The Town Musicians of Bremen

A Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Once upon a time there was an old donkey. He was unable to work anymore. His owner was going to get rid of him. But Donkey had other ideas. He wanted to go to the city of Bremen. He wanted to be a town musician.

Donkey left early one morning. Soon he saw an old dog lying in the road. The old dog had left his owner, too. Donkey invited Dog to join him. Dog happily agreed. Together, they walked to Bremen.

An hour later, the pair came across an old cat lying in the road. Like the other animals, Cat was old and no longer useful. They invited Cat to join them. Cat gladly agreed.

At noon, the animals came and saw an old rooster. Like the other animals, Rooster was old and no longer useful. They invited Rooster to join them. Rooster gladly agreed.

At last it got too dark to travel. The animals were cold. They were hungry. But they had nowhere else to go. They lay down in the forest for the night. Rooster sat in a tree. In the distance, he saw a light from a house.

“Let’s go to this house,” Rooster said. “Maybe they have food. Maybe they have a warm place for us to sleep.” The others loved this idea.

The animals heard loud voices coming from the house. Donkey peeked inside one of the windows. He saw a group of robbers. They were enjoying a grand feast at the dining room table. The room was filled with stolen goods.

The animals made a plan to scare off the robbers. Each of the animals climbed on top of Donkey. Dog stood on Donkey. Cat stood on Dog. And Rooster stood on top of Cat. In the dark, they looked like a fearsome creature. Each animal began to yell his special tune. Donkey brayed. Dog barked. Cat yowled. Rooster crowed.

The animals crashed into the house together. They scared the robbers. The robbers ran away. They left everything behind.

It was warm and dry inside the house. The animals were starving. They ate the robbers’ leftover food. Then they blew out the lights and went to sleep.

Sometime later, the robbers looked back at the house. It was dark. Everything seemed to be quiet. The captain sent one man back to check on the house.

The robber got to the house. He tiptoed inside. Cat opened his eyes. They glowed like coals in the dark. The robber thought they were coals from the oven. He tried to light a match with them. He poked Cat in the eyes. Cat got mad. Cat jumped into the robber’s face, spitting, hissing, and scratching.

The robber took a few steps backward. He stepped on Dog’s tail. Dog jumped up. He bit the robber’s leg. The robber tried to run for the door. But he bumped into Donkey. Donkey gave him a strong kick. Rooster was alarmed by all the noise. He began crowing from his perch in the rafters. The robber ran off. He was bruised and frightened.

The robber limped back to his camp fast as he could. “There is a witch in the house,” he told the captain. “She blew at me and scratched my face with her long fingers. Then a man stabbed me in the leg with a knife. Then a giant hit me with a wooden club. There was another man on the roof. He began shouting, ‘Bring the rascal here!’ I barely escaped with my life!”

After that, the robbers never returned to the house. The four Bremen Musicians liked the house a lot. They decided to stay. They never got to Bremen. But they lived happily ever after.