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The Girl and the Wolf
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A Variable Tale by Nick Montfort
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Once a girl set off through the forest to visit her grandmother, bringing along a basket of bread and milk. She wore the fine red kerchief her grandmother had given her.

On the path through the forest, she encountered a wolf. The creature was sinewy and fearsome, but the shadows concealed him, for the most part. He greeted the girl with a smooth voice. "Hello," she replied.

"Where are you going on this fine day?" - "To my grandmother's house. She lives on the other side of the woods in a very pretty cottage with pink roses out front." - "Ah, and which path are you taking to get there? The path of pins ... or the path of needles?" - "Oh, the path of pins."

So the wolf bade her farewell, and sprinted along the path of the needles. He arrived first. Prowling around the cottage, he noticed an open window and scrambled inside. Grandmother turned around at the noise and shrieked. He padded towards her, backing her into a closet. She shut the door. The wolf placed a chair in front of it, planning to keep her for a digestif. He rifled through her chest and slipped into one of her nightgowns. Then he unlatched the front door and crawled into bed.

Just then a tentative knock announced the girl's arrival. She heard something like her grandmother's voice welcoming her inside, so she opened the door and came in. She set down the gifts she brought and smiled to what seemed to be her grandmother. But as she got closer to the figure on the bed, her nose and eyes picked up signals that something was amiss.

"Grandmother, what big eyes you have!" - "Why, that's the better to see you with, my dear." - "And what a wet nose you have!" - "That's all the better to smell you with, my dear." - "And what sharp teeth you have!" - "These are the better to eat you with!"

Just then the wolf disentangled himself from grandmother's nightie and leapt at the girl. But a woodsman on his way home had sniffed out the wolf's trail, following it to the house. He dashed in the front door, which was still ajar, just as the wolf sprung. Clubbing the wolf with the blunt end of the axe, he sent the animal spinning across the floor. The creature trotted outside, dazed and whimpering, and fled.

Moving the chair from the closet door, they led out the true grandmother, who was shuddering but unhurt. The three of them calmed themselves. The girl and her grandmother thanked the woodsman at length, grateful for their escape from the wolf. Grandmother suggested that he stay and have something to eat, and he accepted her kind offer. She brought out some food to supplement the bread and milk and the three sat down to a small, pleasant meal.

The wolf, meanwhile, was wailing in the distance, hungry and still a bit dizzy.