Little Red Riding Hood
LITTLE Red Riding Hood was a sweet little girl who got her sobriquet because she always wore a garnet-red cloak with a hood. Her mother doted on her, and so did her grandmother.
One sunshiny morning, Little Red Riding Hood’s mother asked her daughter to visit the latter’s grandmother. “Grandma is not feeling well,” the mother said. “Take this basket of food to her. It’s a warm day, so carry a thirst-aid kit with you.”
Little Red Riding Hood skipped jocundly along the well-trodden path beside the woods, enjoying every minute of the matutinal errand. The birds were making tweet music in the trees, and some of them were sipping coffee in a nest-café.
All at once, a wolf accosted Little Red Riding Hood. He wanted to eat her up but was afraid to do so, for some woodcutters were working nearby in the forest.
“What’s your name?” asked the wolf, who was dressed in a scarecrow’s tattered clothes.
“Little Red Riding Hood,” she replied exuberantly, thinking that the wolf was a cranky mendicant who wanted to befriend her.
The wolf thought, “Her bedizenment is red-iculous, and her name is a mouthful – but I’d like to have mouthfuls of a tender young thing like Little Dead Riding Hood.” And then he asked the little girl, “Where are you going?”
“To Grandma’s,” Little Red Riding Hood said. “She lives in that little tawny cottage that abuts the cemetery.”
“I see,” said the wolf. “What have you got in the picnic basket?”
“Pancakes, chepple juice, and natural bread made with wild flours,” she answered. “The pancakes are exceptionally sweet – I syruptitiously added some extra sugar to the batter when my mother wasn’t looking!”
“Pancakes are my bete noire – they give me the crepes!” said the wolf with a crinkly expression. “That’s a wide loaf with bread-th. Tell me, what is a chepple?”
“Oh, it’s a fruit that looks like a cherry but tastes like an apple. Its juice is the quintessential fruit juice,” Little Red Riding Hood rhapsodised about the healthful contents of her pitcher. “Once you’ve tasted it, you don’t have to go on a wild juice chase any more!”
Grinning lopsidedly, the wolf said, “Why don’t you pick some flowers for your grandma?”
“That’s a good idea,” the spunky girl said. “I know what kind of flowers to look for – when you are kissing a flower, tulips are better than one!” And she wandered into the woods to carry out the task.
“That was a rather precipitate course of action on her part,” the wolf said with a giggle. “This will give me ample time to get to her grandma’s cottage before she does. It will be im-paw-ssible for her to escape from my clutches, for I am ready, villain and able to eat her up!” And he took a short cut and reached the old woman’s abode a short while later. He rapped sharply on the door. “Who’s there?” asked a voice. “It’s Little Red Riding Hood!” said the lupine animal in an audacious simulacrum of the little girl’s voice.
Grandma sensed that something was amiss, for she didn’t hear her granddaughter’s familiar footfall. She just managed to hide inside a cupboard before the wolf barged in. Seeing no one around, he got into the bed and waited for Little Red Riding Hood.
When Little Red Riding Hood arrived at the cottage, it did not occur to her that the broken escutcheon of the door handle betokened danger for her. Furthermore, the animal footprints outside the door did not give her paws for concern. Entering the bedroom, she cried, “Grandma, what big teeth you have!”
“All the better to eat you with!” cried the wolf, leaping out of the bed.
“Help me! Help Grandma!” screamed Little Red Riding Hood, sheer horror flooding her face. “Help me help Grandma!”
Suddenly, the grizzled granny burst out of the cupboard and whacked the intruder on the head with a rolling pin. The blow caused the wolf’s head to spin, so that he staggered like a top that was all but spent, and eventually disappeared into the woods.
“I am ravenously hungry!” cried Little Red Riding Hood.
“Me, too,” said Grandma with a toothless grin. And they sat down at the trestle table and wolfed down all the food. n Adapted from a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.