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The Three Billy Goats Gruff

2006-07-14 00:21

  Not so very long ago there were three billy goats. Their name was Gruff. To tell you the truth, one was gruffer than the other and the third was the gruffest of all.

  They lived all summer in the mountains, climbing from rock to rock and grazing in the high pastures. In winter they sheltered in the valley, where the snow was not so thick and the wind was not so sharp. There they slept in a barn and ate mangolds and mash.

  The Billy Goats Gruff were not happy in the valley. By springtime they were bored and thin. They longed to leap up the mountain crags and to find the sweet summer grass.

  'Is it time yet?' asked the smallest Billy Goat Gruff, in a voice like a tractor coughing three fields away.

  'We must wait for the snow to clear from the mountain pass,' said the second Billy Goat Gruff, in voice as rough as a quarry stone cracking.

  'It's time,' said the gruffest of the Billy Goats Gruff, and his voice was as deep as dynamites.

  They wore bells on collars round their necks so that they would not get lost. One bell sounded high, 'ting-tang'. One bell sounded low, 'ding-dong'. And one bell sounded very deep indeed, 'bong-bang'.

  On their way up to the mountain they had to cross a stream. there was only one bridge. It was narrow and wooden and very high above the water. There lived an ugly troll beneath the bridge. His eyes were as big as cabbages and just as green. His nose was as long as rhubarb and just as red.

  This is troll had a fearful reputation. He was greedier than a cow in clover. No one was allowed to cross the bridge without permission, but no one ever got permission. He ate them all.

  The first to reach the bridge was the smallest Billy Goat Gruff. He did not mind at all how high the bridge was or how narrow.

  'Trip-trap, trip-trap, trip-trap,' went his hooves on the wooden planks as he trotted over the bridge.

  'Ting-tang, ting-tang,' went the bell around his neck.

  'Who is that tripping over my bridge?' shrieked the troll, poking his nose out from under the planks. His eyes turned yellow like a cabbage gone bad and his long nose shook with anger.

  'Billy Goat Gruff,' said the smallest billy goat, coughing like a tractor three fields away.

  'Where do you think you are going?' said the troll.

  'I'm going up the mountain to find the summer grass,' replied the billy goat.

  'Oh, no, you are not!' said the troll. 'I'm going to gobble you up for my breakfast.'

  'Please don't do that,' said the billy goat. 'I'm only the smallest Billy Goat Gruff. I'm much too thin for you to eat. I'll taste no better than a sack of sour apples. Why not wait until the second Billy Goat Gruff comes along? You will find him much more tasty.'

  The troll thought about this. He did not want to waste his time on sour apples if there were better things to come.

  'Very well,' he grumbled. 'You may cross over. Go and get fatter and come back tomorrow.'

  The smallest Billy Goat Gruff went skipping off to the mountains, very well pleased with himself.

  Soon enough, along came the second Billy Goat Gruff. He jumped on the bridge and started to walk across.

  'Trip-trop-trap, trip-trop-trap, trip-trop-trap,' went his hooves on the wooden planks as he clattered over the bridge.

  'Ding-dong, ding-dong,' went the bell around his neck.

  'Who is that clattering across my bridge?' screamed the troll, sticking his nose through a crack in the planks. His eyes turned black as if they had been caught by frost.

  'Billy Goat Gruff,' said the second billy goat, in a gruffer voice like a quarry stone cracking.

  'Where are you off to?' said the troll.

  'I'm off up the mountain for the sweet summer grass,' replied the billy goat.

  'Oh, no, you are not!' said the troll. 'I'm going to eat you for my lunch.'

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