The Pied Piper
The legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin is told around the world. It is recited in children’s rooms, on large and small stages even in schools. It’s hardly surprising that in the course of time countless variants of the eerily beautiful fairy tale have been created. Including new characters, altered plots and more. “Die Kinder zu Hameln” by the Brothers Grimm is probably the most popular version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
According to their account a man named Bundting is said to have visited the town of Hamelin in 1284. At that time the town was suffering from a terrible plague of rats. Dressed in colorful robes and carrying a mysterious pipe the whimsical visitor told the citizens of Hamelin that he would take care of the uninvited guests once and for all: In exchange for a fee, he would make rats and mice disappear from the city. A deal that the people of Hamelin could not refuse.
As soon as all parties involved had agreed on the price the Pied Piper marched through the town with his pipe drawn. The melody he played on his magic instrument was so strange that all the rats and mice incessantly followed him blindly – all the way into the river “Weser” where the whole bunch of them drowned.
However the citizens of Hamelin no longer wanted to pay him the wages he deserved. The stranger had to leave empty-handed the town. But the city’s people did not have to wait long for his return.
Only a few days later the Pied Piper returned to town. He had exchanged his colorful clothes for the costume of a hunter with a red hat which crowned his now distorted face. The pipe, however, was the same as before. Only this time the melody he intoned was different.
Instead of rats and vermin, now every child older than four mindlessly followed the piper’s sounds. Not even the mayor’s daughter could resist the spell and left the town together with the piper and the other children. Thus 130 of Hamelin’s children disappeared without a trace. Only two of them were left behind – one blind and the other deaf and mute. Neither of them was able to inform the people of Hamelin about the whereabouts of the other children.
What exactly happened to the children remains a mystery to this day. Some believe that they were led through a cave in the surrounding mountains all the way to Transylvania. In any case it is certain that they were never seen again.