Once upon a time, there lived a man who had two children named Cansel and Hetel. He was a widower and times were tough. He had a difficult time finding work and the family was becoming very very poor.
Jack was a good husband and father, and it didn't help that his new wife, Rachel, became very demanding and jealous of his affection for the children.
One day, as Cansel and Hetel were playing outside, Rached said to Jack, "If we don't get some money together soon, we will surely starve. You can't afford to feed both of us, and those kids too. Why, Hetel alone can be quite fussy when it comes to what's on his plate. You're going to have to get rid of them, Jack..once and for all. If you don't do it, then I will!" Rachel exclaimed.
Jack loved his children very much, but he was tired, malnourished, and at his wit's end. He became so despondent that he decided to do as Rachel told him.
"Cansel, Hetel, come inside" he called to them.
Cansel and Hetel ran through the door as their father had ordered and sat down at the kitchen table.
Jack then looked at the both of them and told them that he would be taking them to the woods for a walk. They would be bringing some bread with them.
Jack, Cansel and Hetel walked together a few miles away from their cottage and into the deep deep woods.
Cansel and Hetel were holding hands as she said to him,
"Where do you think we're going Hetel?"
"Never ask, Cansel, it will spoil the surprise.'
"You know, Cansel" Hetel began, "Ole Jackie-boy never did like me very much."
"Now, Hetel, what way is that to talk about our father?" Cansel asked.
"Well, it's true. He always liked you better."
Just then, Jack turned to the children and said,
"Now the two of you close your eyes and count to 100."
"This is a trick, I know it" Hetel said to Cansel.
"Just do it" Cansel said.
As the children began to count, Jack turned and left, leaving the bread and not saying a word. He teared up as he began to walk away and prayed that his children would find their way home.
"Cansel, you can stop counting, he's gone" Hetel said.
Cansel opened her eyes and said, "Well, what do you know? He just left us here."
"I told you it was a trick, but do you ever listen to me? NOOOO."
"Well, Hetel, now what?"
"Let's have some bread and start walking home" Hetel suggested as they both shared some and began walking.
"You know, Hetel..I should have seen this coming" Cansel began.
"I did, but you wouldn't have believed me if I told you" Hetel said.
As they continued walking it became more and more apparent to them that they were lost and not going to get back home anytime soon.
Just then, Cansel had an idea.
"I know, Hetel, we can leave a trail of breadcrumbs and then be able to retrace our steps so we can help find our way back home from where we came!"
"Cansel, that is the dumbest idea I've ever heard. What if the birds eat them?" Hetel said giving her a look of utter disgust and disbelief.
"Well, do you have any better ideas, hot-shot? I don't see you coming up with any of your brilliant plans. As a matter of fact, you've been acting like a corn-pone country pussy all day long."
"You kiss your dolls goodnight with that mouth?" Hetel said as he began to speed up his pace to get away from her.
"Get back here, you!" Cansel said running after him.
Just then, Cansel and Hetel came to a little house right in the middle of where they had run to.
It was a cottage that looked like it was made of candy.
"Oh, boy, Hetel look at this!" Cansel exclaimed.
"It's a candy house...WOW!!" Cansel screamed barely able to contain her glee.
"Cheap candy, I assure you Cansel" Hetel quipped.
"Oh, come on..why do you always have to be so fussy?" Cansel said as she went up to the house to smell and feel it.
When she had determined that it really was candy, Cansel began to dig in, breaking off the gingerbread tiles and licking the sugary candy glass windowpanes. Hetel just looked at her in disbelief and said,
"I can't believe you can eat that-it's not even close to the premium confections that can be found anywhere in this part of the country."
"Well, beggars can't be choosers and right now we're beggars, so dig in" Cansel said with her mouth full and hands sticky.
"Cansel, this is a disgrace. I will have none of it" Hetel said standing there and not touching any of the candy.
Just then, the door of the cottage flew open and out came an old lady.
