Ruffus The Dog – The Pied Piper

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The Pied Piper of Hamelin

автор: Роберт Браунинг (Robert Browning)

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, by Robert Browning

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

Title: The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Author: Robert Browning

Illustrator: Kate Greenaway

Release Date: May 8, 2006 [EBook #18343]

Produced by Suzanne Shell, Christine D. and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net

The Pied Piper

Hamelin

THE PIED PIPER

HAMELIN

ROBERT BROWNING

ILLUSTRATED BY

KATE GREENAWAY

LONDON
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO., Ltd .
AND NEW YORK

THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN

And ate the cheeses out of the vats.

And licked the soup from the cook’s own ladles,

The Pied Piper of Hamelin

This famed story of the greatest rat-charmer of all time was told by the Brothers Grimm, but this is even more special: the verse version by the Victorian poet Robert Browning (1812-1889).

In the video, Natasha’s reading is synced with the beautiful illustrations of Kate Greenaway (1846 — 1901).

You can also download a version that will play in a v > THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN

Hamelin Town’s in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But, when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin, was a pity.

Rats!
They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats.
And licked the soup from the cook’s own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women’s chats,
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.

At last the people in a body
To the Town Hall came flocking:
«Tis clear,» cried they, «our Mayor’s a noddy;
And as for our Corporation—shocking
To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
For dolts that can’t or won’t determine
What’s best to rid us of our vermin!
You hope, because you’re old and obese,
To find in the furry civic robe ease?
Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking
To find the remedy we’re lacking,
Or, sure as fate, we’ll send you packing!»
At this the Mayor and Corporation
Quaked with a mighty consternation.

An hour they sate in council,
At length the Mayor broke silence:
«For a guilder I’d my ermine gown sell;
I wish I were a mile hence!
It’s easy to bid one rack one’s brain—
I’m sure my poor head aches again,
I’ve scratched it so, and all in vain
Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!»
Just as he said this, what should hap
At the chamber door but a gentle tap?
«Bless us,» cried the Mayor, «what’s that?»
(With the Corporation as he sat,
Looking little though wondrous fat;
Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister
Than a too-long-opened oyster,
Save when at noon his paunch grew mutinous
For a plate of turtle green and glutinous)
«Only a scraping of shoes on the mat?
Anything like the sound of a rat
Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!»

«Come in!»—the Mayor cried, looking bigger:
And in did come the strangest figure!
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow and half of red,
And he himself was tall and thin,
With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin,
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin
No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin,
But lips where smile went out and in;
There was no guessing his kith and kin:
And nobody could enough admire
The tall man and his quaint attire.
Quoth one: «It’s as my great-grandsire,
Starting up at the Trump of Doom’s tone,
Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!»

He advanced to the council-table:
And, «Please your honours,» said he, «I’m able,
By means of a secret charm, to draw
All creatures living beneath the sun,
That creep or swim or fly or run,
After me so as you never saw!
And I chiefly use my charm
On creatures that do people harm,
The mole and toad and newt and viper;
And people call me the Pied Piper.»
(And here they noticed round his neck
A scarf of red and yellow stripe,
To match with his coat of the self-same cheque;
And at the scarf’s end hung a pipe;
And his fingers they noticed were ever straying
As if impatient to be playing
Upon his pipe, as low it dangled
Over his vesture so old-fangled.)
«Yet,» said he, «poor Piper as I am,
In Tartary I freed the Cham,
Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats,
I eased in Asia the Nizam
Of a monstrous brood of vampyre-bats:
And as for what your brain bewilders,
If I can rid your town of rats
Will you give me a thousand guilders?»
«One? fifty thousand!»—was the exclamation
Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.

