Hansel And Gretel


A poor woodcutter lived with his wife and his two young children, Hansel and Gretel. Though they were very poor, they were happy to have each other.

One night, as the children lay sleeping and the woodcutter sadly smoked his pipe, his wife said, “We have barely enough food to feed ourselves. We cannot feed the children, either. We must take them into the woods tomorrow and leave them there to fend for themselves.”

The woodcutter was worried, as he loved his children very much, but he nodded reluctantly, not knowing what else they could do.

The next day, after the children had eaten their breakfast, their father said, “Come, let us all go for a nice walk in the woods, children.” Hansel and Gretel were delighted, as they rarely took on such treats.

As they walked further and further into the woods, the father started leaving a trail of bright white pebbles behind them. Hansel had filled his pockets with these pebbles when his parents were not looking.

When the afternoon came, the parents said they had some work to attend to and that the children should stay and play near a large oak tree until they returned. After the children fell asleep under that tree, the worried parents left to go back home, hoping some kind soul might find their children.

As dusk fell, Hansel and Gretel awoke, shivering and afraid. But fortunately, the moon was full that night, and they could see a bright trail of pebbles leading back home. The two held hands and carefully followed that trail until they reached their little cottage again.

Imagine the joyful surprise of their parents opening the door and seeing Hansel and Gretel again! Though they were still very poor, they embraced their children and decided they could never abandon them again.

A few days later, another cold and hungry night came upon the little family. The wife was in despair, as there was truly no food left in the house. Just then, she had an idea. “This time we must go much deeper into the forest,” she said.

The next afternoon, she woke the children, saying again, “Come, let us go for a lovely walk in the woods!” As they went deeper, Hansel broke small twigs from the bushes and trees and scattered them behind him to mark the way.

After some time, the parents brought them to a small clearing and said they would return soon. After the children had fallen asleep, they sorrowfully left for home.

Many hours later, Hansel and Gretel awoke, frightened to find themselves alone and covered in darkness. But the bright full moon allowed Hansel to spot the little twigs he had dropped. “I will lead us home!” Hansel said to his sister.

Carefully, they went, following each twig to the next. But after some time, no more twigs could be found. They were still deep in the cold, dark forest, with no path back.

Frightened, the two huddled together for warmth and tried not to cry. As dawn came, they decided to wander in search of food and shelter. By midday, they were very tired, cold, and still hungry.

Suddenly, they smelled something delicious in the air. Following the scent, they came upon the strangest little cottage they had ever seen. It was made of gingerbread with cake for walls and candy and sweets all over it!

Too hungry to be afraid, Hansel broke off a bit of the sugary window pane. “It’s delicious!” he said to Gretel, who also took a big bite. As they ate some more, an old woman opened the back door.

“Well, well!” she smiled in a weak voice. “Come in, my pretties, and get some real food in you.” Inside was a feast of pancakes, pies, pudding, and cake. As the children ate to their hearts’ content, the old woman laughed happily to herself, for this was none other than the witch who preyed on lost children!

After the children had their fill, the old witch showed them to two small beds in the corner. Exhausted, Hansel and Gretel fell fast asleep.

“These delicate bites are perfect for any meal,” laughed the witch to herself. You see, she had built the candy cottage to lure any lost children who might wander by. She would feed them up for days after they entered, until they were big enough. They would then be placed in the hot oven!

The next morning, the witch told Gretel she could relax while she showed Hansel how to light the oven in preparation for some sweets she would cook later. But what Gretel did not know was that the witch was going to roast Hansel once the oven burned hot enough!

As Hansel bent to light the fire, he pretended he did not understand how it worked. “Oh, it’s quite easy, my boy,” said the witch. “Just bend lower to blow on the kindling gently until the flames spark brighter.” The foolish witch bent down to show off. In a flash, Hansel gave her a good, hard push, and she dropped into the flames with a sharp shriek!

Gretel came running, shocked at the cries. They watched the witch burn up, shouting curses, until she and the flames died out completely. All that remained inside was a large gingerbread bone.

With the witch now gone, Hansel and Gretel gathered up all the sweets and cakes they could carry. As they went to gather up candy from the window sill, they noticed the dense trees and bushes parting ways to reveal a neat little path.

“The forest seems happy now and shows us the way home!” said Hansel as they walked hand in hand down the path. In just under an hour’s time, they reached their own home again and saw their dear parents rushing forward to embrace them in tears of joy and relief. Though still poor, they were all together again, with enough sweets to last them quite some time. The family rejoiced, thanking the stars that the children had found their way out of that dangerous witch’s clutches.

And Hansel and Gretel were careful never to wander deep into the dark forest again without leaving a trail back home. They lived on with their sweet treats, happy to enjoy each day together as a family.

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