Hansel And Gretel Reading
Hansel and Gretel lived with their father and stepmother in a cabin near a forest. There was so little food in the house that the children would always ask for more, and often the stepmother would beat them for merely asking for it. The father was very unhappy.
“What shall we do?” he asked his wife. “The food we raise is not enough and I cannot bear to see the children go hungry”.
“We must take them to the deep forest and leave them there alone,” she replied. “Each of them shall have a crust of bread, and I shall add the little jam I have left. They will get lost and wander about, of course, but at least we shall get rid of them and we will not have to feed them”.
The poor man had to agree, and when the children were asleep they were taken to the wood and left there.
When they awoke, it was dark and they were alone. Gretel began to cry, but Hansel said: “Don’t be afraid. Perhaps a bird will come to our aid.” They walked all night trying to find a trail out of the forest. But they only went deeper into the forest, and finally they were so tired that they lay down on a bed of leaves and fell asleep.
The sound of wings awakened them and, looking up, they saw a white bird circling in the air. It flew to the top of a small hut nearby and the children followed her. As they came close, they saw that the hut was made of sugar, candy and cake. Only the chimney was made of shiny tin. “Oh,” cried Gretel, breaking off the door knob. “I’m so hungry I could eat it all up right to the roof!” Hansel broke off the side of a flower pot. “Look!” he cried. “Look at my chocolate bar!” And they stuffed themselves until they could eat no more. They were so happy that they began to dance around a well in the garden.
Suddenly they heard a voice exclaiming: “Who has been eating the walls of my house?” And an ugly old witch with a green-eyed cat stood in the doorway. The children were so frightened that they could not move. But the old witch said: “Don’t be afraid, my little ones,” and she moved close to take Gretel’s hand. “Stay here with me. You shall have good food to eat and nice warm beds to sleep in.” And she led them into the house.
In the house, hanging from the roof, they saw dozens of cages, each with a different bird in it. But Hansel and Gretel did not know that these were all little children whom the witch had caught and turned into birds. Tomorrow she would do the same to Hansel and Gretel. But tonight she would feed them and put them to bed.
But after they had eaten, Hansel could not sleep. Ten o’clock came, then eleven o’clock. But still he was awake. At exactly twelve o’clock one of the birds spoke:
“In the well, in the well,
Push the old witch in the well.
Little ones, unless you do,
You’ll be in these cages, too!”
Then Hansel woke Gretel, and together they decided to try to get away from the old witch.
When morning came, Hansel was sent to the well for water, and when he did not return, Gretel went out to look for him. When neither of them came back, the old witch poked her head out of the door. “What takes you so long?” she cried. “The bucket fell in, come and see,” replied Hansel. The witch came over and went to look into the well and, as she did so, Hansel gave her a push and she fell screaming to the bottom.
The children ran back to the house and found all the birds had become boys and girls again. They joined them in filling their pockets with all the gold and silver they found in the cupboard. Then they went out, and because some of them knew the way, soon Hansel and Gretel were at home again. They gave all the gold and silver to their father and they never had to leave home again.