"Well, hello children" said Mrs. Gumb. "And how are you both doing today?"
Cansel and Hetel both jumped at her sudden appearance as Cansel then said,
"Oh, Mr..I mean Mrs..I mean..Ms..we were just..."
"Quiet, Cansel, let me do the talking" Hetel said.
"What my sister is trying to say, Sir...I mean Ma'm is that we are lost and hungry and accidentally stumbled onto your premises and began to indulge in some of your confectionary abode."
"You mean you wanted to eat my house" clarified Mrs. Gumb.
"Yes, that's what I just said."
"Well, why don't the both of you come inside and I will cook you a lovely meal."
"Oh, Hetel, that sounds great..let's go inside..thank you" Cansel began as Hetel tried to stop her.
"Oh, Cansel, do you really think this is such a good idea..who know what ingredients she uses?"
"I'm going in with or without you, Mr. Fuss-Pot" she said.
Just then, both Cansel and Hetel followed Mrs. Gumb into the house and sat down at her kitchen table.
She laid before them a wonderful spread that even Hetel found charming.
The two began eating as Mrs. Gumb then grabbed ahold of Hetel and after a bit of a struggle, put him in a cage surrounded by barbed wire.
"NNNOOOO!!" Cansel started to scream as Mrs. Gumb then handed her a broom and said,
"Now clean this place up before dinner."
"Give me back my brother!" Cansel cried.
"No..your brother is going to be dinner and if you don't shut-up you are too!" Mrs. Gumb shouted at her.
"Wonderful choice!" Hetel then said from inside the cage. "May I ask you just how you plan on preparing me? I could give you some excellent suggestions."
"Does it look like I need help, pretty-boy?" Mrs. Gumb said.
Just then, Mrs. Gumb went into another room to do some sewing.
"Cansel, come here" Hetel whispered.
Just as the two of them were hatching their escape, Mrs. Gumb came back into the kitchen.
"What are the two of you doing?" she asked.
"We were just talking about Dante" Hetel said.
After a few hours, Mrs. Gumb said,
"OK Cansel, go by the fire and see if it is hot enough. I want to get Hetel in the oven before sunset."
"All-right, Mrs. Gumb" she obediently said.
Just as Cansel was leaning by the fire, she backed up and said,
"Oh My..Is that "Goodbye Horses" I hear? One of your neighbors must be blasting their radio, because I can hear it all the way from here!"
"OH my God...that's my favorite song!" Mrs. Gumb said as she suddenly began to prance around the kitchen, removing her clothes.
Just as the now naked Mrs. Gumb was dancing, Cansel got behind her and pushed her right into the fire.
"GGGGOOODDDDBBYYYEEEE HHHOORRRSSSEESSSS" she sang as she plunged head first into the flames.
"Excellent work, my dear!" Hetel exclaimed from his cell.
Cansel then helped Hetel out of his cage as the two embraced.
They began to make their journey home when Hetel turned to Cansel and said,
"You know, Cansel...I know I was a little hard on you today. I didn't mean it..You really are quite something, you know that?"
"Why, thank you Hetel, you are quite something yourself. You know, I was almost tempted to let you rot away in that cage."
"Now, why ever would you do such a thing?" he asked.
"Just to watch you squirm."
Cansel and Hetel were now holding hands an speaking in French as they walked in the direction they thought would lead them home.
Just as they were preparing to stop for the night, they saw a figure approaching that looked very familiar. It didn't take them long to determine that is was their father.
"Oh My...that's Daddy!" exclaimed Cansel as her and Hetel ran ahead to meet him.
The three of them embraced as Jack cried out,
"Oh my beautiful children..I'm so happy you're safe!"
"I'm so sorry" Jack began.."this will never happen again..Rachel has left me and now it is just the three of us."
As they made their way home, Hetel then turned to Cansel and said,
"I just love happy endings, don't you?"