She and her ugly daughter came to the castle when the queen had a little baby, and one of them pretended to be a nurse, and at last got the mother and child into their power.
They shut the queen up in the bath, and tried to suffocate her, and the old woman put her own ugly daughter in the queen’s bed that the king might not know she was away.
She would not, however, let him speak to her, but pretended that she must be kept quite quiet.
The queen escaped from the bath-room, where the wicked old woman had locked her up, but she did not go far, as she wanted to watch over her child and the little fawn.
For two nights the baby’s nurse saw a figure of the queen come into the room and take up her baby and nurse it. Then she told the king, and he determined to watch himself. The old stepmother, who acted as nurse to her ugly daughter, whom she tried to make the king believe was his wife, had said that the queen was too weak to see him, and never left her room. “There cannot be two queens,” said the king to himself, “so to-night I will watch in the nursery.” As soon as the figure came in and took up her baby, he saw it was his real wife, and caught her in his arms, saying, “You are my own beloved wife, as beautiful as ever.”
The wicked witch had thrown her into a trance, hoping she would die, and that the king would then marry her daughter; but on the king speaking to her, the spell was broken. The queen told the king how cruelly she had been treated by her stepmother, and on hearing this he became very angry, and had the witch and her daughter brought to justice. They were both sentenced to die—the daughter to be devoured by wild beasts, and the mother to be burnt alive.
No sooner, however, was she reduced to ashes than the charm which held the queen’s brother in the form of a stag was broken; he recovered his own natural shape, and appeared before them a tall, handsome young man.
After this, the brother and sister lived happily and peacefully for the rest of their lives.
HANSEL AND GRETHEL
Near the borders of a large forest dwelt in olden times a poor wood-cutter, who had two children—a boy named Hansel, and his sister, Grethel. They had very little to live upon, and once when there was a dreadful season of scarcity in the land, the poor wood-cutter could not earn sufficient to supply their daily food.
One evening, after the children were gone to bed, the parents sat talking together over their sorrow, and the poor husband sighed, and said to his wife, who was not the mother of his children, but their stepmother, “What will become of us, for I cannot earn enough to support myself and you, much less the children? what shall we do with them, for they must not starve?”
“I know what to do, husband,” she replied; “early to-morrow morning we will take the children for a walk across the forest and leave them in the thickest part; they will never find the way home again, you may depend, and then we shall only have to work for ourselves.”