The Blue Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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O NCE upon a time there dwelt on the outskirts of a large forest a poor woodcutter with his wife and two children ; the boy was called Hansel and the girl Grettel. He had always little enough to live on, and once, when there was a great famine in the land, he couldn't even provide them with daily bread. One night, as he was tossing about in bed, full of cares and worry, he sighed and said to his wife : ' What's to become of us ? how are we to support our poor children, now that we have nothing more for ourselves ? ' ' I'll tell you what, husband,' answered the woman; ' early to­morrow morning we'll take the children out into the thickest part of the wood; there we shall light a fire for them a,nd give them each a piece of bread; then we'll go on to our work and leave them alone. They won't be able to find their way home, and we shall thus be rid of them.' ' No, wife,' said her husband, ' that I won't do ; how could I find it in my heart to leave my children alone in the wood ? the wild beasts would soon come and tear them to pieces.' ' Oh ! you fool,' said she, ' then we must all four die of hunger, and you may just as well go and plane the boards for our coffins;' and she left him no peace till he consented. ' But I can't help feeling sorry for the poor children,' added the husband. The children, too, had not been able to sleep for hunger, and had heard what their step-mother had said to their father. Grettel wept bitterly and spoke to Hansel: ' Now it's all up with us.' ' No, no, Grettel,' said Hansel, ' don't fret yourself; I'll be able to find a way of escape, no fear.' And when the old people had fallen asleep he got up, slipped on his little coat, opened the back door and stole out. The moon was shining clearly, and the white pebbles which lay in front of the house glittered like bits of silver. Hansel bent down and filled his pocket with as many of them as he could cram in. Then he went back and said to Grettel: ' Be comforted, my dear little sister, and go to sleep : God will not desert us; ' and he lay down in bed again.
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