AZALEEA STORIES

Multilingual audible therapeutic stories for children

 

Grimm Brothers

Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm (1785–1863)

&  Wilhelm Carl Grimm (1786–1859)

 

Snow-White and Rose-Red

 

There was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore white and the other red roses. She had two children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called Snow-white, and the other Rose-red. They were as good and happy, as busy and cheerful as ever two children in the world were, only Snow-white was more quiet and gentle than Rose-red. Rose-red liked better to run about in the meadows and fields seeking flowers and catching butterflies; but Snow-white sat at home with her mother, and helped her with her housework, or read to her when there was nothing to do.

 

The two children were so fond of one another that they always held each other by the hand when they went out together, and when Snow-white said: ‘We will not leave each other,’ Rose-red answered: ‘Never so long as we live,’ and their mother would add: ‘What one has she must share with the other.’

 

They often ran about the forest alone and gathered red berries, and no beasts did them any harm, but came close to them trustfully. The little hare would eat a cabbage-leaf out of their hands, the roe grazed by their side, the stag leapt merrily by them, and the birds sat still upon the boughs, and sang whatever they knew.

 

No mishap overtook them; if they had stayed too late in the forest, and night came on, they laid themselves down near one another upon the moss, and slept until morning came, and their mother knew this and did not worry on their account.

 

Once when they had spent the night in the wood and the dawn had roused them, they saw a beautiful child in a shining white dress sitting near their bed. He got up and looked quite kindly at them, but said nothing and went into the forest. And when they looked round they found that they had been sleeping quite close to a precipice, and would certainly have fallen into it in the darkness if they had gone only a few paces further. And their mother told them that it must have been the angel who watches over good children.

 

Snow-white and Rose-red kept their mother’s little cottage so neat that it was a pleasure to look inside it. In the summer Rose-red took care of the house, and every morning laid a wreath of flowers by her mother’s bed before she awoke, in which was a rose from each tree. In the winter Snow-white lit the fire and hung the kettle on the hob. The kettle was of brass and shone like gold, so brightly was it polished. In the evening, when the snowflakes fell, the mother said: ‘Go, Snow-white, and bolt the door,’ and then they sat round the hearth, and the mother took her spectacles and read aloud out of a large book, and the two girls listened as they sat and spun. And close by them lay a lamb upon the floor, and behind them upon a perch sat a white dove with its head hidden beneath its wings.

 

One evening, as they were thus sitting comfortably together, someone knocked at the door as if he wished to be let in. The mother said: ‘Quick, Rose-red, open the door, it must be a traveller who is seeking shelter.’ Rose-red went and pushed back the bolt, thinking that it was a poor man, but it was not; it was a bear that stretched his broad, black head within the door.

 

Rose-red screamed and sprang back, the lamb bleated, the dove fluttered, and Snow-white hid herself behind her mother’s bed. But the bear began to speak and said: ‘Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm! I am half-frozen, and only want to warm myself a little beside you.’

 

‘Poor bear,’ said the mother, ‘lie down by the fire, only take care that you do not burn your coat.’ Then she cried: ‘Snow-white, Rose-red, come out, the bear will do you no harm, he means well.’ So they both came out, and by-and-by the lamb and dove came nearer, and were not afraid of him. The bear said: ‘Here, children, knock the snow out of my coat a little’; so they brought the broom and swept the bear’s hide clean; and he stretched himself by the fire and growled contentedly and comfortably. It was not long before they grew quite at home, and played tricks with their clumsy guest. They tugged his hair with their hands, put their feet upon his back and rolled him about, or they took a hazel-switch and beat him, and when he growled they laughed. But the bear took it all in good part, only when they were too rough he called out: ‘Leave me alive, children,

 

  Snow-white, Rose-red,

  Will you beat your wooer dead?’

 

When it was bed-time, and the others went to bed, the mother said to the bear: ‘You can lie there by the hearth, and then you will be safe from the cold and the bad weather.’ As soon as day dawned the two children let him out, and he trotted across the snow into the forest.

 

Henceforth the bear came every evening at the same time, laid himself down by the hearth, and let the children amuse themselves with him as much as they liked; and they got so used to him that the doors were never fastened until their black friend had arrived.

 

When spring had come and all outside was green, the bear said one morning to Snow-white: ‘Now I must go away, and cannot come back for the whole summer.’ ‘Where are you going, then, dear bear?’ asked Snow-white. ‘I must go into the forest and guard my treasures from the wicked dwarfs. In the winter, when the earth is frozen hard, they are obliged to stay below and cannot work their way through; but now, when the sun has thawed and warmed the earth, they break through it, and come out to pry and steal; and what once gets into their hands, and in their caves, does not easily see daylight again.’

 

Snow-white was quite sorry at his departure, and as she unbolted the door for him, and the bear was hurrying out, he caught against the bolt and a piece of his hairy coat was torn off, and it seemed to Snow-white as if she had seen gold shining through it, but she was not sure about it. The bear ran away quickly, and was soon out of sight behind the trees.

 

A short time afterwards the mother sent her children into the forest to get firewood. There they found a big tree which lay felled on the ground, and close by the trunk something was jumping backwards and forwards in the grass, but they could not make out what it was. When they came nearer, they saw a dwarf with an old withered face and a snow-white beard a yard long. The end of the beard was caught in a crevice of the tree, and the little fellow was jumping about like a dog tied to a rope, and did not know what to do.

