. Even if we could make it wobble, we could never move it all that distance to the cave."

A boy entered the back door. "Can I speak?" he asked.

"Of course not," Larry responded. "This is grown-up talk. We need to save our village from the bears."

The hunter recognised the boy. "Wait," he said. "This is the boy who found the boulder. He is a good thinker. He saw it when none of us did. I wish for him to speak."

The people in the council house went quiet and looked at the boy, waiting to hear his words of wisdom.

"Maybe," the boy paused, reconsidering. "Well, maybe we should ask the giant to help us. He could move the boulder easily!"

Some people began to laugh. Others shook their heads.

Larry spoke, "The Giant? The Giant?" he laughed. "The giant hasn't been seen for years. Some think he is dead. Other think he never existed at all—just a story."

Another man continued, "And even if he is out there, his valley is far away."

"And, if I remember the stories correctly," said someone else, "the giant never helps anyone. He's a selfish brute!"

The boy hung his head, "well I just thought. . ."

"No," interupted Larry. "You didn't think. This is the real world—not a fairytale. These are real bears. We need real answers, now!"

Everyone talked over the top of everyone else. The room grew louder and louder. The boy stood, staring at the floor, crying.

"I WILL GO!" shouted the hunter.

But, nobody heard him. The talking and arguing was too loud.

The hunter climbed onto a table, put his fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly. People stopped talking and looked up at him. "I will go," he said boldly. "I will go find the giant. And I will convince him to come. He is a fighter like me. I will speak to him of the bears. He will come."

The people were amazed. There was certainly no one better to send. The hunter had faced a bear. He could face a giant.

The hunter left the next morning.

8—Proud Giant

That afternoon the bears broke through the wall. But, by then, the hunter was far away. The villagers started using their watchtower and warning system again, hoping that soon the hunter would return with help.

The hunter walked for days. The days turned into weeks. After two months of walking the hunter found the giant's valley. There was only one way in, down a steep rocky slope. The hunter made his way into the valley and shouted, "I come in peace! I need your help, great giant!"

A large hill, at the far end of the valley, rolled over and stood up. It wasn't a hill at all, but a very large, very hairy giant. The giant took three huge steps. Now he was in the middle of the valley.

The giant spoke, in a deep rumbling voice, "Who dares enter the valley of the great giant?"

"I am the greatest hunter from a distant land," replied the hunter. "We need your help."

"What can I do for such a little people as you?" said the giant. "Surely your problems are much to small for my attention!"

"Bears are attacking our village," said the hunter. "There is a boulder. We need your help to block the cave entrance—to trap the bears."

"I will help," said the giant. The hunter was amazed. This had been easier than he thought!

"If you can answer my question well enough," finished the giant.

"What question?" asked the hunter.

The giant bellowed, "Can you wear my boots?"

The hunter, without even thinking about his answer, laughed and blurted out, "Wear them? What a silly question! I could live in your boots. They are huge!"

The giant shook his head sadly, saying, "You have not answered well enough." Then he turned, took three large steps, laid down and looked—once again—very much like a hill.

The hunter stood in stunned silence. Was that it? He had not travelled all this way to be rejected. He walked over to the hill. It took the hunter nearly an hour to get across the valley. He stood next to the huge hill of a giant.

"Please come!" the hunter said. "We really need your help!" He walked around the hill, begging for help the whole time. The giant never moved—not even a twitch. After a couple hours of yelling and demanding attention from the giant, the hunter gave up. No response would come.

The hunter left the giant's valley. It was a long two months, walking back to the village, knowing he must tell them their bear problem was as big as ever.

The giant would not help.

9—Bear Attack

While the hunter had been away, the bears had come to the village every day. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes at noon, sometimes just before dark. The villagers always listened carefully for the watchtower's warning. Once they heard the bell ringing, they would run from wherever they were into their homes.

One day, the bears came early in the morning. After they had gone back to their cave, one of the villagers took his son hunting in the forest. They had been hunting for about an hour when they heard the bell ring.

"Twice in one day!" the boy said.

"Yes," said the father. "That is not normal. I didn't think they'd be back. We better run!"

As the father and son emerged from the forest they saw the bears running along the tree line, not far behind them. The village was a couple hundred metres away.

"Run!" yelled the father. "We can make it!"

They ran as fast as they could but one of the bears was catching them. A man who lived on the outskirts of the village came out of his house and yelled to them, pointing at his house, "Come into my house! Quick!" He had a spear in his hand.

They had almost reached the house when the bear jumped forward, raking one of his paws down the boy's back. Then, with another swipe, one claw cut into the back of the father's arm. Just then, the spear wizzed between the father and son striking the bear in the shoulder. The bear slowed just enough for the two to reach the house.

The man, who had thrown the spear, rushed in after them slamming the door. The bear was close behind and banged into the door a moment later.

