The Giant Who Cried Waterfalls
Story by Stuart B. Baum, Illustrations
by ZoŽ M. Baum
who is good at
This story starts most of
the way up a tall mountain.
To get there, we have to first take a plane halfway around
the world. Then we have to take a long train ride, of about
five hours, to the bottom of a large mountain range. That's
as far as the train goes, so we have to take a bus from that
town to an even smaller town. It's not that far, but the roads
are so winding and so thin that we have to stop to wait for
cars, carts, other buses, and frequently sheep and goats to
go past before we can continue on our way. Finally, we arrive
at a smaller town at the bottom of the mountain.
Look up the mountain. Towards the top, you can see
a small village with perhaps fifteen houses and two larger buildings.
That's the village we need to get to. You can't see the
very top of the mountain. It's above the clouds.
Before we travel up, take a good look at the mountain. See
how the pine trees get smaller and smaller as they get closer
and closer to the village? See how the mountain becomes more
rocks than trees as you look past the village? It's almost all
boulders and crags as it disappears into the clouds.
See the village? All the houses and the two larger buildings
are built in a semi-circle around a small lake. Now, take a
good look at that lake. You'd expect a mountain lake to be bright
blue like the sky, but it's greyer and milkier than that.
But here's what you really need to see. Look behind the lake.
Notice the two thin lines of water running up the mountain and
disappearing into the clouds? These are two thin waterfalls,
which, of course, travel down from the top of the mountain and
into the lake. They're quite beautiful, these two thin waterfalls.
They're also magic, or so many people think. That's why so many
people go to the lake to cure their aches and pains, among other
things. And they pay good money to do this. In fact, many of
the people in the village earn their living from the money people
pay to bathe in and drink this lake water.
~ ~ ~ ~
Are you ready to walk up? It's a long, long walk. But it'll
be worth it; you'll see.
~ ~ ~ ~
In the village on the mountainside lives a small girl named
Bonnie. She's nine years old, but she's small for her age. She's
about the size of a seven year old. That's OK; she doesn't mind
Her family sells bottled water from the village lake, which
she and her Dad cart down the mountain every morning. (Yes,
all the way down the mountain path!) She has to go down the
mountain anyway, since that's where her small school is. Generally,
she walks all the way back up by herself.
One day, a beautiful day where you could almost
see the top of the mountains through the clouds, Bonnie decided
she wanted to go all the way to the top of the mountain to see
where the waterfalls begin. Of course she was told by her parents,
quite plainly, not to do this.
"Never go to the top of our mountain," her Dad said.
And her Mother, always giving the most specific warning possible
in an attempt to leave Bonnie no ‘wiggle room,' elaborated:
"Do not try to find out where the waterfalls begin."
But it was a beautiful day. School had
let out early since the teacher had to leave town to go to a
wedding. And Bonnie had no homework. So she decided to walk
almost to the top of the mountain and get close
to but not completely where the waterfalls begin. She was
allowed to walk around the mountain and no one was
expecting her home for hours and she had done all her chores…
but she knew she was disobeying her parents. And she felt bad
about it. But she really, really wanted to see where
the waterfalls begin.
~ ~ ~ ~
Let's follow her up the mountainside.
~ ~ ~ ~
As I mentioned, Bonnie had already passed her village and
continued up what seemed to be some sort of path between the
waterfalls. Certainly, she was not the first person to do this!
The path got smaller and smaller and smaller as the waterfalls
got closer and closer and closer until she started to realize
it wasn't a path at all. It was simply the space between the
She said to herself, excitedly, "Perhaps it starts as just
one waterfall!" She was now walking through the clouds.
She kept glancing back as she continued upwards and with every
step it looked as if her village were fading away.
Before she realized it, she had bumped into a huge, odd shaped
rock, almost a small mountain by itself. The rock was as wide
as the widest building she had ever seen and as tall as the
tallest tower in the town at the bottom of the mountain. The
waterfalls ran down the front of this huge rock and try as she
might she couldn't help but look up, to the place where the
Once she realized she was looking up she closed her eyes,
so as not to completely disobey her Mother. But she
couldn't help seeing what she saw. The mountain looked like
a huge man, sitting with elbows on his knees, with waterfalls
running down from his eyes.
Bonnie turned away and, without looking back, ran down the
mountain, through the clouds, and without so much as breaking
stride, ran into her house and slammed the front door.
She wanted to believe that the top of the mountain
had been carved into the shape of a giant. She tried so
hard to believe this, she had almost actually succeeded.
But she couldn't. She knew it was a real man, a giant.
A giant! Sitting at the top of the mountain. Head in his hands.
The rest of the day and all through the night she could think
of only one thing: Why was the giant crying?
