There were once three Billy Goats who lived in a meadow at the foot of a mountain, and their last name was Gruff. There was the Big Billy Goat Gruff, and the Middle-sized Billy Goat Gruff, and the Little Billy Goat Gruff. They all three jumped about among the rocks in the meadow and ate what grass they could find, but it wasn’t very much.
One day the Littlest Billy Goat Gruff looked up at the high mountain overhead, and he thought to himself, “It looks as though there were a great deal of fine grass up on the mountain. I believe I’ll just run up there all by myself, without telling anyone, and eat so much grass and eat so much grass that I’ll grow to be as big as anybody.”
So off the Little Billy Goat Gruff started without telling his brothers a word about it. He ran along, tip-tap, tip-tap, tip-tap, until at last he came to a wide river, with a bridge over it.
Now the Little Billy Goat did not know it, but this bridge belonged to a great, terrible Troll, and the little goat had not gone more than half-way across when he heard the Troll shouting from under the bridge.
“Who’s that going across my bridge?” shouted the Troll in his great loud voice.
“It’s me, the Littlest Billy Goat Gruff!” answered the Little Billy Goat in his little bit of voice.
“Oh! it’s the Littlest Billy Goat Gruff, is it? Well, you won’t go much farther, for I’m the Troll that owns this bridge, and now I’m coming to eat you up.” And with that the Troll looked up over the edge of the bridge.
When the Little Billy Goat Gruff saw him, he was very much frightened. “Oh, dear, good Mr Troll, please don’t eat me up,” he cried. “I’m such a very little goat that I would scarcely be a mouthful for you. I have a brother who is a great deal bigger than I am; wait till he comes, for he’d make a much better meal for you than I would.”
“But if he’s much bigger than you are he may be tough.”
“Oh, no, he’s just as tender as I am.”
“And a great deal bigger?”
“Oh, yes, a great deal bigger.”
“Very well then, I’ll wait for him. Run along!”
So the little goat ran on, tip-tap! tip-tap! tip-tap! across the bridge, and on up the mountain to where he was safe. And glad enough he was to be out of that scrape, I can tell you.
Now it was not very long after this that the Middle-sized Billy Goat Gruff began to think he’d like to go up on the mountain too. He did not say anything about it to the Great Big Billy Goat Gruff, but off he set, all by himself—trap-trap! trap-trap! trap-trap! After a while he came to the bridge, where the Troll lived, and he stepped out upon it, trap-trap! trap-trap! trap-trap!
He’d barely reached the middle of it when the Troll began shouting at him in his great, terrible voice:
“Who’s that going across my bridge?”
“It’s me, the Middle-sized Billy Goat Gruff,” answered the Middle-sized Billy Goat in his middle-sized voice.
“Oh, it is, is it? Then you’re the very one I’ve been waiting for. I’m the Troll that owns this bridge, and now I’m coming to eat you up.”
At that the Middle-sized Billy Goat Gruff was in a great fright. “Oh, dear Mr Troll, good Mr Troll, please don’t eat me up! I have a brother that’s a great deal bigger than I am. Just wait till he comes along, for he’d make a much better meal for you than I would.”
“A great deal bigger?”
“Yes, a great deal bigger.”
“Very well then, run along and I’ll wait till he comes. Only the biggest goat there is is fit to make a meal for me.”
The Middle-sized Billy Goat was not slow to run along as the Troll bade him. He hurried across the river and up the mountain as fast as he could go, trappity-trap! trappity-trap! trappity-trap! And just weren’t he and his little brother glad to see each other again, and to be safely over the Troll’s bridge, and up where the good grass was!
And now it was the turn of the Big Billy Goat Gruff to begin to think he’d like to go up on the mountain too. “I believe that’s where the Little Billy Goat Gruff and the Middle-sized Billy Goat Gruff have gone,” said he to himself. “If I don’t look out they’ll be growing so fat up there that they’ll be as big as I am. I think I’d better go and eat the long green mountain grass too.” So the next morning off he set in the pleasant sunshine. Klumph-klumph! klumph-klumph! He was so big you could hear his hoofs pounding on the stones while he was still a mile away.
After a while he came to the bridge where the Troll lived, and out he stepped on it, klumph-klumph! klumph-klumph! and the bridge shook and bent under his weight as he walked. Then the Troll that lived under it was in a fearful rage. “Who’s that going across my bridge?” he bellowed, and his voice was so terrible that all the little fish in the river swam away and hid under the rocks at the sound of it.
But the Big Billy Goat was not one bit frightened.
“It’s me, the Biggest Billy Goat Gruff,” he answered, in a voice as big as the Troll’s own.
“Oh, it is, is it? Then just stop a bit—for you’re the one I’ve been waiting for. I’m the Troll that owns this bridge, and now I’m coming to eat you up!” and with that the great grey Troll poked his head up over the bridge, and his eyes looked like two great mill-wheels, and they were going round and round in his head with rage. But still the Big Billy Goat was not one bit frightened.
“So you’re a Troll, are you! And you own this bridge, do you? And now you’re going to eat me up? We’ll just see about that:
“I have a forehead as hard as stone,
And I’ll mash you all up, body and bone!”
When the Troll heard the Big Billy Goat talk to him that way he bellowed so that the Middle-sized Billy Goat and the Little Billy Goat heard him all the way up on the mountain where they were. He jumped up on the bridge and put down his big, bushy head and ran at the Billy Goat, and the Big Billy Goat put down his head and ran at the Troll, and they met in the middle of the bridge. But the Billy Goat’s head was harder than the Troll’s, so he knocked him down and thumped him about, and then he took him up on his horns and threw him over the edge of the bridge into the river below, and the Troll sank like a piece of lead and never was seen or heard of again.
But the Big Billy Goat went on up the mountain; and you may believe that his two brothers were glad to see him again, and to hear that the great wicked Troll was gone from under the bridge.
And after that they all stayed up on the mountain together, and the smaller goats ate so much grass and grew so fat and big that after a while no one could have told one Billy Goat from the other.
SHORT STORY FOR KIDS WRITTEN BY KATHARINE PYLE
Illustrated thanks to Pixabay
LET’S CHAT ABOUT THE STORIES ~ IDEAS FOR TALKING WITH KIDS
1. The Troll could have eaten the first Little Billy Goat Gruff but he decided not to. Why did he decide not to?
2. What happened when the Troll waited for a bigger – and then bigger – Troll?
3. What do you think this says about being greedy?
1. The Little Billy Goat Gruff and the Middle-Sized Billy Goat Gruff were not able to fight the Troll, but instead used their words to buy time from the wicked Troll. Do you think it is sometimes a good idea to ask for more time if you can’t do something? Why or why not?