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Change of tactics. 100 word paragraphs of the Wolfie epic...if it works. Once upon a time, a long time ago, perhaps last week, in a place everybody has heard of, but nobody has visited, a Wolf lived in a Dark Forest. His name was Wolfie, and he was not a Big Bad Wolf at all, although sometimes he thought he ought to be. He was averaged size: only Big if you happened to be a small Lamb or Pig, and only Bad if you happened to be a small Lamb or Pig that didn't want to be Wolfie's supper.
For Wolfie was a wolf, and wolves naturally eat lambs and pigs, or anything else small enough to be caught by a not very fierce or agile wolf. Not that Wolfie saw himself like that. He saw himself as a Wolf....the pinnacle of Evolution's scale....a Masterpiece of intelligence, speed, strength and cunning....a muscled Dynamo beneath a sleek fur coat...and being such a Wolf, he deserved every little lamb, pig or goat that he felt like eating. Lord and Master of the Dark Forest, he felt all lambs and piglets should be honoured to be his dinner.
Other inhabitants of the Dark Forest thought differently. Those who were small, and fearful, saw him as a Big Bad Wolf. Others, larger and more occupied with their own concerns, saw him as That Pesky Wolf. And some, the subversives, the disrespectful and the brave, saw him as That Idiot Wolfie, and treated him accordingly. Spiffy the Sparrow was one of these. Wolfie was not impressed with Spiffy. The sparrow was full of fake cockney charm, although Wolfie was pretty sure he'd never been within the sound of the Bow Bells, let alone born there. His jokes were Not Funny.
Spiffy was a fraud, and cheeky, and had an awkward habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time - usually when Wolfie had just failed to catch a juicy lamb, and laughing about it. Spiffy was tremendously amused by Wolfie, and hung around near him, following his activities with interest. Everyone thought Wolfie and Spiffy were good friends. They were wrong. The Dark Forest stretched away into the unimaginable and uninhabited interior. Wolfie didn't bother to go there. At the edge of the Forest, where the trees began, was a Village, containing cottages, a shop and a school.
Surrounding the Village were fields and a small farm, and one or two other isolated cottages, creeping cautiously deeper into the Dark Forest, trailing their little winding paths behind them. Wolfie didn't have much to do with these either. His sights were usually set on the farm and the surrounding fields, because that was where the sheep were sent to graze, and if he were lucky, he could knock off a lamb for his dinner. Unfortunately, he wasn't often lucky, and he frequently ended up either entirely dinnerless, or dining off food he'd scavenged from the dustbins outside the cottages.
In one of the most isolated cottages, hidden in the Dark Forest, at the end of a very small twisty secret path, there lived a Grandmother. Now she was not a Witch, although she was a suitable candidate as she was old, lived alone, and wore her grey-white hair screwed back into a bun, held in place by vicious hairpins, and grew strange plants in her small neatly tended garden. She was just a Grandmother, and being a grandmother, she had a Granddaughter, who, one fine day came to stay in the little cottage on the edge of the Forest.
And Wolfie's life, which had previously been merely hard, rapidly became dangerous, exhausting and impossible. Because this little Granddaughter, besides possessing a nifty little red cloak with a hood that gave her her nickname, was also a lively, resourceful and imaginative girl, who soon became bored with the quiet humdrum life in the cottage, and decided to find a Cause to occupy her. Listening one day to the grown-ups talking about That Pesky Wolf, she decided to set up a Vigilante group to Rid The Forest Of Wolves, It became her Mission, and she set about it with great zeal.
Early one fine morning, Wolfie met Spiffy, hopping about in a rather half-hearted fashion, looking for worms. Spiffy looked up and saw him "Wotcha, Wolfie! ‘Ow yer doin' then?" Spiffy said. Wolfie sighed. "Not so good, Spiffy, not so good. Times are hard for us Wolves". "True, true. It's the same for us sparrers, too. Can't seem to find the worms these days." Wolfie looked at him sourly and said: "You should try getting up earlier, Spiffy. You know what they say, the early bird catches the worm." Spiffy looked horrified. "Nah! No way! ‘S old wives' tales, that is."