 

He glared at the girls with his fiery red eyes and cried: ‘Why do you stand there? Can you not come here and help me?’ ‘What are you up to, little man?’ asked Rose-red. ‘You stupid, prying goose!’ answered the dwarf: ‘I was going to split the tree to get a little wood for cooking. The little bit of food that we people get is immediately burnt up with heavy logs; we do not swallow so much as you coarse, greedy folk. I had just driven the wedge safely in, and everything was going as I wished; but the cursed wedge was too smooth and suddenly sprang out, and the tree closed so quickly that I could not pull out my beautiful white beard; so now it is tight and I cannot get away, and the silly, sleek, milk-faced things laugh! Ugh! how odious you are!’

 

The children tried very hard, but they could not pull the beard out, it was caught too fast. ‘I will run and fetch someone,’ said Rose-red. ‘You senseless goose!’ snarled the dwarf; ‘why should you fetch someone? You are already two too many for me; can you not think of something better?’ ‘Don’t be impatient,’ said Snow-white, ‘I will help you,’ and she pulled her scissors out of her pocket, and cut off the end of the beard.

 

As soon as the dwarf felt himself free he laid hold of a bag which lay amongst the roots of the tree, and which was full of gold, and lifted it up, grumbling to himself: ‘Uncouth people, to cut off a piece of my fine beard. Bad luck to you!’ and then he swung the bag upon his back, and went off without even once looking at the children.

 

Some time afterwards Snow-white and Rose-red went to catch a dish of fish. As they came near the brook they saw something like a large grasshopper jumping towards the water, as if it were going to leap in. They ran to it and found it was the dwarf. ‘Where are you going?’ said Rose-red; ‘you surely don’t want to go into the water?’ ‘I am not such a fool!’ cried the dwarf; ‘don’t you see that the accursed fish wants to pull me in?’ The little man had been sitting there fishing, and unluckily the wind had tangled up his beard with the fishing-line; a moment later a big fish made a bite and the feeble creature had not strength to pull it out; the fish kept the upper hand and pulled the dwarf towards him. He held on to all the reeds and rushes, but it was of little good, for he was forced to follow the movements of the fish, and was in urgent danger of being dragged into the water.

 

The girls came just in time; they held him fast and tried to free his beard from the line, but all in vain, beard and line were entangled fast together. There was nothing to do but to bring out the scissors and cut the beard, whereby a small part of it was lost. When the dwarf saw that he screamed out: ‘Is that civil, you toadstool, to disfigure a man’s face? Was it not enough to clip off the end of my beard? Now you have cut off the best part of it. I cannot let myself be seen by my people. I wish you had been made to run the soles off your shoes!’ Then he took out a sack of pearls which lay in the rushes, and without another word he dragged it away and disappeared behind a stone.

 

It happened that soon afterwards the mother sent the two children to the town to buy needles and thread, and laces and ribbons. The road led them across a heath upon which huge pieces of rock lay strewn about. There they noticed a large bird hovering in the air, flying slowly round and round above them; it sank lower and lower, and at last settled near a rock not far away. Immediately they heard a loud, piteous cry. They ran up and saw with horror that the eagle had seized their old acquaintance the dwarf, and was going to carry him off.

 

The children, full of pity, at once took tight hold of the little man, and pulled against the eagle so long that at last he let his booty go. As soon as the dwarf had recovered from his first fright he cried with his shrill voice: ‘Could you not have done it more carefully! You dragged at my brown coat so that it is all torn and full of holes, you clumsy creatures!’ Then he took up a sack full of precious stones, and slipped away again under the rock into his hole. The girls, who by this time were used to his ingratitude, went on their way and did their business in town.

 

As they crossed the heath again on their way home they surprised the dwarf, who had emptied out his bag of precious stones in a clean spot, and had not thought that anyone would come there so late. The evening sun shone upon the brilliant stones; they glittered and sparkled with all colours so beautifully that the children stood still and stared at them. ‘Why do you stand gaping there?’ cried the dwarf, and his ashen-grey face became copper-red with rage. He was still cursing when a loud growling was heard, and a black bear came trotting towards them out of the forest. The dwarf sprang up in a fright, but he could not reach his cave, for the bear was already close. Then in the dread of his heart he cried: ‘Dear Mr Bear, spare me, I will give you all my treasures; look, the beautiful jewels lying there! Grant me my life; what do you want with such a slender little fellow as I? you would not feel me between your teeth. Come, take these two wicked girls, they are tender morsels for you, fat as young quails; for mercy’s sake eat them!’ The bear took no heed of his words, but gave the wicked creature a single blow with his paw, and he did not move again.

 

The girls had run away, but the bear called to them: ‘Snow-white and Rose-red, do not be afraid; wait, I will come with you.’ Then they recognized his voice and waited, and when he came up to them suddenly his bearskin fell off, and he stood there a handsome man, clothed all in gold. ‘I am a king’s son,’ he said, ‘and I was bewitched by that wicked dwarf, who had stolen my treasures; I have had to run about the forest as a savage bear until I was freed by his death. Now he has got his well-deserved punishment.

 

Snow-white was married to him, and Rose-red to his brother, and they divided between them the great treasure which the dwarf had gathered together in his cave. The old mother lived peacefully and happily with her children for many years. She took the two rose-trees with her, and they stood before her window, and every year bore the most beautiful roses, white and red.

