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Hansel and Gretel

After they had walked for a little, Hansel stood still and looked back at the house, and this maneuver he repeated again and again. His father observed him, and said: "Hansel, what are you gazing at there, and why do you always remain behind? Take care, and don't lose your footing." "Oh! father," said Hansel, "I am looking back at my white kitten, which is sitting on the roof, waving me a farewell." The woman exclaimed: "What a donkey you are! that isn't your kitten, that's the morning sun shining on the chimney." But Hansel had not looked back at his kitten, but had always dropped one of the white pebbles out of his pocket on to the path. When they had reached the middle of the forest the father said: "Now, children, go and fetch a lot of wood, and I'll light a fire that you may not feel cold." Hansel and Gretel heaped up brushwood till they had made a pile nearly the size of a small hill. The brushwood was set fire to, and when the flames leaped high the woman said: "Now lie down at the fire, children, and rest yourselves: we are going into the forest to cut down wood; when we've finished we'll come back and fetch you."



Hansel and Gretel sat down beside the fire, and at midday ate their little bits of bread. They heard the strokes of the axe, so they thought their father was quite near. But it was no axe they heard, but a bough he had tied on a dead tree, and that was blown about by the wind. And when they had sat for a long time their eyes closed with fatigue, and they fell fast asleep. When they awoke at last it was pitch dark. Gretel began to cry, and said: "How are we ever to get out of the wood?" But Hansel comforted her. "Wait a bit," he said, "till the moon is up, and then we'll find our way sure enough." And when the full moon had risen he took his sister by the hand and followed the pebbles, which shone like new threepenny bits, and showed them the path. They walked on through the night, and at daybreak reached their father's house again. They knocked at the door, and when the woman opened it she exclaimed: "You naughty children, what a time you've slept in the wood! we thought you were never going to come back." But the father rejoiced, for his conscience had reproached him for leaving his children behind by themselves.

       



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