Once upon a time there were three little piglets who often got into trouble because they didn’t do what they were told. They liked to play tricks on the other animals, and so their mom dressed them in bright red cloaks to warn others they were coming. There were many of their neighbors who appreciated the warning.
One day, they were racing around the house climbing on furniture and yelling loudly. Their mother, tired of scolding them, called them into the kitchen. She gave them each a treat and handed them a basket to take to their grandmother’s house on the other side of the forest. “Make sure she reads the note inside,” she added.
“What does it say?” the oldest pig asked.
“It says that you are allowed to spend the night, and there are cookies for you all to share for after dinner. Leave them be, and don’t talk to strangers.”
The little pigs, thrilled with the idea of an adventure, easily agreed. They put on their bright red cloaks and made the youngest pig carry the heavy basket. They set out, too excited about the road ahead to even remember to look back and wave goodbye to their mother.
She was not surprised, but waved goodbye until they were out of sight anyway.
The youngest piglet was soon complaining about the weight of the basket. “Why do I have to carry it?” he asked. “You are both older and stronger. I shouldn’t have to carry it at all.”
“We’re older, so we’re in charge,” said the oldest piglet. “Besides, I need to have my hands free to fight off pirates. See, I’ve already found a good stick to use as a sword.”
“Maybe we could take turns,” the middle piglet said. “I’ll carry it on the way home.”
“But it will be empty then. That’s not fair!” The youngest piglet began to squeal in anger, but then he paused. “It would be lighter if we ate some of the cookies now.”
“There isn’t much difference between eating them now or later,” the oldest pig agreed.
“They’re our cookies, and we can eat them when we want to. They’ll be better now when we’re hungry than after dinner when we’re full,” the middle pig said.
The three little pigs opened the basket and ate every cookie, leaving none for their grandmother. At the bottom of the box there was a note. The oldest pig read it out loud to his brothers:
“Here are some cookies for after dinner. Thank you for agreeing to keep the boys for the night.”
The oldest pig let pulled a pen from the pocket of his cloak. “I’ll just cross out ‘here are’ and write ‘we need’, and we’ll have cookies for the walk home tomorrow.” The younger piglets cheered. Feeling full of goodwill, he passed the empty basket to the middle pig to carry, and they continued on their way.
Further on the path, they met a wolf. He smiled sharply and complimented their cloaks. Figuring that meant he was a good guy and not a pirate, they stopped to talk. “Where are you going?” the wolf asked.
“To grandma’s house,” the youngest pig said.
“Where does she live?”
“Three miles south in a large cave,” the middle pig said. This was not true, but the little pigs liked to play tricks on people.
While the others were describing the imaginary cave, the oldest pig pulled a small bottle of dye from a pocket in his cloak and poured it all over the wolf’s bushy tail. The wolf didn’t notice, and soon darted off into the underbrush.
The three little pigs laughed and continued their journey to their grandmother’s house. The squirrels and rabbits darted away at their approach, and so they didn’t get another chance to play any tricks or talk to strangers. They smacked the underbrush with their stick-swords and pretended to see pirates instead. It took them quite a while to arrive at the little brick cottage on the other side of the forest.
The youngest pig, once again holding the basket, handed it to his grandmother without any explanation. She brushed crumbs off the note and read it with a sigh. “You ate the cookies on the way here, didn’t you?”
The oldest pig frowned. “Didn’t you read the note? Mom said to make sure you read it.”
His grandmother raised an eyebrow and looked at him and then his brothers. The youngest hunched his shoulders. “They were for us anyway. We were hungry. It was a long walk, and they made me carry the basket almost the whole way,” he whined. The older piglets scowled at him, but it was too late.
“I think you don’t need anymore sweets tonight then,” their grandmother said. She sent them to go play while she finished bringing in the laundry. When she found them less than an hour later, they were cutting up her wool caps to make pirate beards and scrawling funny faces on the mirrors with marker. She wasn’t sure where they’d found the scissors or the markers.
She gave them rags to wash the mirrors and went to start dinner. When she opened the cupboards to make dinner and had a bowl of flour fall on her head, she called the little pigs in and scolded them. She fed them oatmeal for dinner and sent them to bed early for breaking so many rules. Consequently, they missed all the excitement that happened next.
Over a breakfast of leftover oatmeal, their grandmother told them a strange story of a wolf who visited late in the evening, demanding to be let in or he’d blow the house down.
“With dynamite?” the middle pig asked, looking interested.
“No, by breathing on it,” his grandmother said.
The older two piglets laughed. The youngest looked confused. “But this is a brick house. That wouldn’t work.”
“Of course not,” the oldest piglet said. “He didn’t know anything about anything.”
The youngest pig shrugged and turned back to their grandmother. “What did you do?”
“A local woodsman passed by and chased him away. He said the wolf had an oddly colored tail so he’d recognize it if he saw it again, and he’d keep an eye out for it.”
The three little piglets looked at each other and didn’t say anything.
The grandmother set the piglets to clearing the table and washing and drying the dishes. She gave them each a treat, and then she insisted they put on their red cloaks. She handed the basket to the oldest piglet. “You will take turns holding the basket, and you will not look inside until you get home. Make sure your mom reads the note, and do not talk to strangers.”
When they got home, the youngest piglet handed their mom a basket empty except for a note covered in crumbs. She read the note and sighed. Then she asked them about their visit to see their grandmother. They talked about oatmeal and early bedtimes and didn’t mention the cookies or the wolf or pirate beards or markers or flour at all.
Their mother somehow knew about it anyway. She scolded them for breaking rules, hugged them, and after an evening of their pranks she gave them cabbage soup for dinner and an early bedtime. The next morning they woke up early, well-rested and ready for a new adventure. Their mother made sure they wore their red cloaks to give the neighbors plenty of warning. The little piglets made sure to fill the pockets with useful things.
They lived happily ever after.