The Bremen town musicians



There was once an ass whose master had made him carry sacks to the mill for many a long year, but whose strength began at last to fail, so that each day as it came found him less capable of work. Then his master began to think of turning him out, but the ass, guessing that something was in the wind that boded him no good, ran away, taking the road to Bremen; for there he thought he might get an engagement as town musician. When he had gone a little way he found a hound lying by the side of the road panting, as if he had run a long way. "Now, Holdfast, what are you so out of breath about?" said the ass. "Oh dear!" said the dog, "now I am old, I get weaker every day, and can do no good in the hunt, so, as my master was going to have me killed, I have made my escape; but now, how am I to gain a living?" - "I will tell you what," said the ass, "I am going to Bremen to become town musician. You may as well go with me, and take up music too. I can play the lute, and you can beat the drum." And the dog consented, and they walked on together. It was not long before they came to a cat sitting in the road, looking as dismal as three wet days. "Now then, what is the matter with you, old shaver?" said the ass. "I should like to know who would be cheerful when his neck is in danger," answered the cat. "Now that I am old my teeth are getting blunt, and I would rather sit by the oven and purr than run about after mice, and my mistress wanted to drown me; so I took myself off; but good advice is scarce, and I do not know what is to become of me." - "Go with us to Bremen," said the ass, "and become town musician. You understand serenading." The cat thought well of the idea, and went with them accordingly. After that the three travellers passed by a yard, and a cock was perched on the gate crowing with all his might. "Your cries are enough to pierce bone and marrow," said the ass; "what is the matter?" - "I have foretold good weather for Lady-day, so that all the shirts may be washed and dried; and now on Sunday morning company is coming, and the mistress has told the cook that I must be made into soup, and this evening my neck is to be wrung, so that I am crowing with all my might while I can." - "You had much better go with us, Chanticleer," said the ass. "We are going to Bremen. At any rate that will be better than dying. You have a powerful voice, and when we are all performing together it will have a very good effect." So the cock consented, and they went on all four together.

But Bremen was too far off to be reached in one day, and towards evening they came to a wood, where they determined to pass the night. The ass and the dog lay down under a large tree; the cat got up among the branches, and the cock flew up to the top, as that was the safest place for him. Before he went to sleep he looked all round him to the four points of the compass, and perceived in the distance a little light shining, and he called out to his companions that there must be a house not far off, as he could see a light, so the ass said, "We had better get up and go there, for these are uncomfortable quarters." The dog began to fancy a few bones, not quite bare, would do him good. And they all set off in the direction of the light, and it grew larger and brighter, until at last it led them to a robber's house, all lighted up. The ass. being the biggest, went up to the window, and looked in. "Well, what do you see?" asked the dog. "What do I see?" answered the ass; "here is a table set out with splendid eatables and drinkables, and robbers sitting at it and making themselves very comfortable." - "That would just suit us," said the cock. "Yes, indeed, I wish we were there," said the ass. Then they consulted together how it should be managed so as to get the robbers out of the house, and at last they hit on a plan. The ass was to place his forefeet on the window-sill, the dog was to get on the ass's back, the cat on the top of the dog, and lastly the cock was to fly up and perch on the cat's head. When that was done, at a given signal they all began to perform their music. The ass brayed, the dog barked, the cat mewed, and the cock crowed; then they burst through into the room, breaking all the panes of glass. The robbers fled at the dreadful sound; they thought it was some goblin, and fled to the wood in the utmost terror. Then the four companions sat down to table, made free with the remains of the meal, and feasted as if they had been hungry for a month.