The next day, she got ready for school, her mind still on
the crying giant, when her Father reminded her to help him put
the water bottles into the cart. She had done this every day
of her life for as long as she could remember, but now it was
different. The bottles didn't contain water anymore; they contained
giant tears. Her family didn't make their money selling lake
water; they made their money selling giant tears. The money
they used to buy food and toys and furniture didn't come from
a waterfall running down a mountain into the lake; it came from
a very, very sad man. A giant, yes, but also a man.
His sadness filled their bottles and earned them money.
This made Bonnie so unhappy her bones ached. She strained
to keep her own tears inside, lest her father see them and ask
her why she was so sad. She finished putting the bottles in
the cart, helped her father roll the cart down the mountain
and, instead of running off to school, she ran up the mountain
to the crying giant.
Bonnie was scared, but she was too sad to let that get in
her way. She climbed onto the giant's shoulders. She could feel
the giant shaking from his sobs. She yelled (since she figured
she needed to be loud to be heard by a giant), "Why
are you so sad Mr. Giant?"
Nothing happened. The giant cried and the waterfalls poured
as if she weren't there. She yelled again, "Why are
you so sad Mr. Giant?!?"
Still nothing happened. This time, more softly and mostly
to herself, she asked, "What could be so terrible that you cry
waterfalls?" Bonnie understood crying, but not crying that lasted
days, let alone many years.
Suddenly the tears stopped. A giant head looked over at Bonnie.
The head was far, far larger than Bonnie's whole body. As big
as her whole house. And the voice was so rumbly it sounded more
like thunder than words, but it was not loud. As if he had all
the time in the world, the giant slowly rolled out, "You could
never understand." The giant then placed his head back in his
hands. The sobbing, and the waterfalls, continued.
Bonnie did not like being told she couldn't understand, not
even by a creature that was so many times her size. She declared,
"I may be young and I may be small, but I understand lots."
The giant looked her way, but did not take his head from his
hands or stop crying. Bonnie added, "I came all the way up here
to help you. I am skipping school and will get in big trouble
today. Just to help you. The least you can do is tell me why
you are so sad!"
The giant said, slowly and rumbly, "I am sad because I am
the last of my kind."
"You are the last giant?" Bonnie asked.
"Yes," said the giant as he put his head in his hands and
started crying again.
"What happened to all the rest of you?"
The giant's head snapped towards her with such anger that
Bonnie nearly fell off his shoulder. He yelled, loudly and quickly,
"They all DIED!"
For a full five minutes the giant glared at Bonnie, freezing
her in place. Then he turned away and, once again, started crying.
Bonnie took this opportunity to run away. Down the mountain.
~ ~ ~ ~
Let's hurry down before her and see what's happening at the
~ ~ ~ ~
There is an old, wise man with a long white beard (of course)
who watches the lake to make sure no one is spending too much
time bathing in it or dropping garbage in it or, though I hate
to say it, peeing in it. He also answers people's questions
about the lake and, in fact, about anything else they might
want to know.
This man, whom everyone calls "The Old Man of the Lake" or
‘The Olmal' for short, noticed that for a few minutes the waterfalls
had stopped flowing.
If you're taking a shower and the water sputters for a second
or even stops for a minute, you'd certainly notice. But if it
starts up again, then, well, you have better things to worry
about and you finish taking your shower. But The Olmal did
not have better things to worry about. Worrying about
the lake was his job. And when the waterfalls stopped, even
though they started up again just a few minutes later, he became
concerned and he decided he would walk up to the top of the
mountain to see if there might be something wrong with the giant.
Oh, yes, The Olmal knew what was at the source of the waterfalls,
though he never told anyone. All he would say when people asked
where the waterfalls bagan was this: "Do not go up there or
you will break the magic."
What The Olmal saw when he was walking up the mountain, oh
so slowly since he was an old man, was Bonnie running down the
mountain towards him.
The Olmal asked sternly, "Where have you been Miss Bonnie?"
Bonnie stopped running and hung her head, but said nothing.
The Olmal asked, "Did you look to see where the waterfalls
Bonnie nodded her head.
"I will have to tell your parents," said The Olmal.
"I know," said Bonnie somewhat ashamed and fearful, but then
added, "Do you know who- ... ummm ... what's there?"
The Olmal said nothing, but Bonnie understood that, yes,
he did know. Bonnie asked another question. "How long
has he been up there crying? Since you were a little boy?"
Again, The Olmal said nothing, which Bonnie knew was another
Bonnie asked her final question, her head now held high and
her voice angry, "Did you ever try to make him stop
The Olmal said gently and as if it were a great truth, "His
sadness makes many other people very happy."
"It doesn't make me very happy!" yelled Bonnie.
"It makes me very, very sad!" Then she ran back up to the giant.
When she got to the top of the mountain, she declared, "I
am going to find you another giant." Then she ran off, not back
to her village, but over to the other mountains.
