Most worthy of praise Were the virtuous ways Of Little Red Riding Hood’s Ma, And no one was ever More cautious and clever Than Little Red Riding Hood’s Pa. They never misled, For they meant what they said, And would frequently say what they meant, And the way she should go They were careful to show, And the way that they showed her, she went. For obedience she was effusively thanked, And for anything else she was carefully spanked. It thus isn’t strange That Red Riding Hood’s range Of virtues so steadily grew, That soon she won prizes Of different sizes, And golden encomiums, too! As a general rule She was head of her school, And at six was so notably smart That they gave her a cheque For reciting “The Wreck Of the Hesperus,” wholly by heart! And you all will applaud her the more, I am sure, When I add that this money she gave to the poor. At eleven this lass Had a Sunday-school class, At twelve wrote a volume of verse, At thirteen was yearning For glory, and learning To be a professional nurse. To a glorious height The young paragon might Have grown, if not nipped in the bud, But the following year Struck her smiling career With a dull and a sickening thud! 1902 A. D. (I have shed a great tear at the thought of her pain, And must copy my manuscript over again!) Not dreaming of harm, One day on her arm A basket she hung. It was filled With jellies, and ices, And gruel, and spices, And chicken-legs, carefully grilled, And a savory stew, And a novel or two She’d persuaded a neighbor to loan, And a hot-water can, And a Japanese fan, And a bottle of eau-de-cologne, And the rest of the things that your family fill Your room with, whenever you chance to be ill! She expected to find Her decrepit but kind Old Grandmother waiting her call, But the visage that met her Completely upset her: It wasn’t familiar at all! With a whitening cheek She started to speak, But her peril she instantly saw:— Her Grandma had fled, And she’d tackled instead Four merciless Paws and a Maw! When the neighbors came running, the wolf to subdue, He was licking his chops, (and Red Riding Hood’s, too!) This shows the bad wolf that came out of the wood, And proved by his actions to be robbin’ Hood. At this terrible tale Some readers will pale, And others with horror grow dumb, And yet it was better, I fear, he should get her: Just think what she might have become! For an infant so keen Might in future have been A woman of awful renown, Who carried on fights For her feminine rights As the Mare of an Arkansas town. She might have continued the crime of her ’teens, And come to write verse for the Big Magazines! The Moral: There’s nothing much glummer Than children whose talents appall: One much prefers those who are dumber, But as for the paragons small, If a swallow cannot make a summer It can bring on a summary fall!