Guy Hoyle (ghoyle1_at_airmail.net)
LITTLE VINGA RED-HOOD Little Vinga was the daughter of Orlanth and Ernalda. Because of her beautiful red hair, everybody called her Little Vinga Red-Hood. One day, when she was too young to take up weapons, and too old to enjoy children's games, she caused nothing but trouble for her mother. She broke the jar in which her mother kept leafy-dew, and she trod on Yinkin's tail whenever the lazy cat lay down for a nap. When Little Vinga Red-Hood caused Ernalda to snag a thread while weaving, however, Ernalda knew she had to find a task to occupy her daughter's tumultuous energies.
"Your grandmother has been sick," the wise goddess explained. "I'm too
busy trying to clean up after your mess, but you can take a basket of bread and a pot of butter to her." Little Vinga Red-Hood, glad for any
reason to leave the confines of her father's stead, kissed her mother, grabbed the basket, and set off for her grandmother Asrelia's cottage, out in the gloomy woods. The trail she followed was dark and twisted,yet Little Vinga Red-Hood knew how to straighten it. When the paths became too tangled, Little Vinga Red-Hood ran over the tops of trees as if they were hummocks. But eventually, Little Vinga Red-Hood came to a dark place, which she could neither avoid nor untangle.
"What have we here?" said a voice from the dark place. Standing on the
edge of the dark place was a stranger; his eyes were tiny beads hidden in the shadows, but his mouth was full with teeth and then some.
"Please, kind sir, " Little Vinga Red-Hood said, "I'm taking this basket
of bread with a pot of butter to my Grandmother's cottage, and I cannot go further than this dark place. Can you help me?"
"Of course," said the stranger, thinking of how delicious Little Vinga
Red-Hood would be to eat, sliced like bread with a dollop of creamy butter. "This path here leads to her cottage." He showed her the dark, twisty paths, while he himself took a secret swift path he knew about, and thus reached Asrelia's cottage long before her granddaughter did.
"Who's there?" cried Asrelia, when the Trickster knocked on the door.
"It's Little Vinga Red-Hood", called Eurmal. "Unloosen the latch and
come in, granddaughter!", replied the grandmother, for she was too sick to leave her bed. Eurmal sprang into the cottage and devoured Asrelia in one big gulp.Then he put on her clothes, dressed himself in her cap, laid himself in bed and drew the curtains.
Little Vinga Red-Hood soon reached Asrelia's cottage, where she was surprised to see the door standing wide open. "How uneasy I feel", she said, "and I've never felt that way when I visited Grandmother before." She stepped inside and came to the bed where the stranger lay in her grandmother's clothes.
"Grandmother, what big eyes you have, " said Little Vinga Red-Hood.
They were small and beady, like the stranger's.
"All the better to see you with," said the stranger.
"Grandmother, what a big nose you have!" It sniffed hungrily, but she
knew that bread was not what it hungered for.
"All the better to smell you with, my dear!"
"Grandmother, what big teeth you have!" A long pink tongue ran along the
rows of uneven teeth, and a thread of saliva threaded down the unshaven jaw.
"ALL THE BETTER TO EAT YOU WITH, MY DEAR!"
The stranger in Grandmother's clothes leapt from the bed, but his eyes never saw, his nose never smelled, and his teeth never chewed anything ever again. For Little Vinga Red-Hood had sliced him open with the sharp knife that her mother had put in the basket for slicing the bread. From inside the stranger stepped Grandmother Asrelia, who gave Little Vinga Red-Hood lots of hugs and kisses.
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