00:00 / 16:48

Snowdrop

It was the middle of winter, when the broad flakes of snow were falling around, that the queen of a country many thousand miles off sat working at her window. The frame of the window was made of fine black ebony, and as she sat looking out upon the snow, she pricked her finger, and three drops of blood fell upon it. Then she gazed thoughtfully upon the red drops that sprinkled the white snow, and said, ‘Would that my little daughter may be as white as that snow, as red as that blood, and as black as this ebony window frame!’ And so the little girl really did grow up; her skin was as white as snow, her cheeks as rosy as the blood, and her hair as black as ebony; and she was called Snowdrop.

 

But this queen died; and the king soon married another wife, who became queen, and was very beautiful, but so vain that she could not bear to think that anyone could be handsomer than she was. She had a fairy looking-glass, to which she used to go, and then she would gaze upon herself in it, and say:

 

‘Tell me, glass, tell me true!

Of all the ladies in the land,

Who is fairest, tell me, who?’

 

And the glass had always answered:

 

‘Thou, queen, art the fairest in all the land.’

 

But Snowdrop grew more and more beautiful; and when she was seven years old she was as bright as the day, and fairer than the queen herself. Then the glass one day answered the queen, when she went to look in it as usual:

 

‘Thou, queen, art fair, and beauteous to see,

But Snowdrop is lovelier far than thee!’

 

When she heard this she turned pale with rage and envy, and called to one of her servants, and said, ‘Take Snowdrop away into the wide wood, that I may never see her any more.’ Then the servant led her away; but his heart melted when Snowdrop begged him to spare her life, and he said, ‘I will not hurt you, thou pretty child.’ So he left her by herself; and though he thought it most likely that the wild beasts would tear her in pieces, he felt as if a great weight were taken off his heart when he had made up his mind not to kill her but to leave her to her fate, with the chance of someone finding and saving her.

 

Then poor Snowdrop wandered along through the wood in great fear; and the wild beasts roared about her, but none did her any harm. In the evening she came to a cottage among the hills, and went in to rest, for her little feet would carry her no further. Everything was spruce and neat in the cottage: on the table was spread a white cloth, and there were seven little plates, seven little loaves, and seven little glasses with wine in them; and seven knives and forks laid in order; and by the wall stood seven little beds. As she was very hungry, she picked a little piece of each loaf and drank a very little wine out of each

glass; and after that she thought she would lie down and rest. So she tried all the little beds; but one was too long, and another was too short, till at last the seventh suited her: and there she laid herself down and went to sleep.

 

By and by in came the masters of the cottage. Now they were seven little dwarfs, that lived among the mountains, and dug and searched for gold. They lighted up their seven lamps, and saw at once that all was not right. The first said, ‘Who has been sitting on my stool?’ The second, ‘Who has been eating off my plate?’ The third, ‘Who has been picking my bread?’ The fourth, ‘Who has been meddling with my spoon?’ The fifth, ‘Who has been handling my fork?’ The sixth, ‘Who has been cutting with my knife?’ The seventh, ‘Who has been drinking my wine?’ Then the first looked round and said, ‘Who has been lying on my bed?’ And the rest came running to him, and everyone cried out that somebody had been upon his bed. But the seventh saw Snowdrop, and called all his brethren to come and see her; and they cried out with wonder and astonishment and brought their lamps to look at her, and said, ‘Good heavens! what a lovely child she is!’ And they were very glad to see her, and took care not to wake her; and the seventh dwarf slept an hour with each of the other dwarfs in turn, till the night was gone.

 

In the morning Snowdrop told them all her story; and they pitied her, and said if she would keep all things in order, and cook and wash and knit and spin for them, she might stay where she was, and they would take good care of her. Then they went out all day long to their work, seeking for gold and silver in the mountains: but Snowdrop was left at home; and they warned her, and said, ‘The queen will soon find out where you are, so take care and let no one in.’

 

But the queen, now that she thought Snowdrop was dead, believed that she must be the handsomest lady in the land; and she went to her glass and said:

 

‘Tell me, glass, tell me true!

Of all the ladies in the land,

Who is fairest, tell me, who?’

 

And the glass answered:

 

‘Thou, queen, art the fairest in all this land:

But over the hills, in the greenwood shade,

Where the seven dwarfs their dwelling have made,

There Snowdrop is hiding her head; and she

Is lovelier far, O queen! than thee.’

 

Then the queen was very much frightened; for she knew that the glass always spoke the truth, and was sure that the servant had betrayed her. And she could not bear to think that anyone lived who was more beautiful than she was; so she dressed herself up as an old pedlar, and went her way over the hills, to the place where the dwarfs dwelt. Then she knocked at the door, and cried, ‘Fine wares to sell!’ Snowdrop looked out at the window, and said, ‘Good day, good woman! what have you to sell?’ ‘Good wares, fine wares,’ said she; ‘laces and bobbins of all colours.’ ‘I will let the old lady in; she seems to be a very good sort of body,’ thought Snowdrop, as she ran down and unbolted the door. ‘Bless me!’ said the old woman, ‘how badly your stays are laced! Let me lace them up with one of my nice new laces.’ Snowdrop did not dream of any mischief; so she stood before the old woman; but she set to work so nimbly, and pulled the lace so tight, that Snowdrop’s breath was stopped, and she fell down as if she were dead. ‘There’s an end to all thy beauty,’ said the spiteful queen, and went away home.

