There were three billy goats. Billy
goats means they were boys not girls and
these billy goats were brothers. Horatio
Gruff was the eldest and he was very
brave and strong. The middle brother was
Chimo Gruff. He wasn’t as big and strong
as his brother Horatio but he was really
clever, especially at talking. The
little billy goat Gruff was called
Henrik. He was a bit strong and a bit
clever and he was also very little.
The Billy Goats Gruff spent their
autumns and winters up in the mountains
eating berries and shrubs. Every year,
when spring arrived, the three billy
goats Gruff came down from the
mountains, crossed the wooden bridge
over the canyon with the river far
below, and trotted into the beautiful
fields on the other side. These field
were full of bees and other buzzing
insects and the grass here was fresh and
sweet to taste. There were dandilions
too and clover as high as your ankles.
That winter, the government had made the
bridge, which had always been free to
cross, a toll bridge. This meant that
every time you crossed the bridge, you
had to pay five gold coins. Everybody
thought this was too expensive but the
politicians didn’t care. They had very
expensive lives: lots of lunches in the
best restaurants; beautiful holiday
homes on the coast and they always flew
business class. Besides, they owed the
banks a fortune and so to continue with
their wonderful lifestyles, they
invented new taxes which the people and
the goats had to pay. Of course, this
wasn’t the version they told the people.
The politicians lied and said they
needed the money to pay for the cost of
keeping the bridge safe. So, that winter
the politicians had passed the Toll Act
by Royal Decree.
And how would they collect the five gold
coins from the people and animals who
crossed the bridge? Well, the
politicians offered the job to a tall
green troll, whose name was Magnus
Barcenus. The troll’s parents were
originally from Oslo, the capital city
of Norway, but now he lived in Spain.
The deal was this: every time someone
crossed the bridge, they had to pay the
five gold coins to Barcenus, if they
wanted to get to the other side. If they
didn’t pay, he ate them, which was very
nasty. The people called the Toll Act
the Troll Toll and everybody thought is
was really really unfair.
A person who works for the government is
called a civil servant and Magnus
Barcenus soon found that being a civil
servant was great. He was eating so many
people and sheep that he was getting
very fat. Another thing he enjoyed was
that nobody could tell him to stop
because he was working for the
Now, the goats knew about the troll
under the bridge and that he had already
eaten a lot of people and sheep.
Horatio, Chimo and Henrik put their
heads together and soon they had thought
up an excellent plan.
Little Henrik would be the first goat to
try to cross the bridge. Now goats,
especially mountain goats like the Gruff
Brothers, have sharp hooves and they
made a loud noise on the wooden bridge
as Little Henrik trotted on to it.
“Trip-trap trip-trap,” was the sound
Henrik’s hooves made on the wood. Before
he got halfway, he heard the terrible
voice of the troll.
“Who’s that trip-trapping over my
bridge,” shouted the tall fat green
monster in a very fierce way.
“I’m little billy goat Gruff,” answered
Henrik, who was really really scared.
“Do you have the five gold coins, little
Gruff?” enquired the troll.
“I’m really sorry, Mr Barcenus, but I
don’t have them.”
“Then I’m going to kill you right now,”
roared the tall fat green civil servant.
Magnus Barcenus was thinking of taking
the dead goat to Cuenca, a very special
city built on a cliff high in the
Spanish mountains. There was a
restaurant there called Pedro’s Figon
which was very famous for roasting goats
really really well.
“I’m too small and thin,” squealed
Henrik, absolutely terrified. “I’ve been
eating dry sticks all winter. If you let
me cross the bridge, I’ll get fat on the
sweet spring grass and you can eat me on
the way back in the autumn.”
The troll peered up through the wooden
bridge at the little goat. It was true.
He was thin and boney.
“Alright then,” growled Magnus Barcenus,
troll and civil servant. “Be off with
you and make sure you enjoy your summer
because it will be your last!” And he
laughed a disgusting, coughing,
spluttering, slimy laugh. He was a
“I’m across,” squealed little Henrik.
“So far, so good!” And he gave a jump
high into the air and landed in the
clover, so sweet, so deep and so
The troll stayed under the bridge and
there he was in the shadows blinking and
resting and falling asleep. He had had a
tiring start to the day.
“Trip-trap trip-trap.” Really it was an
annoying sound and it was even louder
“Who is it now?” roared the troll. He
was really cheesed off. He felt he’d
done enough work for one day. Yes, not
only was he overweight, he was lazy too.
“I’m the middle billy goat Gruff.”
“Do you have the money?”
“No, I haven’t,” answered Chimo, getting
straight to the point.
“Then I’m going to eat you,” snarled the
troll. He was getting peckish. A little
raw goat would put him in a better mood.
“Eeer,” started Chimo, “you’ve gotten
very fat these days, Magnus, and you’ll
be off for your holidays in Ibiza soon.
You should trim down a bit for the
This really upset Barcenus. Ibiza was
full of ogres, trolls and lots of other
very rich monsters in August. There
would be lots of lady trolls too.
“What do you mean?” asked the troll.
