Gateway to the Classics: The Oak-Tree Fairy Book by Clifton Johnson
The Oak-Tree Fairy Book by  Clifton Johnson

Little Red Riding-Hood

O NCE upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a village near a forest, and she was such a nice little girl that every one was very fond of her. When she went anywhere she always wore a little red riding-hood her grandmother had given her, and so people called her "Little Red Riding-Hood."

One day her mother, who had just made some custards, said to her, "My dear, you shall go and see how your grandmother is; and you may take her a custard and a little cake of butter. I will put them in a basket that you can carry on your arm."

Little Red Riding-Hood was soon on the way to her grandmother's cottage, which was in the forest, a half hour's walk from the village. But she had not gone far into the woods when she met a wolf.

"Good day, little girl," said the wolf.

He was very polite, though at the same time he was wishing he could eat her; and that is what he would have done had he not been afraid of some wood-cutters who were at work near by.

"Where are you going, my pretty little lady?" he asked.

"I am going to see my grandmother," she replied, "and I am taking her a custard and a cake of butter from my mother."

"And where does she live?" the wolf inquired.

"Oh," said Little Red Riding-Hood, "you keep right along this road, and she lives in the first house."

"Well, good by," said the wolf. "I'm going to be passing your grandmother's and I will stop and tell her you are coming to see her."

Then the wolf ran on, and when he arrived at the grandmother's house he went to the door and knocked—tap, tap!

He got no answer, and he knocked louder—slam, slam!

But still there was no response, and after a minute he stood on his hind legs and reached up one of his forepaws to the latch and opened the door. He found not a soul in the house; for the grandmother had gone to market in the town. She had started early and had left her bed unmade and her nightcap lying on the pillow.

"I know what I'll do," said the wolf; and after shutting the door he put the grandmother's nightcap on his head and lay down in the bed and drew the covers up over himself.

Meanwhile Little Red Riding-Hood was coming along the forest road. She did not hurry. Sometimes she stopped to pick flowers, and sometimes she paused to hear the birds singing among the trees. But presently she reached her grandmother's cottage and knocked at the door—tap, tap!

"Who is there?" asked the wolf, softening his rough voice as much as he could.

"It's me, Granny—your Little Red Riding-Hood," she replied; and then she said, "Are you sick. Granny? Your voice is very hoarse."

"I have a cold," answered the wolf, "and I am not feeling well enough to get up to-day. You can press your finger on the latch and come in."

So Little Red Riding-Hood pressed her finger on the latch and opened the door and went in. "I have brought you a custard, dear Granny," said she, "and a cake of butter from my mama, and some flowers that I picked in the forest."

"You can put your basket on the table and take off your hood," said the wolf.

Little Red Riding-Hood put the basket on the table, and after she had taken off her hood she went to the bedside. "Oh, Grandmama, Grandmama," said she, "what hairy arms you have!"

"All the better to hug you with, my dear," the wolf replied.

"And oh, Grandmama, what great ears you have!" said Little Red Riding-Hood.

"All the better to hear you with, my dear," the wolf replied.

"And oh, Grandmama, what great eyes you have!" said Little Red Riding-Hood.

"All the better to see you with, my dear," the wolf replied.

"And oh, Grandmama, what a long nose you have!" said Little Red Riding-Hood.

"All the better to smell the sweet flowers you have brought me," the wolf replied.

"And oh, Grandmama, what great white teeth you have!" said Little Red Riding-Hood.

"All the better to gobble you up with!" cried the wicked wolf, and he leaped from the bed toward Little Red Riding-Hood with his mouth wide open.

But while the wolf and the little girl had been talking the grandmother had come home from market. She looked in at the door and saw the wolf in her bed, and then she ran to the woodpile in the yard and got an ax. Just as the wolf sprang toward Little Red Riding-Hood the grandmother rushed in at the door with the ax and gave the wolf such a blow that it killed him, and Little Red Riding-Hood was not harmed at all.

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