LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD
Once upon a time there lived on the borders of a great forest a woodman and his wife who had one little daughter, a sweet, kind child, whom every one loved. She was the joy of her mother’s heart, and to please her, the good woman made her a little scarlet cloak and hood, and the child looked so pretty in it that everybody called her Little Red Riding-Hood.
One day her mother told her she meant to send her to her grandmother—a very old woman who lived in the heart of the wood—to take her some fresh butter and new-laid eggs and a nice cake. Little Red Riding-Hood was very pleased to be sent on this errand, for she liked to do kind things, and it was so very long since she had seen her grandmother that she had almost forgotten what the dame looked like.
The sun was shining brightly, but it was not too warm under the shade of the old trees, and Red Riding-Hood sang with glee as she gathered a great bunch of wild flowers to give to her grandmother. She sang so sweetly that a cushat dove flew down from a tree and followed her.
Now, it happened that a wolf, a very cruel, greedy creature, heard her song also, and longed to eat her for his breakfast, but he knew Hugh, the woodman, was at work very near, with his great dog, and he feared they might hear Red Riding-Hood cry out, if he frightened her, and then they would kill him. So he came up to her very gently and said:
“Good day, Little Red Riding-Hood; where are you going?”
“To see my grandmother,” said the child, “and take her a present from mother of eggs and butter and cake.”
“Where does your grandmamma live?” asked the wolf.
“Quite in the middle of the wood,” she replied.
“Oh! I think I know the house. Good day, Red Riding-Hood.” And the wolf ran off as fast as he could
Little Red Riding-Hood was not in a hurry, and there were many things to amuse her in the wood. She ran after the white and yellow butterflies that danced before her, and sometimes she caught one, but she always let it go again, for she never liked to hurt any creature.
And then there were the merry, cunning little squirrels to watch, cracking nuts on the branches of the old trees, and every now and then a rabbit would hurry away through the tall ferns, or a great bee come buzzing near her, and she would stop to watch it gathering honey from the flowers, and wild thyme. So she went on very slowly.
By-and-by she saw Hugh, the woodman.
“Where are you going, Little Red Riding-Hood,” said he, “all alone?”
“I am going to my grandmamma’s,” said the child. “Good day; I must make haste now, for it grows late.”
While Little Red Riding-Hood was at play in the wood, the great wolf galloped on as fast as he could to the old woman’s house. Grandmother lived all by herself, but once or twice a-day a neighbour’s child came to tidy her house and get her food.
Now, grandmother was very feeble, and often kept her bed; and it happened that she was in bed the day Little Red Riding-Hood went to see her. When the wolf reached the cottage door he tapped.
“Who is there?” asked the old dame.
“Little Red Riding-Hood, granny,” said the wolf, trying to speak like the child.
“Come in, my dear,” said the old lady, who was a little deaf. “Pull the string and the latch will come up.”
The wolf did as she told him, went in, and you may think how frightened poor grandmother was when she saw him standing by her bed instead of Little Red Riding-Hood.
Very soon the wolf, who was quite hungry after his run, ate up poor grandmother.
Indeed, she was not enough for his breakfast, and so he thought he would like to eat sweet Red Riding-Hood also. Therefore he dressed himself in granny’s nightcap and got into bed, and waited for the child to knock at the door. But he waited a long time.
By and by Little Red Riding-Hood reached her grandmother’s house, and tapped at the door.
“Come in,” said the wolf, in a squeaking voice. “Pull the string, and the latch will come up.”
Red Riding-Hood thought grandmother must have a cold, she spoke so hoarsely; but she went in at once, and there lay her granny, as she thought, in bed.
“If you please, grandmamma, mother sends you some butter and eggs,” she said.
“Come here, dear,” said the wicked wolf, “and let me kiss you,” and Red Riding-Hood obeyed.
But when Red Riding-Hood saw the wolf she felt frightened. She had nearly forgotten grandmother, but she did not think she had been so ugly.
“Grandmamma,” she said, “what a great nose you have.”
“All the better to smell with, my dear,” said the wolf.
“And, grandmamma, what large ears you have.”
“All the better to hear with, my dear.”
“Ah! grandmamma, and what large eyes you have.”
“All the better to see with, my dear,” said the wolf, showing his teeth, for he longed to eat the child up.
“Oh, grandmamma, and what great teeth you have!” said Red Riding-Hood.
“All the better to eat you up with,” growled the wolf, and, jumping out of bed, he rushed at Red Riding-Hood and would have eaten her up, but just at that minute the door flew open and a great dog tore him down. The wolf and the dog were still fighting when Hugh, the woodman, came in and killed the wicked wolf with his axe.
Little Red Riding-Hood threw her arms round the woodman Hugh’s neck and kissed him, and thanked him again and again.
“Oh, you good, kind Hugh,” she said, “how did you know the wolf was here, in time to save me?”
“Well,” said Hugh, “when you were gone by, I remembered that a wolf had been seen about the wood lately, and I thought I would just come after you and see if you were safe. When we came near grandmother’s house my dog Trim sniffed and ran to the door and whined, and then he pushed it open—you had not shut it close—and rushed in, and I followed him, and between us we have killed the wolf.”
Then Hugh took the child home, and her mother and father could not thank him enough for saving Little Red Riding-Hood.