"I've been hurt," the father said, trying to look at the back of his upper arm.

"Me too," the boy said as he slumped to his knees, out of breath.

The man who lived there looked at their wounds. "We need to get you to the doctor," he said. "Luckily, your wounds aren't that bad. But the cuts need proper treatment."

The bear had wandered back toward the forest. The man led the father and son to Larry's office.

"Larry! Larry!" shouted the man. "Larry, help us! A bear got two villagers."

"It's Lawrence, not Larry!" the response came from inside.

"Sorry, Lawrence." The man replied, "Please, let them in. They need you!"

"It's Doctor Lawrence, actually." Came the reply.

"Sorry, Doctor Lawrence." The man shook his head in disgust. "Please, Doctor Lawrence. Please, let them in."

Larry opened the door and let the father and son in. He told the other man he could go home now and then shut the door.

Larry looked at the wounds. The father's cut was deepest. Larry said, "You are more injured than your son. I will deal with your wound first." Larry cleaned the wound and put germ killing antiseptic on it. He was surprised when the father didn't flinch or say anything. The antiseptic stung. Tough guy, thought Larry.

"I'll need to give you a few stitches," Larry said. "I just have to give you a couple of shots so you wont feel it."

The father interupted, "Just stitch it up quick. Don't worry about the pain. I want you to help my son as soon as you can!"

Larry raised his eyebrows, "If you insist, but it will hurt." The man said nothing so Larry threaded the needle and stuck it in the mans arm. He didn't react at all. Larry finished the stitches, amazed at how tough this man was.

Larry went over to the boy. "You will need to lay down," said the doctor. "You have three scratches on your back from the claws. I'll clean two and leave them, but I will need to put a stitch or two in the other one."

The boy nodded bravely. Larry washed the three scratches. Then he dabbed some antiseptic on a cotton ball and pressed it on the first scratch. The boy sucked air in with shock. "That stings!" he said.

"Yes, it does!" Larry said. "But we've got to kill the germs!" Larry put the antiseptic on the other two scratches and the boy reacted both times. He didn't like it at all.

After Larry had given the boy a couple of shots, he started stitching the wound. It was more than the boy could handle—the antiseptic, the needle, the stitches. The boy started to cry. Larry was just about to say something to the boy when he saw the father wipe his eyes. Larry looked over at the man and was amazed to see tears flowing down the father's cheeks.

Something happened to Doctor Lawrence's heart right then—something Larry couldn't understand, something wonderful. The father could handle all the pain in the world, as long as it wasn't happening to his son. Larry realised the father loved the boy more than anything else in the world. That's when Larry's heart changed. He wanted to be that kind of man—like the father. Larry realised he no longer wanted to be Doctor Lawrence so people would think he was amazing. He wanted to be Larry the doctor who helped people because he loved them.

Larry finished the last stitch and wiped a tear from his own eye. "You'll need to keep these clean," he said. "Be careful. And I hope you both feel better soon."

Larry opened the door and said they could go. As they left the boy looked into the doctors eyes, "Thank you Doctor Lawrence."

"You're welcome," he said. "And, please, call me Larry."

10—Giant Truth

Larry was a good doctor. He helped people for the rest of the summer with a smile. He gave treats to kids, said nice words to adults and cared for people from the bottom of his heart.

When the hunter returned everyone was sad to see he was alone. The hunter told the village council what had happened. Everyone listened to the story of his journey. It was a great story—even if he did return without the giant.

When he finished, people started talking about the right answer to the giant's question. One person said the giant was mean and wanted people to say they were afraid of his boots, because they could stomp you to death. Another villager said the giant was selfish and wanted to hear how great he was. Lots of people had lots of ideas. But, no one knew what to do next.

Summer was coming to an end. After the winter they could send someone else to talk to the giant. They had all winter to decide what answer to give. But they would have to put up with the bears for another year. It was a miserable situation and no one wanted to leave the council meeting and go back to real life outside.

Larry was at the meeting, listening carefully. He heard the hunter's story. He heard the many answers people suggested. Then he spoke, "Tell us again," he said to the hunter, "exactly what the giant said about your answer."

The hunter stood and answered, "He just said, 'You have not answered well enough.' Then he ignored me."

"I know what to say," Larry said with an excited smile. "I know what that giant needs to hear! I will go. I will go speak to him, right now!"

"It's too far," the hunter said. "You will barely get there before winter. You'll never make it back before the snow."

"I must go now," said Larry. "The giant will bring me back."

"Very well," said the hunter. "I will draw you a map."

The villagers started to cheer and clap. Many asked Larry what he was going to say—what would his answer be? Larry just said, "I will just tell him the truth."

Larry left in the dark, while the bears were asleep. By the time the bears came out of their cave, the next morning, Larry was far away.

