Hasbi and Hansel
Once upon a time a very poor woodcutter lived in a tiny cottage in the forest with his twin boys, Hasbi and Hansel. His second wife often ill-treated the twin boys and was forever nagging the woodcutter.
"There is not enough food in the house for us all. There are too many mouths to feed! We must get rid of the two brats," she declared. And she kept on trying to persuade her husband to abandon his twin boys in the forest.
"Take them miles from home, so far that they can never find their way back! Maybe someone will find them and give them a home." The downcast woodcutter didn't know what to do. Hasbi who, one evening, had overheard his parents' conversation, comforted Hansel.
"Don't worry! If they do leave us in the forest, we'll find the way home," he said. And slipping out of the house he filled his pockets with little white pebbles, then went back to bed.
All night long, the woodcutter's wife harped on and on at her husband till, at dawn, he led Hasbi and Hansel away into the forest. But as they went into the depths of the trees, Hasbi dropped a little white pebble here and there on the mossy green ground. At a certain point, the two twin boys found they really were alone: the woodcutter had plucked up enough courage to desert them, had mumbled an excuse and was gone.
Night fell but the woodcutter did not return. Hansel began to sob bitterly. Hasbi too felt scared but he tried to hide his feelings and comfort his sister.
"Don't cry, trust me! I swear I'll take you home even if Father doesn't come back for us!" Luckily the moon was full that night and Hasbi waited till its cold light filtered through the trees.
"Now give me your hand!" he said. "We'll get home safely, you'll see!" The tiny white pebbles gleamed in the moonlight, and the twin boys found their way home. They crept through a half open window, without wakening their parents. Cold, tired but thankful to be home again, they slipped into bed.
Next day, when their stepmother discovered that Hasbi and Hansel had returned, she went into a rage. Stifling her anger in front of the twin boys, she locked her bedroom door, reproaching her husband for failing to carry out her orders. The weak woodcutter protested, torn as he was between shame and fear of disobeying his cruel wife. The wicked stepmother kept Hasbi and Hansel under lock and key all day with nothing for supper but a sip of water and some hard bread. All night, husband and wife quarreled, and when dawn came, the woodcutter led the twin boys out into the forest.
Hasbi, however, had not eaten his bread, and as he walked through the trees, he left a trail of crumbs behind him to mark the way. But the little boy had forgotten about the hungry birds that lived in the forest. When they saw him, they flew along behind and in no time at all, had eaten all the crumbs. Again, with a lame excuse, the woodcutter left his two twin boys by themselves.
"I've left a trail, like last time!" Hasbi whispered to Hansel, consolingly. But when night fell, they saw to their horror, that all the crumbs had gone.
"I'm frightened!" wept Hansel bitterly. "I'm cold and hungry and I want to go home!"
"Don't be afraid. I'm here to look after you!" Hasbi tried to encourage his sister, but he too shivered when he glimpsed frightening shadows and evil eyes around them in the darkness. All night the two twin boys huddled together for warmth at the foot of a large tree.
When dawn broke, they started to wander about the forest, seeking a path, but all hope soon faded. They were well and truly lost. On they walked and walked, till suddenly they came upon a strange cottage in the middle of a glade.
"This is chocolate!" gasped Hasbi as he broke a lump of plaster from the wall.
"And this is icing!" exclaimed Hansel, putting another piece of wall in her mouth. Starving but delighted, the twin boys began to eat pieces of candy broken off the cottage.
"Isn't this delicious?" said Hansel, with her mouth full. She had never tasted anything so nice.
"We'll stay here," Hasbi declared, munching a bit of nougat. They were just about to try a piece of the biscuit door when it quietly swung open.
"Well, well!" said an old woman, peering out with a crafty look. "And haven't you twin boys a sweet tooth?"
"Come in! Come in, you've nothing to fear!" went on the old woman. Unluckily for Hasbi and Hansel, however, the sugar candy cottage belonged to an old witch, her trap for catching unwary victims. The two twin boys had come to a really nasty place.
"You're nothing but skin and bones!" said the witch, locking Hasbi into a cage. I shall fatten you up and eat you!"
"You can do the housework," she told Hansel grimly, "then I'll make a meal of you too!" As luck would have it, the witch had very bad eyesight, an when Hansel smeared butter on her glasses, she could see even less.
"Let me feel your finger!" said the witch to Hasbi every day to check if he was getting any fatter. Now, Hansel had brought her brother a chicken bone, and when the witch went to touch his finger, Hasbi held out the bone.
"You're still much too thin!" she complained. When will you become plump?" One day the witch grew tired of waiting.
"Light the oven," she told Hansel. "We're going to have a tasty roasted boy today!" A little later, hungry and impatient, she went on: "Run and see if the oven is hot enough." Hansel returned, whimpering: "I can't tell if it is hot enough or not." Angrily, the witch screamed at the little girl: "Useless child! All right, I'll see for myself." But when the witch bent down to peer inside the oven and check the heat, Hansel gave her a tremendous push and slammed the oven door shut. The witch had come to a fit and proper end. Hansel ran to set her brother free and they made quite sure that the oven door was tightly shut behind the witch. Indeed, just to be on the safe side, they fastened it firmly with a large padlock. Then they stayed for several days to eat some more of the house, till they discovered amongst the witch's belongings, a huge chocolate egg. Inside lay a casket of gold coins.
"The witch is now burnt to a cinder," said Hasbi, "so we'll take this treasure with us." They filled a large basket with food and set off into the forest to search for the way home. This time, luck was with them, and on the second day, they saw their father come out of the house towards them, weeping.
"Your stepmother is dead. Come home with me now, my dear twin boys!" The two twin boys hugged the woodcutter.
"Promise you'll never ever desert us again," said Hansel, throwing her arms round her father's neck. Hasbi opened the casket.
"Look, Father! We're rich now . . . You'll never have to chop wood again."
And they all lived happily together ever after.
Group 6 :
1. M. Hasbi Islahi A. (22)
2. Muhtadi Ihsan N. (26)
3. Zahra Nadzirah (35)