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Three Billy Goats Gruff

Three Billy Goats Gruff

Snippity-snip, snap and swill,
The tale begins upon a hill…

The air was crisp and cool. The sky was an endless blue. The green meadow grass swayed in a gentle breeze. And Big Billy Goat Gruff was bored.

“I am tired of eating in the same old field every day,” he told his brothers. “I want to eat in the meadow on the far side of the stream.

“Ohhh no, Big Billy Goat,” said little brother. “We cannot walk through the stream for it is too deep and too fast. We would be swept away!”

“And we cannot walk over the bridge,” said middle brother, “because there is a big troll under the bridge who will gobble us up if we try to cross it.”

“I am not afraid of the troll,” said Big Billy Goat Gruff, tossing his bold head with the huge round horns. He stamped the ground – once, twice, thrice – with his big hooves. “Let him try to eat me! We shall see who wins the fight!”

“But we won’t be there to see,” said Middle Billy Goat Gruff practically, “Because Little Billy Goat Gruff and I will have been eaten.”

“Not so!” cried Big Billy Goat Gruff, dancing around the meadow excitedly, his large hooves making holes in the mossy turf under his feet. “I have a plan!”

The three billy goats put their heads together and whispered for a long time. Finally they broke the huddle and all three of them trotted across the wide meadow to the narrow bridge that crossed the fast-flowing, deep stream in the ravine dividing their meadow and the one on the other side.

Taking a deep breath for courage, Little Billy Goat Gruff stepped onto the rough wooden bridge. Trip-trap, trip-trap. His little hooves made the bridge spring up and down a little as he moved carefully forward.

A pair of huge round eyes peered out from the darkness under the bridge. “Who’s that trip-trapping over my bridge?” rumbled the troll. A big hairy arm reached out from the darkness and huge fingers gripped the rail beside Little Billy Goat Gruff.

“It’s just me,” said Little Billy Goat Gruff in a very small voice. “I am the teeny-tiniest Billy Goat Gruff, all skin and bones, going over to the meadow to make myself fat.”

A second huge hand joined the first on the rail. “I am coming to eat you,” said the troll, his voice rumbling so deep that it shook the whole bridge.

“Eat me?” asked Little Billy Goat Gruff, shaking from head to toe, “I am too little. Not even worth a bite for a big troll like you. You should wait for my middle brother to come. He is much bigger than me.”

This made sense to the troll. Why go to all that bother for one small bite of Billy Goat when a bigger Billy Goat was on its way?

“Gerroff my bridge then,” the troll roared, slipping back down into the darkness underneath. “And don’t come back here until you are big and fat!”

“Yes sir,” said Little Billy Goat Gruff, trotting off the far side of the bridge in triumph and heading up into the wide-green meadow above. The plan was working!

When Little Billy Goat Gruff reached the top of the hill, Middle Billy Goat Gruff stepped onto the rough wooden bridge. Trap-rap, trap-rap. His medium-sized hooves made the boards of the bridge spring and sway under his weight as he moved forward.

A pair of huge round eyes peered out from the darkness under the bridge. “Who’s that trap-rapping over my bridge?” grumbled the troll loudly. Hairy arms reached out from the darkness and huge fingers gripped the rail beside Middle Billy Goat Gruff.

“It’s me,” said Middle Billy Goat Gruff in a very medium-sized voice. “I am the Middle Billy Goat Gruff, all skin and bones from the winter. I am going over to the meadow to make myself fat.”

Two blazing troll eyes over a long, twisted nose glared at him through the rails of the bridge. “I am coming to eat you,” said the troll, his voice rumbling so deep that it shook the whole bridge.

“Eat me?” asked Middle Billy Goat Gruff with a laugh. “Why do you want to eat me? I am all skinny from the winter. Barely two bites for a big troll like you. And my bones will get stuck in your throat and make it feel all scratchy and horrible. You should wait for my big brother to come. He is huge! Much bigger than me.”

This made good sense to the troll. Why go to all that bother for one bony, medium sized Billy Goat when a bigger Billy Goat was on its way?

“Gerroff my bridge then,” the troll roared, slipping back down into the darkness underneath. “And don’t come back here until you are big and fat!”

“I’m off then,” said Middle Billy Goat Gruff, trotting to the far side of the bridge in triumph. He headed up to the wide-green meadow above and joined Little Billy Goat Gruff at the top of the hill. Then both of the brothers peered down at the bridge to see what Big Billy Goat Gruff was going to do.

As they watched, Big Billy Goat Gruff stepped onto the rough wooden bridge. Stomp-tromp, stomp-tromp. His huge hooves made the boards bend and give protesting creaks under his massive weight as he moved forward.

