Yearly tradition in a little German town.
|The chairs were arranged in the shape of a half-moon, so all could see and hear. Dietrich waited until the seats were filled and the noise had dwindled to a whisper before opening the door of his cabin. Twenty-four sets of eyes swiveled and settled on him. |
"My Kinder," Dietrich rubbed his scruffy beard, "Today you are here for a story that has been shared for over seven hundred years. A Geschichte of warning for those that don't keep their word..."
The children leaned forward in their seats, their faces aglow with anticipation.
"Once our town was plagued with Ungeziefer. The rats were everywhere. In the gutters, our barns...even nibbling on the women's Käse. Much like many Kinder love to do when their Mütter isn't looking."
With twinkling eyes, Dietrich tossed pieces of cheese into the children's hands to accentuate his point.
"The Piper heard of our plight and came to our king, vowing to rid us of the pests...for a price. However, after he had enchanted away the rats, the dishonorable king went back on his word and refused to pay the agreed upon gold. And so, the Piper brought out his wooden flute and lured all the children away with his music. All," Dietrich lowered his voice, "but one."
"The little lame boy!" a child cried out.
"Such beautiful music! But, alas, I could not keep up with the others," Dietrich paused, lost in the memory of that old song.
"Are we to take our gift to the mountain now?" a young girl interrupted, opening her fist to reveal a gold piece.
Dietrich stood, "It is time to pay the Piper." He limped as he lead the children of Hamelin to the mountain where they would deposit their coins and ensure another year of safety from the Piper's revenge.