Little Red Riding Hood loved the forest. Spring or winter, autumn or summer, she would take her picnic basket and spend many hours there pretending that she was a woodland creature . Her grandmother who lived on the other side of the forest would often tell her stories of her own childhood, when the forest was thicker and a person would have to be very brave indeed to go into it at all.
'If you go into the very heart of the forest', she told her granddaughter, 'You will find the cottage of the lady of the forest'. 'She is very old and her hair is silver like the stars and her eyes are as green as leaves. 'We never dared to go anywhere near her cottage, for we were very afraid of her.' said the grandmother to Little Red Riding Hood, who listened with terrified fascination. 'Did she turn people into toads?' asked LRRH?
'Maybe she did' replied her Grandmother,'Who knows?'.
'Was she a wicked witch?' asked LRRH
'Witches are not wicked, my dear' said her Grandmother. ' Not always, anyway, only if they have to be' she said and smiled.
One day LRRH was in the forest pretending to be a witch. She had a pile of berries in a little pot of water and was very seriously repeating a spell over and over again.
Red, blue, green and gold,
Cherries, berries, leaves and mold,
Cook, bubble, steam and stew,
Make me a delicious magical brew.
'May I have some of your magical brew?' said a voice. LRRH looked up and saw a tall handsome huntsman. 'Why?' she asked. 'So that I can become the best hunter in the entire world' he said and smiled. 'The forest is dangerous you know. A little girl like you could get eaten up by a wolf'. 'If I get magical powers, I can protect you, I can kill the wolf and any other animal that tries to harm you'.
'My grandmother told me that the animals in the forest are not harmful', said LRRH indignantly. 'She has a wolf that comes every evening to be fed'.
'Your grandmother tells fascinating stories , it seem to me' he said and smiled. 'Now, may I have some of your brew?' he said and moved closer to her.
LRRH shrugged and gestured towards the berries.
'What lovely green eyes you have, little girl' said the huntsman and he picked a handful of berries and inched nearer to her.
LRRH shrugged and said nothing.
'What a lovely tiny nose you have, little girl' said the huntsman and he bit into the berries in one big mouthful and moved closer to her.
'And what lovely little ears you have' he said and he tucked a dark curl behind her ear.
'What soft hands you have' he said as he took them into his rough scarred hands.
LRRH tried to pull away but he held her firmly. Smiling. Chewing the berries, lips staining red with their juice.
Before he could finish, a look of terror came into his face. He seemed to be looking at something beyond them and his face twisted into a plea of forgiveness, of anguish, of immense pain. He his mouth frothed and his hand loosened the grip he had on her.
As she ran towards her grandmother's house, she could hear him screaming in pain, in fury, like a dying beast. She ran till she could hear him no more.
She pushed open her grandmothers door and found her knitting, her silver hair had just been brushed and she looked up and her green eyes were twinkling.
'Did you have a nice day in the woods, my dear?' she asked. 'I have made you some cherry pies and a mug of chocolate.Wash your hands and dig in'