THE FOUR MUSICIANS
HERE was once a donkey who had worked for his master
faithfully many years, but his strength at last began
to fail, and every day he became more and more unfit
for work. Finally his master concluded it was no longer
worth while to keep him and was thinking of putting an
end to him. But the donkey saw that mischief was
brewing and he ran away."I will go to the city," said
he, "and like enough I can get an engagement there as a
musician; for though my body has grown weak, my voice
is as strong as ever."
So the donkey hobbled along toward the city, but he had
not gone far when he spied a dog lying by the roadside
and panting as if he had run a long way."What makes you
pant so, my friend?" asked the donkey.
"Alas!" replied the dog, "my master was going to knock
me on the head because I am old and weak and can no
longer make myself useful to
 him in hunting. So I
ran away; but how am I to gain a living now, I wonder?"
"Hark ye!" said the donkey."I am going to the city to
be a musician. You may as well keep company with me and
try what you can do in the same line."
The dog said he was willing, and they went on together.
Pretty soon they came to a cat sitting in the middle of
the road and looking as dismal as three wet days."Pray,
my good lady," said the donkey, "what is the matter
with you, for you seem quite out of spirits?"
"Ah me!" responded the cat, "how can I be cheerful when
my life is in danger? I am getting old, my teeth are
blunt, and I like sitting by the fire and purring
better than chasing the mice about. So this morning my
mistress laid hold of me and was going to drown me. I
was lucky enough to get away from her; but I do not
know what is to become of me, and I'm likely to
"Come with us to the city," said the donkey, "and be a
musician. You understand serenading, and with your
talent for that you ought to be able to make a very
The cat was pleased with the idea and went along with
the donkey and the dog. Soon
after-  ward, as they
were passing a farmyard, a rooster flew up on the gate
and screamed out with all his might,
"Bravo!" said the donkey, "upon my word you make a
famous noise; what is it all about?"
"Oh," replied the rooster, "I was only foretelling fine
weather for our washing-day; and that I do every week.
But would you believe it! My mistress doesn't thank me
for my pains, and she has told the cook that I must be
made into broth for the guests that are coming next
"Heaven forbid!" exclaimed the donkey; "come with us.
Master Chanticleer. It will be better, at any rate,
than staying here to have your head cut off. We are
going to the city to be musicians; and—who
knows?—perhaps the four of us can get up some kind of a
concert. You have a good voice, and if we all make
music together, it will be something striking. So come
"With all my heart," said the cock; and the four went
The city was, however, too far away for them to reach
it on the first day of their travelling, and when,
toward night, they came to a thick woods, they decided
to turn aside from the highway and pass the night among
the trees. So they found a
 dry, sheltered spot at
the foot of a great oak and the
donkey and dog lay down on the ground beneath it; but
the cat climbed up among the branches, and the rooster,
thinking the higher he sat the safer he would be, flew
up to the very top. Before he went to sleep the rooster
looked around him to the four points of the compass to
make sure that everything was all right. In so doing he
saw in the distance a little light shining, and he
called out to his companions, "There must be a house no
great way off, for I can see a light."
"If that be the case," said the donkey, "let us get up
and go there. Our lodging here is not what I am used
to, and the sooner we change it for better the more
pleased I shall be."
"Yes," said the dog, "and perhaps I might be able to
get a few bones with a little meat on them at that
"And very likely I might get some milk," said the cat.
"And there ought to be some scraps of food for me,"
said the rooster.
So the cat and the rooster came down out of the tree
and they all walked off with Chanticleer in the lead
toward the spot where he had seen the light. At length
they drew near the house, and the donkey,
the tallest of the company, went up to the lighted
window and looked in.
"Well, what do you see?" asked the dog.
"What do I see?" answered the donkey. "I see that this
is a robber's house. There are swords and pistols and
blunderbusses on the walls, and there are chests of
money on the floor, and all sorts of other plunder
lying about. The robbers are sitting at a table that is
loaded with the best of eatables and drinkables, and
 are making themselves very comfortable and
"Those eatables and drinkables would just suit us,"
declared the rooster.
"Yes, indeed they would," said the donkey, "if we could
only get at them; but that will never be, unless we can
contrive to drive away the robbers first."
Then they consulted together and at last hit on a plan.
The donkey stood on his hind legs with his fore feet on
the window-sill, the dog got on the donkey's shoulders,
the cat mounted the back of the dog, and the rooster
flew up and perched on the back of the cat. When all
was ready they began their music.
"Hehaw! hehaw! hehaw!" brayed the donkey.
"Bow-wow! bow-wow!" barked the dog.
"Meow! meow!" said the cat.
"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" crowed the rooster.
Then they all burst through the window into the room,
breaking the glass with a frightful clatter. The
robbers, not doubting that some hideous hobgoblin was
about to devour them, fled to the woods in great
The donkey and his comrades now sat down at the table
and made free with the food the robbers
 had left,
and feasted as if they had been hungry for
a month. When they had finished they put out the lights
and each sought a sleeping-place to his own liking. The
donkey laid himself down on some straw in the yard, the
dog stretched himself on a mat just inside the door,
the cat curled up on the hearth near the warm ashes,
and the rooster flew up on the roof and settled himself
on the ridge beside the chimney. They were all tired
and soon fell fast asleep.
About midnight the robbers came creeping back to the
house. They saw that no lights were burning and
everything seemed quiet. "Well, well," said the robber
captain, "we need not have been so hasty. I think we
ran away without reason. But we will be cautious. The
rest of you stay here while I go and find out if we are
likely to have any more trouble."
So he stepped softly along to the house and entered the
kitchen. There he groped about until he found a candle
and some matches on the mantel over the fireplace. The
cat had now waked up and stood on the hearth watching
the robber with shining eyes. He mistook those eyes for
two live coals and reached down to get a light by
touching a match to them. The cat did not fancy that
sort of thing
 and flew into his face, spitting
and scratching. Then he cried out in fright and ran
toward the door, and the dog, who was lying there, bit
the robber's leg. He managed, however, to get out in
the yard, and there the donkey struck out with a hind
foot and gave him a kick that knocked him down, and
Chanticleer who had been roused by the noise, cried
out" Cock-a-doodle-doo! Cock-a-doodle-doo!"
The robber captain had barely strength to crawl away to
the other robbers."We cannot live at that house any
more," said he."In the kitchen is a grewsome witch, and
I felt her hot breath and her long nails on my face,
and by the door there stood a man who stabbed me in the
leg, and in the yard is a black giant who beat me with
a club, and on the roof is a little fellow who kept
shouting, 'Chuck him up to me! Chuck him up to me!'"
So the robbers went away and never came back, and the
four musicians found themselves so well pleased with
their new quarters that they did not go to the city,
but stayed where they were; and I dare say you would
find them there at this very day.
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