THE BREMEN TOWN-MUSICIANS
CERTAIN man had a Donkey, which had carried the
corn-sacks to the mill faithfully for many a long year;
but his strength was going, and he was growing more and
more unfit for work.
Then his master began to consider how he might best
save his keep; but the Donkey, seeing that no good wind
was blowing, ran away and set out on the road to
"There," he thought, "I can surely be town-musician."
When he had walked some distance, he found a Hound
lying on the road, gasping like one who had run till he
"What are you gasping so for, you big fellow?" asked
"Ah," replied the Hound, "as I am old, and daily grow
weaker and no longer can hunt, my master wants to kill
me. So I have taken to flight. But now how am I to
earn my bread?"
"I tell you what," said the Donkey, "I am going to
Bremen, and shall be town-musician there. Come with me
 yourself also as a musician. I will play the lute, and
you shall beat the kettledrum.
The Hound agreed, and on they went.
Before long, they came to a Cat, sitting on the path,
with a face like three rainy days!
"Now then, old shaver, what has gone askew with you?"
asked the Donkey.
"Who can be merry when his neck is in danger?" answered
the Cat. "Because I am now getting old, and my teeth
are worn to stumps, and I prefer to sit by the fire and
spin, rather than hunt about after mice, my mistress
wants to drown me, so I have to run away. But now good
advice is scarce. Where am I to go?"
"Come with us to Bremen. You understand night-music,
so you can be a town-musician."
The Cat thought well of it, and went with them.
After this the three fugitives came to a farmyard,
where the Cock was sitting upon the gate, crowing with
all his might.
"Your crow goes through and through one," said the
Donkey. "What is the matter?"
"I have been foretelling fine weather, because it is
the day on which Our Lady washes the Christ-child's
little shirts, and wants to dry them," said the Cock.
"But guests are coming for Sunday, so the housewife has
no pity, and has told the cook that she intends to eat
me in the soup to-morrow. This evening I am to have my
head cut off. Now I am crowing at full pitch while I
"Ah, but Red-Comb," said the Donkey, "you had better
come away with us. We are going to Bremen. You can
 find something better than death everywhere. You have
a good voice, and if we make music together, it must
have some quality!"
The Cock agreed to this plan, and all four went on
They could not, however, reach the city of Bremen in
one day, and in the evening they came to a forest where
they meant to pass the night. The Donkey and the Hound
laid themselves down under a large tree. The Cat and
the cock settled themselves in the branches; but the
cock flew right to the top, where he was most safe.
Before he went to sleep, he looked round on all the
four sides, and thought he saw in the distance a little
spark burning. So he called out to his companions that
there must be a house not far off, for he saw a light.
The Donkey said, "If so, we had better get up and go
on, for the shelter here is bad."
The Hound thought that a few bones with some meat would
do him good too!
They made their way to the place where the light was,
and soon saw it shine brighter and grow larger, until
they came to a well-lighted robber's house. The
Donkey, as the biggest, went to the window and looked
"What do you see, my Grey-Horse?" asked the Cock.
"What do I see?" answered the Donkey; "a table covered
with good things to eat and drink, and robbers sitting
at it enjoying themselves."
"That would be the sort of thing for us," said the
"Yes, yes! ah, how I wish we were there!" said the
Then the animals took counsel together as to how they
 drive away the robbers, and at last they thought of a
plan. The Donkey was to place himself with his
forefeet upon the window-ledge, the Hound was to jump
on the Donkey's back, the Cat was to climb upon the
Hound, and lastly the Cock was to fly up and perch upon
the head of the Cat.
When this was done, at a given signal, they began to
perform their music together. The Donkey brayed, the
Hound barked, the Cat mewed, and the Cock crowed. Then
they burst through the window into the room, so that
the glass clattered!
At this horrible din, the robbers sprang up, thinking
no otherwise that that a ghost had come in, and fled in
a great fright out into the forest.
The four companions now sat down at the table, well
content with what was left, and ate as if they were
going to fast for a month.
As soon as the four minstrels had done, they put out
the light, and each sought for himself a sleeping-place
according to his nature and to what suited him. The
Donkey laid himself down upon some straw in the yard,
the Hound behind the door, the Cat upon the hearth near
the warm ashes, and the Cock perched himself upon a
beam of the roof. Being tired with their long walk,
they soon went to sleep.
When it was past midnight, the robbers saw from afar
that the light was no longer burning in their house,
and all appeared quiet.
The captain said, "We ought not to have let ourselves
be frightened out of our wits;" and ordered one of them
to go and examine the house.
The messenger finding all still, went into the kitchen
 a candle, and, taking the glistening fiery eyes of the
Cat for live coals, he held a Lucifer-match to them to
light it. But the Cat did not understand the joke, and
flew in his face, spitting and scratching.
He was dreadfully frightened, and ran to the back door,
but the Dog, who lay there, sprang up and bit his leg.
Then, as he ran across the yard by the straw-heap, the
Donkey gave him a smart kick with his hind foot. The
Cock, too, who had been awakened by the noise, and had
become lively, cried down from the beam:
Then the robber ran back as fast as he could to his
captain, and said, "Ah, there is a horrible Witch
sitting in the house, who spat on me and scratched my
face with her long claws. By the door stands a man
with a knife, who stabbed me in the leg. In the yard
there lies a black monster, who beat me with a wooden
club. And above, upon the roof, sits the judge, who
" 'Bring the rogue here to me!'
so I got away as well as I could."
After this the robbers did not trust themselves in the
house again. But it suited the four musicians of
Bremen so well that they did not care to leave it any
And the mouth of him who last told this story, is still
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