There was once a mother goat who had five little kids, and these kids were so dear to her that nothing could have been dearer.
One day the mother goat was going to the forest to gather some wood for her fire. “Now, my little kids,” said she, “you must be very careful while I am away. Bar the door behind me, and open it to nobody until I return. If the wicked wolf should get in he would certainly eat you.”
The little kids promised they would be careful, and then their mother started out, and as soon as she had gone they barred the door behind her.
Now it so happened the old wolf was on the watch that day. He saw the mother goat trotting away toward the forest, and as soon as she was out of sight, he crept down to the house and knocked at the door — rap-tap-tap!
“Who is there?” called the little kids within.
“It is I, your mother, my dears,” answered the wolf in his great rough voice. “Open the door and let me in.”
But the kids were very clever little kids. “No, no,” they cried. “You are not our mother. Our mother has a soft, sweet voice, and your voice is harsh and rough. You must be the wolf.”
When the wolf heard this he was very angry. He battered and battered at the door, but they would not let him in. Then he turned and galloped away as fast as he could until he came to a dairy. There he stuck his head in at the window, and the woman had just finished churning her butter.
“Woman, woman,” cried the wolf, “give me some butter. If you do not I will come in and upset your churn.”
The woman was frightened. At once she gave him a great deal of butter — all he could eat.
The wolf swallowed it down, and then he ran back to the goat’s house and knocked at the door — rat-tat-tat!
“Who is there?” asked the little goats within.
“Your mother, my dears,” answered the wolf, and now his voice was very soft and smooth because of the butter he had swallowed.
“It is our mother,” cried the little kids, and they were about to open the door, but the littlest kid of all, who was a very wise little kid, stopped them.
“Wait a bit,” said he. “It sounds like our mother’s voice, but before we open the door we had better be very, very sure it is not the wolf.” Then he called through the door, “Put your paws up on the windowsill.”