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Friday, March 18, 2011

Interview with Little Golden-Hood about her Encounter with the Wolf

The story is my favorite version of Little Red Riding Hood and is different from the Brothers Grimm version.  This version is found in The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang who derived his tale from the works of Charles Marelles. Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was a Scottish poet, novelist, anthropologist and was an avid collector of folk and fairy tales. By the way the University of St. Andrews, which Kate and William attended and met, was named after him.

My interview is not with the child but with Golden-Hood as a grown woman.  We met at my favorite cafe.


My goal was to hear about her long ago encounter with the wolf and the magic that saved her. Or did it?

The door opens and I see a tall confident beautiful woman with long dark hair, however she does not wear a golden-hood but a red cloak.

Me: “Welcome and please introduce yourself”
B: “Merry Meet, my name is Blanchette of the Wood, once known as Little Golden-Hood.”
Me: “Why were you nicknamed Golden Hood?” 

B: “ When I was a child my grandmother who knew of the old ways made me a magical golden cloak from the rays of sunshine. It would forever bring me luck and protect me. I used to wear it everywhere. Soon all the villages throughout knew me as Little Golden-Hood.”

Me: “What do you mean your grandmother knew of the old ways?”
B:  “My grandmother was a witch and was so old could not remember her true age. Yet she was very powerful. So powerful that not even the witch hunters gave her trouble.” 

Me: “Where did you live?”
B: “Our village was high in the mountains at the edge of the wood. My grandmother lived across the wood near her village’s windmill.”

Me: “What happened on the way to Grandma’s house?” 

B: “My mother made grandmother cake and instructed me to take it to her. She told me not to stop to chatter and especially not with strangers. On the way a wolf, bigger than most and with the ability of speech stepped in front of me. He introduced himself as Friend Wolf and asked where I was going.”

Me: “You must have been frightened”
B: “I was but I was a foolish girl and told him I was visiting my grandmother and describe her cottage. He knew of the house and that he would get there fast and tell my grandmother I was on my way.”
Me: “I wonder why he didn’t attack you in the middle of the wood?”
 B: “Not too far from where we spoke were wood-cutters and he knew my screams would attract them. He dashed away and I took my time. It was spring and I enjoyed picking daisies, and watching birds building nests. I even put my basket down for a moment to chase butterflies. Like my grandmother I enjoyed the natural world.”
Me: “So what happened when you arrived to Grandmother’s house?”
 B: “What I didn’t know then was that Grandmother had gone to the town to sell herbs.  Unaware I knocked on the door. “Toc, Toc.” The voice that answered was raspy and almost sounded like a growl. I was told to come in and I immediately asked Grandmother if she had a cold? Back then so many died of the Black Death that I felt my heart race, thinking she may be ill. The wolf that lay under the covers coughed to play along with his deception."

Me: “And you didn’t recognize the wolf?”
B: “No, it had cleverly disguised itself in Grandmother’s nightwear and cap. But then as I moved closer she began to remind me of Friend Wolf. Here is what I remember about our conversation:
 'Oh!' How like you are to friend Wolf, Grandmother!'

'That's on account of my night-cap, child,' replies the Wolf.

'Oh! what hairy arms you've got, Grandmother!'

'All the better to hug you, my child.'

'Oh! what a big tongue you've got, Grandmother!'

'All the better for answering, child.'

'Oh! what a mouthful of great white teeth you have, Grandmother!'

'That's for crunching little children with! 'And the Wolf opened his jaws wide to swallow me.
I called, “Mama!” and ran. He was only able to grab hold of my golden hood. 

He then howled as the hood burnt his tongue. In agony he continued to howl and desperately tried to get out but Grandmother arrived just in time. 

She nabbed him into her magical sack and then threw him down the well where he drowns.” She smoothed her cloak. “My golden-hood was torn but years later after I apprenticed with Grandmother she gave me this red cloak.”
Me: “And now it’s been twenty years and surely you must know this was no ordinary wolf?”
B: “No he was not. He was a werewolf and well known to have killed many.” 

Me: “Do you stay away from the wood?” 

B: Blanchette smiles with a toothed grin. “No, I live deep in the forest. Away from the village.”
Me: “But why?”
B: “You see before I leapt from the bed, the wolf managed to nip me. Just a pinch, not a savage bite, but enough to curse me with lycanthropy.”

Me: It was then that I noticed a fine layer of fur on her arms and her pointed ears. She removed her cap and it was then that I saw her true appearance. 

B: She smiled with fine glistening fangs. “Don’t worry I’m not a bad wolf.” She stood and bowed. “Nonetheless, I must leave and tend to my cubs. They get quite rambunctious during the full moon.”
Me: “I was astonished at such a twist in fate. Yet I knew I was looking at a good parent. As a mother what advice do you give your children?”
B:“Never talk to strangers, especially humans.”
Me: A howl outside the cafĂ© prickled my skin. “Another werewolf?”

B: “My mate.” She left and sauntered into the deep wood.

So I concluded my interview with Blanchette.  If you like Little Red Riding Stories I highly recommend The Company of Wolves.

 I hope you enjoyed this brief interview and come by again to meet another fantastical creature from my Bestiary Parlor.

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