The duck came to them, and Haensel 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 parlor, 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 Haensel 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.
* * * * *
THE FISHERMAN AND HIS WIFE
There was once on a time a Fisherman who lived with his wife in a miserable hovel close by the sea, and every day he went out fishing. And once as he was sitting with his rod, looking at the clear water, his line suddenly went down, far down below, and when he drew it up again he brought out a large Flounder. Then the Flounder said to him, “Hark, you Fisherman, I pray you, let me live; I am no Flounder really, but an enchanted prince. What good will it do you to kill me? I should not be good to eat; put me in the water again, and let me go.” “Come,” said the Fisherman, “there is no need for so many words about it—a fish that can talk I should certainly let go, anyhow.” With that he put him back again into the clear water, and the Flounder went to the bottom, leaving a long streak of blood behind him. Then the Fisherman got up and went home to his wife in the hovel. “Husband,” said the woman, “have you caught nothing today?” “No,” said the man; “I did catch a Flounder, who said he was an enchanted prince, so I let him go again.” “Did you not wish for anything first?” said the woman. “No,” said the man; “what should I wish for?” “Ah,” said the woman, “it is surely hard to have to live always in this dirty hovel. You might have wished for a small cottage for us. Go back and call him. Tell him we want to have a small cottage; he will certainly give us that.” “Ah,” said the man, “why should I go there again?” “Why,” said the woman, “you did catch him, and you let him go again; he is sure to do it. Go at once.” The man still did not quite like to go, but did not like to oppose his wife, either, and so went to the sea. When he got there the sea was all green and yellow, and no longer smooth, as before; so he stood and said—
“Flounder, Flounder, in the sea,
Come, I pray thee, here to me;
For my wife, good Ilsabil,
Wills not as I’d have her will.”