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Handle(s): Little Red Riding Hood; Red
RealNameTM: Bridget (research wouldn't turn up a surname)
Sex: F
Red's boxen run: Red Hat Linux

The rest of the story

After a wide

THERE was once upon a time a little country girl, born in a village, the prettiest little creature that was ever seen. Her mother was beyond reason excessively fond of her, and her grandmother yet much more. This good woman caused to be made for her a little red riding-hood; which made her look so very pretty, that every body call'd her, Little Red Riding-Hood.

One day, her mother having made some custards, said to her, "Go my little Biddy", for her christian name was Biddy[1], "go and see how your grandmother does, for I hear she has been very ill, carry her a custard, and this little pot of butter." Red sets out immediately to go to her grandmother, who lived in another village. As she was going through the wood, she met with Gossop the Wolf, who had a good mind to eat her up, but he did not dare, because of some faggot-makers that were in the forest.

1 "Biddy" is short for Bridget.

He asked of her whither she was going: The poor child, who did not know how dangerous a thing it is to stay and hear a Wolf talk, said to him, "I am going to see my grandmamma, and carry her a custard pie, and a little pot of butter my mamma sends her".

"Does she live far off?" said the Wolf.

"Oh! ay," said Red, "on the other side of the mill below yonder, at the first house in the village."

"Well," said the Wolf, "and I'll go and see her too; I'll go this way, and you go that, and we shall see who will be there soonest."

The Wolf began to run as fast as he was able, the shortest way; and the little girl went the scenic route, diverting her self in gathering nuts, running after butterflies, and making nose-gays of all the little flowers she met with. The Wolfe was not long before he came to the grandmother's house; he knocked at the door knock knock.

"Who's there?"

"Your granddaughter."

"My granddaughter who?"

"Little Red Riding-Hood," said the Wolf, counterfeiting her voice, "who has brought you a custard pie, and a little pot of butter mamma sends you."

The good grandmother, who was in bed, because she found herself somewhat ill, cried out, "Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up." The Wolf pulled the bobbin, and the door opened; upon which he fell upon the good woman, and ate her up in the tenth part of a moment; for he had eaten nothing for above three days before.

After that, he shut the door, and went into the grandmother's bed, expecting Little Red Riding-Hood, who came some time afterwards, and knocked at the door knock knock.

"Who's there?"

Red, who hearing the big voice of the Wolf, was at first afraid; but believing her grandmother had got a cold, and was grown hoarse, said, "it is your granddaughter."


Red grew a bit suspicious at the silence. "Little Red Riding-Hood, who has brought you a custard pie, and a little pot of butter mamma sends you."

The Wolf cried out to her, softening his voice as much as he could, "Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up." Red pull'd the bobbin, and the door opened.

The Wolf seeing her come in, said to her, hiding himself under the clothes, "Put the custard, and the little pot of butter upon the stool, and come into bed with me."

Red undressed herself and went into bed, where she was very much astonished to see how her grandmother looked in her night-clothes. So she said to her, "Grandmamma, what great arms you have got!"

"It is the better to embrace thee my pretty child."

"Grandmamma, what great legs you have got!"

"it is to run the better my child."

"Grandmamma, what great ears you have got!"

"It is to hear the better my child."

"Grandmamma, what great eyes you have got!"

"It is to see the better my child."

"Grandmamma, what great teeth you have got!" "It is to eat thee up." And upon saying these words, this wicked Wolfe fell upon Red, and...

(This is where the various tellings diverge. Some have the Wolf eat Red; others show off Red's kung fu; others have Red run and get a lumberjack.)


From this short story easy we discern
What conduct all young people ought to learn.
But above all, the growing ladies fair,
Whose orient rosy Blooms begin t'appear:
Who, Beauties in the fragrant spring of age!
With pretty airs young hearts are apt t'engage.
Ill do they listen to all sorts of tongues,
Since some enchant and lure like Syrens songs.
No wonder therefore 'tis if overpower'd,
So many of them has the Wolfe devour'd.
The Wolfe, I say, for Wolves too sure there are
Of every sort, and every character.
Some of them mild and gentle-humour'd be
Of noise and gall, and rancour wholly free;
Who tame, familiar, full of complaisance;
ogle and leer, languish, cajole and glance;
With luring tongues, and language wondrous sweet,
Follow young ladies as they walk the street,
Ev'n to their very houses and bedside,
And though their true designs they artful hide,
Yet ah! these simpring Wolves, who does not see
Most dang'rous of all Wolves in fact to be?

