HANSEL AND GRETHEL.
Oh what a grief for the poor little sister to have to fetch water, and how the tears flowed down over her cheeks !
" Dear God, pray help us !" cried she ; " if we had been devoured by wild beasts in the wood at least we should have died together."
" Spare me your lamentations," said the old woman ; " they are of no avail."
Early next morning Grethel had to get up, make the fire, and fill the kettle.
" First we will do the baking," said the old woman; " I have heated the oven already, and kneaded the dough."
She pushed poor Grethel towards the oven, out of which the flames were already shining.
" Creep in," said the witch, " and see if it is properly hot, so that the bread may be baked."
And Grethel once in, she meant to shut the door upon her and let her be baked, and then she would have eaten her. But Grethel perceived her intention, and said,
" I don't know how to do it: how shall I get in ?"
" Stupid goose," said the old woman, " the opening is big enough, do you see ? I could get in myself!" and she stooped down and put her head in the oven's mouth. Then Grethel gave her a push, so that she went in farther, and she shut the iron door upon her, and put up the bar. Oh how frightfully she howled ! but Grethel ran away, and left the wicked witch to burn miserably. Grethel went straight to Hansel, opened the stable-door, and cried,
" Hansel, we are free ! the old witch is dead!"
Then out flew Hansel like a bird from its cage as soon as the door is opened. How rejoiced they both were ! how they fell each on the other's neck ! and danced about, and kissed each other ! And as they had nothing more to fear they went over all the old witch's house, and in every corner there stood chests of pearls and precious stones.
" This is something better than flint stones," said Hansel, as he filled his pockets, and Grethel, thinking she also would like to carry something home with her, filled her apron full.
" Now, away we go," said Hansel;—" if we only can get out of the witch's wood."