The Town Musicians, Katharine Pyle
The Town Musicians
Katharine Pyle
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The "Town Musicians of Bremen" (German: Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten) is a German fairy tale. It tells the story of four aging domestic animals, who after a lifetime of hard work are neglected and mistreated by their former masters. Eventually, they decide to run away and become town musicians.

The Town Musicians

Katharine Pyle

A donkey had grown so old and feeble that he was of no more use to his master.

One night he heard his master and mistress talking together. “I wonder you still keep that donkey,” said the woman; “he is of no use to you, and you only waste your money buying food for him.”

“That is true,” answered the man. “I would do well to get rid of him. I might sell his hide to the tanner.”

When the donkey heard this he knew it was time for him to be going, if he wished to keep his skin for his own use. He pushed the stable-door open with his nose, and made off down the road without saying good-by to anyone. “I may be too weak to work,” said he, “but my voice is still strong. I will go to the big city and become a musician.”

He had not gone far when he saw an old hound lying beside the road and whining. “Well, old Bellmouth,” said the donkey, “what ails you? You seem to be in trouble.”

“Trouble indeed,” answered the hound. “I have grown so old and stiff that I am no longer able to run with the pack, so my master had no more use for me. He drove me away and threw stones after me. What is to become of me now I do not know. If my master would not keep me I am sure no one else will.”

“Do not trouble yourself over that,” said the donkey. “I am going to the city to be a musician, and if you like you shall come along and sing with me. I know you have a fine voice, and we two together may make our fortunes.”

The hound was pleased with this idea. He got to his feet, and he and the donkey went on together in company.

A little while after they came to where a cat sat in the grass by the roadside, looking as sad and doleful as a rainy day in fall.

“What is the matter with you, Whiskers?” asked the donkey. “You look as though all the cream were sour and all the rats were dead.”

“There is no cream for me nowadays,” said the cat, “and though there are plenty of rats I am too old to catch them. I am no longer quick and active, and I would rather sit by the fire and purr. For this reason my mistress has driven me out of the house with a broom, and I have no place to go. What would you advise me to do in such a case?”

“Come with us,” said the donkey. “Brother Bellmouth and I are going to the city to be musicians, and if you choose to come along and join your voice with ours we shall be glad to have you.”

The cat was delighted, and leaping out into the road it trotted along beside the others.

Presently they came to a farmyard, and a cock had flown up on the gate post. It stretched its neck and crowed, and crowed again.

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