Bedtime Stories

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel Story

Once a boy named Hansel and his sister, Gretel, lived with their parents in a tiny cottage at the edge of a dense forest. Their father was a simple woodcutter. Although the family always had plenty of firewood to keep their home warm and cozy, often there was not enough food. In fact, many times Hansel and Gretel had nothing but a crust of bread for their supper.

Night after night, long after Hansel and Gretel had gone to bed, their parents would sit at the table and discuss the family’s future. Even though they whispered, Hansel and Gretel could still hear them talking.

“What is to become of us?”asked Father. “Soon we will not have even enough money for flour.”

“We will manage,” Mother said. “We always find ways to manage.”

“We all will surely starve unless I go through the forest to find work,” Father sighed.

“Do not say such things,” Mother cried.

“With no one to sell my wood to,” Father continued, “we have no money. Without money, we cannot buy food. What other choice do we have? I cannot expect my children to find work!”Mother gasped at the very thought. 

“So you understand,” Father said holding her hand, “I will go through the forest to find work so that we will have more to eat.”

“Enough for one night,” Mother said calmly. “You are a woodcutter. An honest, hard working woodcutter. We will find a way to manage. Let us get some rest now.”

“Hansel, did you hear?” Gretel spoke to her brother in the dark.

“I heard,” said Hansel.

“I do not want Father to leave,” she said. “What can we do?”

“I will go,” Hansel answered.

“You will go where?” Gretel asked.

“I will travel through the forest to find work,” Hansel said quietly.

“Then, I am coming with you,” said Gretel.

“Don’t be silly,” Hansel laughed. “The forest is a dangerous place. You cannot go.”

“If the forest is so dangerous,” said Gretel, “you may need my help.”

“Gretel, you are very stubborn. Alright then,” Hansel said climbing out of his bed. “We will leave tonight.”

Before daylight, and before their parents were awake, Hansel and Gretel got out of bed and pulled on their clothes. Gretel collected some bread from the kitchen and stuffed it into her pockets.

“So we won’t starve on our journey,” she said.

“I suppose it is not such a bad idea for you to come along,” Hansel said as he lead his sister out the door and into the dark forest.

Gretel took a last look at the house. “Goodbye, Father and Mother,” Gretel whispered. The children walked silently. They walked the entire day through the tangled brush and tall trees. They walked until their feet hurt.”I did not realize the forest was so big,” Gretel said.

“I did not either,” said Hansel. “It will be dark soon. Are you frightened?”

“Frightened?” Gretel said smiling. “Me? What would I be afraid of?”

“I was just thinking,” Hansel stammered, “perhaps you wanted to go back home. It is not too late, if you were afraid, for us to turn around.”

“Perhaps you are a little frightened, brother,” Gretel said.

“Don’t be silly. I’m hungry, but not afraid,” Hansel said.

“It’s a good thing you do not want to turn back,” said Gretel looking around her.

“I wonder which way is home anyway.”

“Do not worry about that,” Hansel said smiling proudly. “We are not lost, I made

sure of it. I have left a trail of bread crumbs behind us, just in case we need to turn back.”

“You are very clever, Hansel,” Gretel laughed.

“You laugh after I sacrificed my piece of precious bread to save us?”

“Hansel, we can share my bread,” Gretel said still smiling.

“What is so funny?” Hansel asked.

“I’m afraid if I tell you,” Gretel said seriously, “you will become frightened. It is

best that I do not tell you.”

“I will not walk one step further until you tell me,” Hansel demanded.

Gretel continued to walk.

“Wait!” Hansel ran up alongside his sister. “Stubborn girl! Didn’t you say you would share your bread with me. I am very hungry!”

“Dear brother, I am afraid you sacrificed your precious bread for

nothing,” Gretel said as she continued to walk.

“What?” Hansel asked.

“Look!” Gretel said, pointing behind him. “That is why I am laughing.”

