Monday, December 7, 2020

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood

IN a little thatched cottage near the forest in Hampshire, which is called the " New Forest,” there lived a hardworking, industrious couple. The husband was a faggot maker, and the wife used to spend all her spare time from her household duties in spinning thread, for these good people lived a great many years ago when there were no large towns in which thread was made by steam engines.

The cottager and his wife had only one child, a little daughter, who at the time of this story, was about eight years old.

She was a handy little maid, and it was her wish to do everything she could to assist her mother. She was an early riser, getting up as soon as the sun began to shine, in order to make use of the whole daylight for her work, as the family were obliged to put out their lights when they heard the curfew bell toll. She helped her mother in getting ready her father's breakfast before he went to his work. After breakfast she was busy in putting everything tidy and orderly in the house. She would then go on short errands for her mother; sometimes to take her father his meals to him in the forest, when he was too busy to come home; sometimes to inquire after the health of a sick neighbor: sometimes to see her good old grandmother, who lived three miles off near another part of the forest.

When she had done all her errands and whatever else her mother wished, she would then try and learn to spin, and to mend and darn her father's clothes. When she had time to spare she attended to her garden, out of which she often gathered a few herbs to present to her father for his supper, when he came home from his work hungry and tired. At other times, she was at work making little presents for her playfellows, for she was a kind and thoughtful child. She was always light- hearted and happy, and thoroughly enjoyed a good hearty game of play. All her young friends were very fond of her, and were eager to do anything to please her.

It was the child's great delight to be useful and helpful to her parents, who were very fond of her ; not because she was so useful to them, but because she was generally so very good and obedient. Her parents dearly loved her, and so did all her friends and acquaintances, and no one better than her dear old grandmother.

Her grandmother, who was old, had herself made for her a little red hood, such as was then worn in riding, which she gave to her as a present on her birth-day, when she was eight years old. It was a nice comfortable little hood, and so warm and pleasant to wear, that the little girl never went out without her red hood, when the weather was wet or cold.

The little red hood always looked so bright and smart among the green trees, that it could always be seen a long way off. When the neighbors used to spy out the red hood far off among the trees, they would say to one another, " Here comes Little Red Riding Hood,” and this was said so often, that at last, the little girl got the name of " Little Red Riding Hood,” and she was seldom called by any other name. Indeed, I have never been able to learn what her other name was. But everybody knew of her by this name ; and so by the name of " Little Red Riding Hood" we too will call her.

Little Red Riding Hood

Her grandmother did many other and better things for her grandchild than making her a " hood.” She taught her how to knit, to spin, to bake bread, and to make butter—how to sing, so that she might join in the music in the Church—how to be good natured, and kind, and charitable—how to be courageous and honest, and to speak the truth at all times—how to be grateful—how to love and worship God—and to pray for God's blessing and providence.

This good woman fell sick, and as she had no one to sit with her and attend to her, Little Red Riding Hood, was sent to her every day for this purpose by her mother.

At last the grandmother seemed to be getting well, owing, I have no doubt, to the patient nursing of her good grandchild. Still she was very weak. It was in the Autumn of the year, when honey is taken from the hives of the bees.

This year, Little Red Riding Hood's bees had made some delicious honey, and as soon as it was put into pots, her first thought was to take some to her grandmother. Having got up very early one morning she said to her mother,

" Pray, dear mother, let me take a pot of honey to grandmother this morning.”

" So you shall,” answered the mother, " and also a nice pat of fresh butter. Put on your little red hood, and get a clean cloth for the butter, and your little basket ready."

Little Red Riding Hood was full of glee at the thoughts of going, and was ready dressed in a few minutes, with the pot of honey and pat of butter nicely packed in the basket. She did not stay for her breakfast, but started at once, intending to breakfast with her grandmother.

The morning was beautifully bright. The sun had just risen, making the dew drops on the trees glitter and sparkle like gold; and the gossamer swung from the boughs like webs of silver. The skylarks were cherrupping over her head. The air was filled with the fragrance of the wild thyme as it crunched beneath her tread. She tripped along with a heart full of joy, not thinking of the weight of her basket, which was rather heavy for such a little girl.

When she came to a part of the forest which was rather dark and overshadowed with the trees, a very large wolf suddenly stepped out. Little Red Riding Hood was startled, but continued to walk on quickly. The wolf followed her and overtook her.

Upon coming up to her he grinned maliciously, his evil eye stared. He showed his sharp white teeth and looked most cruel and frightful. He looked as if he would eat her up. The little girl began, as you may suppose, to be frightened.

Hark! what are those sounds? It is the whistle and singing of some of the faggot makers going to their work.

How different the wolf looks now! how demure! he hides his teeth! walks gently along and seems quite another animal. The wolf, who was as cunning as he was cruel, hearing that people were near, at once changed his savage look into one of as much kindness as it was possible for him to do. Presently up came the faggot makers; and the wolf slunk by the side of the little girl as though he were afraid of them.

" Good morning, Little Red Riding Hood,” said one of the faggot makers.

" You are up betimes. Where are you going thus early?"

" To see grandmother,” replied Little Red Riding Hood.

