The Four Musicians Story
One day a donkey was walking along the fence by the barn, singing softly to himself. He stopped when he heard his owner talking with another farmer. The donkey leaned in closer so he could better hear what the two were discussing.
“I know what you mean,” the one farmer said. “Sometimes it’s easier to just get a younger one.”
The donkey wondered what they could be talking about.
His owner continued, “I just can’t find many reasons to keep the tired bag of bones around much longer. He is very old and cannot pull the plow anymore. It’s time to put that old donkey out to pasture.”
The donkey couldn’t believe his ears! They were talking about him! He was very hurt to hear these words. “Hee-haw!” said the donkey. “I won’t be sent out to pasture. I’ll go to the town of Bremen and become a musician.”
The donkey had just started on his way when he saw a sad dog sitting by the road. The donkey asked what was bothering the dog. “My owner says I am too old to hunt,” howled the dog. “He wants to get a younger dog who keeps quiet.”
“I have a thought that may interest you. Why don’t you come with me to Bremen, and we will work as musicians,” said the donkey. “We’ll be quite a team.”
“Woof!” said the dog. “I really like that idea!”
The two new pals had not gone far before they crossed paths with a gloomy cat. They asked what was wrong.
“My owner says I am too old to catch mice,” he cried. “She is going to get a younger cat.”
They invited the cat to come to Bremen to sing with them. “Mee-ow!” answered the cat, and the three were on their way. The dog, cat, and donkey were walking along when suddenly a very upset rooster flew right into the middle of the road. “Cock-a-doodle-day!” the rooster squawked.
“What a strong voice you have!” the dog said.
“My owners say there is no point in having a strong voice if you don’t use it every day,” crowed the rooster. “I cannot get up early enough to wake up the workers anymore. My owners plan to serve me for Sunday dinner!”
“Join us on our trip,” said the dog. “We are going to work as musicians. We could really use your strong voice to make our band complete.”
“Cock-a-doodle-day!” said the rooster. “Let’s be on our way!” The four new friends practiced singing as they walked toward Bremen.Nighttime came. The donkey, dog, cat, and rooster had been singing and walking all day. Just when the four musicians found a nice tree to camp under, the rooster began to squawk.
“I think I see a light shining from inside a house!” he said. “It doesn’t seem far away.”
“They might have some food to share,” said the dog. “A big, juicy bone sounds mighty good right about now.”
“Mmmm. I think a big bowl of milk would be absolutely purr-fect,” purred the cat.
“A plate of corn certainly would hit the spot,” crowed the rooster.
The donkey thought it all sounded good, so the four set out for the house.
The four musicians walked up to the house. The donkey, being the tallest of the group, peered inside the window. After the donkey had looked through the glass for a few moments, the cat’s curiosity got the better of him. “What do you see?” he asked as he tried to get a glimpse.”Well, there are four men sitting at a table that is covered with food,” the donkey said. “They must eat like kings every night. There are stacks of gold everywhere.”“What do we do now?” asked the rooster. “Do we just knock on the door and ask for food?”
The donkey shook his head. “Remember we are going to be musicians,” he said. “We should practice singing for our supper.”
The others thought this was a grand idea, so they very carefully planned their first concert. The four musicians decided to stand one on top of the other so everyone could be heard.
First the donkey took his place near the bottom of the window. Then the dog jumped on his back. The cat made his way up to the dog’s back. Finally the rooster flew to the top.
Even though the four friends had practiced their singing all day, they were still a little bit nervous. This was their first concert, after all. They wished each other good luck, turned to face the window, and cleared their throats.
Finally their big moment had arrived. It was time to perform. The donkey gave the signal, and they began to sing. Never has there been a louder or mightier group effort! The four friends tried to sing better than they ever had before.
What they didn’t know is that it didn’t sound like singing. It sounded like, “Hee-haw! Woof! Mee-ow! Cock-a-doodle-day!”The four friends also did not know that the men they were singing for inside the house were robbers. They were hiding out and counting gold they had stolen.
When they heard the loud noise of the musicians’ singing, they looked out the window. They saw what looked like a four-headed beast. “Run! Run! Run!” one robber yelled. “Run before the four-headed beast gets us!”
The animals were confused. Why had the men run away? The donkey said, “I believe I know what is happening. No doubt our audience enjoyed our singing so much that they must be going to get more people to hear our concert.”
“It may be some time before they return. I say we go inside and have some dinner as a reward for our splendid singing,” the rooster said.
“Indeed!” agreed the donkey. “That is a grand idea!” The four musicians went into the house.
The four musicians were so hungry that they ate every last bite! It didn’t take long to decide that the life of a musician was going to suit them very well indeed. Soon after the meal, they were very sleepy. Because they were already inside the house, they agreed it would be best to spend the night there. After all, they didn’t want to miss the people who were going to come hear them perform.
There was plenty of room for everyone in the house. The donkey lay in the middle of the room. The dog stretched out by the door. The cat curled up near the fireplace, and the rooster flew to a ceiling beam.
Soon their sleepy heads began nodding. It didn’t take long for their tired eyes to close. They were all sound asleep when the door knob slowly began to turn. They were still asleep when someone tiptoed into the room.
One robber had come back to see if he could get at least some of the gold. It was quite dark, and he needed some light in order to find his way around. He thought he saw a glow from the coals in the fireplace.
But the glow wasn’t from the coals. It was the cat’s eyes. When he lit a match to start a fire, the cat jumped up. The robber tripped over the dog. The dog bit his leg, causing the robber to stumble over the donkey.
The donkey kicked the robber. The noise woke the rooster, and he began crowing, “Cock-a-doodle-day! Leave without delay!”
The robber ran as fast as his legs would carry him. He told the others to stay away forever or the four-headed beast would get them.
The four musicians lived in the house for the rest of their days. They were quite happy giving free concerts and using the gold to buy food.