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How Little Red Riding Hood Came to Be Eaten

by Guy Wetmore Carryl
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How Little Red Riding Hood Came to Be Eaten by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Most 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 misled,
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 won 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 Mayor 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!

  — Guy Wetmore Carryl

From Grimm Tales Made Gay. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.. Illustration by Albert Levering.

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From Grimm Tales Made Gay

Guy Wetmore Carryl (1872-1903), an American humorist and poet, compiled these poems into one volume, Grimm Tales Made Gay, in 1902. Many of the poems originally appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Century, Life, The Smart Set, The Saturday Evening Post, The Home Magazine, and the London Tatler.

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About the Author

Guy Wetmore Carryl was an American humorist and poet who lived from 1873 to 1904, and the son of children’s author Charles Edward Carryl. His collections of poetry included Mother Goose for Grown-Ups, Grimm Tales Made Gay, and Fables for the Frivolous.

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