Editor's note: I just love it when early versions of fairy tales are so different from today's bowdlerized versions of them. This little gem of a LRRH variant is short, gory, obscene and in keeping with the tone of many fairy tales as told hundreds of years ago. In particular, I like how Red escapes on her own.
Some elements to ponder:
The story is quite earthy, especially toward the end.
When a cat calls her a "slut" it's a sign of very strong disapproval (for obvious reasons), but the term, in this case, does not necessarily have the same meaning as it does today.
The path of pins or needles may just signify that the choice doesn't matter.
The reference to tobacco is one I have never noticed before.
There was a woman who had made some bread. She said to her daughter, "Go and carry a hot loaf and a bottle of milk to your grandmother."
So the little girl set forth. Where two paths crossed she met the bzou [werewolf], who said to her, "Where are you going?"
"I am carrying a hot loaf and a bottle of milk to my grandmother."
"Which path are you taking? said the bzou. "The one of needles or the one of pins?"
"The one of needles," said the little girl.
"Good! I am taking the one of pins."
The little girl entertained herself by gathering needles.
The bzou arrived at the grandmother's house and killed her. He put some of her flesh in the pantry and a bottle of her blood on the shelf.
The little girl arrived and knocked at the door. "Push on the door," said the bzou. "It is blocked with a pail of water."
"Good day, grandmother. I have brought you a hot loaf and a bottle of milk."
"Put it in the pantry, my child. Take some of the meat that is there, and the bottle of wine that is on the shelf."
While she was eating, a little cat that was there said, "For shame! The slut is eating her grandmother's flesh and drinking her grandmother's blood."
"Get undressed, my child," said the bzou, and come to bed with me."
"Where should I put my apron?"
"Throw it into the fire. You won't need it anymore."
And for all her clothes—her bodice, her dress, her petticoat, and her shoes and stockings—she asked where she should put them, and the wolf replied, "Throw them into the fire, my child. You won't need them anymore."
When she had gone to bed the little girl said, "Oh, grandmother, how hairy you are!"
"The better to keep myself warm, my child."
"Oh, grandmother, what long nails you have!"
"The better to scratch myself with, my child!"
"Oh, grandmother, what big shoulders you have!"
"The better to carry firewood with, my child!"
"Oh, grandmother, what big ears you have!"
"The better to hear with, my child!"
"Oh, grandmother, what a big nose you have!"
"To better take my tobacco with, my child!"
"Oh, grandmother, what a big mouth you have!"
"The better to eat you with, my child!"
"Oh, grandmother, I have to do it outside!"
"Do it in the bed, my child!"
"Oh no, grandmother, I really have to do it outside."
"All right, but don't take too long."
The bzou tied a woolen thread to her foot and let her go. As soon as the little girl was outside she tied the end of the thread to a plum tree in the yard.
The bzou grew impatient and said, "Are you doing a load? Are you doing a load?"
Not hearing anyone reply, he jumped out of bed and hurried after the little girl, who had escaped. He followed her, but he arrived at her home just as she went inside.