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Hansel & Gretel

In a great forest dwelt a poor wood-cutter with his wife and two children. The boy was called Hansel and the girl, Gretel. He could no longer provide daily bread for the family and they were going through very tough times.

One night in bed the old wood-cutter groaned and said to his wife, "How are we to feed our poor children when we no longer have anything even for ourselves?" "I'll tell you what, husband," answered the woman, "early tomorrow morning we will take the children out into the forest where we will light a fire for them, give each of them one more piece of bread, and then we will go to our work and leave them alone."

The two children had also not been able to sleep for hunger, and had overheard what their stepmother said to their father. Gretel wept bitter tears, and Hansel said to her, "Don't worry Gretel, I will soon find a way to help us."

When day dawned, the woman came and awoke the two children, saying, "Get up, you slugheads! We are going in to the forest to fetch wood." She gave each a little piece of bread and warned them that they should not eat it up before dinner, for it is all that they will get. Once outside of the house, they walked past the usual group of birds that lived in their front yard and Gretel took notice of one that had a purple tailfeather. As they all set out together on the way to the forest, Hansel would every so often throw a bit of the bread out of his pocket on to the road.

When they reached the middle of the forest by noon, the father said, "Now children, pile up some wood and I will light a fire." When that was done, the woman said, "Children, lay down by the fire and rest. Your father and I will go in to the forest, use our axe to fetch some more wood, then come to get you when we are done."


Hansel and Gretel awoke at last to an already dark night. They could not hear the sound of their father's axe, and it was becoming clear that their parents were not coming back for them. Gretel began to cry and said, "How are we to get out of the forest now?" But Hansel comforted her and said, "Just wait until the moon raises, Gretel. Then we shall see the bits of bread which I have strewn about and they will show us our way home." But when the moon had raised high enough to cast its glow upon the bits of bread, they found no bits. Hansel figured that the many birds which roam about the woods must have picked them all up.

The children walked deeper in to the forest and with each passing day they became hungrier and weaker. Three days later, they noticed a little house. As they approached the house they saw that it was built of bread and covered with cakes, and the windows were made of sweet sugar! Hansel gasped and said, "Let's feast!" Gretel began licking the sugar-coated window as Hansel reached up above and broke off one of the cakes to try how it tasted. As they were eating, a faint cackle could be heard from within the house.

Suddenly the door creaked open and an old woman came creeping out. Hansel was so terribly frightened that he dropped his half-eaten cakes, and Gretel, who had been thoroughly enjoying her sugar window, paused in mid-lick. "Hello, dearies." she said in a soft inviting voice, "If you like what is on the outside then you really should come inside and try my furniture!" She took them both by the hand and led them in to her little house. The woman let them try her furniture and it tasted like cake. When they looked like they were finally getting full, she drizzled the furniture in chocolate syrup. When that got to be too much, she added some sprinkles so that the children could not resist having more than they could even fit in their bellies. Hansel and Gretel were now beyond full and soon fell fast asleep.

The children had been so distracted by the treats that they failed to realize that this house was actually a trick to lure in hungry lost children. Furthermore, this stranger was no ordinary lady but, these poor children fell victim to a wicked witch! The old lady snatched up Hansel from his sleep, carried him in to a little stable, and locked him in so that he could not get out. She then went to Gretel, shook her till she awoke, and cried, "Get up, lazy thing, fetch some water and cook something good for your brother. He is locked away in the stable and is to be made fat. When he is fat, I will eat him." Weep as she might, Gretel was forced to do what the wicked witch commanded.

From then on out only the best food was cooked for poor Hansel, while Gretel got nothing but crab-shells. Every morning the witch crept to the little stable, and cried, "Hansel, stretch out your finger that I may feel if you will soon be fat." Hansel, however, stretched out a little bone to her. The witch, who had poor eyesight, could not see it and thought it was Hansel's finger. She was astonished that there was no way of making him fat. When four weeks had gone by, and Hansel still was not fat, she could not wait any longer. "Now then, Gretel," she cried to the girl, "Bring some water. Fat or not, tomorrow I will cook him and eat him."

Early the next morning, the witch had already begun to prepare the oven which was to be used to cook Hansel. She nudged poor Gretel up to the oven. "Get inside," said the witch, "and see if it is ready." Once Gretel was inside, she actually intended to keep her in there and cook her, too! But Gretel saw what she had in mind, and said, "I do not know how to get inside. Can you show me?" "Silly goose," said the old woman. "It is big enough; just look, I can get in myself!" as she crept up and thrust her head in to the oven. At that moment, Gretel gave her a push that drove her far in to the oven and she shut her inside. "Ohhhhh!" she began to howl quite horribly, but Gretel ran away and the wicked witch was left to cook.

Gretel opened the little stable and cried, "Hansel, we are saved! The old witch is dead!" "Yippeee!!!" cried Hansel. The two, no longer having fear of the wicked witch wanting to eat them, went back in to the house. In every corner there stood chests full of pearls and jewels, of which they filled their pockets full. The children ate more of the house and made sure to bring some bread for their long journey home. "Now we must be off," said Hansel, and they left the house of cakes and sugar and furniture behind them. They could still hear the witch cry out in the distance, "Ohhhhh! I only wanted to eat you, my dearies!"

When they had walked for short while, they soon realized that they were being followed by a group of birds. Hansel figured that these must have been the same birds which had eaten up all the bits of bread before, but Gretel had noticed something else familiar -- one of the birds had a purple tailfeather, so this must have been the same group of birds that often lived outside their father's house! At that moment she knew exactly how they would find their way out of the forest. Gretel held the bread high above her head and exclaimed, "Hang on to my coat, Hansel and don't let go!" As she expected, the birds took firm hold of the bread and the children soon found themselves being whisked away faster than they could ever walk!

Within what seemed like no time at all, the children soon found themselves right outside their home. They rushed inside and hugged their father, who had deeply missed his children. Their stepmother had since passed and the old wood-cutter regretted following his wife's words. Fortunately for them all, the pearls and jewels taken from the house of the wicked witch could afford the family bread for the rest of their lives. Hansel and Gretel never knew hunger again, and they lived happily ever after.


The children always made sure to toss bits of bread outside for their friends, the birds, whom also lived happily ever after.

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