Into the street the Piper stept,
Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept
In his quiet pipe the while;
Then, like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled,
Like a candle-flame where salt is sprinkled;
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives—
Followed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,
Until they came to the river Weser
Wherein all plunged and perished!
—Save one who, stout as Julius Caesar,
Swam across and lived to carry
(As he, the manuscript he cherished)
To Rat-land home his commentary:
Which was, «At the first shrill notes of the pipe,
I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
And putting apples, wondrous ripe,
Into a cider-press’s gripe:
And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards,
And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards,
And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks,
And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks:
And it seemed as if a voice
(Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery
Is breathed) called out, ‘Oh rats, rejoice!
The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!
So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!’
And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon,
All ready staved, like a great sun shone
Glorious scarce an inch before me,
Just as methought it said, ‘Come, bore me!’
—I found the Weser rolling o’er me.»

You should have heard the Hamelin people
Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple
«Go,» cried the Mayor, «and get long poles,
Poke out the nests and block up the holes!
Consult with carpenters and builders,
And leave in our town not even a trace
Of the rats!»—when suddenly up the face
Of the Piper perked in the market-place,
With a, «First, if you please, my thousand guilders!»

A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue;
So did the Corporation too.
For council dinners made rare havoc
With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock;
And half the money would replenish
Their cellar’s biggest butt with Rhenish.
To pay this sum to a wandering fellow
With a gipsy coat of red and yellow!
«Beside,» quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink,
«Our business was done at the river’s brink;
We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,
And what’s dead can’t come to life, I think.
So, friend, we’re not the folks to shrink
From the duty of giving you something to drink,
And a matter of money to put in your poke;
But as for the guilders, what we spoke
Of them, as you very well know, was in joke.
Beside, our losses have made us thrifty.
A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!»

В школе этого не расскажут:  Спряжение глагола disputailler во французском языке.

The Piper’s face fell, and he cried,
«No trifling! I can’t wait, beside!
I’ve promised to visit by dinner-time
Bagdad, and accept the prime
Of the Head-Cook’s pottage, all he’s rich in,
For having left, in the Caliph’s kitchen,
Of a nest of scorpions no survivor:
With him I proved no bargain-driver,
With you, don’t think I’ll bate a stiver!
And folks who put me in a passion
May find me pipe after another fashion.»

«How?» cried the Mayor, «d’ ye think I brook
Being worse treated than a Cook?
Insulted by a lazy ribald
With idle pipe and vesture piebald?
You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst,
Blow your pipe there till you burst!»

Once more he stept into the street,
And to his lips again
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;
And ere he blew three notes
(such sweet
Soft notes as yet musician’s cunning
Never gave the enraptured air)
There was a rustling,
that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls.
Tripping
and skipping,
ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
Unable to move a step, or cry
To the children merrily skipping by.
—Could only follow with the eye
That joyous crowd at the Piper’s back.
But how the Mayor was on the rack,
And the wretched Council’s bosoms beat,
As the Piper turned from the High Street
To where the Weser rolled its waters
Right in the way of their sons and daughters!
However he turned from South to West,
And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed,
And after him the children pressed;
Great was the joy in every breast.
«He never can cross that mighty top!
He’s forced to let the piping drop,
And we shall see our children stop!»
When, lo, as they reached the mountain-side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain side shut fast.
Did I say, all? No; One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say,—
«It’s dull in our town since my playmates left!
I can’t forget that I’m bereft
Of all the pleasant sights they see,
Which the Piper also promised me.
For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
Joining the town and just at hand,
Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew,
And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
And everything was strange and new;
The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,
And their dogs outran our fallow deer,
And honey-bees had lost their stings,
And horses were born with eagles’ wings;
And just as I became assured
My lame foot would be speedily cured,
The music stopped and I stood still,
And found myself outside the hill,
Left alone against my will,
To go now limping as before,
And never hear of that country more!»