And when they had finished they put out the lights, and each sought out a sleeping-place to suit his nature and habits. The ass laid himself down outside on the dunghill, the dog behind the door, the cat on the hearth by the warm ashes, and the cock settled himself in the cockloft, and as they were all tired with their long journey they soon fell fast asleep. When midnight drew near, and the robbers from afar saw that no light was burning, and that everything appeared quiet, their captain said to them that he thought that they had run away without reason, telling one of them to go and reconnoitre. So one of them went, and found everything quite quiet; he went into the kitchen to strike a light, and taking the glowing fiery eyes of the cat for burning coals, he held a match to them in order to kindle it. But the cat, not seeing the joke, flew into his face, spitting and scratching. Then he cried out in terror, and ran to get out at the back door, but the dog, who was lying there, ran at him and bit his leg; and as he was rushing through the yard by the dunghill the ass struck out and gave him a great kick with his hind foot; and the cock, who had been wakened with the noise, and felt quite brisk, cried out, "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" Then the robber got back as well as he could to his captain, and said, "Oh dear! in that house there is a gruesome witch, and I felt her breath and her long nails in my face; and by the door there stands a man who stabbed me in the leg with a knife; and in the yard there lies a black spectre, who beat me with his wooden club; and above, upon the roof, there sits the justice, who cried, 'Bring that rogue here!' And so I ran away from the place as fast as I could." From that time forward the robbers never ventured to that house, and the four Bremen town musicians found themselves so well off where they were, that there they stayed. And the person who last related this tale is still living, as you see.
从前,一个农夫养了一头驴。 这头驴为他辛勤劳作已经有许多年了,但无情的岁月加上多年的劳作,使他现在衰老了,干活一天不如一天,越来越难以胜任以前的工作了。 因此,他的主人不想再留着他,准备将他杀掉。 可是,驴子却看出了主人的心意,于是悄悄地跑了出去,一路向城里行进。
走了一段路,他发现路边躺着一条狗,像是极度疲劳一样,不停地喘着气。 驴子上前问道:"朋友,你怎么气喘成这个样子啊?"这条狗答道:"哎!因为我老了,气力也不足了,再也不能随我的主人一同出去打猎,所以主人准备把我打死。我就跑了出来,可现在我靠什么来谋生呢?"驴说道:"这样吧,我准备到城里去当音乐家,要是你愿意和我一起去的话,我们倒是志同道合,你愿意吗?"狗马上说他愿意一起去,这样,他们成了同路人。
走不多远,他们看见一只猫蹲在路中央,一副愁眉苦脸的样子。 驴上前说道:"这位女士,请告诉我们,你这是怎么了?你怎么这样一付没精打采的样子。""我嘛!"猫叹了口气说 ,"谁的生命有了危险,他的精神还能好得起来吗?就因为我老了,只想躺在火炉边休息,不想去抓房里的老鼠,我的女主人就抓住我,要把我淹死。尽管我幸运地从她那儿逃了出来,可我不知道这以后靠什么维持生计。""好吧!你就和我们一道进城去,晚上你是一个很好的歌手,当一个音乐家会带给你好运的。"猫听了这一建议,愉快地加入了他们的行列。
走不多久,他们经过一个农庄,看见一只公鸡栖息在一扇门上放开嗓门啼叫着。 "妙啊!"驴子说,"你的声音挺不错的,能说说这是唱的什么吗?""唉!"公鸡回答道,"我现在是说今天是个好天气,正好是洗衣日,我的女主人和厨师不仅不感谢我这番苦心,还准备明天把我杀了,给星期天来的客人煨鸡汤喝。""但愿不会发生这样的事!"驴子说道,"雄鸡,与我们一起到城里去吧!不管怎样,总比待在这儿等着杀头要好得多!再说也没人知道。要是我们轮着来唱歌,我们就能组织一场音乐会了。加入我们的行列吧!"公鸡说道:"好吧!我一定会尽心尽意的。"他们四个一起高兴地踏上了进城的路。
然而,城里不是一天能走到的,所以当天黑下来时,他们只好走进一片树林去安歇。 驴子和狗睡在了一棵大树下,猫爬上树睡在树杈上,而公鸡则认为待的地方越高越安全,因此他飞到了树顶上,他还有一个习惯,就是在睡觉前要看看周围的每个东西是不是有什么不对劲。 他挺直脖子一看,发现远处有光线射过来,马上对他的同伴们叫喊道:"不远的地方一定有一所房子,因为我看到了灯光。"驴子说:"如果真有房子,那我们最好还是换个地方睡吧。现在睡的地方太糟糕了。"狗又接着说:"而且,说不定还能在那儿找到几根骨头或是一些肉哩!"于是,他们一起向公鸡看见的方向走去。 随着他们走近,灯光变得越来越明亮了。 最后,他们来到一座强盗住的房子前。
他们当中驴子的个头最大,他走到窗户跟前偷偷朝房子里看去。 公鸡问道:"驴儿,你看见什么了?""我看见什么了?"驴子重复说道,"我看见一张桌子上摆满了各种好吃的东西,强盗们正高兴地坐在桌子周围。"公鸡说道:"但愿这是为我们准备的"。 驴子也说道:"是啊!只要我们能进去就成。"接着 ,他们一起商量怎样才能把强盗赶走。 最后,他们想出一个办法:驴子后腿站立、前腿搭到窗台上,狗站在驴的背上,猫又爬在狗的背上,而公鸡则飞起来坐在猫的头上。 他们站好后,约定了一个信号,然后一齐鸣叫起来。 驴子哇呜哇呜地吼叫,狗汪汪狂地吠,猫呜呜呜地叫喊,公鸡尖声啼鸣。 他们又同时打破窗户,翻进了房间里。 玻璃的碎裂声,可怕的喧闹声,把强盗们完全吓坏了,惊慌失措中,以为是可怕的妖怪找上了他们,拼命地逃了出去。
一切归于平静后,这几个闯荡江湖的不速之客坐了下来,匆匆吃起了强盗们留下的食物,那狼吞虎咽的样子就像他们已经一个月没吃东西似的。 他们吃饱之后,把灯灭了,各自依自己的习惯找到了休息的地方,驴子躺在院子里的一堆草上,狗趴在门后面的一个垫子上,猫蜷曲在仍有炉灰余热的壁炉前,公鸡栖息在房顶的屋梁上。 他们走了这许多路,已相当困倦,不久就睡着了。
到了半夜,强盗们从远处看见房子没了灯光,一切都显得很安静,想到自己在惊慌中是否逃得太匆忙了。 其中一个胆子大一些的强盗准备去看看。 当他走进厨房时,没有发现异案情况,便摸索着找到了一盒火柴想把蜡烛点燃。 偶然看见了猫那双闪烁着火焰般的亮光的眼睛,他误认为是没有熄灭的炉中炭火,便将火柴凑上前去想点燃它。 但猫却不懂得开玩笑,起身猛地向强盗的脸上扑去,又是啐又是抓。 那强盗吓了一大跳,急忙撤腿就往门外跑。 可到门口却被那条狗扑上来在腿上咬了一口,穿过院子时驴子又踢了他一脚。 公鸡此时被吵闹声惊醒了,拼命地叫了起来,那强盗被唬得连滚带爬地跑回了树林中同伴的藏身处,心有余悸地对强盗头子说:"多恐怖啊,一个可怕的巫婆待在屋子里,她向我的脸上吐唾沫,又用那长长的,瘦骨伶伶的爪子抓我的脸;门后面藏着一个人,手里拿着一把刀,一下子刺在了我的腿上;院子里站着一个黑色的怪物,他拿着一根大棒向我乱打;房屋的顶梁上还坐了一个恶魔,他大喊道:'把那个恶棍扔到这儿来!'"从此,强盗们再也不敢回那屋子了,而那些音乐家们也就高兴地在里面住了下来。 我敢说他们现在仍住在那里面呢。

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