Hansel and gretel
Once upon a time… a very poor woodcutter lived in a tiny cottage in the forest with his two children, Hansel and Gretel. His second wife often ill-treated the children and was forever nagging the woodcutter.
"There is not enough food in the house for us all. There are too many mouths to feed! We must get rid of the two brats," she declared.
And she kept on trying to persuade her husband to abandon his children in the forest.
"Take them miles from home, so far that they can never find their way back! Maybe someone will find them and give them a home."
The downcast woodcutter didn't know what to do. Hansel who, one evening, had overheard his parents' conversation, comforted Gretel.
"Don't worry! If they do leave us in the forest, we'll find the way home," he said. And slipping out of the house he filled his pockets with little white pebbles, then went back to bed.
All night long, the woodcutter's wife harped on and on at her husband till, at dawn, he led Hansel and Gretel away into the forest.
But as they went into the depths of the trees, Hansel dropped a little white pebble here and there on the mossy green ground.
At a certain point, the two children found they really were alone: the woodcutter had plucked up enough courage to desert them, had mumbled an excuse and was gone.
Night fell but the woodcutter did not return. Gretel began to sob bitterly. Hansel too felt scared but he tried to hide his feelings and comfort his sister.
"Don't cry, trust me! I swear I'll take you home even if Father doesn t come back for us!"
Luckily the moon was full that night and Hansel waited till its cold light filtered through the trees.
"Now give me your hand!" he said. "We'll get home safely, you'll see!"
The tiny white pebbles gleamed in the moonlight, and the children found their way home. They crept through a half-open window, without wakening their parents. Cold, tired but thankful to be home again, they slipped into bed.
Next day, when their stepmother discovered that Hansel and Gretel had returned, she went into a rage. Stifling her anger in front of the children, she locked her bedroom door, reproachlng her husband for failing to carry out her orders.
The weak woodcutter protested, torn as he was between shame and fear of disobeying his cruel wife.
The wicked stepmother kept Hansel and Gretel under lock and key all day with nothing for supper but a sip of water and some hard bread.
All night, husband and wife quarrelled, and when dawn came, the woodcutter led the children out into the forest.
Hansel, however, had not eaten his bread, and as he walked through the trees, he left a trail of crumbs behind him to mark the way. But the little boy had forgotten about the hungry birds that lived in the forest. When they saw him, they flew along behind and in no time at all, had eaten all the crumbs.
Again, with a lame excuse, the woodcutter left his two children by themselves. "I've left a trail, like last time!" Hansel whispered to Gretel, consolingly. But when night fell, they saw to their horror, that all the crumbs had gone.
"I'm frightened!" wept Gretel bitterly. "I'm cold and hungry and I want to go home!"
"Don't be afraid. I'm here to look after you!" Hansel tried to encourage his sister, but he too shivered when he glimpsed frightening shadows and evil eyes around them in the darkness.
All night the two children huddled together for warmth at the foot of a large tree. When dawn broke, they started to wander about the forest, seeking a path, but all hope soon faded.