An Old Woman's Tale.
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—Veteres avias tibi de pulmone revello. PERSIUS.
[* Though the northern states of Europe are not conceived, even by the most violent alarmists, to be much infected by the principles of jacobinism, yet in their disloyal languages "King" is often used as a term for a fiend, whose business is to destroy the happiness of mankind, and whose delight is in human misery.]
Translated from the Danish of the author of the Water-King, and respectfully inscribed to M. G. Lewis, Esq. M. P. as an humble attempt to imitate his excellent version of that celebrated ballad.
THE birds they sung, the morning smiled,
The mother kiss'd her darling child,
And said-—"My dear, take custards three,
"And carry to your grand-mummie."—-
The pretty maid had on her head
A little riding-hood of red,
And as she pass'd the lonely wood,
They call'd her small Red-riding-hood.
Her basket on her arm she hung,
And as she went thus artless sung,
—"A lady lived beneath a hill,
"Who, if not gone, resides there still."—
The Wolf-King saw her pass along,
He eyed her custards, mark'd her song,
And cried—"That child and custards three,
"This evening, shall my supper be!"—
Now swift the maid pursued her way,
And heedless trill'd her plaintive lay,
Nor had she pass'd the murky wood,
When lo! the Wolf-King near her stood!
—"Oh! stop, my pretty child so gay!
*Oh! whither do you bend your way?"—
—"My little self and custards three,
"Are going to my grand-mummie!"—
—"While you by yonder mountain go,
"On which the azure blue-bells grow;
"I'll take this road; then haste thee, dear,
"Or I before you will be there.
"And when our racing shall be done,
"A kiss you forfeit, if I've won;
"Your prize shall be, if first you come,
"Some barley-sugar and a plumb!"—
—" Oh! thank you, good Sir Wolf," said she,
And dropp'd a pretty courtesie;
The little maid then onward hied,
And sought the blue-bell'd mountain's side.
The Wolf sped on o'er marsh and moor,
And faintly tapp'd at granny's door;
—"Oh! let me in, grand-mummy good,
"For I am small Red-riding-hood."—
—"The bobbin pull," the grandam cried,
"The door will then fly open wide."—
The crafty Wolf the bobbin drew,
And straight the door wide open flew!
He pac'd the bed-room eight times four,
And utter'd thrice an hideous roar;
He pac'd the bed-room nine times three,
And then devour'd poor grand-mummie!
He dash'd her brains out on the stones,
He gnaw'd her sinews, crack'd her bones;
He munch'd her heart, he quaff'd her gore,
And up her lights and liver tore!!!
Grand-mummy's bed he straight got in,
Her night-cap tied beneath his chin;
And waiting for his destin'd prey,
All snug between the sheets he lay.
Now at the door a voice heard he,
Which cried—"I've brought you custards three;
"Oh! let me in, grand-mummy good,
"For I am small Red-riding-hood."—
—"The bobbin pull," the Wolf-King cried,
"The door will then fly open wide!"—
The little dear the bobbin drew,
And straight the door wide open flew.
She placed the custards on the floor,
And sigh'd—"I wish I'd brought you four,
"I'm very tired, dear grand-mummie,
"Oh! may I come to bed to thee?"—
—" Oh! come," the Wolf-King softly cried,
"And lie, my sweet one, by my side;"—
Ah little thought the child so gay,
The cruel Wolf-King near her lay!'
—"Oh! tell me, tell me, granny dear,
"Why does your voice so gruff appear?"—
—"Oh! hush, sweet-heart," the Wolf-King said,
"I've got a small cold in my head!"—
—"Oh! tell me, grand-mummie so kind,
"Why you've a tail grows out behind?"—
—"Oh! hush thee, hush thee, pretty dear,
"My pin-cushion I hang on here!"—
—"Why do your eyes so glare on me?"—
—"They are your pretty face to see."—
—"Why do your ears so long appear?"—
—"They are your pretty voice to hear."—
—"Oh! tell me, granny, why, to-night,
"Your teeth appear so long and white?"—
Then growling, cried the Wolf so grim,
—"They are to tear you limb from limb!"—
His hungry teeth the Wolf-King gnash'd,
His sparkling eyes with fury flash'd,
He oped his jaws all sprent with blood,
And fell on small Red-riding-hood.
He tore out bowels one and two,
—"Little maid, I will eat you!"—
But when he tore out three and four,
The little maid she was no more!
Take warning hence, ye children fair;
Of wolves' insidious arts beware;
And as you pass each lonely wood,
Ah! think of small Red-riding-hood.
With custards sent nor loiter slow,
Nor gather blue-bells as ye go;
Get not to bed with grand-mummie,
Lest she a ravenous wolf should be!