 

In the evening the seven dwarfs came home; and I need not say how grieved they were to see their faithful Snowdrop stretched out upon the ground, as if she was quite dead. However, they lifted her up, and when they found what ailed her, they cut the lace; and in a little time she began to breathe, and very soon came to life again. Then they said, ‘The old woman was the queen herself; take care another time, and let no one in when we are away.’

 

When the queen got home, she went straight to her glass, and spoke to it as before; but to her great grief it still said:

 

‘Thou, queen, art the fairest in all this land:

But over the hills, in the greenwood shade,

Where the seven dwarfs their dwelling have made,

There Snowdrop is hiding her head; and she

Is lovelier far, O queen! than thee.’

 

Then the blood ran cold in her heart with spite and malice, to see that Snowdrop still lived; and she dressed herself up again, but in quite another dress from the one she wore before, and took with her a poisoned comb. When she reached the dwarfs’ cottage, she knocked at the door, and cried, ‘Fine wares to sell!’ But Snowdrop said, ‘I dare not let anyone in.’ Then the queen said, ‘Only look at my beautiful combs!’ and gave her the poisoned one. And it looked so pretty, that she took it up and put it into her hair to try it; but the moment it touched her head, the poison was so powerful that she fell down senseless. ‘There you may lie,’ said the queen, and went her way. But by good luck the dwarfs came in very early that evening; and when they saw Snowdrop lying on the ground, they thought what had happened, and soon found the poisoned comb. And when they took it away she got well, and told them all that had passed; and they warned her once more not to open the door to anyone.

 

Meantime the queen went home to her glass, and shook with rage when she read the very same answer as before; and she said, ‘Snowdrop shall die, if it cost me my life.’ So she went by herself into her chamber, and got ready a poisoned apple: the outside looked very rosy and tempting, but whoever tasted it was sure to die. Then she dressed herself up as a peasant’s wife, and travelled over the hills to the dwarfs’ cottage, and knocked at the door; but Snowdrop put her head out of the window and said, ‘I dare not let anyone in, for the dwarfs have told me not.’ ‘Do as you please,’ said the old woman, ‘but at any rate take this pretty apple; I will give it you.’ ‘No,’ said Snowdrop, ‘I dare not take it.’ ‘You silly girl!’ answered the other, ‘what are you afraid of? Do you think it is poisoned? Come! do you eat one part, and I will eat the other.’ Now the apple was so made up that one side was good, though the other side was poisoned. Then Snowdrop was much tempted to taste, for the apple looked so very nice; and when she saw the old woman eat, she could wait no longer. But she had scarcely put the piece into her mouth, when she fell down dead upon the ground. ‘This time nothing will save thee,’ said the queen; and she went home to her glass, and at last it said:

 

‘Thou, queen, art the fairest of all the fair.’

 

And then her wicked heart was glad, and as happy as such a heart could be.

 

When evening came, and the dwarfs had gone home, they found Snowdrop lying on the ground: no breath came from her lips, and they were afraid that she was quite dead. They lifted her up, and combed her hair, and washed her face with wine and water; but all was in vain, for the little girl seemed quite dead. So they laid her down upon a bier, and all seven watched and bewailed her three whole days; and then they thought they would bury her: but her cheeks were still rosy; and her face looked just as it did while she was alive; so they said, ‘We will never bury her in the cold ground.’ And they made a coffin of glass, so that they might still look at her, and wrote upon it in golden letters what her name was, and that she was a king’s daughter. And the coffin was set among the hills, and one of the dwarfs always sat by it and watched. And the birds of the air came too, and bemoaned Snowdrop; and first of all came an owl, and then a raven, and at last a dove, and sat by her side.

 

And thus Snowdrop lay for a long, long time, and still only looked as though she was asleep; for she was even now as white as snow, and as red as blood, and as black as ebony. At last a prince came and called at the dwarfs’ house; and he saw Snowdrop, and read what was written in golden letters. Then he offered the dwarfs money, and prayed and besought them to let him take her away; but they said, ‘We will not part with her for all the gold in the world.’ At last, however, they had pity on him, and gave him the coffin; but the moment he lifted it up to carry it home with him, the piece of apple fell from between her lips, and Snowdrop awoke, and said, ‘Where am I?’ And the prince said, ‘Thou art quite safe with me.’

 

Then he told her all that had happened, and said, ‘I love you far better than all the world; so come with me to my father’s palace, and you shall be my wife.’ And Snowdrop consented, and went home with the prince; and everything was got ready with great pomp and splendour for their wedding.

 

To the feast was asked, among the rest, Snowdrop’s old enemy the queen; and as she was dressing herself in fine rich clothes, she looked in the glass and said:

 

‘Tell me, glass, tell me true!

Of all the ladies in the land,

Who is fairest, tell me, who?’

 

And the glass answered:

 

‘Thou, lady, art loveliest here, I ween;

But lovelier far is the new-made queen.’

 

When she heard this she started with rage; but her envy and curiosity were so great, that she could not help setting out to see the bride. And when she got there, and saw that it was no other than Snowdrop, who, as she thought, had been dead a long while, she choked with rage, and fell down and died: but Snowdrop and the prince lived and reigned happily over that land many, many years; and sometimes they went up into the mountains, and paid a visit to the little dwarfs, who had been so kind to Snowdrop in her time of need.