(I took a guess, by the net.ubiquity of this version and by the language used, that this was written before the twentieth century. I would have pasted the Politically Correct version, but that's under perpetual copyright.)

Fairy tale wolves don't have any genetic ties to Morlocks, do they?

The earliest version of this story that I've been able to find dates back to at least the seventeenth century, probably earlier. It's probably a French story and part of the oral tradition. It definitely predates the versions recorded by Charles Perrault in 1697 and by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in 1812.

According to Adam Douglas' minutely-researched and chop-lickingly-good history of werewolf lore, "The Beast Within," the story is also very similar to a story told by the Chinese at about the same time -- one of the few differences in the two stories is that the villain in the Chinese story is a ravenous tiger.

Pull up a chair, little one. I'll tell you an old story you've never heard before...

A woman gave her daughter a loaf of bread and some milk and told the girl to take the food to her grandmother, who lived deep in the forest. The little girl started on her way, but when she reached the crossroads, she met a werewolf, who asked her where she was going.

"I'm taking some bread and milk to my grandmother," the girl answered.

"What road will you take?" asked the werewolf. "The Needles Road or the Pins Road?"

"I believe I will take the Needles Road," the girl replied.

"Then I'll go by the Pins Road," said the werewolf.

The little girl walked slowly and entertained herself by picking up and playing with needles, but the werewolf ran ahead and reached the grandmother's house first. He killed the old woman and ate her, but he put some of her flesh in the pantry and a bottle of her blood on the shelf.

When the little girl reached the house, she knocked on the door, and the werewolf called for her to enter. He told her to put the bread and milk in the pantry and offered her some of the meat and the bottle of wine.

While the little girl ate, a cat crept into the house and said, "Only a slut would eat the flesh and drink the blood of her grandmother!"

Then the werewolf said, "Undress, my child, and come sleep next to me."

"Where shall I put my apron, grandmother?" asked the girl.

"Throw it in the fire, my child. You will not need it anymore."

As the little girl took off each article of her clothing, she asked where she should put them, and each time, the werewolf answered, "Throw it in the fire, my child. You will not need it anymore."

As the girl got into the bed, she said, "Oh, grandmother, how hairy you are!"

"It is to keep me warmer in the night, my child."

"Oh, grandmother, your nails are so long!"

"They are to scratch me better, my child."

"Grandmother, why are your shoulders so broad?"

"It is from carrying kindling in from the woods, my child."

"Oh, grandmother, your ears are so big!"

"The better to hear you with, my child."

"Oh, grandmother, what big teeth you have!"

"The better to eat you with, my child."

But the girl said, "Wait, grandmother! I have to go outside to relieve myself!"

"Do it in the bed, my child."

"No, grandmother, I want to go outside!"

"Very well, but don't take long."

The werewolf tied some yarn around the girl's foot and let her go outside. But the girl tied the yarn to a tree and ran for her home. When the werewolf discovered her trick, he chased after her, but the girl was able to get to her home just ahead of the werewolf.

Differences, differences. They seem so insignificant on the surface, but once you get under the skin, they are so much more interesting. First, the girl is never named in this story -- none of Perrault's Little Red Riding Hood or the Grimms' Little Red Cap. There's no information about her appearance either; she seems designed for little girls of all sorts to identify with. Also, the antagonist is no longer a cartoonish wolf who dresses in a nightgown and bonnet and speaks with a quavering falsetto; this werewolf comes close on the heels of the infamous werewolf trials and werewolf attacks that seemed to plague Europe through much of the Middle Ages. Its motives are not mischief or simple mayhem -- its only goals are corrupting and eating little girls.

And speaking of corruption, this story drops the little girl through depths of sin rarely visited by even the harshest of the Grimm tales. She indulges in cannibalism and even vampirism as she polishes off her grandma's remains. Even a fairly explicit warning from a mysterious talking cat doesn't sway her from her path, and that odd little seduction scene follows. And let me be quite clear: as far as I'm concerned, the girl knew what was happening. At this time in history, she may have been quite close to marrying age and probably knew more about sex than most girls her age today. And the capper: the werewolf tries to get her to commit the greatest sin of childhood -- he tells her to wet the bed. It's fairly interesting that she indulges in a number of mortal sins, seemingly without feeling guilt, but she balks at soiling the bed. Perhaps that's what saves her...

Nevertheless, not a story for children. Or rather, not a story for good children.

Research from "The Beast Within: A History of the Werewolf" by Adam Douglas, published by Avon Books in 1992, pp. 208-220.

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