Once upon a time there was a woodcutter. He lived at the edge of a large forest with his wife and two children, Hansel and Gretel. They were very poor and one night his wife said, "We must take the children deep into the forest tomorrow and leave them there." Very sadly the woodcutter agreed.
But the children were so hungry they couldn't sleep and they heard everything.
Hansel crept out of the house and collected some pebbles which shimmered brightly in the moonlight.
As the children were taken into the woods the next day, from time to time Hansel secretly dropped a pebble.
The woodcutter left the children deep in the forest.
"We are going to cut some wood and come back to fetch you in the evening," they promised. But the parents didn't come back. So Hansel and Gretel waited until the moon came out. The pebbles shimmered in the moonlight and the children found their way home. Their parents were very happy to have their children back after all.
But when the family was very poor and hungry again the woodcutter and his wife led the children into the forest once more. This time Hansel had not been able to collect any pebbles. He broke up a piece of bread and now and then he dropped a crumb on the way. But by nightfall all the crumbs had been picked up by the birds. The children wandered about in the forest until, at last, they came upon a little house that was made entirely of gingerbread and cake.
"Now we can eat until we are full up!" said Hansel gladly.
Hansel broke off a piece of gingerbread each and the two children ate it quickly.
Suddenly the door opened and an old woman came out of the house. She was very friendly and said, "Welcome, children! Come into my house and I'll give you more to eat." The old woman was really a wicked witch.
Next Morning she locked Hansel in a small shed. The witch intended to fallen the boy up so that she could make a delicious meal from him. He was given the best food to eat. Gretel, however, had to work very hard. Every morning the old woman stood in front of the shed and called, "Hansel, show me your finger so I can see if you've fattened up enough."
But Hansel stuck out a little bone. As the witch's eyesight was not very good, she didn't realize that it wasn't his finger.
But she wondered why he just wouldn't get fat. One morning she said, "Gretel, fat or thin, today I will cut Hansel up and boil him. The oven is heating up already. Just crawl into the oven to see if it is hot enough." But Gretel knew that the witch wanted to roast her. She was very clever and said, "I don't know how to do that. You must show me."
The witch was angry but she put her head into the oven. Gretel quickly gave her a big push and she fell into the hole. She shut the oven door and pushed the bolt across. Now the wicked witch would burn to death.
Gretel quickly let Hansel out of the shed and cried, "The witch is dead! The witch is dead!"
They searched the house and found many jewels. Hansel gathered up the treasure and Gretel filled her apron with gingerbread and cake. Happily they set off for home. They came upon a large lake. "We cannot get across, there is no bridge or boat," said Hansel. But Gretel saw a duck and asked it, "Little duck, please take us across the water." The duck took one child after the other on its back and carried them across safely.
When the children reached the other side everything looked familiar, and they soon found their parents' house.
They ran into the house and hugged their father. He was very pleased to see his children again.
Their mother had died in the meantime and their father was all alone. He had blamed himself many times for having left his children in the forest. But now they were happy to be together again. The showed their father the treasure and from then on they were never poor again. They lived together happily ever after.