The Bremen Town-Musicians

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 The Bremen Town-Musicians
      A certain man had a donkey, which had carried the corn-sacks to the
 mill indefatigably 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 Bremen. "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 was tired. "What
 are you gasping so for, you big fellow?" asked the donkey.
      "Ah," replied the hound, "as I am old, and daily grow weaker, and no
 longer can hunt, my master wanted to kill me, so I took 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; go with me and engage 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 wanted to
 drown me, so I ran away. But now good advice is scarce. Where am I to go?"
      "Go with us to Bremen. You understand night-music, so you can be a town-
      The cat thought well of it, and went with them. After this the three
 fugitives came to a farm-yard, 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, and 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
      The cock agreed to this plan, and all four went on together. 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 on would do him good
      So 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 in.
      "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 cock. "Yes, yes; ah, how I wish we were there!" said the
      Then the animals took counsel together how they should manage to 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 dog, 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
 than 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 it they were going to fast for a month.
      As soon as the four minstrels has 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; and being tired with their long
 walk, they soon went to sleep.
      When it was past midnight, and 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 to light 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; as he ran across the yard by the straw-heap, the donkey gave him a smart
 kick with its hind foot. The cock, too, who had been awakened by the noise,
 and had become lively, cried down from the beam, "Cock-a-doodle-doo!"
      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; and by the door stands a man with a
 knife, who stabbed me in the leg; and in the yard there lies a black monster,
 who beat me with a wooden club; and above, upon the roof, sits the judge, who
 called out, '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 more. And the mouth of him who last told this story is still warm.