Mrs. Goat arrived home as the narrow streets were darkening towards evening. She stepped briskly along, and she knew something was wrong long before she saw the smashed front door. She ran the last half block.
Mrs. Goat stared around at the chaos of the little room. The meagar furnature lay scattered about, and in the centre of the room was a rabbit stuffy—Fluffy, who belonged to the second youngest. Mrs. Goat paced carefully into the room, one hand sliding into her bag to grasp something out of sight.
With the keen hearing of her kind, she thought she heard a snuffle. She stepped quickly into the kitchen, and she saw that one of the cupboards was not quite shut. Mrs. Goat reached for the cupboard door, opening it to find her youngest, curled up and miserable.
Tragedy had struck the Goat family, but Mrs. Goat did not lose her head. She pulled her youngest daughter out from the cupboard, and the two of them sat at the table, where Mrs. Goat heard the whole, sorry tale.
“And I hid,” said her youngest, sniffing back more tears. “I didn’t know what to do, (sniff) and I couldn’t help the others.”
“Don’t worry my dear,” said Mrs. Goat, gently rocking her little girl. “You did the right thing. For how would I know that your brothers and sisters had been taken by the terrible Mr. Wolf unless you were here to tell me?”
The little girl nodded sorrowfully. “But what now?” she asked. “Will he eat them?”
“Not if I can help it,” said Mrs. Goat, determinedly. “Now come. Get your coat and shoes. We have things to do.”
And the two of them set off into the darkeness of the streets, all the while Mrs. Goat clutching something inside her bag.
They walked for a time, but Mrs. Goat knew who she was looking for, and it wasn’t long before they found him—slouching and indolent and leaning against a pole.
“Mr. Fox,” said Mrs. Goat, marching directly up to him. “I’m interested in seeing your boss.”
Mr. fox shifted on his pole. His expression never changed—if anything, he looked even more indolent and a little scornful. “What makes you think, missus, that I would take you to see the boss?”
Mr. Fox knew exactly who Mrs. Goat was, and he knew of the events earlier that day, but he wasn’t about to make things easy for her.
“Because,” said Mrs. Goat, “I have a proposition for him. It is to his advantage, and I’m sure you would not want to be the lacky who got in the way of an opportunity for his boss.”
Mr. Fox eyed her for a moment. She had spirit, he couldn’t deny that. “All right, missus. Yu come with me. But if the boss isn’t happy about being interrupted, then you might regret it.”
He led Mrs. Goat down the street and into an alley. They came to a dark doorway, and Mr. Fox gave a secret knock. The door opened. “Follow me, missus. And don’t go snooping once we’re inside.”
Mrs. Goat followed, one hand clutching her daughter, and the other still thrust into her purse. Mr. Fox led them upstairs and down a hall to a door. On the door was a plaque, which read:
Mr. Toad, Crime Boss.
Mr. Fox gave a knock, which was ansered by a croaking cough. Mr. Fox gave Mrs. Goat a sly grin. “After you, missus,” he said.
Mrs. Goat stepped into the office, her little girl now clutched to her side. It was a small, dingy room, with a desk in the exact middle. A single bare bulb hung from the ceiling by a wire. Behind the desk sat Mr. Toad leaning back in a chair. The desk before him was littered with takeout containers.
He looked at her out of wide-set, bulging eyes. “Mrs. Goat,” said Mr. Toad, in a croaking voice. “And what can I do for you this fine evening.”
“I’m here to trade for some information,” She said.
“Information?” said Mr. Toad, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, Mr. Wolf came to my house this afternoon and made off with all my children, save the youngest. If you can please tell me where he hides, then I will agree to come and clean your house twice a week.”
Mr. Toad persed his wide mouth. “Are you suggesting, madame, that my home requires cleaning?”
“Every man’s home requires cleaning,” said Mrs. Goat. “And,” she said, glancing down at the desk, “I’ll bring a home-cooked meal each time I come.”
Mr. Toad gulped visibly. Then he blinked. “Done,” he said. “Mr. Fox here will take you to the lair of Mr. Wolf, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope that you will be able to fulfill your end of the bargain.”
“Be that as it may,” said Mrs. Goat. “I intend to pay Mr. Wolf a visit.”
She followed the slouching Mr. Fox out of the building, and he led her to an old, battered car in the alley. He said nothing as he drove through the narrow streets down to the river. Parking the car in front of an old warehouse, he looked at Mrs. Goat and her child. “I’ll wait here awhile,” he said. “You have fifteen minutes, and then you’re on your own.”
Mrs. Goat stepped smartly out of the car. She gathered herself, looked down at her daughter, and then the two of them marched up to the door. It wasn’t locked, for who in their right mind would come barging into the lair of Mr. Wolf?
It was a wide room, and Mrs. Goat spotted her children at once—all six of them, trust up and hanging from hooks in the ceiling. Mr. Wolf stood at a table chopping onions and mushrooms and wearing a chef’s apron. He looked up as Mrs. Goat entered, grinning widely in his long face.
“Well, well,” he said. “It looks as though Mrs. Goat has decided to bring me another tasty treat.”
Mrs. Goat marched up to the table and stared Mr. Wolf in the eye. “you will release my children right now,” she said, the smallest of quivers entering her voice.
But Mr. Wolf smiled even wider, showing his sharp, sharp teeth. “Not likely, madame. I am here preparing for a night of feasting and excess. And I think my evening just became more excessive.”
He was wiping the long chopping knife against his apron to clean it, looking hungrily at the child Mrs. Goat still clutched to her side.
“Very well,” said Mrs. Goat, and she took a pistol from her bag and shot him through the heart.
The expression of surprise on old Mr. Wolf’s face was something to see. And then he fell over dead on the floor.
Mrs. Goat soon had her six weeping children untied and down from the hooks. Even the littlest helped. And much to the consternation of Mr. Fox, fifteen minutes after he saw Mrs. Goat enter the building, out she came leading a pack of kids.
“I would be very grateful if you drove me and my children home,” she said. And Mr. fox did, but not until after he’d had a quick look inside the warehouse so he could report to his boss.
That night there was much cause for celebration in the Goat home. Mrs. Goat fixed the door, and her children set to work tidying the living room and preparing a snack.
Mrs. Goat hugged each one of them a hundred times. And she even cried a little, now that all the excitement was over.
“And what lesson can we learn from today’s events?” asked Mrs. Goat as her children sat around on the floor eating their snack.
“Don’t’ trust a wolf?” said the eldest.
“it’s true,” said Mrs. Goat.
“Never, never, never let a stranger into the house—especially a wolf?” said the second youngest, clutching Fluffy.
“True as well,” said Mrs. Goat. “But what’s also true is that sometimes you just have to take things into your own hands.”
After that, things got back to normal in the Goat home. The children were wiser and more cautious, and Mrs. Goat went back to her two and sometimes three jobs. She made good on her promise, and twice a wweek she tidied the home of Mr. Toad, always leaving a covered platter on his table.
Mr. Toad was perhaps the happiest of all, for he had two home-cooked meals to anticipate every week. And after hearing the story of how Mrs. Goat handled herself in the lair of Mr. Wolf, he decided that he would eventually have to put her on the payrole.