Once upon a time there was a dear little girl who was loved byeveryone who looked at her, but most of all by her grandmother, andthere was nothing that she would not have given to the child. Onceshe gave her a little cap of red velvet, which suited her so wellthat she would never wear anything else; so she was always called«Little Red-Cap.»
One day her mother said to her: «Come, Little Red-Cap, here is a pieceof cake and a bottle of wine; take them to your grandmother, she is illand weak, and they will do her good. Set out before it gets hot, andwhen you are going, walk nicely and quietly and do not run off thepath, or you may fall and break the bottle, and then your grandmotherwill get nothing; and when you go into her room, don’t forget to say,“Good morning”, and don’t peep into every corner before you do it.»
«I will take great care,» said Little Red-Cap to her mother, and gaveher hand on it.
The grandmother lived out in the wood, half a league from the village,and just as Little Red-Cap entered the wood, a wolf met her. Red-Capdid not know what a wicked creature he was, and was not at all afraidof him.
«Good day, Little Red-Cap,» said he.
«Thank you kindly, wolf.»
«Whither away so early, Little Red-Cap?»
«To my grandmother’s.»
«What have you got in your apron?»
«Cake and wine; yesterday was baking-day, so poor sick grandmother isto have something good, to make her stronger.»
«Where does your grandmother live, Little Red-Cap?»
«A good quarter of a league farther on in the wood; her house standsunder the three large oak-trees, the nut-trees are just below; yousurely must know it,» replied Little Red-Cap.
The wolf thought to himself: «What a tender young creature! what anice plump mouthful—she will be better to eat than the old woman. Imust act craftily, so as to catch both.» So he walked for a short timeby the side of Little Red-Cap, and then he said: «See, Little Red-Cap,how pretty the flowers are about here—why do you not look round? Ibelieve, too, that you do not hear how sweetly the little birds aresinging; you walk gravely along as if you were going to school, whileeverything else out here in the wood is merry.»
Little Red-Cap raised her eyes, and when she saw the sunbeams dancinghere and there through the trees, and pretty flowers growingeverywhere, she thought: «Suppose I take grandmother a fresh nosegay;that would please her too. It is so early in the day that I shallstill get there in good time’; and so she ran from the path into thewood to look for flowers. And whenever she had picked one, she fanciedthat she saw a still prettier one farther on, and ran after it, and sogot deeper and deeper into the wood.
Meanwhile the wolf ran straight to the grandmother’s house and knockedat the door.
«Who is there?»
«Little Red-Cap,» replied the wolf. «She is bringing cake and wine;open the door.»
«Lift the latch,» called out the grandmother, «I am too weak, andcannot get up.»
The wolf lifted the latch, the door sprang open, and without saying aword he went straight to the grandmother’s bed, and devoured her. Thenhe put on her clothes, dressed himself in her cap laid himself in bedand drew the curtains.
Little Red-Cap, however, had been running about picking flowers, andwhen she had gathered so many that she could carry no more, sheremembered her grandmother, and set out on the way to her.
She was surprised to find the cottage-door standing open, and whenshe went into the room, she had such a strange feeling that shesaid to herself: «Oh dear! how uneasy I feel today, and at othertimes I like being with grandmother so much.» She called out: «Goodmorning,» but received no answer; so she went to the bed and drewback the curtains. There lay her grandmother with her cap pulledfar over her face, and looking very strange.
«Oh! grandmother,» she said, «what big ears you have!»
«The better to hear you with, my child,» was the reply.
«But, grandmother, what big eyes you have!» she said.
«The better to see you with, my dear.»
«But, grandmother, what large hands you have!»
«The better to hug you with.»
«Oh! but, grandmother, what a terrible big mouth you have!»
«The better to eat you with!»
And scarcely had the wolf said this, than with one bound he was out ofbed and swallowed up Red-Cap.
When the wolf had appeased his appetite, he lay down again in thebed, fell asleep and began to snore very loud. The huntsman was justpassing the house, and thought to himself: «How the old woman issnoring! I must just see if she wants anything.» So he went into theroom, and when he came to the bed, he saw that the wolf was lying init. «Do I find you here, you old sinner!» said he. «I have long soughtyou!» Then just as he was going to fire at him, it occurred to himthat the wolf might have devoured the grandmother, and that she mightstill be saved, so he did not fire, but took a pair of scissors, andbegan to cut open the stomach of the sleeping wolf. When he had madetwo snips, he saw the little Red-Cap shining, and then he made twosnips more, and the little girl sprang out, crying: «Ah, how frightenedI have been! How dark it was inside the wolf’; and after that the agedgrandmother came out alive also, but scarcely able to breathe. Red-Cap,however, quickly fetched great stones with which they filled the wolf’sbelly, and when he awoke, he wanted to run away, but the stones were soheavy that he collapsed at once, and fell dead.
Then all three were delighted. The huntsman drew off the wolf’s skinand went home with it; the grandmother ate the cake and drank the winewhich Red-Cap had brought, and revived, but Red-Cap thought to herself:«As long as I live, I will never by myself leave the path, to run intothe wood, when my mother has forbidden me to do so.»
It also related that once when Red-Cap was again taking cakes to theold grandmother, another wolf spoke to her, and tried to entice herfrom the path. Red-Cap, however, was on her guard, and went straightforward on her way, and told her grandmother that she had met the wolf,and that he had said «good morning» to her, but with such a wicked lookin his eyes, that if they had not been on the public road she wascertain he would have eaten her up. «Well,» said the grandmother, «wewill shut the door, that he may not come in.» Soon afterwards thewolf knocked, and cried: «Open the door, grandmother, I am LittleRed-Cap, and am bringing you some cakes.» But they did not speak, oropen the door, so the grey-beard stole twice or thrice round the house,and at last jumped on the roof, intending to wait until Red-Cap wenthome in the evening, and then to steal after her and devour her inthe darkness. But the grandmother saw what was in his thoughts. Infront of the house was a great stone trough, so she said to the child:«Take the pail, Red-Cap; I made some sausages yesterday, so carry thewater in which I boiled them to the trough.» Red-Cap carried untilthe great trough was quite full. Then the smell of the sausagesreached the wolf, and he sniffed and peeped down, and at laststretched out his neck so far that he could no longer keep his footingand began to slip, and slipped down from the roof straight into thegreat trough, and was drowned. But Red-Cap went joyously home, and noone ever did anything to harm her again.