Once there were three billy goat brothers named Gruff. They ate grass, and it took a lot of grass to feed just one billy goat, let alone three. And so, there came a time when they needed to move on from the meadow where they were and find a place where the grass wasn’t quite so close-cropped.
To their great fortune, they quickly spotted a green hill in the distance. It looked covered in lovely, tasty, long, green grass. “Hooray!” they cried and headed towards the hill.
Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap went their hooves on the road. They paused by a delicious looking field, only to be chased away by a farmer. Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap they traveled on.
They marched through a town and nibbled on un-tasty laundry and were shooed away from a market. They marched around a lake and snacked on the wispy grass at the water’s edge.
At last, they were almost to the hill. The only thing standing between the three hungry billy goats Gruff and their meadow of plenty was a long, narrow bridge. They could only cross the bridge one at a time.
“Perhaps I’m to large for such a small bridge,” the oldest billy goat Gruff said. “See how narrow it is!”
“It is terribly high above the river,” said the second billy goat Gruff. “What if we slip and fall. It is a very narrow bridge, after all.”
“Perhaps we can find another meadow,” said the oldest billy goat Gruff.
“One without a bridge,” the second billy goat agreed.
They turned around and started down the road. Trip, trap, trip, trap… “Wait!” said the youngest billy goat Gruff. “I will test the bridge and see if it is safe. I am small and the bridge is small. If it is safe for me, then it is probably safe for the second billy goat Gruff. If it is safe for him, then it is probably safe for our oldest brother.”
The oldest billy goat Gruff nodded. “I will fish you out of the river if the bridge breaks.”
The second billy goat Gruff nodded. “I will fish you out of the river if you fall.”
The youngest billy goat Gruff shook his head. “You will not need to fish me out of the river at all. Watch and see.” And he turned and started across the bridge.
Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap went his hooves on the bridge. He was almost across and the bridge had not collapsed, and he had not fallen. And then, he heard a voice roaring from beneath the bridge.
“Who’s that trip-trapping on my bridge?”
“It’s me, the littlest billy goat Gruff. I’m crossing the bridge so I can go to the meadow and eat the lovely, green grass until I’m fat. Who are you?”
“I’m the troll who lives under this bridge. I will eat you up for my supper.”
“Oh, don’t eat me. I’m so small and hungry and skinny. Even my brothers who are coming behind me are larger than I am. And they’re hungry and skinny too. Maybe you should wait to eat us until after we’ve eaten all the tasty-looking grass in the meadow. Then we’ll be nice and fat and a much better meal,” the little billy goat said.
The troll growled. “I’m hungry and don’t want to wait any longer. Besides, why should I believe that you have brothers or even that you’re small and skinny? I am going to gobble you up now!”
And the troll climbed out from beneath the bridge and stood in the middle of the bridge between the youngest, smallest billy goat gruff and the green hill full of lovely, tasty grass. The little billy goat stared at the troll. It was barely as tall as his little knees. How did it expect to eat him?
“If you don’t move, I’ll toss you aside with my horns. You’ll land in the river and have no one to fish you out,” said the youngest billy goat Gruff.
“I’m going to gobble you up,” roared the troll, and it charged at the little billy goat.
Head down, the billy goat waited. When the troll was close enough, he tossed him over the edge of the narrow bridge with his horns. The troll landed in the river with a splash. His older brothers, waiting behind him on the tall riverbank cheered.
And the youngest, littlest billy goat Gruff trip-trapped over the rest of the narrow bridge and into the long, green grass. With his brave example to follow, it wasn’t long before he heard his brothers crossing the bridge.
Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap his middle brother joined him. Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap came their oldest brother. The three billy goats gruff ate the tasty, green grass until they were fat. And if they haven’t eaten all the lovely, tasty, long, green grass yet, then they’re there still.