Once upon a time, there was a poor woodcutter who had two children, a boy and a girl with his dear wife. Their names were Hansel and Gretel. The woodcutter made little money, so they lived in misery, and when everything became expensive, they no longer had enough for bread. So one night he rolled over in bed and thoughtfully told his wife that they could no longer feed the children.
"One evening as he was lying in bed worrying about his problems, he sighed and said to his wife, "What is to become of us? How can we feed our children when we have nothing for ourselves?""
The wife suggested that they take the children to the forest and leave them there, but the man did not even want to hear. She soon convinced him as she gave him no peace.
"Oh, you fool," she said, "then all four of us will starve. All you can do is to plane the boards for our coffins." And she gave him no peace until he agreed.
The children heard that conversation, and Gretel was very scared.
"Gretel cried bitter tears and said to Hansel, "It is over with us!"
"Be quiet, Gretel," said Hansel, "and don't worry. I know what to do.""
Hansel, who was wise and witty, put on his coat, sneaked into the yard that night and collected white pebbles, and put them in his pocket.
In the morning, when their mother woke them up, their father took them to the forest to gather some wood. She gave them a piece of bread, telling them that it was their lunch and that they should not eat everything right away because they would be hungry later. Gretel put the bread under her apron, and Hensel stuffed his pockets with pebbles, so they all headed into the woods.
On the way, Hansel stopped every now and then, looking towards the house, but his father quickly noticed him and asked him why he was stopping every now and then. He replied that he was looking at his white cat.
""Oh, father," said Hansel, "I am looking at my white cat that is sitting on the roof and wants to say good-bye to me."
The woman said, "You fool, that isn't your cat. That's the morning sun shining on the chimney.""
When they found themselves in the middle of the forest, their father invited them to gather some wood to light a fire. When the fire started nicely, the woman told the children to lie down by the fire and that she and their father were going to cut more wood. When they’re finished, they will come back for them.
Hansel and Grettle settled down by the fire, and when night slowly fell, everyone ate their own piece of bread. They heard the ax struck, so they thought their father was nearby. But it was not the ax that struck, but the branch from the tree that their father tied to the dry tree, so the wind would beat it back and forth. Since they sat by the fire for a long time, the children were tired and soon fell asleep. When they woke up, it was already night.
Gretel started to cry, and Hansel comforted her that they would easily find their way out of the forest.
"When they finally awoke, it was dark at night. Gretel began to cry and said, "How will we get out of woods?"
Hansel comforted her, "Wait a little until the moon comes up, and then we'll find the way.""
When the moon came out, Hansel took his sister by the hand and led them out of the woods along a path marked by pebbles that still shone in the moonlight like silver coins. They walked all night, and at dawn, they knocked on the door of their house.
The woman, when she saw that it was Hansel and Gretel, shouted at them, falsely saying that she was worried about them not coming back.
"They knocked on the door, and when the woman opened it and saw that it was Hansel and Gretel, she said, "You wicked children, why did you sleep so long in the woods? We thought that you did not want to come back.""
But the father was really happy because it was difficult for him to leave his children alone in the woods all alone without any protection.
Soon misery and hunger reigned again and the children heard their mother tell their father again that they had only half of the bread left and that they needed to get rid of the children again, only this time they should take them deeper into the woods so they could not find their way back.
The father felt sorry for the children again.
"The man was very disheartened, and he thought, "It would be better to share the last bit with the children.""
But she didn't even want to hear about the children staying in the house. She objected to him and so he relented a second time.
"But the woman would not listen to him, scolded him, and criticized him. He who says A must also say B, and because he had given in the first time, he had to do so the second time as well."
The children were awake and of course, heard the whole conversation. When his father and mother fell asleep, Hansel got up again to sneak out of the house and gather stones like last time; but he couldn't go outside, his mother locked the door. Gretel started crying again, but Hansel comforted her and told her to sleep peacefully and not to cry.
When the morning came, the woman woke them up and gave them each a piece of bread, even less than the last time she gave them. As they went into the woods, Hansel crumbled bread in his pocket and paused to throw crumbs on the ground. His father noticed him again and rebuked him for taking a step. Hansel told him that he was watching a dove on the roof of the house.
The woman took the children even deeper into the forest where they started a fire and told them that they were going to cut wood again. That they would come for them, but until then they can take a nap if they were tired.
When half a day had passed, Gretel shared a piece of her bread with her brother because he spent his own on leaving it on the road. Soon, they fell asleep tired. Night fell, and no one came to pick up the children. Gretel started crying again, and Hansel started comforting her.
""Wait, when the moon comes up I will be able to see the crumbs of bread that I scattered, and they will show us the way back home.""
The moon came out again, so the two of them went home looking for crumbs, but they couldn't find them. The birds ate them all. Hansel once more began to comfort and encourage his sister. They walked all night, and they couldn't get out of the forest. They were very hungry and had nothing but blackberries and strawberries they found in the woods. They were tired, so they lay down on the ground and fell asleep.
On the third morning, they set out again to look for a way home, but they went deeper and deeper into the woods. They noticed a white bird jumping and singing on the tree. They liked the bird so much that they followed her as she climbed from one branch to another and moved further and further into the woods. Soon, she landed on the roof of a house.
"If help did not come soon, they would perish. At midday they saw a little snow-white bird sitting on a branch. It sang so beautifully that they stopped to listen. When it was finished it stretched its wings and flew in front of them. They followed it until they came to a little house. The bird sat on the roof, and when they came closer, they saw that the little house was built entirely from bread with a roof made of cake, and the windows were made of clear sugar."
