Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/326

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


forest. At midday they see a beautiful snow-white bird on bough, and pause to hear it sing. They follow it till it alights on the roof of a little house, which is built of bread and covered with cake, and has windows of clear sugar. Hansel reaches up to break off and taste a piece of roof ; Grethel leans against window and nibbles at the panes. — (5) A soft voice asks, "Who is nibbling at my little house?" and children answer, "The wind, the wind, the heaven-born wind," and go on eating, till suddenly door opens, and very, very old woman hobbles out on crutches. Children are terrified, and drop what they have in their hands, but old Avoman pets them, and leads them inside. All sorts of delicacies are laid before them, and they are put to sleep in two pretty little clean beds. But old woman is a wicked witch who entices children into her power that she may kill and eat them. Witches cannot see far with their red eyes, but, like the beasts, can scent human flesh. — (6) Early next morning, after gloating over the plump, red cheeks of the sleeping children, witch seizes Hiinsel and shuts him in a little stable, where he may scream in vain, then wakes Grethel and tells her to fetch water and cook food for her brother, who is to be fattened for witch's dinner. Grethel weeps, but is forced to obey ; gets nothing but crab-shells for herself, whilst Hansel has the best of food. Every day witch creeps to stable to feel how fat Hansel is growing; but he deceives her by stretching out a little bone instead of his own finger. After four weeks she grows impatient, and, saying she will eat him lean as he is, tells Grethel to get water to cook him. — (7) In great distress, Grethel hangs up cauldron of water and lights fire. Witch says she will first bake, as the dough is kneaded, and bids Grethel creep into oven, to see if properly heated, meaning to shut her in and eat her too. Divining her intent, Grethel pretends she needs to be shown how to enter oven, and when witch thrusts her own head in, Grethel gives her a push and shuts to the iron door, so that witch is miserably burnt to death. — (8) Grethel rushes to stable and releases Hansel. They embrace ; fill their pockets with pearls and jewels from witch's store, and set forth. After two hours' walking, they come to great piece of water. — (9) There is no bridge, but a duck carries them across, one at a time, on her back. Arrived at length at father's house, they find step-mother has died, and father has never ceased to mourn for them. They show their wealth of pearls and precious stones, and all anxiety is at an end.

My tale is done. There runs a mouse ; whosoever catches it may make himself a big fur cap out of it.

Alphabetical List of Incidents.

Bone instead of boy's finger given witch to deceive her (6).

Brother and sister taken to forest; abandoned by father and step-mother (2).

Brother drops pebbles on the way (1).

Cake-and-sugar house gives food to children (4).

Crumbs dropped to show way; eaten by birds (3).