00:00 / 16:42
 

Hansel and Gretel

Hard by a great forest dwelt a poor wood-cutter with his wife and his two children. The boy was called Hansel and the girl Gretel. He had little to bite and to break, and once when great dearth fell on the land, he could no longer procure even daily bread. Now when he thought over this by night in his bed, and tossed about in his anxiety, he groaned and said to his wife: ‘What is to become of us? How are we to feed our poor children, when we no longer have anything even for ourselves?’ ‘I’ll tell you what, husband,’ answered the woman, ‘early tomorrow morning we will take the children out into the forest to where it is the thickest; there we will light a fire for them, and give each of them one more piece of bread, and then we will go to our work and leave them alone. They will not find the way home again, and we shall be rid of them.’ ‘No, wife,’ said the man, ‘I will not do that; how can I bear to leave my children alone in the forest?--the wild animals would soon come and tear them to pieces.’ ‘O, you fool!’ said she, ‘then we must all four die of hunger, you may as well plane the planks for our coffins,’ and she left him no peace until he consented. ‘But I feel very sorry for the poor children, all the same,’ said the man.

 

The two children had also not been able to sleep for hunger, and had heard what their stepmother had said to their father. Gretel wept bitter tears, and said to Hansel: ‘Now all is over with us.’ ‘Be quiet, Gretel,’ said Hansel, ‘do not distress yourself, I will soon find a way to help us.’ And when the old folks had fallen asleep, he got up, put on his little coat, opened the door below, and crept outside. The moon shone brightly, and the white pebbles which lay in front of the house glittered like real silver pennies. Hansel stooped and stuffed the little pocket of his coat with as many as he could get in. Then he went back and said to Gretel: ‘Be comforted, dear little sister, and sleep in peace, God will not forsake us,’ and he lay down again in his bed. When day dawned, but before the sun had risen, the woman came and awoke the two children, saying: ‘Get up, you sluggards! we are going into the forest to fetch wood.’ She gave each a little piece of bread, and said: ‘There is something for your dinner, but do not eat it up before then, for you will get nothing else.’ Gretel took the bread under her apron, as Hansel had the pebbles in his pocket. Then they all set out together on the way to the forest. When they had walked a short time, Hansel stood still and peeped back at the house, and did so again and again. His father said: ‘Hansel, what are you looking at there and staying behind for? Pay attention, and do not forget how to use your legs.’ ‘Ah, father,’ said Hansel, ‘I am looking at my little white cat, which is sitting up on the roof, and wants to say goodbye to me.’ The wife said: ‘Fool, that is not your little cat, that is the morning sun which is shining on the chimneys.’ Hansel, however, had not been looking back at the cat, but had been constantly throwing one of the white pebble-stones out of his pocket on the road.

 

When they had reached the middle of the forest, the father said: ‘Now, children, pile up some wood, and I will light a fire that you may not be cold.’ Hansel and Gretel gathered brushwood together, as high as a little hill. The brushwood was lighted, and when the flames were burning very high, the woman said: ‘Now, children, lay yourselves down by the fire and rest, we will go into the forest and cut some wood. When we have done, we will come back and fetch you away.’

 

Hansel and Gretel sat by the fire, and when noon came, each ate a little piece of bread, and as they heard the strokes of the wood-axe they believed that their father was near. It was not the axe, however, but a branch which he had fastened to a withered tree which the wind was blowing backwards and forwards. And as they had been sitting such a long time, their eyes closed with fatigue, and they fell fast asleep. When at last they awoke, it was already dark night. Gretel began to cry and said: ‘How are we to get out of the forest now?’ But Hansel comforted her and said: ‘Just wait a little, until the moon has risen, and then we will soon find the way.’ And when the full moon had risen, Hansel took his little sister by the hand, and followed the pebbles which shone like newly-coined silver pieces, and showed them the way.

 

They walked the whole night long, and by break of day came once more to their father’s house. They knocked at the door, and when the woman opened it and saw that it was Hansel and Gretel, she said: ‘You naughty children, why have you slept so long in the forest?--we thought you were never coming back at all!’ The father, however, rejoiced, for it had cut him to the heart to leave them behind alone.

 

Not long afterwards, there was once more great dearth throughout the land, and the children heard their mother saying at night to their father: ‘Everything is eaten again, we have one half loaf left, and that is the end. The children must go, we will take them farther into the wood, so that they will not find their way out again; there is no other means of saving ourselves!’ The man’s heart was heavy, and he thought: ‘It would be better for you to share the last mouthful with your children.’ The woman, however, would listen to nothing that he had to say, but scolded and reproached him. He who says A must say B, likewise, and as he had yielded the first time, he had to do so a second time also.

 

The children, however, were still awake and had heard the conversation. When the old folks were asleep, Hansel again got up, and wanted to go out and pick up pebbles as he had done before, but the woman had locked the door, and Hansel could not get out. Nevertheless he comforted his little sister, and said: ‘Do not cry, Gretel, go to sleep quietly, the good God will help us.’

 

Early in the morning came the woman, and took the children out of their beds. Their piece of bread was given to them, but it was still smaller than the time before. On the way into the forest Hansel crumbled his in his pocket, and often stood still and threw a morsel on the ground. ‘Hansel, why do you stop and look round?’ said the father, ‘go on.’ ‘I am looking back at my little pigeon which is sitting on the roof, and wants to say goodbye to me,’ answered Hansel. ‘Fool!’ said the woman, ‘that is not your little pigeon, that is the morning sun that is shining on the chimney.’ Hansel, however little by little, threw all the crumbs on the path.

