The Blue Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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250
HANSEL AND GRETTEL
white beds were prepared for them, and when Hansel and Grettel lay down in them they felt as if they had got into heaven.
The old woman had appeared to be most friendly, but she was really an old witch who had waylaid the children, and had only built the little bread house in order to lure them in. When anyone came into her power she killed, cooked, and ate him, and held a regular feast-day for the occasion. Now witches have red eyes, and cannot see far, but, like beasts, they have a keen sense of smell, and know when human beings pass by. When Hansel and Grettel fell into her hands she laughed maliciously, and said jeeringly : ' I've got them now; they shan't escape me.' Early in the morning, before the children were awake, she rose up, and when she saw them both sleeping so peacefully, with their round rosy cheeks, she muttered to herself: ' That'll be a dainty bite.' Then she seized Hansel with her bony hand and carried him into a little stable, and barred the door on him; he might scream as much as he liked, it did him no good. Then she went to Grettel, shook her till she awoke, and cried : ' Get up, you lazy-bones, fetch water and cook something for your brother. When he's fat I'll eat him up.' Grettel began to cry bitterly, at it was of no use : she had to do what the wicked witch bade her.
So the best food was cooked for poor Hansel, but Grettel got nothing but crab-shells. Every morning the old woman hobbled out to the stable and cried : ' Hansel, put out your finger, that I may feel if you are getting fat.' But Hansel always stretched out a bone, and the old dame, whose eyes were dim, couldn't see it, and think­ing always it was Hansel's finger, wondered why he fattened so slowly. When four weeks passed and Hansel still remained thin, she lost patience and determined to wait no longer. ' Hi! Grettel,' she called to the girl, ' be quick and get some water. Hansel may be fat or thin, I'm going to kill him to-morrow and cook him.' Oh! how the poor little sister sobbed as she carried the water, and how the tears rolled down her cheeks! ' Kind heaven help us now! ' she cried; ' if only the wild beasts in the wood had eaten us, then at least we should have died together.' ' Just hold your peace,' said the old hag; ' it won't help you.'
Early in the morning Grettel had to go out and hang up the kettle full of water, and light the fire. ' First we'll bake,' said the old dame; ' I've heated the oven already and kneaded the dough,' She pushed Grettel out to the oven, from which fiery flames were already issuing. ' Creep in,' said the witch, ' and see if it's properly
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