YOU know the tale of poor Little Red Riding-hood, that the Wolf deceived and devoured, with her cake, her little butter can, and her Grandmother; well, the true story happened quite differently, as we know now. And first of all the little girl was called and is still called Little Golden-hood; secondly, it was not she, nor the good grand-dame, but the wicked Wolf who was, in the end, caught and devoured.
The story begins something like the tale.
There was once a little peasant girl, pretty and nice as a star in its season. Her real name was Blanchette, but she was more often called Little Golden-hood, on account of a wonderful little cloak with a hood, gold- and fire-coloured, which she always had on. This little hood was given her by her Grandmother, who was so old that she did not know her age; it ought to bring her good luck, for it was made of a ray of sunshine, she said. And as the good old woman was considered something of a witch, everyone thought the little hood rather bewitched too.
And so it was, as you will see.
One day the mother said to the child: ‘Let us see, my little Golden-hood, if you know now how to find your way by yourself. You shall take this good piece of cake to your Grandmother for a Sunday treat to-morrow. You will ask her how she is, and come back at once, without stopping to chatter on the way with people you don’t know. Do you quite understand?’
‘I quite understand,’ replied Blanchette gaily. And off she went with the cake, quite proud of her errand.
But the Grandmother lived in another village, and there was a big wood to cross before getting there. At a turn of the road under the trees, suddenly ‘Who goes there?’
He had seen the child start alone, and the villain was waiting to devour her; when at the same moment he perceived some wood- cutters who might observe him, and he changed his mind. Instead of falling upon Blanchette he came frisking up to her like a good dog.
‘ ‘Tis you! my nice Little Golden-hood,’ said he. So the little girl stops to talk with the Wolf, who, for all that, she did not know in the least.
‘You know me, then!’ said she; ‘what is your name?’
‘My name is friend Wolf. And where are you going thus, my pretty one, with your little basket on your arm?’
‘I am going to my Grandmother, to take her a good piece of cake for her Sunday treat to-morrow.’
‘And where does she live, your Grandmother?’
‘She lives at the other side of the wood, in the first house in the village, near the windmill, you know.’
‘Ah! yes! I know now,’ said the Wolf. ‘Well, that’s just where I’m going; I shall get there before you, no doubt, with your little bits of legs, and I’ll tell her you’re coming to see her; then she’ll wait for you.’
Thereupon the Wolf cuts across the wood, and in five minutes arrives at the Grandmother’s house.
He knocks at the door: toc, toc.
He knocks louder.
Then he stands up on end, puts his two fore-paws on the latch and the door opens.
Not a soul in the house.
The old woman had risen early to sell herbs in the town, and she had gone off in such haste that she had left her bed unmade, with her great night-cap on the pillow.
‘Good!’ said the Wolf to himself, ‘I know what I’ll do.’
He shuts the door, pulls on the Grandmother’s night-cap down to his eyes, then he lies down all his length in the bed and draws the curtains.
In the meantime the good Blanchette went quietly on her way, as little girls do, amusing herself here and there by picking Easter daisies, watching the little birds making their nests, and running after the butterflies which fluttered in the sunshine.