~Jakob and Willhelm Grimm
Once upon a time there was a dear little girl who was loved
by every one who looked at her, but most of all by her
grandmother, and there was nothing that she would not have
given to the child. Once she gave her a little cap of red
velvet, which suited her so well that she would never wear
anything else. So she was always called little red-cap.
One day her mother said to her, come, little red-cap, here
is a piece of cake and a bottle of wine. Take them to your
grandmother, she is ill and weak, and they will do her good.
Set out before it gets hot, and when you are going, walk
nicely and quietly and do not run off the path, or you may
fall and break the bottle, and then your grandmother will
get nothing. And when you go into her room, don’t forget
to say, good-morning, and don’t peep into every corner before
you do it.
I will take great care, said little red-cap to her mother, and
gave her hand on it.
The grandmother lived out in the wood, half a league from the
village, and just as little red-cap entered the wood, a wolf
met her. Red-cap did not know what a wicked creature he was,
and was not at all afraid of him.
“Good-day, little red-cap,” said he.
“Thank you kindly, wolf.”
“Whither away so early, little red-cap?”
“To my grandmother’s.”
“What have you got in your apron?”
“Cake and wine. Yesterday was baking-day, so poor sick
grandmother is to have something good, to make her stronger.”
“Where does your grandmother live, little red-cap?”
“A good quarter of a league farther on in the wood. Her house
stands under the three large oak-trees, the nut-trees are just
below. You surely must know it,” replied little red-cap.
The wolf thought to himself, what a tender young creature. What a
nice plump mouthful, she will be better to eat than the old
woman. I must act craftily, so as to catch both. So he walked
for a short time by the side of little red-cap, and then he
said, “see little red-cap, how pretty the flowers are about here.
Why do you not look round. I believe, too, that you do not
hear how sweetly the little birds are singing. You walk gravely
along as if you were going to school, while everything else out
here in the wood is merry.”
Little red-cap raised her eyes, and when she saw the sunbeams
dancing here and there through the trees, and pretty flowers
growing everywhere, she thought, suppose I take grandmother a
fresh nosegay. That would please her too. It is so early in the
day that I shall still get there in good time. And so she ran
from the path into the wood to look for flowers. And whenever
she had picked one, she fancied that she saw a still prettier one
farther on, and ran after it, and so got deeper and deeper into
Meanwhile the wolf ran straight to the grandmother’s house and
knocked at the door.
“Who is there?”
“Little red-cap,” replied the wolf. “She is bringing cake and
wine. Open the door.”
“Lift the latch,” called out the grandmother, “I am too weak, and
cannot get up.”
The wolf lifted the latch, the door sprang open, and without
saying a word he went straight to the grandmother’s bed, and
devoured her. Then he put on her clothes, dressed himself in
her cap, laid himself in bed and drew the curtains.
Little red-cap, however, had been running about picking flowers,
and when she had gathered so many that she could carry
no more, she remembered her grandmother, and set out on the
way to her.
She was surprised to find the cottage-door standing open, and
when she went into the room, she had such a strange feeling that
she said to herself, oh dear, how uneasy I feel to-day, and at
other times I like being with grandmother so much. She called
out, “good morning,” but received no answer. So she went to the
bed and drew back the curtains. There lay her grandmother with
her cap pulled far over her face, and looking very strange.
“Oh, grandmother,” she said, “what big ears you have.”
“The better to hear you with, my child,” was the reply.
“But, grandmother, what big eyes you have,” she said.
“The better to see you with,” my dear.
“But, grandmother, what large hands you have.”
“The better to hug you with.”
“Oh, but, grandmother, what a terrible big mouth you have.”
“The better to eat you with.”
And scarcely had the wolf said this, than with one bound he was
out of bed and swallowed up red-cap.
When the wolf had appeased his appetite, he lay down again in
the bed, fell asleep and began to snore very loud. The
huntsman was just passing the house, and thought to himself, how
the old woman is snoring. I must just see if she wants anything.
So he went into the room, and when he came to the bed, he saw
that the wolf was lying in it. Do I find you here, you old
sinner, said he. I have long sought you. Then just as he was going
to fire at him, it occurred to him that the wolf might have
devoured the grandmother, and that she might still be saved, so
he did not fire, but took a pair of scissors, and began to cut
open the stomach of the sleeping wolf. When he had made two
snips, he saw the little red-cap shining, and then he made two
snips more, and the little girl sprang out, crying, ah, how
frightened I have been. How dark it was inside the wolf. And
after that the aged grandmother came out alive also, but scarcely
able to breathe. Red-cap, however, quickly
fetched great stones with which they filled the wolf’s belly, and
when he awoke, he wanted to run away, but the stones were so
heavy that he collapsed at once, and fell dead.
Then all three were delighted. The huntsman drew off the wolf’s
skin and went home with it. The grandmother ate the cake and
drank the wine which red-cap had brought, and revived, but
red-cap thought to herself, as long as I live, I will never by
myself leave the path, to run into the wood, when my mother has
forbidden me to do so.
It is also related that once when red-cap was again taking cakes
to the old grandmother, another wolf spoke to her, and tried to
entice her from the path. Red-cap, however, was on her guard,
and went straight forward on her way, and told her grandmother
that she had met the wolf, and that he had said good-morning to
her, but with such a wicked look in his eyes, that if they had
not been on the public road she was certain he would have eaten
her up. Well, said the grandmother, we will shut the door, that
he may not come in. Soon afterwards the wolf knocked, and cried,
open the door, grandmother, I am little red-cap, and am bringing
you some cakes. But they did not speak, or open the door, so
the grey-beard stole twice or thrice round the house, and at last
jumped on the roof, intending to wait until red-cap went home in
the evening, and then to steal after her and devour her in the
darkness. But the grandmother saw what was in his thoughts. In
front of the house was a great stone trough, so she said to the
child, take the pail, red-cap. I made some sausages yesterday,
so carry the water in which I boiled them to the trough. Red-cap
carried until the great trough was quite full. Then the smell
of the sausages reached the wolf, and he sniffed and peeped
down, and at last stretched out his neck so far that he could
no longer keep his footing and began to slip, and slipped down
from the roof straight into the great trough, and was drowned.
But red-cap went joyously home, and no one ever did anything
to harm her again.