66 HANSEL AND GRETHEL.
like newly coined money in the moonlight, and which Hansel had dropped as he walked, pointed out the way. They walked all the night through and did not reach their father's house till break of day.
They knocked at the door, and when their stepmother opened it she exclaimed: "You naughty children, why have you been staying so long in the forest ? we thought you were never coming back." But their father was overjoyed to see them, for it grieved him to the heart to think that they had been left alone in the wood.
Not long after this there came another time of scarcity and want in every house, and the children heard their stepmother talking after they were in bed. " The times are as bad as ever," she said ; " we have just half a loaf left, and when that is gone all love will be at an end. The children must go away; we will take them deeper into the forest this time, and they will not be able to find their way home as they did before; it is the only plan to save ourselves from starvation." But the husband felt heavy at heart, for he thought it was better to share the last morsel with his children.
His wife would listen to nothing he said, but continued to reproach him, and as he had given way to her the first time, he could not refuse to do so now. The children were awake, and heard all the conversation, so as soon as their parents slept, Hansel got up intending to go out and gather some more of the bright pebbles to let fall as he walked, that they might point out the way home, but his stepmother had locked the door and he could not open it. When he went back to his bed he told his little sister not to fret, but to go to sleep in peace, for he was sure they would be taken care of.
Early the next morning the stepmother came and pulled the children out of bed, and when they were dressed, gave them each a piece of bread for their dinners, smaller than they had had before, and then they started on their way to the wood.
As they walked, Hansel, who had the bread in his pocket, broke off little crumbs and stopped every now and then to drop one, turning round as if he was looking back at his home.
" Hansel," said the woman, " what are you. stopping for in that way ? come along directly."