Three black birds walked along behind them carefully eating each piece of bread crumb Hansel had dropped. The trail Hansel had left for them had vanished.

“Hansel, here, eat some,” Gretel said holding out a piece of bread for her brother.

“I am not hungry anymore,” Hansel said and walked along.

The children continued to walk through the forest. Surely they would come across someone or somewhere they could rest and have something small to eat. They felt that they were walking in circles now.

Night fell upon the forest. Strange noises came out from behind the trees. Hansel and Gretel sat huddled against the cold and whispered.

“Did you hear that?” asked Hansel reaching for Gretel’s hand.

“I have heard so many things tonight,” Gretel whispered. “We should try and sleep. We will wake up in the morning and walk all day until we find our way through.”

“But I am very hungry now,” Hansel said.

“Tell me, Hansel,” Gretel said reaching into her pockets again, “what work do you hope to find at the other end of the forest?”

“I want to be a farmer,” Hansel whispered. “I will grow so much food that we will never be hungry again. And you, Gretel, what work will you do?”

Gretel thought for a moment. Both Hansel and Gretel fell asleep before she could answer. Gretel dreamt of her family sitting by their cozy fire and eating. They were eating squash, cabbage, potatoes and beans, all grown by Hansel, the farmer. In the morning they continued to walk. At first they sang songs that their parents had taught them to help make the time pass. Soon they grew tired and hungry again and walked along silently.

“Gretel, look!” Hansel shouted. “A cottage!”

The children could not believe their eyes. There in a small

clearing stood a small cottage.

“Maybe whoever lives in that cottage will give us some food,” said Hansel.

“Let’s hope,” said Gretel running towards the small house.

As the children got closer they saw it was not an ordinary little house. Its walls were made of gingerbread! Colorful candies tiled the roof and the windowpanes were made of clear sugar.

“It is the most beautiful house I have ever seen!” said Gretel.

“It is the most delicious house I have ever seen!” said Hansel, running to take a bite of the candied curtain.

“Wait,” Gretel cried, “we should see if anyone is home and ask before we eat.”

Hansel knocked on the cookie door.

But no one answered.

“Knock again,” said Gretel.

Both children knocked and called out.”Tip-tap, tip-tap, who raps at my door?”

called an angry voice.

“The wind, the wind, it’s nothing but the wind,” said the children afraid of the voice. Just then the door to the house opened, and a very old woman with a walking cane came out. The old woman said sweetly, “Do not be afraid. Come in.”

“We have been travelling through the forest with

nothing to eat,” Gretel said. “We are terribly hungry.”

“Children, you have come to the right place,” the old woman laughed. “Help yourselves. Fill your bellies with candy and come inside and have a rest.”The old woman prepared Hansel and Gretel a meal of pancakes with rich syrup. She poured them large glasses of milk.

As they ate, they told her of their adventure in the forest. They told her about their plans to find work.

The old woman smiled. “Such good children you are. And the forest is such a dangerous place! Come now, I have made up beds for you. Rest for your journey.” She showed them two little beds that were covered with soft down.

“I know what work I will find at the other end of the forest,” Gretel said

yawning and slipping into the warm bed. “I will learn to build

beautiful houses made of cookies, cakes and giant candies.”

“You may need my help,” Hansel said drifting off to sleep.

Before the children woke the old woman grabbed Hansel and locked him up in a little cage. Next she turned to Gretel who was still sleeping. “Wake up, you lazy thing, and fetch some water to cook something good for your brother.

When he is fat enough I shall eat him,” said the woman.

Gretel rubbed her eyes. “This must be a nightmare!” she said.

“She is a witch!” Hansel cried from inside the cage.

“That’s right,” the witch shouted. “I am a witch and you are my supper.”

For the next few weeks, the witch made sure Hansel got plenty to eat. She wanted him to become very, very fat. Each morning she stood at his cage and said, “Stick out your finger so I can see how plump you are getting!”

