Once upon a time, in a land far away from here, a little girl named Rebecca lived with her mother in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Rebecca loved her mother very much, but she had a special place in her heart for her grandmother, who lived in a house on the other side of the forest.
One day, Rebecca’s grandmother came to visit and brought with her the most beautiful scarlet red riding cloak that Rebecca had ever seen.
“Is this for me?” Rebecca asked, gently stroking the thick, soft fabric.
“It is,” said her grandmother. “I made it for you.”
Bending down, Rebecca’s grandmother wrapped the cloak around Rebecca’s shoulders, fixed the heavy brass clasp at her neck, then pulled the hood up over her head. It was the most beautiful and warm thing Rebecca had ever owned.
Rebecca loved the cloak so much she wore it every single day, and soon the people in her village gave her the nickname ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.
One day Rebecca asked her mother if she could bake some cookies to take to her grandmother to say thank you for the cloak.
“Now Rebecca,” said her mother seriously as they loaded the freshly baked cookies into a large wicker basket. “If you’re going to walk through the forest all alone you have to make me two promises.”
“Yes?” asked Rebecca as she pulled on her cloak and fastened the brass clasp at her neck.
“You must promise me that you won’t stray off the path,” said her mother. “And you will not speak to any strangers.”
“I promise,” said Rebecca, pulling up her hood and picking up the wicker basket. “I won’t leave the path and I won’t speak to any strangers.”
As Rebecca set off into the forest, her mother stood in the doorway of their cottage and waved goodbye.
The forest was beautiful. The sunlight made the leaves overhead glow and the light breeze made the flowers on the side of the path dance. Noticing the pinks and blues of the dancing flowers gave Rebecca an idea. Her grandmother loved flowers; a big bunch would be the perfect thing to complete her thank you gift.
Stepping off the path, Rebecca went in search of the prettiest flowers in the forest to make the perfect gift for her grandmother.
As she walked she gathered flowers as she went, and soon she started to hear a chop, chop, chop noise coming from deeper in the forest. Being curious by nature, Rebecca went in search of where the sound was coming from and soon came across the village woodsman, chopping logs with a big, heavy axe.
“Hello there, Little Red Riding Hood,” he greeted her. “And what are you doing alone in the forest?”
“I’m taking cookies to my grandmother,” explained Rebecca, holding the wicker basket up. “And I wanted to take her a bunch of flowers as well.”
“Do you have far to go?” asked the woodsman, setting his axe down and leaning on it.
“No,” said Rebecca. “She lives in the house at the end of the path. I’ll be there soon.”
What Rebecca and the woodsman didn’t know was that the Big, Bad Wolf was listening to their conversation.
The Big, Bad Wolf was terrified of the woodsman and his big, heavy axe, so liked to keep an eye on him from the trees to make sure he couldn’t sneak up on him when he wasn’t expecting it.
The Big, Bad, Wolf was hungry and when he saw Little Red Riding Hood he licked his lips.
“The house at the end of the path, eh?” he said to himself thoughtfully. The woodsman might make it impossible for him to safely hunt in the forest, but the little girl gave him an idea and he hurried away, a wicked grin on his face.
When he reached the house at the end of the path, with a wicked grin on his face, the Big, Bad Wolf knocked with a rat-a-tat-tat on the door with his paw.
“Is that you, Little Red Riding Hood?” came a voice, and a grey haired woman pulled the door open.
“No!” barked the wolf, and before the she could push the door closed again, the Big, Bad Wolf barged his way in, opened his huge mouth, and swallowed the woman whole with a big gulp.
After burping as loudly as he could, the Big, Bad Wolf took in his surroundings, then headed for the bedroom with a wicked plan forming in his mind.
After she had gathered a beautiful bunch of flowers, Rebecca waved goodbye to the woodsman who had returned to chopping, and set off down the path towards her grandmother’s house.
When she reached the house she knocked on the door with a soft rat-a-tat-tat and waited.
When there was no answer she tried the door and found it unlocked, then pushing it open she called out, “Granny? Are you home?”
“I’m in my bedroom, my dear,” came a voice from upstairs, but it sounded strange.
“Are you alright, Granny?” Rebecca called out anxiously. “You don’t sound very well.”
“I have a bit of a sore throat so I’ve put myself to bed,” came the voice. “Why don’t you come up and see me? I’ve missed you terribly.”
Stepping into the house, Rebecca closed the door behind her. She looked around and noticed one of her grandmother’s solid wooden chairs at the kitchen table had been tipped over. Frowning, Rebecca carefully set it upright.
“Shall I bring up tea?” Rebecca called out, setting the basket of cookies and flowers down on the kitchen table as she noticed an empty mug and clean teaspoon next to the kettle.
“No, no,” came the voice from upstairs. “Just come up here, Little Red Riding Hood. I’m looking forward to… seeing you.”
Nervously, though she didn’t know why, Rebecca started to climb the stairs. When she got to her grandmother’s bedroom she pushed the door open with a long, slow, creak.
The whole room was dark, the shutters on the window closed, and the curtains drawn. In the bed she could see her grandmother lying with the duvet pulled up high and a nightcap pulled down low.
“Come closer,” came the hoarse voice.
Rebecca stepped closer, sniffing slightly as a funny smell crept to her nose.
“Closer,” said the voice. “Closer.”
Rebecca stepped closer, and cautiously sat down in a chair beside the bed.
“Granny,” said Rebecca, squinting through the darkness, surprised by the huge, yellow eyes that were staring at her. “What big eyes you have.”
“All the better to see you with, my dear.”
“And Granny,” said Rebecca, startled as she looked at her grandmother’s head. “What big ears you have!”
“All the better to hear you with, my darling.”
As she leaned closer, peering through the darkness, Rebecca saw that the duvet had fallen slightly from her grandmother’s face.
“Granny,” she said, staring in horror as the hairs on her neck started to stand on end and her heart started to race. “What big teeth you have…”
“All the better to EAT you with!” roared the Big, Bad Wolf, leaping up.
Rebecca screamed a loud, piercing scream and tried to run from the room, but the Big, Bad Wolf grabbed her, opened his mouth, and swallowed her whole.
As he was headed home for the day, the woodsman heard a terrified scream bursting from the house at the end of the path.
“Little Red Riding Hood!” he cried out, remembering that the little girl had been headed there. “I’m coming!”
The woodsman burst through the unlocked door and noticed the basket of cookies and flowers sitting on the kitchen table. His nose prickled; he recognised that smell. The Big, Bad Wolf was here.
Racing up the stairs, his axe raised, the woodsman burst into the bedroom and saw the Big, Bad Wolf lying on the bed with a huge, full stomach.
Without hesitation, the woodsman swung his big, heavy axe and chopped off the wolf’s head before he could escape.
“Little Red Riding Hood!” he called out, are you in there?”
“Yes!” came the little girl’s voice as she climbed out of the wolf’s tummy. “And so is my Granny!”
The woodsman set down his axe and helped the little girl and her grandmother climb out, then smiled as the two hugged one another tightly.
Downstairs, Rebecca’s granny turned on the kettle and set two more mugs out on the side. “Tea?” she offered.
“Yes please, Granny,” said Rebecca, “It’ll go perfectly with the cookies I made you.”
“Tea and cookies sounds wonderful,” said the woodsman. “And may I just say, this new wolfskin rug really does finish this place off beautifully!”
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