The Ratcatcher of Hameln

In a town called Hameln, rats were overpopulating. The whole town was crawling with them. The people were afraid of them and were unhappy.

One day a strange man came to Hameln. He said he was a Ratcatcher and offered to rid the town of the rodents. But in return, they had to pay him. The people were so desperate about the rats that they promised the Ratcatcher they would give him a pile of money if only the town was rat-free.

The Ratcatcher of Hameln
The Ratcatcher of Hameln, Annie I.

At this, the Ratcatcher took out his whistle and started playing it. He played a tune that only the rats could hear. They would lift their heads and turn to the music. The Ratcatcher  walked out of town and the rats followed in procession, hypnotised by the music. The Ratcatcher led them to a rock above the river. The rats fell into the water and drowned. The city was saved.

But when the Ratcatcher returned to Hameln and demanded a reward, the people would not give it to him. He didn’t have that much to do, so why give him that much money? The Ratcatcher threatened them, but the greedy inhabitants wouldn’t give him a penny. The Ratcatcher left without a word.

Exactly a year later, he came back. He played a strange tune, different from the one he played before. This music was attracting children from all over the town. They left their toys on the ground and ran after the Ratcatcher and his whistle. The Ratcatcher led the children away from the town. Where to? No one knew. Only one small child was found outside the town. Apparently, it got tired and fell asleep in the grass.

When the people found out that the Ratcatcher had taken their children, they regretted their actions. The mothers and fathers took the bag of money for the Ratcatcher and carried it out of town to the rocks where they found the tired child. There they left the money, hoping for a miracle.

The next morning, the streets of Hameln echoed with the excited cries and cheers of children. Soon it was joined by the cheers of mothers and fathers who had all their children back. So it helped to settle accounts with the Ratcatcher after all. From then on, the people of Hameln never cheated anyone and respected each other. Especially the one thing more valuable than all the money in the world – their beloved children.

The fairy tale known as The Pied Piper of Hamlen

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