A pair of huge round eyes peered out from the darkness under the bridge. “Who’s that stomp-tromping over my bridge?” roared the troll. He sprang out onto the top of the bridge in a single leap. Big Billy Goat Gruff narrowed his eyes at the large, hairy troll. “It’s me,” he said, lowering his huge head so the curved horns were pointed at the troll. Then he charged.

Wham! Big Billy Goat Gruff slammed into the troll. “Arrrgh!” screamed the troll as it was lifted clean off its feet and thrown way, way, way up into the air. The troll landed head down on the bridge, making it shake and rattle from top to bottom. Big Billy Goat Gruff stomped and tromped on the troll with his huge hooves until the troll was smashed flat on the wood boards. Then he tossed him into the raging stream with his huge horns and the troll sailed down the ravine and out of sight, never to be seen again in those parts.

And Big Billy Goat Gruff went up the hill to join his brothers in the meadow. All summer long they ate the lovely green grass in both meadows until they all grew quite fat. And they walked back and forth over the troll-free bridge whenever they wanted.

Snippity-snip, snap and snout,
This little tale has been told out!

We were having a sleepover at my house that Saturday night.  Me and my four best friends; Alex, Bianca, Sabrina, and Lacey.   We made cookies and watched movies and did our hair and makeup.  By midnight, we’d run out of planned activities.  It was time to improvise. 
      “Let’s try that Bloody Mary thing,” Lacey suggested. 
      Alex, who was sitting crossed-legged on her sleeping bag, said:  “What’s the Bloody Mary thing?” 
     Sabrina, who was lounging on top of her own sleeping bag on the far side of the room, said:  “Come on, Alex.  Everyone knows the Bloody Mary thing!  You stand in front of the bathroom mirror with a lighted candle and say the witch’s name three times.  Then her ghost appears, looking just the way she did when she died; all horrible and bloody with scars all over her face!” 
      “She sounds gorgeous.  Just why, exactly, do you think I would want to see the ghost of Bloody Mary?” Alex asked skeptically. 
     “Why not?” I said from my place on the pull-out couch in the living room.  “I’ve always wanted to see a ghost! It could be fun.  Besides, I’ve heard she can tell your future if you summon her correctly.” 
      “And if you don’t summon her correctly – or if she’s in a bad mood – the ghost of Bloody Mary will rip your eyes out and leave your face horribly scarred,” Lacey said dramatically.  “Or you will be found dead with claw marks all over your face and body.” 
       “Or you could be trapped in the mirror with Bloody Mary for eternity,” Sabrina added. 
      “Ooo, that sounds like fun!  Disfigurement, death or entrapment.  What a fabulous way to spend eternity,” Alex said sarcastically.  “Where do I sign up?”
      “It’s a load of crap,” Bianca said as she tried to balance on one foot on the arm of the pull-out couch.  “It’s just a story told to scare little kids.  Bloody Mary isn’t real.” 
      “I’ve heard its real,” I said.  “My friend Katie tried it once and saw the ghost in the mirror.  Bloody Mary told Kate that when she grows up she is going to become a research doctor who cures cancer and saves lots of live and wins a Nobel Prize.”
      “Hogwash,” said Bianca dismissively. 
      “There’s only one way to know for sure,” said Sabrina.  “Come on!  Let’s try it.” 
       I ran to the supply closet to get a candle and matches, and all of us, even Alex and the disbelieving Bianca crowded into our large downstairs bathroom.  
     “This is a bad idea,” Alex said nervously as we lit the candle. 
      “Not it’s not!  It’s the perfect thing to do at a sleepover,” I said.  “Like telling ghost stories.  Only this one might be true.  Here, you hold the candle.”  I thrust the flickering candle into Alex’s hand.    
     Once the candle was lit, Bianca turned all the bathroom lights.  As we stood before the bathroom mirror, I told everyone the story of Bloody Mary. 
      Bloody Mary was the name of an evil witch that live back in Colonial times.  The witch used her black arts to make her young again by killing a bunch of young girls in her village.  When the villagers discovered Bloody Mary was behind the murders, they burned her at the stake.  Bloody Mary used mirrors to help her locate and enchant her victims, and she cursed all mirrors when the villagers executed her, so that anyone chanting her name three times would be pulled into the mirror with her to spend eternity in the flames! 
      By the time I finished the eerie tale, all my friends were looking a little nervous.  But we were excited too.  Maybe we’d see a real ghost!  The candle in Alex’s hand flickered a moment and then steadied as the five of us chanted Bloody Mary’s name 3 times in front of the bathroom mirror.
     I held my breath, not know what to expect, and wondered what Bloody Mary might say about my future.  Maybe I would marry Robbie when I graduated from college!  (Robbie was a cute boy that I liked in my science class.) 