Alas, alas for Hamelin!
There came into many a burgher’s pate
A text which says that Heaven’s gate
Opes to the rich at as easy rate
As the needle’s eye takes a camel in!
The Mayor sent East, West, North, and South,
To offer the Piper, by word of mouth,
Wherever it was men’s lot to find him,
Silver and gold to his heart’s content,
If he’d only return the way he went,
And bring the children behind him.
But when they saw ’twas a lost endeavour,
And Piper and dancers were gone for ever,
They made a decree that lawyers never
Should think their records dated duly
If, after the day of the month and year,
These words did not as well appear,
«And so long after what happened here
On the Twenty-second of July,
Thirteen hundred and seventy-six:»
And the better in memory to fix
The place of the children’s last retreat,
They called it, the Pied Piper’s Street—
Where any one playing on pipe or tabor,
Was sure for the future to lose his labour.
Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern
To shock with mirth a street so solemn;
But opposite the place of the cavern
They wrote the story on a column,
And on the great church-window painted
The same, to make the world acquainted
How their children were stolen away,
And there it stands to this very day.
And I must not omit to say
That in Transylvania there’s a tribe
Of alien people that ascribe
The outlandish ways and dress
On which their neighbours lay such stress,
To their fathers and mothers having risen
Out of some subterraneous prison
Into which they were trepanned
Long time ago in a mighty band
Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land,
But how or why, they don’t understand.

So, Willy, let me and you be wipers
Of scores out with all men—especially pipers!
And, whether they pipe us free from rats or from mice,
If we’ve promised them aught, let us keep our promise!

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Pied Piper

First published in 1942

His name is John Sidney Howard, and he is a member of my club in London. I came in for dinner that night at about eight o’clock, tired after a long day of conferences about my aspect of the war. He was just entering the club ahead of me, a tall and rather emaciated man of about seventy, a little unsteady on his feet. He tripped over the door mat as he went in and stumbled forward; the hall porter jumped out and caught him by the elbow.

He peered down at the mat and poked it with his umbrella. ‘Damned thing caught my toe,’ he said. ‘Thank you, Peters. Getting old, I suppose.’

The man smiled. ‘Several of the gentlemen have caught their foot there recently, sir,’ he said. ‘I was speaking to the Steward about it only the other day.’

The old man said: ‘Well, speak to him again and go on speaking till he has it put right. One of these days you’ll have me falling dead at your feet. You wouldn’t like that to happen — eh?’ He smiled quizzically.

The porter said: ‘No, sir, we shouldn’t like that to happen.’

‘I should think not. Not the sort of thing one wants to see happen in a club. I don’t want to die on a door mat. And I don’t want to die in a lavatory, either. Remember the time that Colonel Macpherson died in the lavatory, Peters?’

‘I do, sir. That was very distressing.’

‘Yes.’ He was silent for a moment. Then he said: ‘Well, I don’t want to die that way, either. See he gets that mat put right. Tell him I said so.’

The old man moved away. I had been waiting behind him while all this was going on because the porter had my letters. He gave them to me at the wicket, and I looked them through. ‘Who was that?’ I asked idly.

He said: ‘That was Mr Howard, sir.’

‘He seemed to be very much concerned about his latter end.’

The porter did not smile. ‘Yes, sir. Many of the gentlemen talk in that way as they get on. Mr Howard has been a member here for a great many years.’

I said more courteously: ‘Has he? I don’t remember seeing him about.’

The man said: ‘He has been abroad for the last few months, I think, sir. But he seems to have aged a great deal since he came back. Getting rather frail now, I’m afraid.’

I turned away. This bloody war is hard on men of his age,’ I said.

‘Yes, sir. That’s very true.’

I went into the club, slung my gas-mask on to a peg, unbuckled my revolver-belt and hung it up, and crowned the lot with my cap. I strolled over to the tape and studied the latest news. It was neither good nor bad. Our Air Force was still knocking hell out of the Ruhr; Rumania was still desperately bickering with her neighbours. The news was as it had been for three months, since France was overrun.

В школе этого не расскажут:  Спряжение глагола déterminer во французском языке.

I went in and had my dinner. Howard was already in the dining-room; apart from us the room was very nearly empty. He had a waiter serving him who was very nearly as old as he was himself, and as he ate his dinner the waiter stood beside his table and chatted to him. I could hardly help overhearing the subject of their conversation. They were talking about cricket, re-living the Test Matches of 1925.