But Hansel was clever and brave. He knew that witches do not see very

well. Instead of his finger, he stuck out a thin little chicken bone that Gretel had managed to pass him secretly.

“Hmmm,” said the witch, as she felt the chicken bone. “What a bony little thing you are! You must eat more!” And she yelled at Gretel to bring Hansel more food. Meanwhile, Gretel was given only crusts of bread to eat. At night, when the old witch was asleep in her warm bed and Gretel laid down in the corner of the kitchen, the two children would sing softly the

songs they had learned from their parents.When four weeks had passed and Hansel still seemed quite lean, the old witch lost all her patience. She could not wait any longer. Gretel,” she called out. “Quick! Get some water. Whether Hansel is fat or lean, this morning I will cook him and eat him!”

“No!” Gretel shouted.”You stubborn child, do as I say and do it now,” the old witch demanded, pounding her cane on the cobblestone floor.

Gretel did not move.

“Fine,” said the witch, “if that is how you want it then I will eat you for dessert!”

Gretel still did not move.

The witch was very angry now. “First we will bake, I have already heated the oven and kneaded the dough.” She nudged Gretel up to the oven. “Creep in, and see if it is hot enough for the bread.”

Gretel knew not to trust the old witch. She felt sure she would shove her into the oven if she got any closer.

“No,” Gretel finally said, “I do not know how to check.”

“You stubborn goose,” shouted the witch, “do as I say.”

“I will not,” Gretel said bravely.

“Then move out of my way, and I will do it myself,” the mean witch said.

The old witch shoved Gretel aside. Slowly, she hobbled over to the oven and poked her head inside.

Just as she did, Gretel gave the old witch a push. The witch fell right in the oven. Then Gretel quickly slammed the iron door and bolted it so the mean old witch could not get out.

“I told you, you would need my help,” Gretel said opening the door of Hansel’s cage.

Hansel sprang out of the cage and hugged his sister.

With nothing else to fear, the children sat down and enjoyed a feast of cookies, fresh bread, and candies.

“I was thinking,” Hansel said after taking a large bite of cookie, “Mother and Father would enjoy such a fine meal.”

“Let’s go home!” both children said at once laughing.

Before leaving the old witch’s home, the children wandered through the house looking for more food to take with them. Instead, they found boxes of pearls and precious stones.”I know what work I will do when we return home,” Hansel said smiling. “I’ll sell fine jewels and stones!”

“You will surely need my help,” Gretel laughed.

The children stuffed their pockets with the jewels and stuffed large sacks with as many cakes and candies as they could carry.

“Let’s hurry home,” Hansel said.

“I am sure that Mother and Father are dreadfully worried by now,” Gretel added.

Without a trail to lead them, the children did not know the way home. They walked through the dense forest for days. Along their path, they fed the birds with crumbs of cake and sang happily. The walked and walked until finally they saw a space in the woods which looked familiar.

“I think I know the way home from here,” said Hansel.

Gretel followed her brother. Soon they could see their very own little cottage through the trees. They ran home, shouting, “Mother, Father, we are back

at last!”

Mother and Father met Hansel and Gretel at the door and hugged them for a very long time.

“Look what we have brought,” said Hansel. He took the pearls and precious stones from his pockets and laid them on the table. “Once we sell these we will never be hungry again.”

“How in the world did you find such treasures?” Father smiled and hugged his son once again.

“It is a very long story Father,” Hansel said, “but I did get some help!”

“And look at these sweets!” Mother laughed. “Are these what

everyone eats on the other side of the forest?”

“I think I have seen enough cookies, candies, and cakes to last me a very long time!” said Gretel rubbing her belly.

“Me too!” Hansel laughed.

“You are good children,” said Father, “very good and very brave. But promise me one thing! You must never, ever venture into the forest again, for

it is a most dangerous place.”

Hansel smiled at his sister. “I promise,” he said, because this time he knew it to be very true.

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