English Fairy Tales (Joseph Jacobs)

Week 12: England - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images


Three Bears

Reading time: 4 minutes. Word count: 700 words.

The story is going to proceed pretty much as you would expect, but you might ask yourself how the story seems different now that there is no more Goldilocks but only a "bad old Woman" sleepng there in Little, Small, Wee Bear's bed...

By this time the Three Bears thought their porridge would be cool enough, so they came home to breakfast. Now the little old Woman had left the spoon of the Great, Huge Bear, standing in his porridge.

‘Somebody has been at my porridge!’ said the Great, Huge Bear, in his great, rough, gruff voice. And when the Middle Bear looked at his, he saw that the spoon was standing in it, too. They were wooden spoons; if they had been silver ones, the naughty old Woman would have put them in her pocket.

‘Somebody has been at my porridge!’ said the Middle Bear in his middle voice.

Then the Little, Small, Wee Bear looked at his, and there was the spoon in the porridge-pot, but the porridge was all gone.

‘Somebody has been at my porridge, and has eaten it all up!’ said the Little, Small, Wee Bear, in his little, small, wee voice.

Upon this the Three Bears, seeing that someone had entered their house, and eaten up the Little, Small, Wee Bear’s breakfast, began to look about them. Now the little old Woman had not put the hard cushion straight when she rose from the chair of the Great, Huge Bear.

'Somebody has been sitting in my chair!’ said the Great, Huge Bear, in his great, rough, gruff voice.

And the little old Woman had squatted down the soft cushion of the Middle Bear. ‘Somebody has been sitting in my chair!’ said the Middle Bear, in his middle voice.

And you know what the little old Woman had done to the third chair. ‘Somebody has been sitting in my chair and has sate the bottom out of it!’ said the Little, Small, Wee Bear, in his little, small, wee voice.

Then the three Bears thought it necessary that they should make further search; so they went upstairs into their bed-chamber. Now the little old Woman had pulled the pillow of the Great, Huge Bear out of its place.

‘Somebody has been lying in my bed!’ said the Great, Huge Bear, in his great, rough, gruff voice.

And the little old Woman had pulled the bolster of the Middle Bear out of its place. ‘Somebody has been lying in my bed!’ said the Middle Bear, in his middle voice.

And when the Little, Small, Wee Bear came to look at his bed, there was the bolster in its right place, and the pillow in its place upon the bolster; and upon the pillow was the little old Woman’s ugly, dirty head — which was not in its place, for she had no business there.

‘Somebody has been lying in my bed — and here she is!’ said the Little, Small, Wee Bear, in his little, small, wee voice.

The little old Woman had heard in her sleep the great, rough, gruff voice of the Great, Huge Bear; but she was so fast asleep that it was no more to her than the roaring of wind or the rumbling of thunder. And she had heard the middle voice of the Middle Bear, but it was only as if she had heard someone speaking in a dream. But when she heard the little, small, wee voice of the Little, Small, Wee Bear, it was so sharp, and so shrill, that it awakened her at once.

Up she started; and when she saw the Three Bears on one side of the bed, she tumbled herself out at the other, and ran to the window. Now the window was open, because the Bears, like good, tidy Bears as they were, always opened their bed-chamber window when they got up in the morning. Out the little old Woman jumped; and whether she broke her neck in the fall; or ran into the wood and was lost there; or found her way out of the wood, and was taken up by the constable and sent to the House of Correction for a vagrant as she was, I cannot tell. But the Three Bears never saw anything more of her.


Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • how did the Three Bears know somebody had been in their house?
  • who found the little old woman?
  • what happened whent he woman work up and saw the bears?

Source: English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (1890). Weblink.


Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM