In this cottage lived a good woman, who had a very pretty daughter--a sweet, dear little girl, with bright eyes and long hair, falling in golden curls all over her neck and shoulders. Her cheeks were as rosy as two ripe peaches, and her laugh was the merriest you would hear on a Summer's day; and what was better than all this was, that that little girl was a kind, good child, with a gentle heart and obliging manners. She had a pleasant smile and cheerful word for all, and would do anything to give pleasure to others.
So it is no wonder she became the greatest favorite with all the villagers. Every one who knew her liked her; and when she called to see any poor or sick neighbor, her presence was like a ray of sunshine to them, so pleased were they to see her.
Now, although she was greatly liked by all the villagers, far and near, none loved her so dearly as her mother and grandmother. This little girl's grandmother, to show how much she appreciated her goodness, made her a beautiful riding-hood of scarlet cloth, such as ladies wore in those days when they went out riding.
The little girl looked quite charming in this riding-hood, and she found it so handy and convenient, she seldom went abroad without it; hail, rain, or shine, she would wear it--in fact, it was her favorite article of dress. She wore it so frequently, and looked so nice in it, that when she was seen coming along the village, the neighbors would say:-- "Here comes Little Red Riding-Hood," till at last she was known by that name, and no other; indeed, I have never been able to learn her other name.
Now, the good old grandmother had been very sick for a long time, [PAGE] [PAGE] and, although not so bad as she had been, she was not yet sufficiently well to leave her cottage. So the mother, who had been making some cheesecakes, and churning some butter that morning, said to her daughter: "You may go, my child, to your grandmother's, and take her some of these nice cakes, and a pot of fresh butter, for her breakfast."
Little Red Riding-Hood was highly delighted at the thought of a run to her grandmother's such a fine morning, so she went and brought a little basket for the cakes and butter; and you may be sure she did not forget to put on the little scarlet hood which became her so well. She was very soon ready, and the cakes and butter were put into the basket and covered with a clean cloth.
Now, it was not very far from Little Red Riding-Hood's home to the cottage in which her grandmother lived, so her mother thought little of sending her alone. Still, on parting with her, she told her not to stop too long on the way. She also charged her with many kind messages for the good old grandmother.
Little Red Riding-Hood promised not to forget, and giving her two kisses, and saying "Good-bye," tripped off as gay and light-hearted as any of the little birds that were singing on the boughs of the trees.
Now, there were scme woodmen at work in the forest, cutting down trees for firewood, and singing as they dealt their strokes with willing hands and heavy axes. There was also something there that threatened danger to the little girl, namely: a great hungry wolf.
This cruel animal had paid a visit to a sheep-fold, thinking he could steal a lamb for dinner, but was disappointed, for the watch-dog had caught him, and beaten him soundly.
The wolf knew Little Red Riding-Hood very well, and had often watched and plotted to carry her off, that he might devour her. He was desperately hungry this morning, and out of temper, for he felt very sore from his recent beating; but the sight of the little girl made him grin with delight.
Now, the wolf would like to have made one spring at Red Riding-Hood, [PAGE] [PAGE] and have eaten her up at once; but he was too cunning for that, for the woodmen were near, and he was afraid they would see him, which would never do. So he resolved to make her acquaintance, and pretend to be her friend.
One of the woodmen saw both the wolf and Little Red Riding-Hood, and, suspecting Master Grizzly was bent upon some mischief, kept a watch on him without seeming to do so.
[SWITCH] Master Wolf walked daintily up to Little Red Riding-Hood, wagging his tail, and tried his best to appear as amiable as possible, and succeeded very well; only his great, green eyes had a most treacherous look, and glared in a hungry, and very uncomfortable manner. When he smiled, he showed a double row of sharp, dangerous-looking white teeth. But she felt not the slightest fear of him. The wolf made a graceful bow, and said: "Good-morning, Little Red Riding-Hood."
"Good-morning, Master Wolf," replied Little Red Riding Hood.
"And, pray, where are you going so early, my darling?" continued the wolf.
"I am going to my grandmother's," answered the child.
"Your grandmother? how is the dear old lady?" asked the wolf, pretending to take the greatest interest in her welfare.
"She has been very sick, and is not yet well," said Little Red Riding-Hood. "I am taking her some cakes, and a pot of nice fresh butter."