It's all miffs, this gettin' up early business. My ole mum was full of it - f'rever tryin' to chuck me outta the nest! Tellin' me I was a big boy now, an' could get me own breakfust. Just so's she could go off larkin' with them blackbirds down at the King's countin' house, an you know wot ‘appened to them! That ole King, ‘e didn't just like singin' abaht ‘is sixpences, ‘e was pretty fond of blackbird pie too! Dint do my ole mum any good at all gettin' up early! So ‘ere I am. Pore little orfling sparrer! ‘Scriminal!"
"Well, I'm so hungry, I'd eat a worm if I could find one." said Wolfie. "Do you know how long it is since I ate any lamb? So long, I can't remember the taste! Ever since Little Miss Riding Hood moved in with her Gran! I don't know what she's done, but she's got everyone very anti-wolf these days. Farmer's wife threw a bucket of water over me only yesterday, and all I was doing was looking over the hedge at the ducks!" Spiffy sniggered wickedly. "Shame, shame, Wolfie! Yer'll just ‘ave to change yer eatin' ‘abits, then, won't yer?"
"What, turn vegetarian! I haven't fought my way to the top of the food chain only to turn vegetarian because some stroppy little girl doesn't like me eating lamb! It's right wolves should eat lamb, it's only natural - look at my teeth!" He bared them invitingly at Spiffy, who shuddered slightly and backed away. "Yeah, well. Yer'll ‘ave to get a bit clever then, won't yer? An' maybe visit a dentist!" "What do you mean, clever?" asked Wolfie, deciding to ignore the insult. "Well, stands ter reason, if she's got everyone anti-wolf, they won't be leaving lambs abaht for yer.
So you'll ‘avter get a bit clever, learn to trick ‘em away, instead of just nickin' ‘em from the fields, won't yer?" Wolfie thought about this. "You might be right. It shouldn't be too hard - you can fool most people most of the time. Mind you, I reckon it'll be easier to fool all the farmers and farmboys than that Miss Riding Hood. What are girls coming to!" "Easy nuff! ‘Ave you seen who's mindin' the sheep now? Only the kid who fell asleep under the ‘aystack, an' let the sheep in the meadow an' the cows in the corn!"
Spiffy cocked his head knowingly, and looked at Wolfie sideways from his beady little black eye. "Anyway," he said, "must be off. People ter see, fings ter do, yer know! S'pose I'll ‘ave ter try singin' fer me supper like wotsisname." "Who?" "Wozzname - little boy, sings awful songs, an' sticks ‘is thumb in pies an' pulls outta plum an' stuff! You know!" Wolfie shook his head, "Never heard of him." Spiffy grinned. "Wouldn't suit yer, anyway. Wot you need is a nice bitta mutton. See yer around!" And with that he flew away, leaving Wolfie thoughtful and still very hungry.
Now the village on the edge of the Dark Forest had the usual number of inhabitants - a Shopkeeper, a Farmer, a Farmer's Wife, and so on. Several of these inhabitants had children, who attended the village school and who became friends with Little Red Riding Hood - or perhaps didn't, for she was not a very popular little girl. One of the things that divided her from the other little girls was her inability to see one boy, Peter, as the Hero of all Young Maidens' dreams. Most of the girls thought Peter was the most wonderful boy in the world.
Not that there was much competition in their world, the alternatives being fat and tearful, like Georgy-Porgy, small, as was Wee Willie Winkie, or light-fingered, like Tom the Piper's son. Peter, however, had the advantage of being nearly Grown-up - at least he had left school and had a Real Job. Red Riding Hood became unpopular when she pointed out Peter was "advised" to leave school, as he was making little progress with his studies because he was amazingly stupid, and his Real Job amounted to guarding the sheep in Farmer's fields from the ravages of Wolfie. Not really a Hero.