Because I was eating alone I finished before Howard, and went up to pay my bill at the desk. I said to the cashier: ‘That waiter over there — what’s his name?’

‘That’s right. How long has he been here?’

‘Oh, he’s been here a long time. All his life, you might say. Eighteen ninety-five or ninety-six he come here, I believe.’

‘That’s a very long time.’

The man smiled as he gave me my change. ‘It is, sir. But Porson — he’s been here longer than that.’

I went upstairs to the smoking-room and stopped before a table littered with periodicals. With idle interest I turned over a printed list of members. Howard, I saw, had joined the club in 1896. Master and man, then, had been rubbing shoulders all their lives.

I took a couple of illustrated weeklies, and ordered coffee. Then I crossed the room to where the two most comfortable chairs in my club stand side by side, and prepared to spend an hour of idleness before returning to my flat. In a few minutes there was a step beside me and Howard lowered his long body into the other chair. A boy, unasked, brought him coffee and brandy.

Presently he spoke. He said quietly: ‘It really is a most extraordinary thing that you can’t get a decent cup of coffee in this country. Even in a club like this they can’t make coffee.’

I laid down my paper. If the old man wanted to talk to me, I had no great objection. All day I had been working with my eyes in my old-fashioned office, reading reports and writing dockets. It would be good to take off my spectacles for a little time and un-focus my eyes. I was very tired.

I felt in my pocket for my spectacle-case. I said: ‘A chap who deals in coffee once told me that ground coffee won’t keep in our climate. It’s the humidity, or something.’

‘Ground coffee goes off in any climate,’ he said dogmatically. ‘You never get a proper cup of coffee if you buy it like that. You have to buy the beans and grind it just before you make it. But that’s what they won’t do.’

He went on talking about coffee and chicory and things like that for a time. Then, by a natural association, we talked about the brandy. He approved of the club brandy. ‘I used to have an interest in a wine business,’ he said. ‘A great many years ago, in Exeter. But I disposed of it soon after the last war.’

I gathered that he was a member of the Wine Committee of the club. I said: ‘It must be rather interesting to run a business like that.’

‘Oh, certainly,’ he said with relish. ‘Good wine is a most interesting study — most interesting, I can assure you.’

We were practically the only people in the long, tall room. We spoke quietly as we lay relaxed beside each other in our chairs, with long pauses between sentences. When you are tired there is pleasure in a conversation taken in sips, like old brandy.

I said: ‘I used to go to Exeter a good deal when I was a boy.’

The old man said: ‘I know Exeter very well indeed. I lived there for forty years.’

‘My uncle had a house at Starcross.’ And I told him the name.

He smiled. ‘I used to act for him. We were great friends. But that’s a long time ago now.’

‘My firm used to act for him. I was a partner in a firm of solicitors, Fulljames and Howard.’ And then, reminiscent, he told me a good deal about my uncle and about the family, about his horses and about his tenants. The talk became more and more a monologue; a word or two from me slipped in now and then kept him going. In his quiet voice he built up for me a picture of the days that now are gone for ever, the days that I remember as a boy.

I lay smoking quietly in my chair, with the fatigue soaking out of me. It was a perfect godsend to find somebody who could talk of other things besides the war. The minds of most men revolve round this war or the last war, and there is a nervous urge in them which brings the conversation round to war again. But war seems to have passed by this lean old man. He turned for his interests to milder topics.

Presently, we were talking about fishing. He was an ardent fisherman, and I have fished a little. Most naval officers take a rod and a gun with them in the ship. I had fished on odd afternoons ashore in many parts of the world, usually with the wrong sort of fly and unsuccessfully, but he was an expert. He had fished from end to end of these islands and over a great part of the Continent. In the old days the life of a country solicitor was not an exacting one.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin

A child’s story

Hamelin town’s in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin, was a pity!

