HANSEL AND GRETHEL. 89
few berries they could pick up. And when they were so tired that they could no longer drag themselves along, they lay down under a tree and fell asleep.
It was now the third morning since they had left their father's house. They were always trying to get back to it, but instead of that they only found themselves farther in the wood, and if help had not soon come they would have been starved. About noon they saw a pretty snow-white bird sitting on a bough, and singing so sweetly that they stopped to listen. And when he had finished the bird spread his wings and flew before them, and they followed after him until they came to a little house, and the bird perched on the roof, and when they came nearer they saw that the house was built of bread, and roofed with cakes; and the window was of transparent sugar.
" We will have some of this," said Hansel, " and make a fine meal. I will eat a piece of the roof, Grethel, and you can have some of the window—that will taste sweet."
So Hansel reached up and broke off a bit of the roof, just to see how it tasted, and Grethel stood by the window and gnawed at it. Then they heard a thin voice call out from
" Nibble, nibble, like a mouse, Who is nibbling at my house?"
And the children answered,
u Never mind, It is the wind."
And they went on eating, never disturbing themselves. Hansel, who found that the roof tasted very nice, took down a great piece of it, and Grethel pulled out a large round window-pane, and sat her down and began upon it. Then the door opened, and an aged woman came out, leaning upon a crutch. Hansel and Grethel felt very frightened, and let fall what they had in their hands. The old woman, however, nodded her head, and said,
" Ah, my dear children, how come you here ? you must come indoors and stay with me, you will be no trouble."
So she took them each by the hand, and led them into her little house. And there they found a good meal laid out, of milk and pancakes, with sugar, apples, and nuts. After that