When they approached, the children saw that the house was all made of bread, with sugar windows and a cake roof. Hansel was overjoyed because they were finally able to eat. Hansel started to take some from the roof, and Gretel took some from the sweet window. He was about to break off a piece of the roof with his hand, and Gretel was biting the window when they heard a thin voice from the house telling them not to eat the house.
"Nibble, nibble, little mouse,
Who is nibbling at my house?"
The children did not allow themselves to be accommodated, so they answered the voice they heard:
"The wind, the wind,
The heavenly child."
And they continued to chew on the house. Hansel especially decided to bite the roof, and Gretel broke the whole window frame, sat on the ground, and went to eat. Suddenly, an old woman came out of the house, and the children were so scared that they dropped everything from their hands.
The old woman greeted them and asked how they got here. She invited them in, took them by their hands, and led them both into her house. She put all sorts of fine dishes on the table, apples, walnuts, cakes, and milk. She made them two white beds, and they both went to bed feeling as if they were in the sky. They quickly fell asleep.
The old woman who kindly introduced them and received them into the house was actually just an evil witch who lured lost children into the woods. She deliberately made a house out of cakes and candies just to attract children. When she caught a child, she would strangle them, cook them and eat them.
The witch had red eyes so she could not look into the distance, but she had a very sharp sense of smell, like forest beasts that immediately sense when someone approaches them.
When she smelled the two children, she immediately decided that she would not let them run away.
"When Hansel and Gretel came near to her, she laughed wickedly and spoke scornfully, "Now I have them. They will not get away from me again.""
In the morning, before the children opened their eyes, the witch got up and approached their little beds. When she saw them sleeping sweetly with rosy and full cheeks, she thought they would be two good mouthfuls. She grabbed Hansel by his hand, took him to a small stall, and locked him by the cage door where he could scream as much as he wanted, but no one could hear him nor help him.
Then the witch returned to Gretel, shook her to wake her up, and shouted to bring water and cook something for her brother to eat to gain weight.
"Get up, lazybones! Fetch water and cook something good for your brother. He is locked outside in the stall and is to be fattened up. When he is fat I am going to eat him."
Gretel started crying, but in vain. She had to do everything the evil witch told her to do. Hansel got the finest dishes and Gretel only had crayfish shells. The witch went to the stall every morning to see how much Hansel had gained weight.
"Hansel, stick out your finger, so I can feel if you are fat yet."
Hansel stuck out a small bone every time, and the witch, as she could not see well, thought it was his finger. She didn’t understand how he hadn't gained any weight.
After four weeks, the witch lost her temper and decided not to wait any longer. She ordered Gretel to bring water because she would cook Hansel, even if he was so thin.
Gretel cried bitterly, but she could do nothing but listen to the witch and bring water.
"Dear God, please help us," she cried. "If only the wild animals had devoured us in the woods, then we would have died together."
The witch rebuked her for just whining unsuccessfully because nothing would help her.
The next morning at dawn, Gretel had to get up early to hang the kettle and start a fire. The witch told her that she bakes the bread first because she had already lit a fire in the oven and kneaded the dough. The witch pushed Gretel towards the oven and told her to check if it was hot enough for bread baking.
Gretel realized that she could push the witch into the oven, so she decided to trick the old witch. She pretended she didn't know how to enter the oven to check the heat so she asked the old witch to show her. The old woman snapped and decided to show her.
Since the opening was big enough for her to enter it, she pushed her head into the oven, Gretel pushed her harder, and the witch burst deeper inside. Gretel quickly closed the door of the oven, while the witch roared and howled. Gretel ran away to find Hansel while the witch was burning, leaving nothing but ashes.
When she reached the stall, she released Hansel and told him they were free.
"Hansel, we are saved. The old witch is dead."
Brother and sister jumped for joy because they no longer had reason to be afraid. They entered her house and began to peek into every corner of the house. They found drawers and cabinets full of precious stones and decided to take them home. Gretel filled her apron with pearls and precious stones and they headed home.
They wanted to get out of the enchanted forest as soon as possible. They were walking for two hours when they reached the large water. They didn’t know how to cross because they did not see a bridge, a boat, or a walkaway anywhere. Gretel then saw a white duckling and decided to ask her for help.
Here stand Gretel and Hansel.
Neither a walkway nor a bridge,
Take us onto your white back."
The duckling sailed to the shore, and Hansel asked her to take them on her back across the water. He invited Gretel to hop on a duckling’s back, but she said they were too heavy for her.
"No," answered Gretel. "That would be too heavy for the duckling. It should take us across one at a time."
The kind duckling took them both across the water. They said goodbye to the duckling and continued their way home.
Since they had been walking for some time, they soon noticed that the forest was somehow familiar to them, and the further they went, the more they began to notice their father's house. They speed up to get there as soon as possible. When they saw their father, they ran towards him as fast as they could and hugged him around his neck. The father was so happy to see his children and gave them the strongest hug. In the meantime, during their absence, their mother died and now they could finally be together.
Gretel took off her apron and shook out the pearls she took from the witch's house, and Hansel turned over his pockets from which the precious stones fell out one by one. That is how all their problems ended. Children lived happily ever after with their father.
"Now all their cares were at an end, and they lived happily together.
My tale is done,
A mouse has run.
And whoever catches it can make for himself from it a large, large fur cap"