|Ref: an illustration from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein by Lynd Ward|
In the story the three bears – "a Little, Small, Wee Bear, a Middle-sized Bear, and a Great, Huge Bear" – live together in a house in the woods. They are very good-natured, trusting, harmless, tidy, and hospitable. Each of these "bachelor" bears has his own porridge bowl, chair, and bed. One day they take a walk in the woods while their porridge cools. An old woman (who is described at various points in the story as impudent, bad, foul-mouthed, ugly, dirty and a vagrant deserving of a stint in the House of Correction) discovers the bears' dwelling and enters uninvited.
|Ref: title page from 1843 edition of 'The Story Of The Three Bears'|
The old woman eats the Wee Bear's porridge, then settles into his chair and breaks it. Prowling about, she then finds the bears' beds and falls asleep in Wee Bear's bed. The climax of the tale is reached when the bears return. Wee Bear finds the old woman in his bed and cries, "Somebody has been lying in my bed, – and here she is!"
The old woman starts up, jumps from the window, and runs away never to be seen again.
|Ref: illustration from the 1843 edition of 'The Story Of The Three Bears'|
Author: Ian Snowdon, Sir George Grey Special Collections