 

The woman led the children still deeper into the forest, where they had never in their lives been before. Then a great fire was again made, and the mother said: ‘Just sit there, you children, and when you are tired you may sleep a little; we are going into the forest to cut wood, and in the evening when we are done, we will come and fetch you away.’ When it was noon, Gretel shared her piece of bread with Hansel, who had scattered his by the way. Then they fell asleep and evening passed, but no one came to the poor children. They did not awake until it was dark night, and Hansel comforted his little sister and said: ‘Just wait, Gretel, until the moon rises, and then we shall see the crumbs of bread which I have strewn about, they will show us our way home again.’ When the moon came they set out, but they found no crumbs, for the many thousands of birds which fly about in the woods and fields had picked them all up. Hansel said to Gretel: ‘We shall soon find the way,’ but they did not find it. They walked the whole night and all the next day too from morning till evening, but they did not get out of the forest, and were very hungry, for they had nothing to eat but two or three berries, which grew on the ground. And as they were so weary that their legs would carry them no longer, they lay down beneath a tree and fell asleep.

 

It was now three mornings since they had left their father’s house. They began to walk again, but they always came deeper into the forest, and if help did not come soon, they must die of hunger and weariness. When it was mid-day, they saw a beautiful snow-white bird sitting on a bough, which sang so delightfully that they stood still and listened to it. And when its song was over, it spread its wings and flew away before them, and they followed it until they reached a little house, on the roof of which it alighted; and when they approached the little house they saw that it was built of bread and covered with cakes, but that the windows were of clear sugar. ‘We will set to work on that,’ said Hansel, ‘and have a good meal. I will eat a bit of the roof, and you Gretel, can eat some of the window, it will taste sweet.’ Hansel reached up above, and broke off a little of the roof to try how it tasted, and Gretel leant against the window and nibbled at the panes. Then a soft voice cried from the parlour:

 

‘Nibble, nibble, gnaw,

Who is nibbling at my little house?’

 

The children answered:

 

‘The wind, the wind,

The heaven-born wind,’and went on eating without disturbing themselves.

Hansel, who liked the taste of the roof, tore down a great piece of it, and Gretel pushed out the whole of one round window-pane, sat down, and enjoyed herself with it. Suddenly the door opened, and a woman as old as the hills, who supported herself on crutches, came creeping out. Hansel and Gretel were so terribly frightened that they let fall what they had in their hands. The old woman, however, nodded her head, and said: ‘Oh, you dear children, who has brought you here? do come in, and stay with me. No harm shall happen to you.’ She took them both by the hand, and led them into her little house. Then good food was set before them, milk and pancakes, with sugar, apples, and nuts. Afterwards two pretty little beds were covered with clean white linen, and Hansel and Gretel lay down in them, and thought they were in heaven.

 

The old woman had only pretended to be so kind; she was in reality a wicked witch, who lay in wait for children, and had only built the little house of bread in order to entice them there. When a child fell into her power, she killed it, cooked and ate it, and that was a feast day with her. Witches have red eyes, and cannot see far, but they have a keen scent like the beasts, and are aware when human beings draw near. When Hansel and Gretel came into her neighbourhood, she laughed with malice, and said mockingly: ‘I have them, they shall not escape me again!’ Early in the morning before the children were awake, she was already up, and when she saw both of them sleeping and looking so pretty, with their plump and rosy cheeks she muttered to herself: ‘That will be a dainty mouthful!’ Then she seized Hansel with her shrivelled hand, carried him into a little stable, and locked him in behind a grated door. Scream as he might, it would not help him. Then she went to Gretel, shook her till she awoke, and cried: ‘Get up, lazy thing, fetch some water, and cook something good for your brother, he is in the stable outside, and is to be made fat. When he is fat, I will eat him.’ Gretel began to weep bitterly, but it was all in vain, for she was forced to do what the wicked witch commanded.

 

And now the best food was cooked for poor Hansel, but Gretel got nothing but crab-shells. Every morning the woman crept to the little stable, and cried: ‘Hansel, stretch out your finger that I may feel if you will soon be fat.’ Hansel, however, stretched out a little bone to her, and the old woman, who had dim eyes, could not see it, and thought it was Hansel’s finger, and was astonished that there was no way of fattening him. When four weeks had gone by, and Hansel still remained thin, she was seized with impatience and would not wait any longer. ‘Now, then, Gretel,’ she cried to the girl, ‘stir yourself, and bring some water. Let Hansel be fat or lean, tomorrow I will kill him, and cook him.’ Ah, how the poor little sister did lament when she had to fetch the water, and how her tears did flow down her cheeks! ‘Dear God, do help us,’ she cried. ‘If the wild beasts in the forest had but devoured us, we should at any rate have died together.’ ‘Just keep your noise to yourself,’ said the old woman, ‘it won’t help you at all.’

 

Early in the morning, Gretel had to go out and hang up the cauldron with the water, and light the fire. ‘We will bake first,’ said the old woman, ‘I have already heated the oven, and kneaded the dough.’ She pushed poor Gretel 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 put the bread in.’ And once Gretel was inside, she intended to shut the oven and let her bake in it, and then she would eat her, too. But Gretel saw what she had in mind, and said: ‘I do not know how I am to do it; how do I 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 Gretel 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 Gretel ran away and the godless witch was miserably burnt to death.

