The Pied Piper
The legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin is told around the world. It is recited in children’s rooms, on stages large and small, 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, in 1284 a man named Bundting is said to have visited the town of Hamelin, which at that time 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 incessantly on his magic instrument was so strange that all the rats and mice followed him blindly – all the way into the Weser, where the whole bunch of them drowned.
The citizens of Hamelin, however, no longer wanted to pay him the wages he deserved. Empty-handed, the stranger had to leave the town. But the city’s people did not have to wait long for his return.
Only a few days later the Pied Piper appeared again. He had exchanged his colorful clothes for the costume of a hunter, a red hat 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 came back – one blind, the other deaf and mute. Neither of them was able to inform the people of Hamelin about the whereabouts of the other children.
To this day, what happened to the children remains a mystery. 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.