The little girl was FINALLY alone. Mr Wolf had been worried for a minute. He thought those nasty little pigs were going to steal his cupcakes, but they gave them all back. Ha, Idiots!
He’d been planning to sneak up and steal the basket. But since her little run in with the pigs, she was holding it far too tightly. He’d have to be much smarter than that.
He caught up with Red just as she entered the woods.
“Why hello little girl,” he said, smiling as pleasantly as he could.
Red jumped. She hadn’t noticed the wolf next to her. He had a funny look on his face, as if he was in pain. A bit like the look people get when they’re busting for the toilet but someone else is using it and they have to wait.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yes, of course,” The wolf replied, not sure why she was asking, “Where are you off to on such a lovely day?”
Red suddenly remembered. “My mom said I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”
“And she’s absolutely right,” Mr Wolf declared, “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Winston Wolf. Most people call me Mr Wolf, but you, my dear girl, may call me Winston.
“There now, we’re no longer strangers.”
Red didn’t think that was quite what her mom meant. She just smiled politely and kept walking, hoping the wolf would leave her alone. But Mr Wolf was far too hungry to give up that easily.
“My, that’s a beautiful hood,” he said, keeping up with her, “Such a lovely shade of red.”
Red didn’t mean to say anything, but she loved her red riding hood so much. The words just came out by themselves.
“My Granny made it for me.”
“Of course she did,” Mr Wolf said, “How lucky you are to have such a nice Granny. Is she here with you?” he asked, looking around.
“No, she’s not feeling well,” Red said.
“Not well? Oh dear.” Mr Wolf looked concerned. “Someone should take her some yummy cupcakes, or something to make her feel better.”
“That’s just what I’m doing!” Red exclaimed.
“No!” Mr Wolf pretended to be shocked. “All by yourself? Do beware. The forest is no place for a little girl to travel alone.”
“But—” started Red.
“I know!” Mr Wolf stopped in his tracks. “I shall travel with you.”
Red tried again, “Thank you, but—”
“No. Don’t thank me,” Mr Wolf kept walking, “All the better to make sure that you’re safe.”
“But I’m not a little girl,” Red finally got out.
“Of course you’re not,” said Mr Wolf, “Shall I carry your basket for you?”
When she saw Mr Wolf’s big hairy mitts reaching for the basket, Red held on to it even tighter. She glared at him, giving him THE LOOK! She was a little surprised when it seemed to work. Mr Wolf held his hands up and backed away.
Pleased with herself, Red turned back to the path.
The sun was shining through the trees, so at first she just saw a figure rimmed with gold light. He looked like an angel. Tall and strong, his antlers glistened in the sun.
When he came closer, Red saw he was wearing a green tunic with the King’s coat of arms—the uniform of a forester.
“Hello little miss. Is this wolf bothering you?”
Red looked at Mr Wolf. Compared to the forester he was fairly scrawny, and quite scruffy looking. Just at that moment he seemed to be admiring some flowers.
“A little bit. Not really.” Even though Red didn’t trust Mr Wolf, she didn’t mind having someone to talk to.
ACHOO! The wolf sneezed. He threw the flowers down and stomped them into the ground. He looked up and realized Red and the forester were both watching him throw his little temper tantrum. He quickly smiled and picked up the broken flowers, and arranged them as nicely as he could against a tree.
The forester just shook his head. “Where’s your mother? Are you lost?”
“No,” said Red, “I’m taking these cupcakes to Granny, because she’s sick.”
“You mean old Granny Rabbit, just beyond the stream?”
“I had noticed her garden was looking a bit overgrown. I’m sorry to hear she’s unwell,” the forester said, “Why don’t you run on home and let me deliver the cupcakes for you. The forest is no place for a little girl.”
“I can take them.” Red wondered why everyone was trying to take her cupcakes, “and I’m not little,” she added, as the forester took something out of his pocket.
“Well, just be careful,” he said, “Take this whistle, and blow it if you get into trouble.”
Red thanked him and put the whistle around her neck. She was sure she wouldn’t need it, but the whistle did make her feel better.