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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The Waits of Bremen"

The Waits of Bremen

An honest farmer had once an ass that had been a faithful hard-working slave to him for a great many years, but was now growing old, and every day more and more unfit for work. His master therefore was tired of keeping him to live at ease like a gentleman, and so began to think of putting an end to him. The ass, who was a shrewd hand, saw that some mischief was in the wind, so he took himself slily off, and began his journey towards Bremen.

"There," thought he to himself, "as I have a good voice, I may chance to be chosen town musician."

After he had travelled a little way, he spied a dog lying by the roadside, and panting as if very tired.

"What makes you pant so, my friend?" said the ass.

"Alas!" said the dog, "my master was going to knock me on the head, because I am old and weak, and can no longer make myself useful to him in hunting, so I ran away. But what can I do to earn my livelihood?"

"Hark ye," said the ass, "I am going to Bremen to turn musician. Come with me, and try what you can do in the same way."

The dog said he was willing, and on they went.

They had not gone far before they saw a cat sitting in the middle of the road, with tears in her eyes, and making a most rueful face.

"Pray, my good lady," said the ass, "what's the matter with you? You look quite out of spirits."

"Ah, me!" said the cat. "How can a body be in good spirits when one's life is in danger? Because I am beginning to grow old, and had rather lie at my ease before the fire than run about the house after the mice, my mistress laid hold of me, and was going to drown me, and though I have been lucky enough to get away from her, I know not how I am to live."

"Oh!" said the ass, "by all means go with us to Bremen. You are a good night-singer, and may make your fortune as one of the waits."

The cat was pleased with the thought, and joined the party. Soon afterwards, as they were passing by a farmyard, they saw a cock perched upon a gate, screaming out with all his might and main.

"Bravo!

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