HANSEL AND GRETHEL.
So Hansel and Grethel sat by the fire, and at noon they each ate their pieces of bread. They thought their father was in the wood all the time, as they seemed to hear the strokes of the axe : but really it was only a dry branch hanging to a withered tree that the wind moved to and fro. So when they had stayed there a long time their eyelids closed with weariness, and they fell fast asleep. When at last they woke it was night, and Grethel began to cry, and said,
" How shall we ever get out of this wood ? " But Hansel comforted her, saying,
" Wait a little while longer, until the moon rises, and then we can easily find the way home."
And when the full moon got up Hansel took his little sister by the hand, and followed the way where the flint stones shone like silver, and showed them the road. They walked on the whole night through, and at the break of day they came to their father's house. They knocked at the door, and when the wife opened it and saw that it was Hansel and Grethel she said,
" You naughty children, why did you sleep so long in the wood ? we thought you were never coming home again !"
But the father was glad, for it had gone to his heart to leave them both in the woods alone.
Not very long after that there was again great scarcity in those parts, and the children heard their mother say at night in bed to their father,
" Everything is finished up ; we have only half a loaf, and after that the tale comes to an end. The children must be off; we will take them farther into the wood this time, so that they shall not be able to find the way back again; there is no other way to manage."
The man felt sad at heart, and he thought,
"It would better to share one's last morsel with one's children."
But the wife would listen to nothing that he said, but scolded and reproached him. He who says A must say B too, and when a man has given in once he has to do it a second time.
But the children were not asleep, and had heard all the talk. When the parents had gone to sleep Hansel got up to