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Mr and Mrs Brinker and their two children, Hans and Gretel lived in Holland.

It was December and it was very cold. The river began to freeze over. Hans and his sister Gretel longed to skate on the ice but their father said."Not yet. There will still be water under the ice.

The ice is not strong enough to take your weight and you might fall through and drown." The children did what their father said and waited but other children did skate on the ice of the frozen river.
Picture of Hans and Gretel                                                           Picture of Anna skating


One day, Hans + Gretel were walking along the river bank when they heard someone yell, "Help!" It was Gretel's friend Anna and she had fallen through the ice. Now Gretel knew that Anna was a very good swimmer but the trouble was that whenever she tried to pull herself out of the water she slipped on the ice and went back in again. Gretel said, "Let's tie our scarves together. " They both did this. They knotted the scarves and threw an end to Anna. Hans kept hold of the other end.                                         |         


Picture of Anna falling through the ice.

 They pulled as hard as they could but they could not manage to pull Anna out of the water. The next minute a bigger boy called Michael arrived. "Get hold of my shoulders and pull," said Hans.

The boy got hold of Hans's shoulders and  pulled as hard as he could. Hans felt as if his arms would be pulled off but he held on to his end of the scarf.

Slowly Anna was pulled out of the water. She looked blue and her teeth were chattering. She was so cold she could hardly walk and Hans and Michael had to carry her home .


 When Hans's father came home he said, "Well done children! I'm sure you saved Anna's life but I am even more worried that someone will get drowned after skating on the ice of that river..  Now I have a plan. I will work with two or three other people and we will flood a field beside the river.

When the water freezes, the ice over the field will only be about 2 inches thick and there will not be more than an inch of water underneath."  The plan worked very well and by January all the children were sliding about on the ice. Gretel was older and she had a job. She had bought herself a pair of steel skates.  Some of the other children had some steel skates too and they were able to skate over the ice very quickly indeed.

 Hans asked his father if he would buy him some steel skates.  "I am very sorry," said his father, "but we just do not have the money. I'll tell you what I'll do. I will make you a pair of skates from wood."  "Thank you," said Hans. When his father gave him the wooden skates he could skate quickly over the ice but he could not skate as quickly as the children with the steel skates. He did not mind this very much and he knew that his father had done his best.

The skating went on all January and February but in March the ice melted and no one could skate any more.  "Never mind," said his father, "All the people in the village have decided to do the same thing next winter and just before Christmas there will be a skating competition and the prize will be a pair of silver skates."  "What will the competition be like?" said Gretel. "It will be in 2 parts. In the first part you will skate around and pretend to be animals and birds. The Judges have not decided yet what the animals will be. The second part will be a skating race."

Many of the children were good at skating and they all looked forward to the winter and dreamed of winning the silver skates.
 Hans wanted to win the race but he knew he would never go fast enough on his wooden skates. He decided to get a job on a paper round and save up his money to buy a pair of steel skates.


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