"Dear me! I am sorry to hear my respected friend, your grandmother, is out of health. I will call upon her; she will be glad to see me, I have no doubt. Allow me to carry your basket, my dear; I fear you are tired." At the same time giving a sly, hungry sniff, and almost thrusting his nose into the basket.
Little Red Riding-Hood thought this was rather rude of him, after his polite offer, but only said: "O! no, I thank you; I am not a bit tired."
"Well," said the wolf, "give my love to your grandmother, and say I will call and see her. Now, suppose I take this path to the right, and you [PAGE] [PAGE] [PAGE] follow that one, and we'll see which of us gets there first."
Now, this cunning old wolf knew very well he would get to the old dame's cottage first. He had chosen the shortest way, you may be sure; and not only that, but as soon as the child was out of sight, he set off galloping as hard as he could go.
Little Red Riding-Hood had no cause to hurry, it being yet early; she loitered along the pleasant forest path, to gather the pretty wild- flowers that grew by the wayside, to make a nosegay. "Grand- mamma likes flowers," she said to herself, "and she will be pleased if I bring her a handsome nosegay; and a few wood-strawberries to eat with her cakes will, perhaps, please her too."
[SWITCH] The pace at which the wolf ran soon brought him to the grandmother's cottage.
Then he knocked at the door, giving two little taps, as Little Red Riding-Hood might have done.
"Who's there?" cried the old dame.
"'Tis I," said the wolf, imitating Little Red Riding-Hood's voice.
The grandmother, as she lay in bed, almost asleep, thought her grandchild must have a bad cold to speak in such a gruff way. Never suspecting for a moment any one else was there, she said; "Pull the bobbin and the latch will fly up, and come in."
So the wolf took the bobbin in his teeth, and gave it a jerk; then, putting his shoulder to the door, pushed it open and went in--very much to the old dame's astonishment and alarm, for she knew him to be a cruel, dishonest fellow; and as she was certain he had some evil design in coming there, she was on her guard against him.
"Good-morning, Madam," said the wolf, trying to be agreeable, but looking as if he meant to eat her up.
"Good-morning to you, sir," replied the dame, as she moved to the other side of the bed.
"Your grandchild told me this morning you had been unwell, so I thought I would call to see how you were."
The grand-dame saw the wolf looked fierce and hungry, so she instantly got off the bed, away from the wolf, and moved toward the door of a closet, [PAGE] [PAGE] [PAGE] or small room, saying: "Pray, excuse me a minute, Sir: I am not dressed to receive company."
"Don't mind me, I beg," said the wolf, with a horrid grin, looking savagely hungry, and made a spring across the bed, and seized the wrapper she had on with his teeth. But fright made the old dame active, and, as quick as thought, she slipped off her loose wrapper which the wolf had hold of, and darted into the closet, and bolted the door, before he could recover himself; then fell down in a fainting-fit through fright.
The wolf grinned horribly with rage and disappointment, saying to himself: "Well, never mind, she is safe enough; Little Red Riding-Hood will soon be here; I'll have her for breakfast, and finish the old woman for dinner."
With these savage thoughts, the wolf put on the dame's wrapper and nightcap, and got into bed, pulling the clothes well up to hide his hairy face. [SWITCH] Presently he heard Little Red Riding-Hood coming to the door; then came tap! tap! tap!
"Who's there?" cried the wolf, this time trying to imitate the grandmother's voice.
Little Red Riding-Hood thought, "what a bad cold grandmother has got to make her speak so hoarse;" but suspecting nothing wrong, she replied, "Your grandchild, with some nice cakes, and a pot of fresh butter."
"Pull the bobbin, my dear," said the wolf," "and the latch will fly up."
Little Red Riding-Hood did as she was told, and walked into the room, all fresh and rosy with her walk, her basket on one arm, and the wild flowers on the other. She got up on the bed, and was greatly surprised when she saw how strange the old lady looked as she lay tucked up in bed.
"Whatever can have made grandmother's eyes so green?" thought she, as she employed herself in arranging the flowers she had brought with her on the mantel-piece; and, as she was a tasty little thing, she soon made the place look quite fresh and neat. When she had finished, she turned her bright face to granny with a look of triumph, and bade her see how pretty she had made her room.
Now, the pretended grandmother [PAGE] [PAGE] [PAGE] appeared to be very ill indeed, and said in a feeble voice, "Oh! my dear grandchild, will you not come into bed with your poor old granny; I am too ill to get up and talk to you?"
