by: Guy Wetmore Carryl (1873-1904)

      OST worthy of praise
      Were the virtuous ways
      Of Little Red Riding Hood's Ma,
      And no one was ever
      More cautious and clever
      Than Little Red Riding Hood's Pa.
      They never mislead,
      For they meant what they said,
      And would frequently say what they meant:
      And the way she should go
      They were careful to show,
      And the way that they showed her, she went.
      For obedience she was effusively thanked,
      And for anything else she was carefully spanked.
      It thus isn't strange
      That Red Riding Hood's range
      Of virtues so steadily grew,
      That soon she was prizes
      Of different sizes,
      And golden encomiums, too!
      As a general rule
      She was head of her school,
      And at six was so notably smart
      That they gave her a cheque
      For reciting, "The Wreck
      of the Hesperus," wholly by heart!
      And you all will applaud her the more, I am sure,
      When I add that this money she gave to the poor.
      At eleven this lass
      Had a Sunday-school class,
      At twelve wrote a volume of verse,
      At thirteen was yearning
      For glory, and learning
      To be a professional nurse.
      To a glorious height
      The young paragon might
      Have grown, if not nipped in the bud,
      But the following year
      Struck her smiling career
      With a dull and a sickening thud!
      (I have shed a great tear at the thought of her pain,
      And must copy my manuscript over again!)
      Not dreaming of harm
      One day on her arm
      A basket she hung. It was filled
      With jellies, and ices,
      And gruel, and spices,
      And chicken-legs, carefully grilled,
      And a savory stew,
      And a novel or two
      She'd persuaded a neighbor to loan,
      And a hot-water can,
      And a Japanese fan,
      And a bottle of eau-de-cologne,
      And the rest of the things that your family fill
      Your room with, whenever you chance to be ill!
      She expected to find
      Her decrepit but kind
      Old Grandmother waiting her call,
      But the visage that met her
      Completely upset her:
      It wasn't familiar at all!
      With a whitening cheek
      She started to speak,
      But her peril she instantly saw: --
      Her Grandma had fled,
      And she'd tackled instead
      Four merciless Paws and a Maw!
      When the neighbors came running, the wolf to subdue,
      He was licking his chops, (and Red Riding Hood's, too!)
      At this terrible tale
      Some readers will pale,
      And others with horror grow dumb,
      And yet it was better,
      I fear, he should get her:
      Just think what she might have become!
      For an infant so keen
      Might in future have been
      A woman of awful renown,
      Who carried on fights
      For her feminine rights
      As the Mare of an Arkansas town.
      She might have continued the crime of her 'teens,
      And come to write verse for the Big Magazines!
      The Moral: There's nothing much glummer
      Than children whose talents appall:
      One much prefers those who are dumber,
      But as for the paragons small,
      If a swallow cannot make a summer
      It can bring on a summary fall!

"How Little Red Riding Hood Came to Be Eaten" is reprinted from Grimm Tales Made Gay. Guy Wetmore Carryl. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1902.




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