The Bremen Town Musicians
The Bremen Town Musicians
There once was a man who had a donkey, which he had used to carry corn sacks to the mill for many years. The donkey was becoming weak from old age and unable to do his work. His master began to consider what to do with the donkey. Sensing that his master was becoming angry with him, the donkey ran away and set out on the road to Bremen. “There,” he thought, “I can surely be a town musician.”
When he had walked some distance, he found a hound lying on the side of the road, panting.
“Why are you gasping so, big fellow?” asked the donkey.
“Oh,” replied the hound breathlessly, “as I am old and growing weak and can no longer hunt, my master wanted to kill me. So I ran away, but now how am I to earn a living?”
“I tell you what,” said the donkey, “I am going to Bremen and shall be a town musician there. Go with me and become a musician, too. I will play the lute, and you shall beat the
The hound agreed, and on they went. Before long they came upon a cat sitting on the path, with a dismal face.
“Now then, old shaver, what has gone wrong with you?” asked the donkey.
“Who can be merry when his life is in danger?” asked the cat in reply. “Because I am now getting old, and my teeth are worn to stumps, and I prefer to sit by the fire and relax rather than chase after mice, my mistress wanted to drown me. So I ran away, but now I don't know where to go.”
“Go with us to Bremen. You can be a town musician too,” said the donkey.
The cat thought this sounded like a good plan so he went with them.
After this the three runaways came to a farmyard, where a rooster was sitting on a fence, crowing with all his might.
“Why is your crow so loud?” asked the donkey.
“Because,” moaned the rooster, “guests are coming Sunday, so the wife has told the cook that she intends to put me in the soup tomorrow. This evening I am to have my head cut off. Now I am crowing at the top of my lungs while I still can.”
“Oh,” said the donkey, “you had better come away with us. We are going to Bremen. You have a good voice, and if we make music together, it will sound wonderful.”
The rooster agreed to this plan, and all four went on together. They could not reach the city of Bremen in one day, however, and as night fell they came to a forest where they planned to sleep. The donkey and the hound laid themselves down under a large tree, and the cat and the rooster settled themselves in the branches.
The rooster flew right to the top, where he was most safe. Before he went to sleep, he looked round on all four sides and thought he saw in the distance a little flame burning. So he called out to his companions that there must be a house not far off, for he saw a light.
“If so,” said the donkey, “we had better get up and go on to that house for it's not very comfortable sleeping here in the woods.”
So they all made their way to the place where the light was and soon saw it shine brighter and grow larger, until they came to a brightly lit robbers' house. The donkey, as the biggest, went to the window and looked in.
“What do you see?” asked the rooster.
“I see a table covered with good things to eat and drink, and robbers sitting at it enjoying themselves,” answered the donkey. “If only we were there.”
The table inside looked so tempting that the animals decided to drive away the robbers. After some time, they thought of a way. The donkey was to place himself with his front feet upon the window ledge, the hound was to jump on the donkey's back, and the cat was to climb upon the dog. Finally, the rooster was to fly up and perch upon the head of the cat.
When this was accomplished, they began to perform their music. The donkey brayed, the hound barked, the cat meowed, and the rooster crowed. Then they burst through the window into the room, shattering the glass.
At this horrible din, the robbers sprang up, thinking that a ghost had come in. They fled in a great fright out into the forest.
The four companions now sat down at the table, very happy with what was left, and ate as if it were going to be their only meal for a month. When they finished, the four musicians put out the light, and each found a suitable place to sleep.
The donkey lay down upon some straw in the yard, the hound behind the door, the cat upon the hearth near the warm ashes, and the rooster perched upon a beam of the roof. And being tired from their long walk, they soon went to sleep.
When it was past midnight, the robbers saw from a distance that the light was no longer burning in their house, and all appeared quiet. The leader said, “We were silly to have been frightened by those animals.” He then ordered one of the robbers to examine the house. This unfortunate messenger, finding all still, went into the kitchen to light a candle. He mistook the glowing eyes of the cat for live coals and held a match up to them, hoping to light the coals. The cat flew in his face, spitting and scratching. The robber was terrified and ran to the back door, but the dog, lying there, sprang up and bit his leg. And as he ran across the yard, the donkey gave him a sharp kick with its back foot. The rooster, too, had been awakened by the noise, and he cried down from the beam, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.”
The robber ran back as fast as he could to his leader.
“Oh,” he said, “there is a horrible witch sitting in the house. She spit on me and scratched my face with her long claws. And by the door stood a man with a knife. He stabbed me in the leg. And in the yard a black monster beat me with a wooden club. And up on the roof sits the judge who said, ‘Put the robber in jail.’ So I ran away as fast as I could.”
After this terrible fright, the robbers never again dared enter the house. But it suited the four musicians of Bremen so well that they did not care to leave it ever again.