Flaxenlocks came upon a copse of younger beechtrees and from among them stepped a stranger! Flaxenlocks stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes big and round, for strangers were very rare in these parts, he was used to knowing everyone in and around these woods, it was why his father had trusted him to walk alone upon this trail.

The man was large and strong, his brawny, wide-shouldered, hairy-chested, slim-waisted body was bare, for the man wore only a pair of rough-sewn trousers to cover his nakedness, and that on this very warm summer day was more than enough. Flaxenlocks relaxed somewhat, this man wasn’t carrying a sword or club or anything at all that could harm him. “Hello there, young man!” the stranger said.

Flaxenlocks liked that the man called him “young man” instead of “kid” or “little boy” like many adults would. So he smiled, and the man smiled wider, showing a large set of even, clean, white teeth. “Hello, there, stranger.” he replied.

“What’s your name?” the stranger asked. The man was well over six foot tall, with jet black hair and deep brown eyes set in a face sharp-edged but wide and strong-looking.

“Felix Lockesley.” Flaxenlocks said. “But my friends call me Flaxenlocks, because of my hair.” And it was true that Flaxenlocks had the most beautiful set of light-light-brown curly hair set about his angelic face.

“Well, then, Flaxenlocks, don’t you know it’s dangerous to walk in the woods all alone?” The stranger went on.

“Oh, I know these woods very well, and there’s never any danger, except maybe from a stranger.” Flaxenlocks said. “I hope you aren’t a danger.”

“I hope not, either.” the stranger agreed. “But perhaps I should walk with you a while until you find your way.”

“But I know my way to my Uncle Florian’s house.” Flaxenlocks protested. “Though I thank you for your offer, even if I don’t know your name.”

That was a hint, and the stranger knew it. “My own name is Wolfgang Badenburg.” the stranger replied. “And my friends call me Big Bad Wolf.” And the stranger’s arms flexed as he moved them, so Flaxenlocks had to admit that the name was apt enough, this man was big, all right, and his name explained the rest of it, same as his own.

“My daddy always taught me to be wary around wolves.” he joked.

“And it’s always wise to pay attention to your Daddy.” Big Bad Wolf agreed. “But I’ll still walk with you if you’d like.”

“It’s all right, sir, for I’m certain you must be busy.” Flaxenlocks demurred. “And my uncle’s house isn’t so far from here.”

“But there are games we could play while we walked.” the stranger said and his eyes almost glowed in a powerful hungry look. “And games while we stopped and rested. I could carry you in my arms if you’d like.”

“Thank you, no.” Flaxenlocks demurred. “And now if you’ll forgive me, I must go, for my uncle is sick in bed and needs me to care and clean for him.”

“You could care and clean for me!” Big Bad Wolf called after Flaxenlocks, but Flaxenlocks was running and left Big Bad Wolf far behind. After a time, he relaxed and began walking again. The path he was on curved a long way around at this point, avoiding a line of hills that were rather rugged. A little fellow like Flaxenlocks could never climb such hills.

But a man like Big Bad Wolf could do it easily. Unknown to Flaxenlocks, he scaled those hills and made it to his Uncle Florian’s house while Flaxenlocks was only halfway there. When there, he read the note that Flaxenlock’s uncle had fastened upon the door.

Dear Flaxenlocks,
If I know my brother, he’ll have sent you to care for me
while I’m sick, but you needn’t worry about me, I’m
feeling much better today, so I’m off to work but will
return around sundown. See you then!

--Uncle Florian
Big Bad Wolf chuckled when he read the note, which he promptly stuffed into his pants pocket and, lifting the latch on the door, went inside, stripped himself completely bare by removing his trousers, and crawled into Uncle Florin’s bed. The curtains were drawn, big heavy things, and the room was very dark. To further disguise himself, he pulled on the nightcap and held the covers well up over his brawny body. And just in time, for Flaxenlocks was knocking on the door.

“Come in, young Flaxenlocks.” Big Bad Wolf called out.

Flaxenlocks walked in and said, “Uncle Florian, are you feeling all right?”

“I’m feeling poorly and the light hurts my eyes. Pray close the door and come closer.”

Flaxenlocks closed the door and went closer, peering as best as he could in the near-darkness of this room after the brightness of the day. “I came to serve you until you are better, Uncle Florian. How may I help you first?”

Big Bad Wolf considered this. “I’ve lain in this bed all day and night for the last three days, and my bones are weary and aching. If you could rub my body for me, ease my pains, I would be so grateful.”

“Of course, Uncle Florian.”

Flaxenlocks advanced but Big Bad Wolf put out a hand to stop him. “You shouldn’t get into bed with those dirty clothes.” he said. “Strip down and then you can get in with me.”