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The Pied piper of Hamlin
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How much did the pied piper charge to get rid of the rats?
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Once upon a time,next to a great river in the country of Germany,was a peaceful town called Hamelin.The citizens of Hamelin had become very prosperous from their farming and business.They all lived comfortably in large grey stone houses.

Then one day something very strange happened. Big black rats suddenly appeared throughout

the town and started eating any food they could find.When the town's food supplies ran out,the rats gnawed wood,cloth and everything they could get their rodent teeth on.

"What we need is an army of cats!"exclaimed a frtightened town citizen."But the cats have all left!They left when they saw how many rats had come into town!"said the Mayor sadly.

At that moment there was a loud knock at the door.The townspeople opened the door to see a tall,thin stranger,dressed in bright,sparkling clothes of different colors with a long feather in his hat and a shiny gold flute in his hand.

"Who are you?"asked the Mayor."I've freed other towns of beetles and bats.For a thousand dollars,I'll rid you of your rats!"announced the colorful stranger."We"ll give you fifty thousand dollars if you can chase these nasty rats away!"exclaimed the Mayor.

The tall stranger swept his bright many-colored cape around him and left with these parting words."By dawn tomorrow there won't be a rat left in Hamelin."

It was still dark the next morning when Hamelin's citizens woke to hear the soft sound of a musical pipe.Those who looked out the windows saw the pied piper making his way through the streets,with thousands of rats following him,as if they were in a trance.Rats of every size came out from under houses,windows and doors to follows the soft music.

Playing his flute as he walked,the pied piper walked straight into the river,with the rats close behind.Soon all of the rats had disappeared into the river,never to be seen again.The townspeople cheered when they saw the rats disappear.

That same afternoon the piper tried to claim his fee,but the townspeople refused to pay him even what he originally asked.

"Getting rid of the rats was too easy!We"ll give you fifty dollars and no more.""You promised me more when i asked for only one thousand dollars.You must at least pay me what i asked for!"replied the angry stranger.

"Take what we offer,or you"ll get nothing!"said the Mayor.As he left,the piper threatened the town."You will all regret breaking your promise to me.Tomorrow brings sadness to this lying town!"

That night,no longer worried about rats running everywhere.the townspeople slept soundly.The next moring,before dawn,only their children heard the strange,soft music from the pied piper's flute.The children rushed out of their houses to follow the stranger through the town's streets and out of town.

Hamelin's children followed the piper through the woods and across the fields until they came to a mountain.The piper played his pipe louder,until a hidden door in the mountain opened with a creaking sound,as if it had been many years since it was first opened.

Beyond the door was a great cave.Without asking any questions,the town's children followed the stranger into the cave,and the door closed behind them.Once the door was closed the piper's flute could not longer be heard.

As soon as the great door closed,a landslide came down the mountain,blocking the door forever.Only one little boy escaped this fate.He was too small to keep up with the rest of the children and reached the door just as it closed.When the townspeople found him standing alone by the mountain,he told them the story of the children following the pied piper into the mountain and its cave.

The mountain never again opened its secret door.For many years the town of Hamelin and its sad townspeople heard no sounds of happy children playing in the houses and yards.And they never forgot what happened when they refused to pay the pied piper.
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