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The Pied Piper






The following instance is so extraordinary, that I should not repeat it
if the account were not attested by more than one writer, and also
preserved in the public monuments of a considerable town of Upper
Saxony; this town is Hamelin in the principality of Kalenberg, at the
confluence of the rivers Hamel and Weser.

In the year 1384, this town was infested by such a prodigious multitude
of rats, that they ravaged all the corn which was laid up in the
granaries; everything was employed that art and experience could invent
to chase them away, and whatever is usually employed against this kind
of animals. At that time there came to the town an unknown person, of
taller stature than ordinary, dressed in a robe of divers colours, who
engaged to deliver them from that scourge, for a certain recompense
which was agreed upon.

Then he drew from his sleeve a flute, at the sound of which all the rats
came out of their holes and followed him; he led them straight to the
river, into which they ran and were drowned. On his return he asked for
the promised reward, which was refused him, apparently on account of the
facility with which he had exterminated the rats. The next day, which
was a fete day, he chose the moment when the older inhabitants were at
church, and by means of another flute which he began to play, all the
boys in the town above the age of fourteen, to the number of a hundred
and thirty, assembled round him; he led them to the neighbouring
mountain, named Kopfelberg, under which is a sewer for the town, and
where criminals are executed; these boys disappeared and were never seen
afterwards.

A young girl, who had followed at a distance, was witness of the matter,
and brought the news of it to the town.





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