The other girls in the school, led by Bo-Peep, remained faithful to their Hero and took great exception to Red Riding Hood's comments. They took their revenge by pouring scorn on her ideas for a Vigilante group, and laughed at her plans, her clothes and anything else they could think of. Peter, unfortunately, was unutterably stupid, and was also extremely lazy and unwilling to exert himself. He was, as Spiffy had noted, quite content to lie under the haystack, fast asleep, while the sheep escaped from the meadow and the cows got into the corn. His parents despaired of him.
On this particular morning, Farmer sent Peter to mind the sheep in a field close to the Dark Forest, with strict instructions to call for help if the Big Bad Wolf should appear. Farmer was busy tidying the contents of his old barn down the lane, within call, in case Peter should see the wolf, but not actually in view of the sheep in the field. Peter knew he was close by, and was determined not to let himself down by falling asleep. Wolfie, loafing at the edge of the Forest, got bored watching Peter's efforts to keep himself awake.
While waiting for Peter to fall asleep so he could try to steal a lamb for his dinner, Wolfie began to explore the edge of the woods, and found a large hollow tree that he had never noticed before. It was large enough to hold a wolf, and he scrambled in and out of it several times, before a Brilliant Idea struck. Maybe Spiffy was right. Maybe trickery was the answer. The hollow tree might prove to be just what he needed. He scrambled in just one more time to perfect his plan, when he heard Spiffy in the branches.
Wolfie waited until Spiffy came close, then he jumped out of his hiding place shouting "Boo!" at the top of his voice. Spiffy shrieked in alarm, and fell off his branch: "Aaaah! Help! It wasn't me! I din't do nuffin'! Oh, it's you Wolfie! Wot're you playin' at? That was a stupid trick! You frightened the life outta me!" "Ah-ha, Spiffy! I'm playing clever, just like you suggested." said Wolfie, "Look what I've just found." He showed Spiffy his hollow tree. Spiffy was not impressed. "Yeah. Right. Really useful. You can jump out an' frighten people all day. Great! Wonderful!"
"I've been thinking about what you said, about tricking people. I've found a way to trick silly sheep." Wolfie explained. "Wot? ‘Ow yer gonna fool sheep wiv a ‘ollow tree?" "It's not just a Hollow Tree, it's a Hiding Place" Wolfie said patiently Spiffy laughed sarcastically. "You're goin' to hide in the tree til a sheep walks past, then jump out and frighten it to death? Get real, Wolfie! All that'll lead to is a hollow dead tree, full of hollow dead wolf! Sheep don't go taking their constitutionals through the Forest, yer know. They're in that field over there."
"No! You don't understand. My plan is much more cunning. Listen, I'll explain. First I'll hide...." "Ain't got time, mate! You reckon you can fool sheep? Go an' do it, then - good luck ter yer! I go betta fings ter do! Jumpin' out an' fri'tning innercent passers-by ter deaf! Cheek!" Spiffy flew off, grumbling. Wolfie shrugged. He knew his plan would work. It was brilliant. He'd have the best lamb dinners for months. All it needed was nerves of steel (which Wolfie possessed), an exceptionally stupid sheep-minder (Peter was just what he needed), and a ready supply of sheep.
The plan was this: Wolfie knew, from painful experience, that if he sneaked into the field where the sheep were grazing, they'd begin their silly anti-wolf noises, Peter would cry wolf, the Farmer would rush out with his shotgun - bang! And Wolfie would end up with a pelt full of pellets and no dinner. But, Wolfie reasoned, sheep were as stupid as Peter. If they got used to him wandering around the field without hurting them, they'd stop the anti-wolf hysteria and ignore him. Then he could grab one, leg it away to the hollow tree, and lie low.
Peter would then have to explain to the Farmer why there was a missing sheep, how the mysterious wolf had disappeared, and why he hadn't cried wolf in time. Wolfie could then eat his dinner in comfort. It all depended on the sheep getting used to seeing him in the field. He practised running to his hollow tree and leaping into it several times, then decided the Time Had Come. He sauntered nonchalantly into the field. One or two sheep looked up at him and baa'd nervously but politely, and carried on grazing. This was not good enough for Wolfie.