 

Gretel, however, ran like lightning to Hansel, opened his little stable, and cried: ‘Hansel, we are saved! The old witch is dead!’ Then Hansel sprang like a bird from its cage when the door is opened. 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 Gretel said: ‘I, too, will take something home with me,’ and filled her pinafore full. ‘But now we must be off,’ said Hansel, ‘that we may get out of the witch’s forest.’

 

When they had walked for two hours, they came to a great stretch of water. ‘We cannot cross,’ said Hansel, ‘I see no foot-plank, and no bridge.’ ‘And there is also no ferry,’ answered Gretel, ‘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 Gretel 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 Gretel, ‘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 round their father’s neck. The man had not known one happy hour since he had left the children in the forest; the woman, however, was dead. Gretel 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.

00:00 / 20:21

The Fisherman and His Wife 

 

There was once a fisherman who lived with his wife in a pigsty, close by the seaside. The fisherman used to go out all day long a-fishing; and one day, as he sat on the shore with his rod, looking at the sparkling waves and watching his line, all on a sudden his float was dragged away deep into the water: and in drawing it up he pulled out a great fish. But the fish said, ‘Pray let me live! I am not a real fish; I am an enchanted prince: put me in the water again, and let me go!’ ‘Oh, ho!’ said the man, ‘you need not make so many words about the matter; I will have nothing to do with a fish that can talk: so swim away, sir, as soon as you please!’ Then he put him back into the water, and the fish darted straight down to the bottom, and left a long streak of blood behind him on the wave.

 

When the fisherman went home to his wife in the pigsty, he told her how he had caught a great fish, and how it had told him it was an enchanted prince, and how, on hearing it speak, he had let it go again. ‘Did not you ask it for anything?’ said the wife, ‘we live very wretchedly here, in this nasty dirty pigsty; do go back and tell the fish we want a snug little cottage.’

 

The fisherman did not much like the business: however, he went to the seashore; and when he came back there the water looked all yellow and green. And he stood at the water’s edge, and said:

 

‘O man of the sea!

Hearken to me!

My wife Ilsabill

Will have her own will,

And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

 

Then the fish came swimming to him, and said, ‘Well, what is her will? What does your wife want?’ ‘Ah!’ said the fisherman, ‘she says that when I had caught you, I ought to have asked you for something before I let you go; she does not like living any longer in the pigsty, and wants a snug little cottage.’ ‘Go home, then,’ said the fish; ‘she is in the cottage already!’ So the man went home, and saw his wife standing at the door of a nice trim little cottage. ‘Come in, come in!’ said she; ‘is not this much better than the filthy pigsty we had?’ And there was a parlour, and a bedchamber, and a kitchen; and behind the cottage there was a little garden, planted with all sorts of flowers and fruits; and there was a courtyard behind, full of ducks and chickens. ‘Ah!’ said the fisherman, ‘how happily we shall live now!’ ‘We will try to do so, at least,’ said his wife.

 

Everything went right for a week or two, and then Dame Ilsabill said, ‘Husband, there is not near room enough for us in this cottage; the courtyard and the garden are a great deal too small; I should like to have a large stone castle to live in: go to the fish again and tell him to give us a castle.’ ‘Wife,’ said the fisherman, ‘I don’t like to go to him again, for perhaps he will be angry; we ought to be easy with this pretty cottage to live in.’ ‘Nonsense!’ said the wife; ‘he will do it very willingly, I know; go along and try!’

 

The fisherman went, but his heart was very heavy: and when he came to the sea, it looked blue and gloomy, though it was very calm; and he went close to the edge of the waves, and said:

 

‘O man of the sea!

Hearken to me!

My wife Ilsabill

Will have her own will,

And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

 

‘Well, what does she want now?’ said the fish. ‘Ah!’ said the man, dolefully, ‘my wife wants to live in a stone castle.’ ‘Go home, then,’ said the fish; ‘she is standing at the gate of it already.’ So away went the fisherman, and found his wife standing before the gate of a great castle. ‘See,’ said she, ‘is not this grand?’ With that they went into the castle together, and found a great many servants there, and the rooms all richly furnished, and full of golden chairs and tables; and behind the castle was a garden, and around it was a park half a mile long, full of sheep, and goats, and hares, and deer; and in the courtyard were stables and cow-houses. ‘Well,’ said the man, ‘now we will live cheerful and happy in this beautiful castle for the rest of our lives.’ ‘Perhaps we may,’ said the wife; ‘but let us sleep upon it, before we make up our minds to that.’ So they went to bed.

 

The next morning when Dame Ilsabill awoke it was broad daylight, and she jogged the fisherman with her elbow, and said, ‘Get up, husband, and bestir yourself, for we must be king of all the land.’ ‘Wife, wife,’ said the man, ‘why should we wish to be the king? I will not be king.’ ‘Then I will,’ said she. ‘But, wife,’ said the fisherman, ‘how can you be king--the fish cannot make you a king?’ ‘Husband,’ said she, ‘say no more about it, but go and try! I will be king.’ So the man went away quite sorrowful to think that his wife should want to be king. This time the sea looked a dark grey colour, and was overspread with curling waves and the ridges of foam as he cried out:

 

‘O man of the sea!

Hearken to me!

My wife Ilsabill

Will have her own will,

And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

 

‘Well, what would she have now?’ said the fish. ‘Alas!’ said the poor man, ‘my wife wants to be king.’ ‘Go home,’ said the fish; ‘she is king already.’

