From the Grimm Brothers Collection

o flourishOnce upon a time on the outskirts of a large forest, there lived a poor woodcutter with his wife and two children: Hansel and Gretel. He always had little to live on, and when there was a great famine in the land, he couldn’t even provide them with daily bread.

One night, as he was tossing about in bed, full of cares and worry, he sighed and said to his wife: “What’s to become of us? How are we to support our poor children, now that we have nothing more for ourselves?”

But his wife, the children’s stepmother, jumped at the chance to be rid of them and offered this advice: “I’ll tell you what; early tomorrow morning we’ll take the children out into the thickest part of the wood. There we shall light a fire for them and give them each a piece of bread. Then we’ll go on to our work and leave them alone. They won’t be able to find their way home, and we shall be burdened no more.”

“No” said her husband, “how could I find it in my heart to leave my children alone in the wood? The wild beasts would soon come and tear them to pieces.” “Oh! you fool,” said she, “then we must all four die of hunger, and you may just as well go and make the boards for our coffins.” She left him no peace until he consented. “But I can’t help feeling sorry for the poor children,” added the husband.

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