11—Well Enough

Two months later, as snow started to fall on the mountains, Larry climbed down the rocky hillside into the giant's valley.

As he walked into the clearing, a large hill, at the far end of the valley, rolled over and stood up. Three huge steps later, the giant stood before the doctor.

The giant spoke, in a deep rumbling voice, "Who dares enter the valley of the great giant?"

"I am the doctor from a distant land," replied the Larry. "We need your help."

"What can I do for such a little people as you?" said the giant. "Surely your problems are much to small for my attention!"

"Our hunter told you of the bears attacking our village," said Larry. "We need you to move a huge boulder to trap the bears by blocking the cave entrance."

"I will help," said the giant, "if you can answer my question well enough."

"What is your question?" asked the doctor.

The giant bellowed, "Can you wear my boots?"

Larry was impressed by the volume of the giant's shout. He replied in a confident voice, "Not anymore!"

The giant took a step toward Larry. "Are you suggesting you used to be as big and as great as me? Were you once a giant like myself?"

"No," Larry replied. "But I used to walk in your shoes."

"How could you walk in my shoes with such little feet?" questioned the giant.

"I was the smartest kid in my village," Larry said. "They sent me away to become a doctor. When I came back, I was great! I was the only one who had been to the big city, the only one who had been to university, the only one who could heal their cuts, bruises and broken bones. I was the doctor, and I was a giant compared to them."

A rumble came from the giants throat, "Hmmm... Go on..."

"I was so proud of myself," said Larry, "that I treated everyone like they were useless and annoying. I didn't need them or want them. But they needed and wanted me. Then a bear attacked a father and his son. The man was tough as I fixed his wounds. But when I fixed his son's wounds, the man cried."

"He cried!" the giant murmured interrupting, clearly caught up in the Doctor's story. "What happened next?" the giant asked.

Larry continued, "Seeing the way the man loved his son changed me. It made my heart hurt. I wanted to love people. From that moment on, I started helping people because I cared about them, not because it made me look good."

Larry stopped and shuffled from one foot to the other, looking down at his shoes. Then he looked directly into the giants eyes and spoke, "So, no I cannot wear your boots—not anymore."

The giant had been so caught up in the story that he was leaning right over the doctor. A huge tear trickled down the giant's nose and splashed on Larry. It was like a bucket of water pouring over him. The giant lowered himself to one knee and laid his hand on the ground in front of Larry.

Larry stepped into the giants huge hand and walked to the middle of his palm. The giant lifted the little doctor high in the air until he was looking straight into the giants eyes.

In a whisper, choked with tears, the giant said, "You have answered well enough."

Then, standing to his full height, the giant stepped out of the valley and started to run.

12—Giant Change

A few short hours later, they arrived at the village. The giant's strides were gigantic. And when he ran, they were even bigger.

The villagers heard the thud, thud, thud of the giant's footsteps and gathered at the watchtower.

They watched as the giant ran through the forest—they could see his head above the trees!

They watched as the giant ran across the valley toward the village.

And they watched as he ran right past them—toward the boulder. As the giant rushed past, some people said they heard Larry's voice call out, "We'll be right back!"

From where he sat, high up in the giant's hand, Larry could see that winter had come to the valley. The mountain tops were all white. The bears would be asleep in their cave.

The giant reached the huge boulder. With his free hand he picked it up like a baseball.

The village people ran to the cave and arrived just as the giant got there. He lowered the huge boulder into the entrance. It was a perfect fit. He gave it a push and it sank into the cave mouth, rock grating against rock—biting into each other. The cave was sealed. The bears would never return.

The people cheered and shouted, "Larry! Larry! Larry!" The giant faced the crowd and opened his hand so Larry could see the people. Larry clapped his hands with the people. Then he put his finger to his lips. The crowd went quiet.

"Don't thank me," Larry said. "Thank this great giant! He has chosen to help us."

The people clapped and cheered for the giant. Then the giant held his huge finger to his lips, copying Larry. The people quieted.

"It is not I, or Doctor Larry, who deserve thanks today," boomed the giant. "It is all of you. For without you, neither Larry nor I would have helped you today."

The people stood in stunned silence. They looked at each other in confusion. What could the giant mean? What had they done?

The Giant continued, "You have loved each other. It is your love that changed Larry's heart. And his heart has changed mine. You have all answered well enough!"

The people cheered. Then the hunter approached the giant. "Before you go back to your valley, we would like to give you a gift, great giant," he said. "Ask for anything and we will gladly give it."

The giant paused for a moment and said, "I would like, very much, to stay here. I want to learn to be like you villagers—to love and be loved. Can I stay and be the protector of your valley?"

The people cheered with joy. They danced around the giants great boots and dodged the huge tears of joy that fell from above.

And they all lived happily ever after.

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