[PAGE] [SWITCH] In a retired and pleasant village there once lived a little girl, who was one of the prettiest children ever seen. Her mother loved her to excess, and as to her grandmother, she was doatingly fond of her, and looked upon her as the delight of her eyes, and the comfort of her declining years. The good old dame had a little hood of scarlet velvet made for her [PAGE] [PAGE] darling, which became her so daintily, that for miles round she had been nicknamed Little Red Riding Hood.

One day, when her mother had baked a batch of cakes she said to Little Red Riding Hood: "I hear your poor grandam has been ailing, so, prithee, go and see if she be any better, and take her this cake and a little pot of butter." Little Red Riding Hood, who was a willing child, and always ready to be useful, put the things into a basket, and immediately sett off for the village where her grandmother lived, which lay on the other side of a thick wood. [SWITCH] As she reached the outskirts of the forest, she met a wolf, who would have liked vastly to have devoured her at once, had there not been some wood-cutters near at hand, whom he feared might kill him in turn. So he sidled up to the little girl, and said, in as winning a tone as he could assume, "Good morning, Little Red Riding Hood." "Good morning, Master Wolf," answered she, who had no idea of being afraid of so civil a spoken animal. "And pray where may you be going so early?" quoth the wolf. "I am going to my grandmother's" replied Little Red Riding Hood, who thought there could be no harm in telling him. "And what are you carrying in your basket, my pretty little maid?" continued the wolf, sniffing its contents. "Why, a cake and a pot of butter," answered simple Little Red Riding Hood, "because grandmother has been ill." "And where does poor grandmamma live?" inquired the wolf, in a tone of great interest. "Down beyond the mill, on the other side of the wood," said she. "Well," cried the wolf, "I don't mind if I go and see her too. So I'll take this road, and do you go through the wood, and we'll see which of us shall be there first."

Now, the wily wolf knew well enough that he would be the winner in such a race. For, letting alone his four feet against poor little Red Riding Hood's two, he could dash through the [PAGE] underwood, and swim across a pond, that would bring him by a very short cut to the old grandam's cottage, while he shrewdly guessed that the little girl would stop to gather strawberries, or to make up a posy, as she loitered along the pleasanter but more round-about path through the wood. [SWITCH] Meanwhile Little Red Riding Hood rambled through the wood with child-like glee, stopping every now and then to listen to the birds that were singing so sweetly on the green boughs, and picking strawberries, which she knew her grandam loved to eat with cream, till she had nearly filled her basket; nor had she neglected to gather all the pretty flowers, red, blue, white, or yellow, that hid their sweet little heads amidst the moss; and of these her apron was at last so full, that she sat down under a tree to sort them and wind them into a wreath.

While she was thus occupied, a wasp came buzzing along, [PAGE] [PAGE] [PAGE] and delighted at finding so many flowers without the trouble of searching for them, he began to drink up their honey very voraciously. Little Red Riding Hood knew well the difference of a wasp and a bee--how lazy the one, and how industrious the other, yet, as they are all God's creatures, she would'nt kill it, and only said: "Take as much honey as you like, poor wasp, only do not sting me." The wasp buzzed louder, as if to thank her for her kindness, and, when he had sipped his fill, flew away. Presently, a little tom-tit, who had been hopping about on a bough opposite, darted down on the basket, and pecked at one of the strawberries. "Eat as much as you like, pretty tom-tit," said Little Red Riding Hood: "there will be still plenty left for grandam and for me." The tom-tit replied, "Tweat-tweat," in his own eloquent language; and, after gobbling up at least three strawberries, flew away, and was soon out of sight. Little Red Riding Hood now bethought her it was time to go on; so putting her wreath into her basket, she tripped along demurely enough, till she came to a brook, where she saw an aged crone, almost bent double, seeking for something along the bank. "What are you looking for Goody?" said the little girl. "For water-cresses, my pretty maid," mumbled the poor old woman; "and a sorry trade it is, that does not earn me half bread enough to eat." Little Red Riding Hood thought it very hard the poor old creature should work and be hungry too, so she drew from her pocket a large piece of bread, which her mother had given her to eat by the way, and said, "Sit down, Goody, and eat this, and I will gather your water-cresses for you." The old woman willingly accepted the offer, and sat down on a knoll, while Little Red Riding Hood set to work in good earnest, and had presently filled her basket with water-cresses. When her task was finished, the old crone rose up briskly, and patting the little maid's [PAGE] head, said, in a quite different voice: "Thank You, my pretty Little Red Riding Hood, and now, if you happen to meet the green huntsman as you go along, pray give him my respects, and tell him there is game in the wind." Little Red Riding Hood promised to do so, and walked on, but presently she looked back to see how the old woman was getting along, but, look as sharp as she might, she could see no trace of her, nor of her water-cresses. She seemed to have vanished clean out of sight. "It is very odd," thought Little Red Riding Hood, to herself, "for surely I can walk faster than she." Then she kept looking about her, and prying into all the bushes, to see for the green huntsman, whom she had never heard of before, and wondered why the old woman had given her such a message. At last, just as she was passing by a pool of stagnant water, so green that you would have taken it for grass, and have walked into it, as Little Red Riding Hood, who had never seen it before, though she had gone that same way often enough, had nearly done, she perceived a huntsman clad in green from top to toe, standing on the bank, apparently watching the flight of some birds that were wheeling above his head. "Good morning, Master Huntsman," said Little Red Riding Hood; "the old water-cress woman sends her service to you, and says there is game in the wind." The huntsman nodded assent, and bent his ear to the ground to listen, and then drew out an arrow tipped with a green feather, and strung his bow, without taking any further notice of Little Red Riding Hood, who trudged onward, wondering what it all meant.