“Well, you’ve eaten so many people and
so many sheep recently, why don’t you
save me for later? I’ll be full of sweet
clover by the autumn and I could bring
you some cheese. Five gold coins worth
of goats cheese, no less.” Chimo hoped
that the troll wouldn’t realise that you
can’t get cheese from a billy goat. You
need a mummy goat.
“Five gold coins worth of goats'
cheese,” thought Barcenus, “is a lot of
cheese. I love goats's cheese and
besides, I'm getting bored of eating
people and sheep.
“Very well,” bellowed the troll. “Now be
off with you.”
Chimo was munching on a dandilion in the
lushious field when he heard the troll
shouting in the distance, in a furious
“You cheeky goat! You can't make cheese
any more than I can. You're a billy
goat. Why, just you wait till Autumn.
I'll get you for this!”
Chimo and Henrik laughed. Now, so far
everything was going to plan. Two of the
billy goats Gruff had made it safely
across the troll toll bridge. Now it was
Horatio's turn, the biggest billy goat
“Now who is it?” screamed the troll who
was boiling with anger because he was
having a bad day.
“Billy goat Gruff,” replied Horatio, the
largest of the three goats, “Big billy
“Do you have the five gold coins?”
“Then I'm going to eat you.”
“Come on then,” challenged Horatio on
So, it was the first time that day the
troll had climbed up onto the bridge. He
didn't like doing that very much because
he was allergic to the sunlight.
Anyway, there was this huge, tall, ugly
troll standing on the bridge facing
Horatio, the biggest of the three goats
Gruff. Magnus Barcenus the troll was
huffing and puffing from the effort of
climbing up onto the bridge. Besides
having gotten very fat on eating so many
people and sheep, he was also very unfit
because he was a lazy bones and never
did any exercise.
“That goat's quite big,” he said to
himself in a whisper, “and his horns are
really long and really sharp.”
“I'm going to eat you,” shouted the
troll bravely, as he walked towards the
goat, the wood creaking loudly under his
huge and really smelly feet. They stank,
actually, because he never washed them.
The bridge creaked some more.
Horation billy goat Gruff, looking very
handsome, lowered his head and charged
at the enormous troll.
“It's enormous!” said the troll to
himself as the goat rushed towards him,
head down. Magnus Barcenus, the huge,
tall, ugly troll turned around and ran
away as fast as he could, which was
really slow because he was so fat and
unfit. Magnus Barcenus was not very
brave. The wood under the troll's feet
broke with a horrible splintering crash
and Barcenus fell through the hole in
the bridge. He just managed to grap the
edge of the hole with one of his huge
hairy hands. He was hanging on, and far
down below him at the bottom of the
canyon the river rushed and flowed
between the rocks and big rocks, which
are called bolders.
The goat was there, looking down at the
troll hanging on by one hand. Horatio
thought of all the sheep and people who
had suffered at the hands of this huge
green civil servant, Magnus Barcenus.
Horatio's first thought was to stamp on
the troll's hand to make him fall. But
then he thought, “That would not be
wise. The government will come and
arrest me for killing their civil
servant and send me to prison for ever
or take me to Cuenca and roast me.”
So, the goat just stared down through
the hole into the troll's evil eyes and
simply waited. The troll stared back. He
knew his end had come. No more holidays
in Ibiza, no more crunchy humans and
worst of all no more goats' cheese. He
really loved goats' cheese. Magnus
Barcenus lost his grip and fell.
The big billy goat Gruff jumped over the
hole in the bridge with grace and ease
and joined his brothers who were
overjoyed to see him alive and well.
That afternoon, after a sensational
siesta – they had stuffed their tummies
with lushious spring grass for lunch –
the three billy goats Gruff went back to
the bridge and found the big bag of gold
coins which they dragged to the village
at the top of the hill. They gave away
all the gold coins to the people in the
“But what about the troll?” asked the
“Dead,” replied Horatio.
The villagers were so happy they
promised to look after the goats for the
rest of their lives. There would be no
more tough winters in the mountains.
But then the village chief spoke. “But
what about the government? They will
come with soldiers and riot police and
attack us. They will take away all the
gold coins and send us to prison for
killing the troll, their trusted civil
The three billy goats Gruff put their
heads together for a second time. Soon,
they had a plan.
So, the villagers burnt down the bridge
and the village chief, with the help of
his lawyer, wrote a letter to the
government explaining that the bridge
had been struck by lightning and caught
fire and that the troll had run off with
all the money, probably to Ibiza because
he was always talking about it. And here
was the really really clever bit. In the
letter the village chief begged the
government to send engineers at once to
build a new bridge. Now bridges, like
the new bridge in Venice, cost lots and
lots of money to make so he knew the
politicians would never agree. They
needed the money for their nice lunches
and travel expenses. And so, the
government never came and the villagers
were safe. Even today, there is still no
bridge where the troll once upon a time
A bit further down the river, the canyon
stopped and the river was very wide and
very shallow. This became a ford which
is a place where the villagers and
travellers were able to cross the
village in their horse and carts and
So what happened to the three billy
goats Gruff? Well, as I said, they
didn't need to cross the river anymore
and soon they were happily married to
lady goats from the villages and had
lots and lots of kids. The villagers
used their gold coins well and their
village quickly became famous for its
very splendid goats' cheese.