Bremen Town Musicians

A certain man had a donkey, which had carried the corn sacks to the mill loyally for many a long year; but his strength was going, and he was growing more and more unfit for work. His master began to wonder if it was worth his while by keeping this old donkey much longer. 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 a town musician.”
  When he had walked some distance, he found a dog lying on the road, gasping like one who had run until he was tired. “What are you gasping for, you big fellow?” Asked the donkey.
  “Ah,” replied the dog, “as I am old, and grow weaker daily; I can no longer hunt. My master wanted to kill me, so I ran away, but now how am I to earn my bread?”
  “I’ll tell you what,” said the donkey, “I am going to Bremen, and shall be a town musician there; come with me and work also as a musician. I will play the lute, and you shall beat the kettledrum.”
  The dog agreed, and so on they went. Not before long they came to a cat, sitting on the path with a face like three rainy days! “Now then, old fluff and claws, what has gone so wrong with you?” Asked the donkey.
  “Who can be merry when his neck is in danger?” Answered the cat. “Because I am now getting old, 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. 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 musician.”
  The cat thought well of it and decided to go with them. After this the three runaways came to a farmyard, where the cockerel was sitting upon the gate, cock-a-doodle-doing with all his might. “Your cock-a-doodle-do goes through and through my skull,” said the donkey. “What is the matter?”
  “Guests are coming on Sunday and the housewife has no pity,” said the cockerel, “and has told the cook that she intends to eat me in the soup tomorrow, and this evening I am to have my head cut off. Now I am cock-a-doodle-doing at full pitch while I can.”
  “Ah you red-headed bird,” 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 cockerel 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 dog laid themselves down under a large tree, the cat and cockerel settled themselves in the branches – but the cockerel flew right to the top, where he was most safe. Before he went to sleep, 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 dog thought that a few bones with some meat on would do him good too!


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