The giant glanced over to Bonnie, ever so slightly. So slightly,
in fact, you might not have noticed, but his tears did slow
and the waterfalls, which were never so big to begin with, became
just a little bit smaller.
~ ~ ~ ~
Now you have to wait a bit. Because Bonnie's journey took
her a few years. Yes, years.
~ ~ ~ ~
Bonnie knew that if she returned to the village, she would
get into big trouble. She also knew she would be very sad for,
perhaps, the rest of her life. "Might as well put me
at the top of the mountain so I could help the giant make the
waterfalls," she said aloud to herself.
So for years and years, she walked the mountaintops looking
for the beginnings of other waterfalls hoping to find another
She got hungry some days, but would soon find someone to
give her a little food. She got cold some days, but would soon
find someone to let her stay in his or her house for a while
and get warm. And when she got lonely, all she had to do was
think about the giant. The giant who cried from loneliness for
so many years that even The Olmal grew old underneath the giant's
And then one day she found a pair of waterfalls running down
a mountain that was so tall the clouds covered its top. She
followed the waterfalls past a number of small villages, through
the clouds, and to a large person-shaped rock at the very top.
It was, of course, another giant.
This time, Bonnie was not at all afraid. And she didn't care
how many people in the villages below made money from this
giant's tears. She climbed onto one of her shoulders, (yes,
her shoulders since this giant was a female)
and said, quite matter-of-factly, "There is another. At
least one. Maybe more."
The giant looked over at Bonnie and she was a combination
of sad, angry, and just the tiniest bit hopeful. In a rumbly,
thunder-like voice, she asked, "Another giant?"
"Yes," explained Bonnie. "Also crying waterfalls."
Immediately, the female giant stopped crying. She gently
picked Bonnie up and asked, "Will you take me to, to–?"
"-him," finished Bonnie. "Of course. That's why I came."
~ ~ ~ ~
You can imagine what happened next. The giant moved much
faster than Bonnie and within just a few weeks joined the other
giant at the top of Bonnie's mountain. The first giant was so
happy to see another of his kind that he immediately stopped
crying. (So much for the waterfalls!)
The two giants thanked Bonnie and told her that they planned
to search the globe for more giants. Bonnie was sad to see them
leave so quickly, but she understood. Bonnie was good at understanding.
~ ~ ~ ~
All that's left to tell is what happened when Bonnie, finally,
returned to her village.
While she looked very different from when she left, everyone
knew it was Bonnie coming down the mountain. (Who else could
make the waterfalls stop?)
Many of the villagers were mad at her, but she ignored them.
She knew that she had made the giants happy and, though there
were only two of them (so far), this happiness was far greater
than any amount of villagers' anger.
She walked to her parents' home and found them overjoyed
to see her again.
Bonnie said, "I am sorry to have disobeyed you. And I am
sorry to have spoiled your business of selling bottled water-"
Her father interrupted her. "Don't be sorry," he said. "We
did not know about the giant. Once we learned, we stopped selling
the water and waited for you to come home."
After they all hugged and cried with happiness, Bonnie noticed
that The Olmal was in the room. She looked at him, unsure of
what to say, feeling some of the old anger rising in her chest.
But The Olmal raised his hand and spoke, slowly and with
shame, "When I was a boy, the same age as you were when you
left, I climbed up the mountain to see what caused the waterfalls
... even though I wasn't supposed to. I found the giant and,
like you, I asked him why he was so sad. He never answered and
I decided that if he could be so rude to me, a small boy who
wanted to help him, then he deserved to be sad. Every
year I thought about the sad giant on the top of the mountain
and what I might do to make him stop crying, but then I remembered
that he was rude to me when I tried to help him. The years passed,
one after the other, faster than you could ever imagine, and
soon enough, I began to believe that the sadness of a rude giant
on one side of the scale was less of a weight than the happiness
of so many good people on the other side. It wasn't until you
ran off to look for another giant that I realized I was wrong.
All our happiness was false happiness, since it was
built on the tears of another."
Bonnie's Mother asked The Olmal, "Could you please tell this
story to all the other villagers?"
"I already have," said The Olmal. "In time they will understand.
~ ~ ~ ~
And, in time, they did. And, in time, all the giants came
to Bonnie's mountain. And there were seventeen of them!
But this was when Bonnie was an old woman and had children
and grandchildren of her own. And well after the lake
had dried up and most of the villagers had moved away.
So what happened to the giants? Are they still there?
Most of them are, yes.
Did they all live happily ever after? Well ... Some
did and some didn't. Just like normal people.
But none of them ever became so sad or so lonely again that
they sat at the top of a mountain and cried waterfalls.
©2003 Stuart B Baum and ZoŽ M. Baum