The wolf actually came close to the child's side, and rubbed his head against her hand as though he was very fond of her and knew her.

"Why here's a wolf!" exclaimed one of the men.

" As I am alive," cried another, " I think it must be the very wolf that stole my sheep the other night."

" No, upon the honour of a wolf," said the treacherous knave very quickly; which was a falsehood, for he had stolen the man's sheep.

" Come, let us kill him,” they all exclaimed.

" No, no, don't kill him,” said Little Red Riding Hood. " Perhaps he is innocent—and I don't think he can be so very savage, for he did not touch me before you came up.”

 " Well, well, child, we'll let him go this once for your sake," said they, " but we advise him to be on his good behavior."

So they wished the child " good morning," and went away.

As soon as they were gone the wolf put his paw to his heart, and said, " Many thanks, dear little friend. I am very grateful to you for your protection of me, and I will not fail to remember it. I wish you a very good morning."

So he pretended to walk off, when suddenly, however, he returned, and he said in a soft bland tone. " I think you said you were going to see your grandmother—Where does the dear creature live?"

" In a little cottage which is covered with woodbine and jessamine, not far from Copthurst Gate,” answered Little Red Riding Hood.

" How do you get in?" said the wolf.

" By tapping at the door, and Granny, if she is at home, will tell you to pull the latch, and the door will open."

" Good bye, good bye," said the wolf eagerly, and ran off into the forest.

As soon as he was gone, Little Red Riding Hood began to pick some sweet purple and white violets for a nosegay for her grandmother, when she thought to herself, " I wonder why the wolf asked me any questions about Granny? Being a stranger, I think I ought not to have told him." And she began to be afraid of the wolf's mischief. Indeed, it was a fault of Little Red Riding Hood that she was sometimes too fond of talking: and when she thought upon this matter, more and more she felt that she had done wrong in telling the wolf anything. The best thing she could do, she said, will be to hasten onwards as quickly as possible.

The wolf, when he left her, darted through the forest, bounding over the furze and brambles, and ran as hard as he could until he reached the house of the grandmother. He tapped at the door, and the grandmother, who was in bed, called to him to come in, not knowing it was a wolf. The sly wolf said,

" Are you alone, madam?"

" Yes, quite alone," was the answer.

So he rushed in and flew upon the bed, tore the grandmother out of it, and ate her up in a few minutes.

Little Red Riding Hood

When he had finished his meal, he thought to himself, " Little Red Riding Hood will soon be here, and she will make a most delicious feast. But I must hide myself from her until she is fairly inside of the cottage,” He then went to the press in the room, and took out one of the grandmother's night gowns and night caps, and put them on as quickly as he possibly could, and jumped into the bed.

Presently the garden gate was opened, and there came a little quick footstep across the pebbled walk leading to the cottage door, and then a gentle tap, tap, tap, at the door.

It was Little Red Riding Hood. She listened, but heard no answer. Her hand went tap, tap, tap, against the door a second time.

" Who's there?" said the wolf, trying to speak like the grandmother.

" Only Little Red Riding Hood."

" Pull down the latch, and come in, my child."

So Little Red Riding Hood entered, but it struck her ear, that her Grandmother's voice was very hoarse this morning. As she entered, she said,

" I am afraid, dearest granny, that your cold is worse this morning,”

" Much worse, dear," said the wolf very gruffly under the bed clothes.

" I have brought you a pot of my virgin honey, which will do your cold good; and mother has sent you a little pat of fresh butter, some of the first we have had made from our new cow's milk,”

" Put the things down, child, and come into bed to me, for I have been wretchedly cold all night."

Little Red Riding Hood thought it rather strange that her grandmother should tell her to come into bed, instead of sitting by the side of the bed as she had been used to do. So she went to the bed side, and gently pulling aside the curtain saw a head, which though in her grandmother's night cap, did not altogether seem like that of her grandmother's. She thought it was something like the wolfs head—Could it be the wolf? she asked herself. Poor thing! she could hardly help screaming out for fright, but she stopped herself, and said, " Granny, what large ears you have!"

Little Red Riding Hood

A gruff voice said, " The better to hear with, my dear."

It did not sound like the grandmother's voice, so she said faintly, " Granny, what large eyes you have !"

" The better to see you with, my dear." Her voice faltered still more, and she said, " Granny, what a large nose you have!"

" The better to smell with, ray dear."

Little Red Riding Hood felt almost sure it was the wolf. Her tongue could hardly speak. She trembled from head to foot—at last she muttered in a whisper, " Granny, what large teeth you have!"

" The better to eat you up,”

And saying this, the wolf sprang out of the bed, and in an instant devoured Little Red Riding Hood.

This is the traditional ending of the Tale—but it is a grievous one, which most children dislike. —And as I have heard a version related, in which poetical justice is done to the wolf, I insert it for those who prefer it:

He seized Little Red Riding Hood, and she screamed. Suddenly a loud rap was heard at the door. Again she screamed and in rushed her father and some other faggot makers, who, seeing the wolf, killed him at once, and released Little Red Riding Hood. These were the faggot makers she had met in the wood. They, thinking she was not quite safe with a wolf, went and told her father, and they all followed her to her grandmother's house and thus saved her life.