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The Four Musicians of Bremen

2006-07-13 23:45

  Once there was a man who wanted to kill his donkey because it had become old and useless. But the donkey suspected what the man was up to. So he ran away and headed for the town of Bremen. He thought he would become a musician. On the way he met an old dog who complained, “My master wanted to kill me because I have become useless for the hunt. So I ran away.” The donkey said, “Come with me to Bremen and become a musician, too.” The dog agreed and went with him.

  Soon afterwards a cat joined them. She was old and preferred to sit by the fire rather than catch mice. Her mistress wanted to drown her.

  When the three of them came to a farm, a cockerel crowed as loudly as he could. “What's the matter? Why do you crow so loudly?” asked the donkey.

  “Visitors are coming tomorrow,” said the cockerel. “And the mistress ordered to cook to make me into soup. So now I am crowing while I still can.” The donkey said, “Come with us to Bremen and become a musician. You have a good voice.” The cockerel liked the idea, and the four of them continued on their journey. But they couldn't reach Bremen in one day and they had to spend the night in a wood. The donkey and the dog lay down under a big tree, the cat climbed into the branches and the cockerel flew right to the top.

  From there he cried, “There must be a house not far from here! I can see a light shining through a window.” So they all set off for the house. The donkey, being the tallest, looked through the window.

  “I can see a table laid with food. Robbers are sitting at the table and enjoying themselves,” he said. “That would suit us,” said the cockerel.

  After a lot of thought, the animals found a way to get rid of the robbers. The donkey stood with his fore-feet on the windowsill, the dog jumped on to his back, the cat climbed on to the dog and finally the cockerel flew onto the cat. And at once they began their music; the donkey brayed, the dog barked, the cat miaowed, and the cockerel crowed. Then they crashed through the window into the room.

  The robbers, frightened by the terrible noise, jumped up and fled into the woods. The four friends sat down at the table and helped themselves to the food the robbers had left. They ate as if they hadn't eaten for weeks. Then they put out the light, and each of them looked for a comfortable place to sleep. The donkey lay down out in the yard, the dog behind the door, the cat on the hearth near the warm ashes, and the cockerel flew up into the rafters.

  The robbers saw from a distance that the light was no longer burning. The chief robber ordered one of the others to investigate.

  The robber found all was quiet. He went into the kitchen to light a candle. And taking the cat's glowing, fiery eyes for burning coals he held a match to one of them to catch the light. But the cat woke up with a start, and jumped up and scratched his face. The robber was terrified and tried to escape by the back door. But the dog who was lying there jumped up and bit his leg. And as he passed the donkey passed the donkey in the yard it gave him a good sound kick with his hind legs. The cockerel who was woken up by the commotion, thought it was morning and crowed, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.”

  The robber ran back to his chief as fast as he could, and reported, “Oh, there is a gruesome witch in the house who breathed on me and scratched my face with her long fingernails. Behind the door stands a man with a knife who stabbed me in the leg. In the yard is a black monster who it me with a wooden club. And on the roof sits a judge who called, ”Bring me the villain!“ So I ran away as fast as I could.”

  From then on the robbers never again tried to get into the house. The four musicians, however, liked the house so much that they stayed there for ever.

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