by Amelia Hamilton - Thursday, March 17, 2016
Once upon a time, Hansel and Gretel lived with their parents in a cabin near the woods. Times were tough and, like most in their village, their family was struggling to make ends meet. One night, the siblings overheard their parents talking, worried about making it through the coming winter. “What will we do,” their mother cried, “if we can’t feed our family through the winter?” Hansel and Gretel made a plan to help their family.
Fortunately, they had been taught how safely to use a gun and had been hunting with their parents most of their lives. They knew that, deep in the forest, there were areas that had never been hunted where they may be able to hunt for food. They knew how to keep themselves safe should they find themselves in trouble. The next morning, before dawn, they left a note for their parents, and gathered their hunting gear. They headed into the forest, grateful that they had the skills to help their family, and were old enough to go out on their own. To be certain that they would be able to find their way home from the darkest, deepest part of the forest, Hansel left a trail of pebbles for them to follow back.
The deeper they went into the forest, the better the hunting became for Hansel and Gretel. They got a few squirrels and rabbits, which would certainly help, but were hoping to find bigger game that would mean even more food for the family…the kind of game that would get them through the winter. As the day turned to dusk, they were beginning to believe that there was no bigger game to be had. “Let’s go a little deeper into the forest,” Hansel said, “and, if there is nothing more, we will go back home. Mother and father will be thrilled with what we've gotten.” Gretel agreed, and they continued walking, giving it one more try. Before long, they heard a rustling in the leaves, and slowly turned to see a magnificent 10-point buck drinking from a stream. Gretel readied her rifle and fired.
Her training had paid off, for she was able to bring the buck down instantly with a single shot. She and Hansel quickly field-dressed the deer and packed up to head back home, hardly believing their luck. They were excited to show their parents what they’d gotten. They would have to bring a hunting party from the village! As they lost the light of day, however, they also lost sight of the pebbles that were guiding them home and lost their way.
In the twists and turns of the forest, they soon came across a cottage. A cottage they had not seen before. A cottage made of gingerbread, with a candy roof and iced decorations all around. Tired and hungry, Hansel and Gretel were tempted to stop for food and a rest, but knew that it wasn’t safe to talk to strangers. So, with a sigh, they kept walking. And heard an urgent whisper.
Hansel heard it first and stopped his sister, and they both heard it again. ”Help us!” the whisper said, as Hansel and Gretel looked to see who it was. “We’re in the gingerbread cottage,” the whisper continued. “The witch has us!” They went to the window, where they saw two young boys, clearly brothers, locked in a cage before a simmering pot.
“We thought nobody would ever come!” the boy whispered excitedly, seeing Hansel and Gretel. “We have been here a week. The witch is fattening us up to make us into a stew! I don't know how much time we have left” Hansel and Gretel exchanged horrified glances.
“Where is the witch now?” Gretel asked.
“Asleep,” the boy replied, looking over his shoulder, towards the bedroom from which they could hear the soft sounds of snoring.
“We’re going to get you out of here,” Hansel told the boy, hoisting himself up and climbing into the window, helping Gretel in after him, for he was stronger than his sister.
The boys directed Hansel to the key that would unlock their cage while Gretel stood at the ready with her firearm just in case, for she was a better shot than her brother. Hansel unlocked the cage and opened the door. The hinges gave a groan and the sound of the witch's snoring stopped, the silence filling the room as they looked at each other in panic. Gretel got her rifle ready, but lowered it again when the snoring resumed. They helped the boys back out the window and hurried into the forest, breathing a sigh of relief when the cottage was out of sight. They knew they had to get home to their parents to get help with the witch. Thankfully, the moon was now high enough for its light to highlight the pebbles. Hansel and Gretel found their way back to the path and the four of them got back home as dawn was breaking.
Their parents were overjoyed to see them come home from their hunting trip with meat for the pot, and shocked to hear of their adventure in the witch’s cottage. After reuniting the boys with their parents, it was time to take on the witch…and get some hunting done in the meantime. Villagers, prepared with rifles and pistols, headed into the forest, Hansel and Gretel leading the way.
When they came upon the witch’s cottage, the sheriff locked her into the cage in which the boys had been locked just the night before, to be taken away so she could never harm another child. The sheriff stood guard as the villagers hunted, coming back with more game than they had been able to find in months. There in the woods, the village held a feast.
The witch’s cottage made for an excellent dessert.
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About the author: Amelia Hamilton, a conservative blogger and author of the Growing Patriots series of children’s books, is a lifelong writer and patriot. She has a master’s degree in both English and 18th-century history from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and a postgraduate diploma in fine and decorative arts from Christie’s London. Her labrador, Virgil, can usually be found at her side. You can visit her website here.
Illustration by Amy Hulse, Studio Coronado
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