People often ask me about the large grey wolf hide I keep hanging above the fireplace. I will admit it does seem rather odd for a young girl to have such a thing, and I assure you that the story behind it is even stranger. A story I have told many times to guests and passers by, and I always get the same look of disbelief, but I assure that this story is as true as they come. Walking to my Grandmother’s house was not a strange occurrence for me I had done many times, only this time would be far different.
I had no idea of the events that were to unfold as I opened the door and entered Grandmother’s cabin. Grandma, are you there? ” I called out as I entered the cabin. I made sure to move cautiously so that I did not hit my knees on anything in the dark. “I am in here darling. ” I heard my Grandmother respond from the bedroom. I lit a lantern, and moved into the room where I found my grandmother lying peacefully in her bed. “Grandmother, I brought you fresh bread and vegetables from the market,” I exclaimed proudly as I removed my red overcoat and tossed it onto the rocking chair in the corner. “I will be back in a few minutes Grandmother. I am going to put on some stew, I hope you are hungry. “Oh, you have no idea, my dear. ”
My Grandmother said in somewhat of raspy whisper. “Grandmother, what is wrong with your voice? ” “Oh nothing my dear, I think I am coming down with a bit of a cold. ” Her voice, although sweeter than I remembered it, sounded forced and uncomfortable. Thinking nothing of it, I resumed my post, slicing vegetables and warming the broth over the fire. One by one as I finished making my cuts, I slid the slices into the broth, first the carrots, followed by onions and celery, and finally finishing with the tomatoes and potatoes.
My stew was coming along nicely so I heated up some water on the side and began to boil tea leaves in a kettle to try and ease my grandmother’s sore throat and relieve her cold. “Red, how is everything going in there sweetie? ” My grandmother queried anxiously from her comfortable perch in the bedroom. “Everything is coming along just fine Grandmother,” I replied, a little irritated. I had no idea why my Grandmother was in such a mood today, I had never seen her be this pushy and hurried. I stirred the stew one more and removed it from the fire in order to let it cool down as I made my grandmother a cup of tea.
I ladled fresh hot soup into one of the bowls on my Grandmother’s counter, and then placed it along with a glass of tea on a wooden tray, and presented it to my Grandmother while she remained in bed in the dimly lit corner of the room. “Thank you my dear,” She said eerily. “I just don’t think I am in the mood for this stew. ” “Grandmother, what are you talking about? ” I exclaimed, “This is your favorite soup, you have made this soup for me since I was a little girl. ” I paused and waited for a response but none was given. “Grandmother? ” I peeped cautiously becoming more and more worried about what was going on. Grandmother? ” I peeped again. Another long pause passed without as much as a whisper from Grandmother. I quickly grabbed the lantern that I had lit earlier and brought it close to the bed, shining as much light as I could on the growingly creepy situation. As I peered into my Grandmother’s eyes, I noticed they looked strange. I looked closer, locked in her gaze, and, without even noticing, I whispered aloud, “Grandma, what big eyes you have. ” “All the better to see you with my dear. ” She answered in a strange tone that was as unfamiliar to me as her lack on interest in her favorite soup.
Stranger still than her tone was the unmistakable largeness of her mouth, and even more so her teeth. I never remembered seeing her teeth that large. “Grandmother, what big teeth you have,” I muttered. “All the better to eat you with,” She replied. I gasped aloud as the shocking realization began to sweep over me. The loving Grandmother I had always known had been replaced by an unusually large wolf. I jumped out of the chair, and made a move for the door when the wolf, moving like lighting, blocked my path. “Why the rush? ” asked the wolf slyly, with an air of arrogance.
He quickly reached out for my throat, but underestimated me as I dodged and crawled through his legs. “You can’t run from me! ” the wolf exclaimed as I used every once of energy I had to sprint through the front door and out into the forest. I could hear the loud crackling of breaking twigs and the scratch of the wolf’s claws against the hard frozen bark as he gave chase. I kept zigging and zagging, trying my hardest to remain a hard target for the wolf, but I could feel his breath getting closer and closer to my neck. Suddenly, in the distance I noticed an outline of a man, walking through the forest.
I turned my sprint in his direction, and pumped my legs with everything they had left. With every step closer to the man, I felt more and more assured that I might yet live to see another day. “Help……Help! ” I yelled at the top of my lungs to the stranger in the distance. He turned around and I could see a lumberjack’s axe in his hands. I ran and ran, until finally I could reach out and grab the man. When I did, I turned around and noticed that the wolf was no longer behind me. “What is it, my dear? ”
The man asked in a calm voice as if not a single thing was out of place in the forest. Sir, a massive wolf has eaten my grandmother, and is chasing me. ” I cried out as if my life depended on it. “Sweetheart, I see no wolf,” The man replied. Right at that exact moment, I noticed a large shadow over the man’s shoulder and looked up to see the wolf soaring through the air out of the trees. The wolf landed perfectly with it’s paws on my shoulders pinning me to the ground, but not attacking, just holding me there. “Oh, that wolf,” The man said calmly without so much as a hint of worry. “You did not tell me that you had met my pet. ” “What are you talking about? ” I sobbed loudly. Do you have any idea how hard it is to train a wolf? ”
The man jested. “Especially to train one to hide people’s relatives and lure little girls out to the forest. ” “My Grandmother is alive? ” I asked immediately. “Of course, she is. I have no taste for bitter old women. ” The man seemed almost pleased with himself as one does when an elaborate plan comes together. “Enough of the small talk. ” The man muttered casually. “Time to get you dressed out and ready for the dinner table. ” I looked up, and watched as the man lined up the axe with my throat, and slowly raised it over his head.
I had no choice but to close my eyes, and prepare myself for the inevitable. Just then, I heard the loud crack of a rifle, and looked up to see a horrifying grimace on the man’s face. I felt a drop hit my face as I noticed the red pool begin to grow on the man’s chest. His strength fading quickly, he dropped the axe. I reached up desperately, and grabbed the axe as it made its descent and caught it firmly in my hands. Rising to my feet I noticed the man lying on the ground clutching his chest and breathing heavily. Without so much as a moment’s hesitation, I drew the axe above my ead, and brought it swiftly down on the man’s neck, ending his suffering and life. I looked around frantically searching for the wolf, for I knew I wasn’t out of danger yet.
Confirming my suspicions, I noticed the wolf running through the woods headed right for me, I raised the axe, ready to defend myself, when I heard another shot from a rifle, and watched as the wolf hit ground and slid to my feet dead. Shocked and relieved, I looked around for my savior. Camouflaged well I couldn’t find anyone. “Hello! ” I shouted into the seemingly empty woods. My heart leapt with joy as I heard a familiar voice call back to me. Over here dear,” I ran toward the sound and looked upon the face with the familiar voice. “Grandma! ” I shouted wildly. “I thought you were dead. ” “Not at all dear, it would take more than an overgrown wolf to get the best of this old lady. ” Surprised at this seemingly impossible turn of events, I went to ask her how this was possible, but all I could muster was a whimper. “I see you are shocked my dear, let me explain,” She said, calm as could be. My Grandmother then told me the story of how the wolf had taken her to a cave and left her there, presumably to take post in her bed.
What the wolf and the hunter had not known was that Grandma was a widow, and had to fend for herself in the woods. She had been hunting this forest since she was a young woman some 25 years ago. That night Grandma and I ate quite a stew complete with wolf meat. Dinner was over and the dishes were clean, and, as Grandma sat by the fire cleaning her rifle, I relaxed after a hectic day in the rocking chair and dozed off under the warmth of my brand new cloak, a long over-sized wolf pelt which I gladly wore over my old red one.