Musicians of Bremen
Once upon a time . . . an old donkey was ill-treated by his master. Tired
of such unkindness, he decided to run away, and when he heard that Bremen was
looking for singers with the town band, he decided that someone with a fine
braying voice like his might be accepted.
As he went along the road, the donkey met a skinny dog, covered with sores.
"Come with me. If you have a good bark, you'll find a job with the band
too. Just wait and see!"
A little later, a stray cat, no longer able to catch mice, joined them and
the trio trotted hopefully on towards the town. As they passed a farmyard,
they stopped to admire an elderly cockerel who, with outstretched wings, was
crowing to the skies.
"You sing well," they told him. "What are you so happy about?"
"Happy?" muttered the cockerel with tears in his eyes. "They want to put me
in the pot and make broth of me. I'm singing as hard as I can today, for
tomorrow I'll be gone." But the donkey told him, "Run away with us. With a
voice like yours, you'll be famous in Bremen!"
Now there were four of them. The way was long, night fell, and very
frightened, the four creatures found themselves in a thick forest.
They scarcely knew whether to press on or to hide in some caves and rest.
Suddenly, in the distance they saw a light amongst the trees. It came from a
little cottage and they crept up to the window. The donkey placed his front
hoofs on the window ledge. Anxious to see, the dog jumped on the donkey's
back, the cat climbed onto the dog and the cockerel flew on top of the cat to
watch what was going on inside.
Now, the cottage was the hideaway of a gang of bandits who were busily
celebrating their latest robbery. The hungry donkey and his friends became
excited when they saw the food on the table. Upset by the Jittery crew on his
back, the donkey stuck his head through the window and toppled his three
companions on to the lamp. The light went out and the room rang with the
braying of the donkey who had cut his nose on the glass, the barking of the
dog and the snarling of the cat. The cockerel screeched along with the others.
Taken completely by surprise, the terrified bandits fled screaming: "The
Devil! The Devil!" And their abandoned meal ended up in the four friends'
Later, however, just as the donkey and his companions were dropping off to
sleep, one of the bandits crept back to the now quiet house and went in to
find out what had taken place. He opened the door, and with his pistol in his
hand, he stepped trembling towards the fire. However, mistaking the glow of
the cat's eyes for burning coals, he thrust a candle between them and
instantly the furious cat sank its claws into the bandit's face. The man fell
backwards on to the dog, dropping his gun, which went off, and the animal's
sharp teeth sank into his leg. When the donkey saw the bandit's figure at the
door, he gave a tremendous kick, sending the man flying right through the
doorway. The cockerel greeted this feat with a grim crowing sound.
"Run!" screamed the bandit. "Run! A horrible witch in there scratched my
face, a demon bit me on the leg and a monster beat me with a stick! And . . ."
But the other bandits were no longer listening, for they had taken to their
heels and fled.
And so the donkey, the dog, the cat and the cockerel took over the house
without any trouble and, with the booty left behind by the bandits, always had
food on the table, and lived happy and contented for many years.