Rats!
They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cook’s own ladles.
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women’s chats
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.

At last the people in a body
To the town hall came flocking:
«‘Tis clear,» cried they, «our mayor’s a noddy;
And as for our corporation—shocking
To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
For dolts that can’t or won’t determine
What’s best to rid us of our vermin!
Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking
To find the remedy we’re lacking,
Or, sure as fate, we’ll send you packing!»
At this the mayor and corporation
Quaked with a mighty consternation.

An hour they sat in council;
At length the mayor broke silence
«For a guilder I’d my ermine gown sell;
I wish I were a mile hence!
It’s easy to bid one rack one’s brain—
I’m sure my poor head aches again,
I’ve scratched it so, and all in vain.
Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!»
Just as he said this, what should hap
At the chamber door but a gentle tap!
«Bless us,» cried the mayor, «what’s that?»
(With the corporation as he sat
Looking little though wondrous fat;
Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister
Than a too-long-opened oyster,
Save when at noon his paunch grew mutinous
For a plate of turtle green and glutinous),
«Only a scraping of shoes on the mat
Anything like the sound of a rat
Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!»

«Come in!»—the mayor cried, looking bigger:
And in did come the strangest figure!
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow and half of red,
And he himself was tall and thin,
With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin,
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin,
No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin,
But lips where smiles went out and in;
There was no guessing his kith and kin:
And nobody could enough admire
The tall man and his quaint attire.
Quoth one: «It’s as my great-grandsire,
Starting up at the trump of doom’s tone,
Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!»

He advanced to the council table:
And, «Please your honors,» said he, «I’m able,
By means of a secret charm, to draw
All creatures living beneath the sun,
That creep or swim or fly or run,
After me so as you never saw!
And I chiefly use my charm
On creatures that do people harm,
The mole and toad and newt and viper;
And people call me the Pied Piper.»
(And here they noticed round his neck
A scarf of red and yellow stripe,
To match with his coat of the selfsame check;
And at the scarf’s end hung a pipe;
And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying
As if impatient to be playing
Upon this pipe, as low it dangled
Over his vesture so old-fangled.)
«Yet,» said he, «poor piper as I am,
In Tartary I freed the Cham,
Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats;
I eased in Asia the Nizam
Of a monstrous brood of vampire bats:
And as for what your brain bewilders,
If I can rid your town of rats
Will you give me a thousand guilders?»
«One? fifty thousand!»—was the exclamation
Of the astonished mayor and corporation.

В школе этого не расскажут:  Спряжение глагола démystifier во французском языке.

Into the street the piper stepped
Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept
In his quiet pipe the while;
Then, like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled,
Like a candle flame where salt is sprinkled;
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, gray rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives—
Followed the piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,
Until they came to the river Weser,
Wherein all plunged and perished!
—Save one who, stout as Julius Caesar,
Swam across and lived to carry
To rat-land home his commentary:
Which was, «At the first shrill notes of the pipe,
I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
And putting apples, wondrous ripe,
Into a cider-press’s gripe:
And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards,
And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards,
And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks,
And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks:
And it seemed as if a voice
(Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery
Is breathed) called out, ‘Oh rats, rejoice!
The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!
So munch on, crunch on, take your nunchion,
Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!’
And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon,
All ready staved, like a great sun shone
Glorious scarce an inch before me,
Just as methought it said, ‘Come, bore me!’
—I found the Weser rolling o’er me.»

You should have heard the Hamelin people
Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple.
«Go, cried the mayor, «and get long poles,
Poke out the nests and block up the holes!
Consult with carpenters and builders,
And leave in our town not even a trace
Of the rats!» when suddenly, up the face
Of the piper perked in the market place,
With a «First, if you please, my thousand guilders!»

