Hansel and Grethel (end)
"We will bake first," said the old woman. "I have already heated the oven and kneaded the dough."
She pushed poor Grethel out to the oven, from which flames of fire were already darting.
"Creep in," said the witch, "and see if it is properly heated so that we can shut the bread in." And when once Grethel was inside, she intended to shut the oven and let her bake in it, and then she would eat her, too.
But Grethel saw what she had in her mind and said, "I do not know how I am to do it; how do you get in?"
"Silly goose," said the old woman. "The door is big enough; just look, I can get in myself!" and she crept up and thrust her head into the oven.
Then Grethel gave her a push that drove her far into it, and shut the iron door, and fastened the bolt. Oh! Then she began to howl quite horribly, but Grethel ran away, and the godless witch was miserably burnt to death.
Grethel, however, ran like lightning to Hansel, opened his little stable, and cried, "Hansel, we are saved! The old witch is dead!"
Then Hansel sprang out like a bird from its cage when the door is opened for it. How they did rejoice and embrace each other, and dance about and kiss each other! And as they had no longer any need to fear her, they went into the witch's house, and in every corner there stood chests full of pearls and jewels.
"These are far better than pebbles!" said Hansel and thrust into his pockets whatever could be got in, and Grethel said, "I, too, will take something home with me," and filled her pinafore full.
"But now we will go away," said Hansel, "that we may get out of the witch's forest."
When they had walked for two hours, they came to a great piece of water. "We cannot get over," said Hansel. "I see no foot-plank, and no bridge."
"And no boat crosses either," answered Grethel, "but a white duck is swimming there; if I ask her, she will help us over."
Then she cried,
Little duck, little duck, dost thou see,
Hansel and Grethel are waiting for thee?
There's never a plank or bridge in sight;
Take us across on thy back so white.
The duck came to them, and Hansel seated himself on its back and told his sister to sit by him.
"No," replied Grethel, "that will be too heavy for the little duck; she shall take us across, one after the other."
The good little duck did so, and when they were once safely across and had walked for a short time, the forest seemed to be more and more familiar to them, and at length they saw from afar their father's house.
Then they began to run, rushed into the parlour, and threw themselves into their father's arms. The man had not known one happy hour since he had left the children in the forest; the woman, however, was dead.
Grethel emptied her pinafore until pearls and precious stones ran about the room, and Hansel threw one handful after another out of his pocket to add to them. Then all anxiety was at an end, and they lived together in perfect happiness.
My tale is done: there runs a mouse; whosoever catches it may make himself a big fur cap out of it.