The bear in the forest hut
There was once an old man, who was a widower, and he had married an old woman, who was a widow. Both had had children by their first marriage; and now the old man had a daughter of his own still living, and the old woman also had a daughter.
The old man was an honest, hard-working, and good-natured old fellow, but too much under his wife's thumb. This was very unfortunate, because she was wicked, cunning, and sly, and a bad old witch.
Her daughter was only too like her in disposition; but she was her mother's darling.
But the old man's daughter was a very good sweet girl; nevertheless her stepmother hated her; she was always tormenting her, and wishing her dead.
One day she had beaten her very cruelly, and pushed her out of doors; then she said to the old man:
"Your wretched daughter is always giving me trouble; she is such an ill-tempered, spoilt hussy, that I cannot do anything with her. So if you wish for peace in the house, you must put her into your waggon, drive her away into the forest, and come back without her."
The old man was very sorry to have to do this; for he loved his own little daughter most dearly. But he was so afraid of his wife that he dared not refuse; so he put the poor girl into his waggon, drove a long way into the forest, took her out, and left her there alone.
She wandered about a long time, gathering wild strawberries, to eat with a little piece of bread, which her father had given her. Towards evening she came to the door of a hut in the forest, and knocked at the door.
Nobody answered her knock. So she lifted the latch, went in, and looked round—there was nobody there.
But there was a table in one corner, and benches all round the walls, and an oven by the door. And near the table, close to the window, was a spinning-wheel, and a quantity of flax.
The girl sat down to the spinning-wheel, and opened the window, looked out, and listened; but nobody came.
But as it grew dusk she heard a rustle not far off, and from somewhere not far from the hut, a voice was heard, singing:
"Wanderer, outcast, forsaken!