Little Red Riding-Hood obeyed without hesitation, and so tired was she with her long walk, that in a moment she had fallen asleep.
Now, the wolf was so sure of his prey, that he felt quite pleased with himself at the success of his plans. He could not help admiring the beautiful little girl as she lay there sleeping, and thought what a nice breakfast he would have presently.
But, like many wicked people, he deceived himself, as we shall presently see.
You remember the wood-cutters, who saw the wolf with Little Red Riding-Hood when they met in the forest. Well, they suspected the wolf had some evil design that made him so very civil. So they thought it prudent to see that Little Red Riding-Hood came to no harm, and hastened to the cottage to see that all was right. But what was their surprise, on looking through the window, to see Little Red Riding-Hood in bed, and the wolf standing over her. There she lay, with her rosy cheeks and pretty mouth, and close to her the great hairy face of the wolf, with green eyes and long teeth. While they were looking at them with astonishment, Little Red Riding-Hood awoke, and began to tell her grandmother (as she supposed) all that had occurred since she left home, and how she had met the wolf.
"And, oh! grandmamma, he was so polite, and offered to carry my basket for me."
"Did he, indeed, my dear," said the wolf, and laughed.
"Yes; and he asked me where I was going. I told him you were sick, and I was coming to see you, and bring you the cakes and butter. He was sorry to hear you were sick, and he said he would call and see you, and I rather expected to find him here. Do you think I shall see him before I leave, grandma?"
"I should not wonder if you did," replied the wolf, and gave her a loving hug.
[SWITCH] "Grandmamma," cried the child, [PAGE] [PAGE] in the greatest surprise, "what great strong arms you have got."
"The better to embrace you with, my dear child," said the wolf.
"But, grandma, what long stiff ears you have got?"
"The better to hear what you say, my darling," said the wolf, and his eyes glared greener than ever.
"What large green eyes you have got, grandma," said Little Red Riding-Hood, so frightened she knew not what to say.
"The better to see you with, my child," chuckled the wolf, showing his ugly teeth.
Little Red Riding-Hood now sat up in bed, in the greatest terror.
"Grand-mamma! what a large mouth, and oh! what big teeth you have got."
"Ah! ah! ah! The better to tear you to pieces, and eat you with," said the wolf--throwing off his disguise, giving a hungry growl, and opening his mouth to bite her throat--when whack! came a spear on his head, then two or three stabs, which knocked him off the bed, howling frightfully.
The woodmen, who had seen and heard what the wolf was at, rushed in just in time to save the life of dear Little Red Riding-Hood. The wolf howled for mercy, but they soon killed him.
They asked Little Red Riding-Hood where her grandmother was, but she could not tell, because she supposed the wolf was her grandmother. She was like one in a dream.
They feared at first that the wolf must have carried her off, or else eaten her up. But one of the woodmen, hearing the dame in the closet, burst open the door, and to their great relief they found her safe.
Little Red Riding-Hood fell upon her neck, kissing her and weeping for joy.
One of the woodmen said to Little Red Riding-Hood, in a kind, friendly manner: "Don't you think it would have been better if you had come straight to your grandmother, without stopping to gossip with the wolf? You would then have escaped this danger. Let this be a warning to you through life."
[PAGE] [PAGE] Little Red Riding-Hood was too much flurried to reply, but she kissed the woodman, and tears flowed down her cheeks freely. When she had become composed, she promised to do better in future.
The grandmother soon recovered from her terrible fright, and produced what good things she had to regale the woodmen with, of which they eat heartily, making a breakfast and dinner in one. Little Red Riding-Hood and her grandmother ate but little, but they did their utmost to make their deliverers welcome. The woodmen highly complimented the grandmother at her outwitting the cunning old wolf.
After the woodmen had feasted well, they escorted Little Red Riding-Hood home, and took the grandmother along with them.
When they got home, and told the end of the wicked wolf, all the villagers rejoiced to hear their enemy had been destroyed. A great deal of good advice was given to Little Red Riding-Hood by her friends, which is to be hoped was a benefit to her.
In the village that evening all the neighbors assembled, and they had much rejoicing.
But I must leave you to imagine all that, and conclude with the advice the woodmen gave to Little Red Riding-Hood, and which I give my readers by way of moral--
If in this world secure you'd be,
From danger, strife, and care;
Take heed with whom you keep company,
And how--and when--and where.