Wolfie needed a bit of action – some noise, some hysteria, sheep milling about the place, raising dust and causing distractions. He charged at the sheep, shouting: "It's Wolfie! Here I come, you stupid sheep! I'm going to eat you up!" A small frightened sheep started the panic: "Maaaa! There's a Wolf! Maaaaa! Maaa!..." and the rest of the flock joined in – just like sheep. Peter heard the noise and saw the sheep running down the field towards him, so he frantically leapt into action – shouting "Wolf" at the top of his voice. The Farmer came running, shotgun at the ready.
Peter was so busy shouting that he didn't notice Wolfie double back on himself and disappear into the Dark Forest. "Right, boy! Good work! Where is he, then?" Farmer asked. Peter looked round. There was no wolf, only sheep milling about hysterically. "Um…I don't know, I saw a wolf, chasing the sheep…er" The Farmer looked about him. There was no wolf. "Are you sure? I can't see anything. Where did you see it?" In desperation, Peter waved vaguely towards the Dark Forest. "I did! I did! A big black wolf. It was huge, with red eyes, and ‘normous teeth… and…
The Farmer marched up to the edge of the Forest, and poked suspiciously in the undergrowth. Wolfie in his hollow tree, held his breath. Now was the Moment of Truth – would his hollow tree hide him? The Farmer stumped about, cursing idiot boys under his breath, but found nothing. He went down the field , boxing Peter's ears anyway, just to keep in practice: "Well, keep watching, boy. We don't want to lose any sheep, do we?" He went back to his barn. Peter sat under a tree, rubbing his sore ears. The sheep went back to grazing. Quiet reigned.
Wolfie climbed out of his tree, feeling pleased with himself. His master plan had worked. Now for the next stage. The second attempt went very much as the first one. The sheep didn't get too hysterical, but the Farmer did start to get cross. The third attempt was even better. The sheep took no notice of Wolfie until he was nearly on top of them, and only ambled gently out of the way when he threatened to chase them. Peter jumped up and down, shouting himself hoarse until the Farmer came, in a very bad temper. "Wolf! Wolf!" shouted Peter.
"I see no Wolf! Are you sure there's a wolf, boy? Are you sure it's a wolf, not some silly joke? Maybe a good thrashing will stop you seeing things!" Peter burst into tears, "I did see it! I did! It was huge, big as this…" he stretched his arms out dramatically – "it must be a magic wolf! It comes into the field and disappears! Huge…big red mouth…'normous teeth…" his description faltered as Farmer clipped him smartly around the ears, threatening him with painful punishments if he dared cry wolf again, and stalked back to his barn, slamming the door.
Wolfie, safe in his tree, sniggered. The master plan was even better than he anticipated. Not only would he get his dinner, but Peter was getting the blame. He ‘d just have a little rest before getting his dinner. Ah Wolfie. Didn't you ever hear of the advice, strike while the iron's hot? Red Riding Hood and Bo-Peep walked past the field on their way home. It wasn't actually Bo-Peep's way home, but she knew Peter was on duty in the field, and the thought of seeing him outweighed the tedium of the longer walk and Red Riding Hood's company.
Seeing her tearstained hero, BoPeep immediately took him off for a walk, so he could tell her all his problems, while Red Riding Hood kindly took his place, hoping, at last, to see the mysterious Big Bad Wolf, who terrorized the neighbourhood. Wolfie, refreshed by his nap, decided to get his dinner. He bounced down the field saying "Hello muttonheads! It's me again, your old mate Wolfie! Whose coming home for dinner then?" The sheep looked at him with mild interest, but took little notice. Red Riding Hood jumped to her feet, pulling her trusty toy gun from her pocket.
"Hey, Wolfie!" she shouted, "you leave those sheep alone, or I'll shoot you!" and she waved her gun at him, accidentally letting it off with a little pop. Wolfie was so surprised he fell over. Spiffy, flying overhead at that precise moment, saw him fall and shrieked out "Oh no! She's murdered Wolfie!" and poor Wolfie, hearing him, believed for a moment that he really had been shot and ran limping back into the Forest, forgetting all about his tree. Red Riding Hood followed him and found his hollow tree. "So that's how he did it," she said to herself.
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