The Three Bears
O NCE upon a time there was a little girl named Golden Hair, and she lived near a forest-covered mountain. Many pretty flowers grew in the woods on the mountain-side, and Golden Hair liked to gather them. Usually she did not go far from home after the flowers, but one day she rambled on and on, picking blossoms here and there, until she was much deeper in the woods than she had ever been before.
"Now I must go back," said Golden Hair at last. "I didn't intend to come such a long way and I'm tired and hungry."
Just then she looked on ahead up the lonely hollow into which she had wandered, and there among the trees was as nice a little house as she had ever seen.
"I didn't know any one lived here in the woods," said Golden Hair. "I will go and find out whose house it is."
So she ran up to the door and rapped, but she got no response.
"Well," said she, "the people that belong to this house can't be far away, for I saw smoke coming out of the chimney. I suppose I might step in if the door isn't locked."
She lifted the latch, and the door was not locked, and she went in and looked about. The room in which she found herself was the kitchen, and a fire was burning in the fireplace, and on a table were three bowls of porridge—a big bowl, and a middle-sized bowl, and a little bowl.
"The people that live here have set the table for dinner, I think," said Golden Hair. "Oh, how hungry I am! I wonder if they would care if I ate some of their porridge without waiting till they came back. I will taste, anyway."
So she went to the table and took a spoonful of porridge from the big bowl.
"This is too hot," she said. "I will try the next."
Then she took a spoonful of porridge from the middle-sized bowl.
"This is not so hot as the other," said she, "but it is hotter than I like. I will try the next."
Then she took a spoonful of porridge from the little bowl, and that was just right and she ate it all.
"Now, I wish I could sit down to rest for a while in a good easy chair," said Golden Hair. "They would have their easy chairs in the parlor, I suppose. I will look in and see."
So she went into the parlor and there she found three nice rocking-chairs,—a big chair, and a middle-sized chair, and a little chair. She tried the big chair, but it was too high.
"Dear me!" said Golden Hair, "I can't touch my feet to the floor. I don't like this chair, I will try the next."
Then she tried the middle-sized chair. She could touch her feet to the floor in that, but it was too high for her to feel entirely comfortable, and she tried the little chair. That was just right, and she began rocking back and forth in it, when crack! smash! the chair broke and Golden Hair tumbled to the floor.
"That was a nice little chair," she said as she picked herself up. "I'm sorry it is broken. I was having such a good rest in it, too! I don't care for the other chairs, and I think I would like to lie down and have a nap. I must see where the beds are."
So she went upstairs and into a chamber, and there she found three beds—a big bed, and a middle-sized bed, and a little bed. She tried the largest bed, and it was too hard. Then she tried the middle-sized bed, and that was not so hard as the big bed, but it was not soft enough to please Golden Hair. Then she tried the little bed, and that was just right, and she lay down on it and covered herself up and fell fast asleep.
Now the house that Golden Hair was in belonged to three bears—a big bear, a middle-sized bear, and a little bear. Shortly before Golden Hair rapped at their door they had cooked their porridge for dinner and set it on the table. Then they had gone out for a little walk to give the porridge time to cool. While Golden Hair was asleep the bears came home. As soon as they entered the kitchen and looked at the table they saw that things were not as they had left them.
"SOMEBODY HAS BEEN TASTING MY PORRIDGE!" growled the big bear in his great, gruff voice.
"and somebody has been tasting my porridge !" said the middle-sized bear.
"And somebody has been tasting my porridge and eaten it all up!" piped the little bear.
"We will look around," said they, "and see if there has been any more meddling."
Then they went into the parlor.
"SOMEBODY HAS BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR!" growled the big bear in his great, gruff voice.
"and somebody has been sitting in my chair !" said the middle-sized bear.
"And somebody has been sitting in my chair and broken it all to pieces," piped the little bear.
Then they went upstairs to the chamber.
"SOMEBODY HAS BEEN TUMBLING MY BED!" growled the big bear in his great, gruff voice.
"and somebody has been tumbling my bed !" said the middle-sized bear.
"And somebody has been tumbling my bed, and here she is!" piped the little bear.
Golden Hair waked up just then, and before the three bears could catch her she slipped from the bed and scrambled down the stairs and out at the door. Then she ran home as fast as her legs could carry her, and she never went near the three bears' house again.