Warning: some readers may not find this tale tasteful.

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Little Red Riding-Hood

Once upon a time in a small cottage near the middle of a thick forest, there lived a pretty girl, who was known to everyone as Little Red Riding-Hood and was still called Little Red even after she was not so little any more. One might ask why the family lived in a small cottage since they were fairly wealthy, but that's the way it was. One day, her mother, Mrs Riding-Hood, called to her and said: "Your grandmother is sick. Take this fresh-baked apple pie to her by way of the path through the forest, but be very careful. Don't leave the path and don't stop for anything, and you will come to no harm." Then she waved and told Red goodbye.

Red kissed her mother and replied, "Don't worry. I'll be safe on the way to Grandma's house."

Although fairy tale lasses told to take a fresh-baked pie to grandma would be expected to set off on their way running, Red was no common fairy tale girl. She thought to herself, 'I wonder why Mum wants me to go by way of the path through the woods instead of riding my horse around the woods along the king's highway. Well, since she sometimes plays with magic, I'll do as she wishes, but, if the forest holds dangers, I should be prepared.' Following her own advice, she took along her rifle and a pocketful of bullets as she trotted off down the path through the woods.

As the woods became thicker, she saw a yellow butterfly flutter through the trees toward an open area where large daisies were growing in the grass. Now, if Red had gone directly down the path to Grandma's house, there would be no tale; so, of course, she followed the butterfly through the trees to the daisies, and, knowing that they would cheer her grandmother, she picked a large bunch of the flowers and made her way back to the path.

What she didn't know was that two wicked eyes were spying on her from behind a tree, and, when she had reached the path again, her heart almost leapt into her mouth at the sound of a gruff voice which said: "Where are you going, my pretty girl, all alone in the woods?"

A quick look told her that there was a wolf, a talking wolf, in front of her, and, although she knew normal wolves didn't talk, she played along without a fuss, thinking her mother's magic was at work. What she didn't know was that this wolf had his own magic. She told the wolf, "I'm taking Grandma this fresh-baked apple pie. She lives at the end of the path."

When he heard this, the wolf, the big bad wolf, asked politely, "Does she live by herself?"

Red, who was not naive, knew not to give such information to strangers and said, "Oh, no, her son, my uncle, who is a great hunter, lives with her!"

"Goodbye, pretty girl. Perhaps we'll meet again, soon," replied the wolf. Then he loped away off the path into the woods, thinking to himself, "The uncle will be away from the house today. I'll get there first, and we'll see what happens. Perhaps I can bite this girl and turn her into an enchanted wolf such as I to be my companion." He ran through the forest, but, since he was not on the path, he had to go around several brier patches and had to go upstream to find a place for crossing a brook without getting soaked. At last, the cottage came in sight. Knock! Knock! The wolf rapped on the door.

"Who's there?" cried Grandma from her bed.

"It's me, Red Riding-Hood. Grandma, I've brought you an apple pie because you're ill," replied the wolf in a voice that he tried hard to keep from sounding gruff. The old lady made her way to the door and, being wise enough to have survived to her current age, looked through the peephole instead of throwing the door open. She saw the wolf standing there, and, of course, she didn't open the door because she made it policy not to open doors to talking wolves.

After meeting the wolf, Red had run along the path as fast as she could and arrived soon after he got there. She found him still trying to get in the door, although he had about decided to use a window as an entrance.

"Stop trying to break in my Grandma's door!" Red ordered the wolf and loaded her rifle to fire if he didn't.

"Your bullets can't stop me. I have a magic spell," he told her confidently and leaped toward her.

Red had known that the wolf must be using magic, and the bullet she had loaded was one on which her mother had placed an enchantment. She pulled the trigger without even aiming and fired the bullet into the wolf's chest. Although the bullet that stopped deep within the wolf's flesh didn't kill him, its magic took away all his magical power and left him only a wolf, like all the other wolves around, and, away he ran into the forest, looking for a pack that would take him in.

A hunter emerged from the trees to see Red shoot the wolf, which had changed and run away before he could get his rifle loaded to fire a shot at it. The hunter, a boy really, had been given the task of catching and killing this large wolf that seemed to have magical powers and had spent most of his life, all of the time he was not eating or sleeping, trying to complete this task. Now the wolf was gone, and the hunter didn't know what to do the rest of his life. The girl, or young woman, who had shot the wolf appeared to be someone he would like to know, but he had never had a girlfriend and didn't know what to do to get a girlfriend.

"I was hunting the wolf," he told the girl.

Red knew what to do, but she had to take care of her grandma first. She yelled, "Grandma, you can open the door now. The wolf is gone. It's Red and a young man who was hunting the wolf."

Still frightened but feeling better because the excitement had cured the boredom that was the real cause of her sickness, the old lady opened the door and welcomed them in. "Let's all have slices of your pie," she told Red.

After eating pie and making sure that Grandma was feeling better, Red and the young hunter spent the rest of the day together, and they have promised to spend much more time together whenever they can. He has concluded that having a girlfriend, at least this girlfriend, is far better than hunting the wolf, and she has decided that he is the best boyfriend she ever had, even though he knew little about life other than how to track the wolf. The young former hunter learns quickly and is a good kisser, and that is a good enough for a start, Red believes.

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