The Girl and the Wolf
A Variable Tale by Nick Montfort
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.
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.
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."
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!"
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.
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,
The wolf, meanwhile, was wailing in the distance,
hungry and still a bit dizzy.