There was once upon a time a little village girl, the prettiest ever seen or known, of whom her mother was dotingly fond. Her grandmother was even fonder of her still, and had a little red hood made for the child, which suited her so well, that wherever she went, she was known by the name of Little Red Riding-Hood.
One day, her mother having baked some cakes, said to her, "Go and see how your grandmother is getting on, for I have been told she is ill; take her a cake and this little jar of butter." Whereupon Little Red Riding-Hood started off without delay towards the village in which her grandmother lived. On her way she had to pass through a wood, and there she met that sly old fellow, Mr Wolf, who felt that he should very much like to eat her up on the spot, but was afraid to do so, as there were woodcutters at hand in the forest. He asked her which way she was going, and the poor child, not knowing how dangerous it is to stop and listen to a wolf, answered, "I am going to see my grandmother, and am taking a cake and a little jar of butter, which my mother has sent her."
"Does she live far from here?" asked the Wolf.
"Oh, yes!" replied Little Red Riding-Hood, "on the further side of the mill that you see down there; hers is the first house in the village."
"Well, I was thinking of going to visit her myself," rejoined the Wolf, "so I will take this path, and you take the other, and we will see which of us gets there first."
The Wolf then began running off as fast as he could along the shorter way, which he had chosen, while the little girl went by the longer way, and amused herself with stopping to gather nuts, or run after butterflies, and with making little nosegays of all the flowers she could find.
It did not take the Wolf long to reach the grandmother's house; he knocked: tap, tap.
"Who is there?"
"It is your grand-daughter, Little Red Riding-Hood," answered the Wolf, imitating the child's voice. "I have brought a cake and a little jar of butter, which my mother has sent you." The good grandmother, who was ill in bed, called out, "Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up." The Wolf pulled the bobbin, and the door opened. He leaped on to the poor old woman, and ate her up in less than no time, for he had been three days without food. He then shut the door again, and laid himself down in the grandmother's bed, to wait for Little Red Riding-Hood. Presently she came and knocked at the door: tap, tap.
"Who is there?" Little Red Riding-Hood was frightened at first, on hearing the Wolf's gruff voice, but thinking that her grandmother had a cold, she answered,-
"It is your grand-daughter, Little Red Riding-Hood. I have brought a cake and a little jar of butter, which my mother has sent you."
The Wolf called out, this time in rather a softer voice, "Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up." Little Red Riding-Hood pulled the bobbin, and the door opened.
When the Wolf saw her come in, he hid himself under the bedclothes, and said to her, "Put the cake and the little jar of butter in the cupboard, and come into bed with me."
Little Red Riding-Hood undressed, and went to the bedside, and was very much astonished to see how different her grandmother looked to what she did when she was up and dressed.
"Grandmother," she exclaimed, "what long arms you have!"
"All the better to embrace you with, my little girl."
"Grandmother, what long legs you have!"
"All the better to run with, child."
"Grandmother, what long ears you have!"
"All the better to hear with, child."
"Grandmother, what large eyes you have!" "All the better to see with, child."
"Grandmother, what large teeth you have!"
"All the better to eat you with!" and saying these words, the wicked Wolf sprang out upon Little Red Riding-Hood, and ate her up.
MORALNow, children, take warning, and chiefly, I pray,
You maidens so gentle and fair,
When you come across all kinds of folk, have a care
Not to listen to what they may say;
For it can't be thought strange if you do,
Should the Wolf choose to eat up a few.
The Wolf, I say here, for you'll find
Wolves are many, and vary in kind;
There are some, easy-mannered and tame,
Without malice, or temper, the same,
Most obliging and sweet in their way,
Like to follow their tender young prey,
And will track them right into their homes-lack-a-day!
Who among us has not learnt by this time to know,
The most dangerous of wolves is the soft, smooth-tongued foe!