Long, long time ago, in a little village at the edge of a forest, there lived a little girl with her mother and her father. This little girl was the sweetest, kindest child there ever was. She was always dressed in a pretty red cloak and hood that her mother had made for her, so that everyone began calling her Little Red Riding Hood.
One day Little Red Riding Hood's mother called her and said, 'Daughter, your grandmother is very ill. Please take her this pot of butter and some custard that I have made.' 'Very well, Mother,' said Little Red Riding Hood, and ran to get her little basket for the custard and the butter. 'Be careful,' said her mother, kissing her. 'Don't stray from the path, don't stop on the way, and don't speak to any strangers.'
Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother lived all by herself in a little cottage on the other side of the forest. Little Red Riding Hood had been through the forest alone many times, and knew her way. So she wasn't frightened at all. She skipped merrily along the forest path, enjoying the bright sunshine, the blue sky and the birds singing in the trees.
But suddenly, whom should she meet but a Wolf. 'Hello, little girl,' said the Wolf in his nicest voice. 'Where are you going this bright spring day?'
Little Red Riding Hood was feeling so happy and cheerful that she forgot all that her mother had said to her about not speaking to strangers. She smiled at the Wolf and replied in her politest voice, 'Hello to you as well, Mr. Wolf. I am going to see my Grandma, who lives on the other side of this forest. She isn't feeling very well today, so I am taking her some custard and a pot of butter. Maybe that will cheer her up.'
'Oh dear,' said the Wolf, still in his nicest voice. 'How very sad your Grandma isn't feeling too well! I shall go and visit her as well. I am sure she will feel much better if I do!'
'Well, let's hurry then, 'said the Wolf. 'You go this way, and I'll go the other way, and let's see who reaches your Grandma first!' So saying the Wolf vanished into the forest. He ran as fast as he could and took all the shortcuts he knew so as to reach Grandma's little cottage before Red Riding Hood.
He arrived at the cottage, huffing and panting, but very pleased that he had beaten Little Red Riding Hood to it.
The Wolf knocked at the door of Grandma's cottage with a gentle tap-tap.
'Who is it?' called Grandma from within.
'It's Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma,' said the Wolf, making his voice sound as much like a little girl's as he could.
'Dear Little Red Riding Hood,' said Grandma. 'I'm too weak to open the door. Lift the latch and come in.'
The Wolf did as Grandma said and walked into the little cottage. There was Grandma, feeling quite weak and ill, lying in bed under a pile of blankets. The Wolf jumped on to the bed, and gobbled up Grandma in a single swallow! He knew that Little Red Riding Hood would be arriving soon, so he wasted no time, but put on Grandma's clothes and the frilly little lace cap that she always wore to bed. He covered himself as much as he could with the blankets, and lay on Grandma's bed, pretending to be Grandma.
Now Little Red Riding Hood was walking as fast as she could through the forest, when all at once she saw a clump of golden daffodils growing under a tree a little way into the forest. 'Oh how beautiful,' said Red Riding Hood to herself. 'I am sure Grandma would love to have some. Maybe I should pick her a bunch!' Little Red Riding Hood forgot all that her mother had said about not stopping or leaving the path. She ran into the forest and began gathering a great big bunch of daffodils for Grandma.
By the time Red Riding Hood finished picking the flowers and found her way back to the path again, it was quite late. 'Oh dear,' said Red Riding Hood. 'I completely forgot all about that kind Mr. Wolf racing me to Grandma's cottage! I'm sure he has already been and gone! I do hope he cheered Grandma up, though.' Little Red Riding Hood began walking faster and faster, and very soon she came to her Grandma's little cottage.
'Grandma, open the door!' called Red Riding Hood, knocking on the door. 'It's Little Red Riding Hood!'
Now remember, the Wolf had gobbled up Grandma and was pretending to be Grandma himself. He answered just as Grandma had done.
'Dear Little Red Riding Hood,' said the Wolf. 'I'm too weak to open the door. Lift the latch and come in.'
Little Red Riding Hood did as the Wolf asked and walked into the cottage. She walked up to the bed to give her Grandma a hug.
'Why Grandma, ' said Little Red Riding in surprise. 'You look different today. You must be really ill!'
The Wolf pretended to get a coughing fit just then, to show Red Riding Hood how very ill her Grandma was.
'You poor dear!' said Red Riding Hood straightening the blankets and fluffing up the pillows. 'But Grandma, you do look strange! What big ears you have!'
'Only to hear you better with, my dear,' said the Wolf.
'And what big eyes you have Grandma!' continued Red Riding Hood in surprise.
'Only to see you better with, my dear,' said the Wolf.
'What a big nose you have Grandma!' said Red Riding Hood.
'Only to smell you better with, my dear, ' said the Wolf.
'What big teeth you have Grandma!' said Red Riding Hood.
'That's only to EAT YOU BETTER WITH!' said the Wolf. He jumped out from under the blankets and gobbled up Little Red Riding Hood, red cape and all, in a single swallow.
Now the Wolf felt really sleepy after such a large meal. He decided to take a nap in Grandma's warm, comfortable cottage. He made a comfortable place for himself on the bed, and was soon fast asleep, snoring loudly and contentedly.
Just then a woodcutter passed by. He heard the sound of the Wolf's snoring through the open windows of the cottage. The woodcutter knew this Wolf, and did not trust him at all.
So very quietly, so as not to wake the Wolf, the woodcutter opened the cottage door and went in. 'Ah,' thought the woodcutter.'Judging by the size of the Wolf's tummy, he has just had a large meal, and I wonder who he has eaten this time!'
The woodcutter picked up a pair of Grandma's scissors lying on the table, and deftly cut open the sleeping Wolf's tummy. Out climbed Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, breathless and squashed and VERY glad to be out of the Wolf's tummy. 'Oh! Thank you for saving us!' said Little Red Riding Hood to the woodcutter. 'It was so dark and smelly inside the Wolf's tummy!'
'Hurry!' said the woodcutter. 'Let's not waste any time. The Wolf could wake up any moment.' The woodcutter and Red Riding hood then gathered up some stones, the biggest they could find, and put them inside the Wolf's tummy. Then Grandma took out her sewing kit, and threading a needle with some strong brown cotton, sewed up the Wolf's tummy neatly and quickly.
In a little while the Wolf woke up. 'Oh dear,' he thought. 'I must be getting old! I can't even eat a little girl and her grandma without feeling as though my tummy was full of stones!' The Wolf gave a great big belch and staggered out of the door. 'I don't think I'll ever eat humans again. They don't agree with me!' And that was the last that anyone ever saw of him.
Little Red Riding Hood gave her Grandma the custard and the pot of butter her mother had sent, and a huge big hug from herself. Grandma was well and strong very soon. As for Little Red Riding Hood herself, she never forgot her mother's advice again!
by Charles Perrault