     The five of us waited tensely as we gazed without blinking at our faces reflected in the glass.  The only sound was the ticking of the little wind-up clock my Mom kept in the bathroom.  I strained my eyes, trying to see through the mirror into some nether realm that I both dreaded and hoped might be there.    
     Finally, Bianca said:  “Nothing’s happening.  Let’s just get out of here.”
     She reached for the doorknob and turned it.   The door wouldn’t open. 
     The door wasn’t locked when we started the ritual.  I knew this for a fact because I checked the door in case we needed to make a quick getaway.  After all, there was the possibility – however faint – that it might not be just a scary story told to frighten little kids. 
      I rushed to the door, pushed Bianca aside, and unlocked it.  But when I tried the knob, the door wouldn’t open.  Something… or did I mean someone?…was holding it shut.  
     Suddenly, Alex screamed and pointed at the mirror.  I whirled away from the locked door and saw a glowing white figure staring at us from the mirror.  Her face was twisted with malice and flames seemed to flicker around her.  In one hand she held a bloody knife!  It was Bloody Mary. 
        We all screamed and my friends backed away from the mirro
r; all but Alex who stood frozen by the bathroom sink with the candle still clutched in her shaking hand.  All of a sudden, Bloody Mary lunged forward, her knife-hand coming straight out of the mirror and striking Alex fiercely in the face.  Long scratches appeared on Alex’s cheeks and she stagger backward with a gasp of pain; hands coming up to protect her face.   A wave of heat and anger poured out of the mirror in a blast that blew us head over heals.  My forehead struck the wall and I felt senseless to the floor. 
      I woke in darkness a few moments later and groped desperately for the light switch.  When I turned it on, I found Lacey unconscious beside me and Alex blacked-out beside the bathroom sink with deep scratches all over her arms and legs and face.
       Sabrina was huddled sobbing behind the toilet.  I pulled her out, and gasped when I saw she was also covered in scratches.  She’d been standing too close to the mirror and the ghost had knifed her too. 
      I shook Lacey and Alex awake and the four of us clung together weeping and shaking with fear.  “I told you this was a bad idea,” Alex gasped. 
        My eyes widened suddenly when I realized there were only four of us crouching on the bathroom floor. 
      “Where’s Bianca?” I cried in alarm.  I leapt to my feet and stared at the bathroom mirror, but it only reflected the wall and my frightened face.  Oh dear lord, what if Bianca was pulled into the mirror with Bloody Mary?  Would we ever see her again?  What would I tell her parents? 
      “Try the door again,” Alex gasped, lunging forward to grab the knob.  It opened immediately.  Apparently, the door was released from the lock spell as soon as Bloody Mary disappeared. 
       We ran to the living room, hoping to find Bianca huddled in her sleeping bag.  She wasn’t there.  We searched all over the downstairs for her.   I was about ready to wake my parents and confess the whole stupid mess to them when Lacey gave a yell from the laundry room.  Bianca was lying unconscious beside the washing machine with blood and scratches all over her face.    The ghost had scratched a message deep into the flesh of her right forearm.  It said: “I AM REAL.”     
     My stomach lurched and I wanted to throw up when I saw Bloody Mary’s message.  Instead, I knelt down and shook my friend’s shoulder, trying to wake her up.  After nearly a minute of calling her name, Bianca finally opened her eyes.  She groaned and rolled to a sitting position. 
      “What happened to you?” I asked, dabbing at her cuts with a hand towel from the bathroom. 
       “After that…that horrible ghost knocked the four of you down, it grabbed me by the hair and pulled me through the mirror,” Bianca said with a shudder.  “I felt something scratching my face and hands, and I tried to fight back but I was knocked to the ground and dragged along a cold floor by my hair.  The ghost tossed me into a dark room.  I couldn’t see anything, but I felt the ghost clutched my arm and there was this terrible pain.  That’s all I remember until I heard your voices and the light came on.” 
      She saw the look on our faces and glanced down at her sore arm.  She went so white I thought she would faint again, so I pushed her head between her knees until the dizziness passed. 
      We cleaned up the blood on Sabrina and Alex and Bianca and then the five of us huddled in the living room for the rest of the night; too scared to sleep.  We made up some story in the morning for my parents about bumping into the furniture while playing a game to explain the scratches on my three friends.  No one showed them the message on Bianca’s arms. 
     We’ve had other sleepovers since that night, but my friends and I never tried the Bloody Mary ritual again. 

Copyrighted content: This is an original story by S.E. Schlosser, who owns the copyright. It may not be reproduced, reprinted or used in any other way without the permission of the author. Teachers may link to or photocopy this story as part of their classwork.

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.