Next to a great forest, there lived a poor woodcutter with his wife and their two children. The boy’s name was Hansel and the girl’s name was Gretel. They had but little to eat, and once, when a great famine came to the land, the poor woodcutter could no longer provide even their daily bread.
One evening as he was lying in bed worrying about his problems, he sighed and said to his wife, “What is to become of us? How can we feed our children when we have nothing for ourselves?”
“Man, do you know what?” answered the woman. “Early tomorrow morning we will take the two children out into the thickest part of the woods, make a fire for them, and give each of them a little piece of bread, then leave them by themselves and go off to our work. They will not find their way back home, and we will be rid of them.”
“No, woman,” said the man.”I will not do that.how could I bring myself to abandon my own children alone in the woods? Wild animals would soon come and tear them to pieces.”
“Oh, you fool,” she said, “then all four of us will starve. All you can do is to plane the boards for our coffins,” And she gave him no peace until he agreed.
“But I do feel sorry for the poor children,” said the man.
The two children had not been able fall asleep because of their hunger, and they heard what the stepmother had said to the father.
Gretel cried bitter tears and said to Hansel, “It is over with us!”
“Be quiet,Gretel,” said Hansel,”and don’t worry. I know what to do.”
And as soon as the adults had fallen asleep, he got up, pulled on his jacket, opened the lower door, and crept outside. The moon was shining brightly, and the white prebbles in front of the house were glistening like silver coins. Hansel bent over and filled his jacket pockets with them, as many as would fit.
Then he went back into the house and said, “Don’t worry, Gretel. Sleep well, God will not forsake us.” Then he went back to bed.