A thousand guilders! The mayor looked blue;
So did the corporation too.
To pay this sum to a wandering fellow
With a gypsy coat of red and yellow!
«Beside,» quoth the mayor with a knowing wink.
«Our business was done at the river’s brink;
We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,
And what’s dead can’t come to life, I think.
So, friend, we’re not the folks to shrink
From the duty of giving you something for drink,
And a matter of money to put in your poke;
But as for the guilders, what we spoke
Of them, as you very well know, was in joke.
Beside, our losses have made us thrifty.
A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!»

The piper’s face fell, and he cried,
«No trifling! I can’t wait. Beside,
I’ve promised to visit by dinner time
Bagdad, and accept the prime
Of the head cook’s pottage, all he’s rich in,
For having left, in the caliph’s kitchen,
Of a nest of scorpions no survivor:
With him I proved no bargain driver,
With you, don’t think I’ll bate a stiver!
And folks who put me in a passion
May find me pipe after another fashion.»

«How?» cried the mayor, «d’ye think I brook
Being worse treated than a cook?
Insulted by a lazy ribald
With idle pipe and vesture piebald?
You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst,
Blow your pipe there till you burst!»

Once more he stepped into the street
And to his lips again
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;
And ere he blew three notes (such sweet
Soft notes as yet musician’s cunning
Never gave the enraptured air)
There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farmyard when barley is scattering
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

The mayor was dumb, and the council stood
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
Unable to move a step, or cry
To the children merrily skipping by,
—Could only follow with the eye
That joyous crowd at the piper’s back.
But how the mayor was on the rack,
And the wretched council’s bosoms beat,
As the piper turned from the High Street
To where the Weser rolled its waters
Right in the way of their sons and daughters
However he turned from South to West,
And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed,
And after him the children pressed;
Great was the joy in every breast.
«He never can cross that mighty top!
He’s forced to let the piping drop,
And we shall see our children stop!»
When, lo, as they reached the mountain side,
A wonderous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain side shut fast.
Did I say, all? No! One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say,—
«It’s dull in our town since my playmates left!
I can’t forget that I’m bereft
Of all the pleasant sights they see,
Which the piper also promised me.
For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
Joining the town and just at hand,
Where waters gushed and fruit trees grew,
And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
And everything was strange and new;
The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,
And their dogs outrun our fallow deer,
And honeybees had lost their stings,
And horses were born with eagles’ wings:
And just as I became assured
My lame foot would be speedily cured,
The music stopped and I stood still,
And found myself outside the hill,
Left alone against my will,
To go now limping as before,
And never hear of that country more!»

Also, alas, for Hamelin!
There came into many a burgher’s pate
A text which says that heaven’s gate
Opes to the rich at as easy rate
As the needle’s eye takes a camel in!
The mayor sent East, West, North, and South,
To offer the piper, by word of mouth,
Whatever it was men’s lot to find him,
Silver and gold to his heart’s content,
If he’d only return the way he went,
And bring the children behind him.
But when they saw ’twas a lost endeavor,
And piper and dancers were gone forever,
They made a decree that lawyers never
Should think their records dated duly
If, after the day of the month and year,
These words did not as well appear,
«And so long after what happened here
On the twenty-second of July,
Thirteen hundred and seventy-six:»
And the better in memory to fix
The place of the children’s last retreat,
They called it the Pied Piper’s Street,
Where any one playing on pipe or tabor
Was sure for the future to lose his labor.
Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern
To shock with mirth a street so solemn;
But opposite the place of the cavern
They wrote the story on a column,
And on the great church window painted
The same, to make the world acquainted
How their children were stolen away,
And there it stands to this very day.
And I must not omit to say
That in Transylvania there’s a tribe
Of alien people who ascribe
The outlandish ways and dress
On which their neighbors lay such stress,
To their fathers and mothers having risen
Out of some subterranean prison
Into which they were trepanned
Long time ago in a mighty band
Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land,
But how or why, they don’t understand.

So, Willy, let me and you be wipers
Of scores out with all men—especially pipers!
And whether they pipe us FROM rats or FROM mice,
If we’ve promised them aught, let us keep our promise.

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