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Little Red Riding Hood, hearing the big, gruff voice of the wolf, was frightened at first; but then she thought that perhaps her grandmother had a bad cold and was hoarse, so she answered:
“ 'Tis your grandchild, Little Red Riding Hood. Mamma has sent you some cheese cakes and a little pat of butter.”
The wolf, softening his voice as much as he could, called to her:
“Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up!"
Little Red Riding Hood pulled the bobbin, the latch went up, and the door opened.
When she came into the room, the wolf hid himself under the bedclothes and said to her, in the feeblest voice he could make:
“Put the basket on the stool, my dear, and come and lie down with me.”
Little Red Riding Hood, who always did as she was told, undressed herself and got into bed. But the little girl, amazed to see how her grandmother looked in her night-clothes, said:
“Dear me, Grandmamma, what great arms you have!”
The wolf replied:
“They are so much better to hug you with, my child.”
“Why, Grandmamma, what great legs you have
“That is to run the better, my child!” “But, Grandmamma, what great ears you've
“That is to hear the better, my child.”
“But, Grandmamma, what great eyes you've got!”
“They are so much better to see you with, my child.”
Then the little girl, who was now very much frightened, said:
“Oh, Grandmamma, what great teeth you have got!”
“THEY ARE THE BETTER TO EAT YOU UP!”
With these words the wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding Hood and ate her up in a moment.
This little story is found in many countries, and everywhere it is a great favorite with children. If you mention Little Red Riding Hood anywhere, you will be almost certain to find men and women who smile as they think how much they liked to read, when they were young, about the little girl and her grandmother.
William Wetmore Story, the famous sculptor, once made a beautiful marble statue of Little Red Riding-Hood, showing that he remembered and was glad that he knew the good old tale.
And nests among the trees;
In ships upon the seas.
The children sing in Spain;
Is singing in the rain.
THEN Arthur was king of Great Britain, and
his brave knights were seeking adventures in all parts of his kingdom, the greatest magician was Merlin, of whose deeds you may read a great many tales.
At one time, when this great enchanter was on a long journey, he became very tired and turned in at the cottage of a plowman, whose wife, with great kindness, gave him a couch on which to rest and treated him to a meal of rich milk and fine brown bread. The cottage was neat and well furnished, and the plowman seemed in good circumstances, but Merlin noticed that the wife wore a very sorrowful expression and seemed to find no
enjoyment in anything she did. When Merlin met the plowman he saw that the farmer was as sad as his wife. Surprised at this in such people, he asked them the cause of their troubles.
The poor woman, with tears in her eyes, said, “There is but one thing we need to make us perfectly happy. You see we have no children, and the house is very lonely. Why, if I could have one boy, even if he were no bigger than his father's thumb, I should be the happiest creature in the world.”
The idea pleased Merlin greatly, and after he left the plowman's home he called the queen of the fairies to his assistance.
"I know,” he said, “a plowman's wife who says she would be the happiest woman in the world if she had a son only the size of his father's thumb. Cannot you help her?” .
The fairy queen laughed at the idea of so small a man, and said,“ Well, send word to the plowman's wife that her wish shall be granted.”
Not long afterward the plowman's wife did indeed have a little son, who was strong and healthy in every respect but not larger than her husband's thumb; and strange to say, no matter how much he ate or how well he took care of himself, he never grew any larger.
The queen of the fairies came to see the little fellow very soon after he was born and gave him the name of Tom Thumb. At the same time she called several of her servants from fairyland, and together they made for Tom a wonderful suit of clothes. His hat was made of an oak leaf; his shirt from a spider's web; his doublet of thistledown; his stockings of apple rind and his shoes from the skin of a mouse nicely tanned with the hair inside.
Although Tom was not bigger than a man's thumb, yet he was a bright-eyed, sharp-witted little fellow who became very cunning and sly as he grew older; and as he was a great favorite with his mother she never corrected him very severely, and some of his pranks were quite troublesome. He liked to play the games that other boys played, and even joined with them, but he was so little and mischievous that none of the boys liked him very well. Sometimes he would find his way into their lunch pails and steal their food, or even get into their pockets and take out their marbles and playthings. Some of his pranks, however, turned out as badly for himself as for the people he played them on, and a number of times he got into very serious danger.
One day while his mother was making pudding, Tom stood on the edge of the bowl to watch her. As she turned away to get some more flour to stir into the bowl, Tom fell in, and his mother, never missing him, stirred him up in the dough and put him in the pot to boil. When the water began to get hot, Tom jumped about madly, scattering the dough so that his mother thought the pudding was bewitched, and gave it to a tinker who passed by just at that time.
The tinker put the pudding into his bag and went on his way. After a while Tom got his head out of the dough, cleaned the batter from his mouth, and shouted as loud as he could, “Hello, Jack the tinker.”
The man was so frightened at the voice from the pudding that he tossed it hastily over a hedge into