The Pied Piper of Hamelin
The Pied Piper of Hamelin and the rats story.
A long time ago, the town of Hamelin in Germany was faced with a great prob¬lem. It became full of rats. The rats were so big and so fierce that they fought the dogs, killed the cats and bit the babies in the cradles. They ate up the corn in the granaries. They ran about shrieking and squeaking all the time.
At last the people came to the Town Hall and said to the Mayor : "Do something about the rats or we will send you packing." The Mayor trembled. He called a meeting of his councilors and talked about the problem for hours. But they could not find a way out. They were in despair. At that moment there was a knock at the door. "Come in," said the Mayor. A tall thin stranger entered the Hall. His dress was made of pieces of cloth of different colours. He went up to the council-table and said : "People call me the Pied Piper. If you pay me the price I ask, I will rid your town of rats." "Name your price," said the Mayor.
"A thousand guilders" said the Pied Piper.
"All right," said the Mayor "We'll pay you a thousand guilders. When will you set to work ?"
"Now," replied the Pied Piper.
The Pied Piper went to the street and took out a pipe from his pocket. Then he began to play the pipe. Soon from every house in Hamelin came out the rats tumbling. There were hundreds of thousands of them. The man, still playing his pipe, moved along the streets and the rats followed him. He went down to the bank of the river Weser and waded into the river. And every single rat that followed him was drowned.
The Pied Piper came back to the Town Hall. The Mayor and his councilors were sitting there. He said to them,
“My thousand guilders, please.”
But unwilling to pay the price they had agreed on, they began to make excuses.
“We would have no money left if we paid you what you ask,” said one.
“Surely you cannot demand so much money for a job that has taken you so short a time,” said another. “The river did more than half of your work. If the Weser had not been so near, what would you have done ? Come, take fifty”
The Pied Piper became angry. “Very well,” he said, “keep your guilders. And I know how to play a different tune.” Then he went away.
The Pied Piper stepped into the street and began to play his pipe again. This time the music was different. At the sound of the music all the children of Hamelin came running. The Mayor, the councilors and all the parents stood dumb. The Piper walked along the streets and the children followed him. They were laughing and dancing.
But now the piper did not go towards the river. He walked towards the hill called Koppel burg instead. The parents felt relieved, thinking that the Piper would never be able to cross the hill. He and the children would be forced to stop there.
But as soon as the piper reached the hill, it opened up and he walked into it with the children following him. Then the hill closed and they were never seen again.