 

Then the fisherman went home; and as he came close to the palace he saw a troop of soldiers, and heard the sound of drums and trumpets. And when he went in he saw his wife sitting on a throne of gold and diamonds, with a golden crown upon her head; and on each side of her stood six fair maidens, each a head taller than the other. ‘Well, wife,’ said the fisherman, ‘are you king?’ ‘Yes,’ said she, ‘I am king.’ And when he had looked at her for a long time, he said, ‘Ah, wife! what a fine thing it is to be king! Now we shall never have anything more to wish for as long as we live.’ ‘I don’t know how that may be,’ said she; ‘never is a long time. I am king, it is true; but I begin to be tired of that, and I think I should like to be emperor.’ ‘Alas, wife! why should you wish to be emperor?’ said the fisherman. ‘Husband,’ said she, ‘go to the fish! I say I will be emperor.’ ‘Ah, wife!’ replied the fisherman, ‘the fish cannot make an emperor, I am sure, and I should not like to ask him for such a thing.’ ‘I am king,’ said Ilsabill, ‘and you are my slave; so go at once!’

 

So the fisherman was forced to go; and he muttered as he went along, ‘This will come to no good, it is too much to ask; the fish will be tired at last, and then we shall be sorry for what we have done.’ He soon came to the seashore; and the water was quite black and muddy, and a mighty whirlwind blew over the waves and rolled them about, but he went as near as he could to the water’s brink, and said:

 

‘O man of the sea!

Hearken to me!

My wife Ilsabill

Will have her own will,

And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

 

‘What would she have now?’ said the fish. ‘Ah!’ said the fisherman, ‘she wants to be emperor.’ ‘Go home,’ said the fish; ‘she is emperor already.’

 

So he went home again; and as he came near he saw his wife Ilsabill sitting on a very lofty throne made of solid gold, with a great crown on her head full two yards high; and on each side of her stood her guards and attendants in a row, each one smaller than the other, from the tallest giant down to a little dwarf no bigger than my finger. And before her stood princes, and dukes, and earls: and the fisherman went up to her and said, ‘Wife, are you emperor?’ ‘Yes,’ said she, ‘I am emperor.’ ‘Ah!’ said the man, as he gazed upon her, ‘what a fine thing it is to be emperor!’ ‘Husband,’ said she, ‘why should we stop at being emperor? I will be pope next.’ ‘O wife, wife!’ said he, ‘how can you be pope? there is but one pope at a time in Christendom.’ ‘Husband,’ said she, ‘I will be pope this very day.’ ‘But,’ replied the husband, ‘the fish cannot make you pope.’ ‘What nonsense!’ said she; ‘if he can make an emperor, he can make a pope: go and try him.’

 

So the fisherman went. But when he came to the shore the wind was raging and the sea was tossed up and down in boiling waves, and the ships were in trouble, and rolled fearfully upon the tops of the billows. In the middle of the heavens there was a little piece of blue sky, but towards the south all was red, as if a dreadful storm was rising. At this sight the fisherman was dreadfully frightened, and he trembled so that his knees knocked together: but still he went down near to the shore, and said:

 

‘O man of the sea!

Hearken to me!

My wife Ilsabill

Will have her own will,

And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

 

‘What does she want now?’ said the fish. ‘Ah!’ said the fisherman, ‘my wife wants to be pope.’ ‘Go home,’ said the fish; ‘she is pope already.’

 

Then the fisherman went home, and found Ilsabill sitting on a throne that was two miles high. And she had three great crowns on her head, and around her stood all the pomp and power of the Church. And on each side of her were two rows of burning lights, of all sizes, the greatest as large as the highest and biggest tower in the world, and the least no larger than a small rushlight. ‘Wife,’ said the fisherman, as he looked at all this greatness, ‘are you pope?’ ‘Yes,’ said she, ‘I am pope.’ ‘Well, wife,’ replied he, ‘it is a grand thing to be pope; and now you must be easy, for you can be nothing greater.’ ‘I will think about that,’ said the wife. Then they went to bed: but Dame Ilsabill could not sleep all night for thinking what she should be next. At last, as she was dropping asleep, morning broke, and the sun rose. ‘Ha!’ thought she, as she woke up and looked at it through the window, ‘after all I cannot prevent the sun rising.’ At this thought she was very angry, and wakened her husband, and said, ‘Husband, go to the fish and tell him I must be lord of the sun and moon.’ The fisherman was half asleep, but the thought frightened him so much that he started and fell out of bed. ‘Alas, wife!’ said he, ‘cannot you be easy with being pope?’ ‘No,’ said she, ‘I am very uneasy as long as the sun and moon rise without my leave. Go to the fish at once!’

 

Then the man went shivering with fear; and as he was going down to the shore a dreadful storm arose, so that the trees and the very rocks shook. And all the heavens became black with stormy clouds, and the lightnings played, and the thunders rolled; and you might have seen in the sea great black waves, swelling up like mountains with crowns of white foam upon their heads. And the fisherman crept towards the sea, and cried out, as well as he could:

 

‘O man of the sea!

Hearken to me!

My wife Ilsabill

Will have her own will,

And hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!’

 

‘What does she want now?’ said the fish. ‘Ah!’ said he, ‘she wants to be lord of the sun and moon.’ ‘Go home,’ said the fish, ‘to your pigsty again.’

 

And there they live to this very day.

00:00 / 15:17
 
 

Source of Text: Project Gutenberg under Project Gutenberg Licence www.gutenberg.org