HANSEL AND GRETEL
One night, as the poor man lay tossing on his hard bed,
he cried aloud in his grief and
"Alas! what will become of us ? How can I feed my
hungry little ones when we have
"Listen to me, good-man," answered his wife,
who was stepmother to the children. "As it is no longer possible for us to keep our
children, we will take them into the wood with us tomorrow, light a fire for them, and
give each a piece of bread and leave them. They will not easily find their way back, and
so we shall be rid of the burden of them."
But the father said: "No, no ! I could not find it
in my heart to leave my darlings to perish. The wild beasts would tear them limb from
"Then," answered the wife, " we must all
four die of hunger." She gave her husband no peace
Now, the twochildren had been too hungry to go to sleep that night, and so it happened that they overheard all that their parents were saying. Gretel wept bitterly, but brave little Hansel did his best to comfort her. "Don't be afraid," he said; "I will take care of you.
"As soon as his father and stepmother were asleep,
he slipped on his coat, and, opening the door softly, went out into the garden. The moon
was shining brightly, and by its light he could see the little white pebbles that lay
scattered in front of the house, shining like little pieces of silver. He stooped and
filled his pockets as full as he could, and then went back to Gretel, and once more
bidding her be comforted, for God would be sure to ,watch over them, he jumped into bed,
and they both fell fast asleep.
Early in the morning, before the sun had risen, the
stepmother came and wakened the children.
"Rise, little lie-a-beds, she said, "and come
with us into the wood to gather fuel."
She gave them each a piece of bread for their dinner, and
told them to be sure not to eat it too
Gretel carried the bread in her pinafore, because Hansel
had his pockets full, and then they all set out upon their way to the wood.
As they trudged along, the father noticed that his little
son kept turning back to look at the
"I am watching my kitten, father: she is sitting on
the roof to bid me good-by."
"Silly little lad,that is not your cat," said
the stepmother; "it is only the morning sun shining on the chimney."
But Hansel had not been watching his cat at all; he had
stayed behind ,to drop the pebbles upon the path.
When they reached the thickest part of the forest, the
father bade the children gather wood,
Hansel and Gretei sat down by the fire, and when midday
came they ate their bread
When they awoke, the night was very dark, and Gretel was
frightened, and began to cry.
As soon as the bright moon rose, Hansel took his little
sister by the hand, and all night long
They knocked at the door, and no sooner did the
stepmother open it than she began to scold
In a short time they were as badly off as ever, and one
night they again heard their mother
But the man would not agree. "Better to divide our
last morsel with them," he said, "and then
His wife would not listen to what he said, but scolded
him for his want of thought for her; and
But the children had overheard all that was said, and as
soon as the mother and father were
"Never mind, Gretel," he said consolingly,
"the good God will surely help us."
Early in the morning the woman wakened the children, and,
giving them a small piece of bread, bade them follow her and their father into the wood.
As they went, Hansel crumbled his morsel of bread in his pocket and strewed the crumbs
upon the path.
"Come, Hansel," said the father, "don't
loiter so, sonny. What can you see to stare at so
"My little dove, father. It is sitting on the
housetop, bidding me good-by."
"Nonsense," said the woman, "it is not
your dove; it is only the rising sun shining upon the
Hansel did not answer, but he went on strewing his crumbs
carefully until the last morsel of
Deeper and deeper into the wood they went, where the
children had never been before. There
When dinner-time came, Gretel divided her piece of bread
with Hansel, because he had
Hansel put his arms round his sister and told her not to
fear, for when the moon rose they
So when the moon rose they set out upon their way; but
alas! there were no crumbs to be
"We will find the way somehow," cried cheerful
little Hansel; but though they traveled all night long, and the next day too, they could
not find it. Poor little mites, how tired and hungry they were, for they had nothing to
eat but the berries that grew by the roadside!
When at length the weary little feet could go no farther,
the children lay down beneath a tree
On the third day they were still as far away as ever, and
it seemed to them that the longer they walked the deeper they got into the wood, and they
began to be afraid that they would die of cold and hunger.
But presently, when the midday sun was shining brightly,
they noticed a little snow-white bird
The children followed him until they reached a little
house, on the roof of which he perched.
"See, Gretel," cried Hansel joyfully,
"there is food for us in plenty. I will take a piece of the roof, and you shall have
one of the windows."
He stretched out his hand to help himself, and Gretel had
already begun to nibble one of the
"Nibbly, nibbly, mouse!
And then they went on eating as though nothing had
happened for the cake of which the roof
All at once the door of the cottage flew wide open, and
out came an old, old woman, leaning
The old woman nodded her head to them, and said:
"Who brought you here, my pets ? Come
She took their hands and led them into the house, and set
before them all kinds of delicious
But the old woman had only pretended to be friendly and
kind, for she was really a wicked old
Witches have red eyes and cannot see far, but they have
keen scent, like animals, and can tell at once when a human being is near to them..
As soon as Hansel and Gretel came into her neighborhood
she laughed to herself and said
Early in the morning, before the children were awake, she
stood beside them and admired their rosy cheeks and soft round limbs.
"What nice tit-bits for me," murmured she.
Then, seizing Hansel by the hand, she led him to a
"When he is nice and plump, I shall eat him,"
said the cruel old witch. Gretel wept bitterly, but it was quite in vain, for she was
obliged to do the witch's bidding; and every day she cooked the choicest food for her
brother, while she herself lived upon nothing but oyster-shells.
Day by day the old woman visited the stable and called to
Hansel to put his finger through the
The tears chased each other down Gretel's cheeks as she
carried in the water, and she sobbed aloud in her grief. "Dear God," she cried,
"we have no one to help us but Thou. Alas! if only the wild beasts in the wood had
devoured us, at least we should have died together."
"Cease your chattering," cried the old witch
angrily. "It will not help you, so you may as well be still."
The next morning poor Gretel was forced to light the fire
and hang the great pot of water over
But Gretel guessed that the old witch meant to shut the
door upon her 'and roast her, so she
"Silly goose," said the witch. "The door
is wide enough, to be sure. Why, even I could get
Quick as thought, Gretel ran to her brother. "We are
saved, Hansel," she cried, opening the
Hansel flew from his prison as a bird from its cage, and
the two happy little children kissed
"Ah!" said Hansel merrily, "these are
better than pebbles, Gretel," and he stuffed his pockets with the jewels, whilst
Gretel filled her pinafore. "Now," said Hansel, "we will leave the witch's
wood behind us as fast as we can."
So off they ran, and never stopped until they came to a
lake, upon which swam a large white
"How can we cross," said Hansel, "for
there is no bridge anywhere ?"
"And no ship either," Gretel answered;
"but we will ask the pretty white duck to carry us over." So they cried aloud :-
"Little duck, little duck,
The duck came at once, and, taking Hansel upon her back,
carried him over to the other side,
When they saw the roof of their father's house in the
distance they began to run, and, breathless with haste, half laughing and half crying,
they rushed into the cottage and flung themselves into their father's arms.
Oh! how pleased he was to see them once again, for he had
not known a happy hour since he
So now their troubles were at an end, for the cruel
stepmother was dead, and Hansel and Gretel and their father lived together happily ever
My story is ended, and see, there runs a little mouse,
and the first who catches him shall have a fur cap made from his skin.
FROM THE BOOK:
<THE YOUNG FOLKS TREASURY>
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