[SWITCH] Presently, the little girl reached her grandmother's well-known cottage, and knocked at the door. "Who is there?" cried the wolf, forgetting to disguise his voice. Little Red Riding Hood was somewhat startled at first; then thinking her grandam had a bad cold made her very hoarse, she [PAGE] [PAGE] [PAGE] answered: "It is your grandchild, Little Red Riding Hood, who has brought you a cake, and a little pot of butter, which mother sends you." The wolf then softened his voice a little, as he replied: "Lift the latch, and the bolt will fall." Little Red Riding Hood did as she was told, and entered the cottage. The wolf then hid his head under the bed-clothes, and said: "Put the cake and the pot of butter on the shelf, my dear, and come and help me to rise." Little Red Riding Hood set down her basket, and then went and drew back the curtain, when she was much surprised to see how oddly her grandmother looked in her night-clothes.

[SWITCH] "Dear me! grandmamma," said the little girl, "what long arms you have got!" "The better to hug you my child," answered the wolf.

"But, grandmamma, what long ears you have got!" persisted Little Red Riding Hood.

"The better to listen to you, my child," replied the wolf.

"But, grandmamma, what large eyes you have got!" continued the little girl.

"The better to see you, my child," said the wolf.

"But, grandmamma, what terrible large teeth you have got!" cried Little Red Riding Hood, who now began to be frightened.

"The better to eat you up," exclaimed the wolf, who was just about to make a spring at the poor little girl, when a wasp, who had followed her into the cottage, stung the wolf in his nostril, and made him sneeze aloud, which gave the signal to a tom-tit perched on a branch near the open casement, who called out "Tweat-tweat," which warned the green huntsman, who accordingly let fly his arrow, that struck the wolf right through the ear and killed him on the spot.

Little Red Riding Hood was so frightened, even after the [PAGE] wolf had fallen back dead, that she bounced out of the cottage, and, shutting the door, darted into the forest like a frightened hare, and ran till she was out of breath, when she dropped down quite exhausted under a tree.

Here she discovered that she had mistaken the road, when to her great relief, she espied her old friend the water-cress woman, at some distance; and, feeling sure she could soon overtake the aged dame, she again set off, calling out to her every now and then, to stop. The old crone, however, seemed too deaf to hear; and it was not till they had reached the skirts of the forest that she turned round, when to Little Red Riding Hood's surprise, she perceived a young and beautiful being in place of the decrepit creature she thought she was following.

"Little Red Riding Hood," said the fairy, for such she was, "your goodness of heart has saved you from a great danger. Had you not helped the poor old water-cress woman, she would not have sent word to the green huntsman, who is generally invisible to mortal eyes, to save you. Had you killed the wasp, or driven away the tom-tit, the former could not have stung the wolf's nostril, and made him sneeze, nor the latter have given the huntsman the signal to let fly his shaft. In future, no wild beast shall ever harm you, and the fairy folks will always be your friends."

So saying, the fairy vanished, and Little Red Riding Hood hastened home to tell her mother all that had befallen her; nor did she forget that night to thank Heaven, fervently, for having delivered her from the jaws of the wolf.