|Once upon a time . . . an old donkey was ill-treated by his master. Tired
of such unkindness, he decided to run away, and when he heard that Bremen was
looking for singers with the town band, he decided that someone with a fine
braying voice like his might be accepted.
As he went along the road, the donkey met a skinny dog, covered with sores.
"Come with me. If you have a good bark, you'll find a job with the band too. Just wait and see!"
A little later, a stray cat, no longer able to catch mice, joined them and the trio trotted hopefully on towards the town. As they passed a farmyard, they stopped to admire an elderly cockerel who, with outstretched wings, was crowing to the skies.
"You sing well," they told him. "What are you so happy about?"
"Happy?" muttered the cockerel with tears in his eyes. "They want to put me in the pot and make broth of me. I'm singing as hard as I can today, for tomorrow I'll be gone." But the donkey told him, "Run away with us. With a voice like yours, you'll be famous in Bremen!"
Now there were four of them. The way was long and soon it was night. Very frightened, the four creatures found themselves in a thick forest.
They scarcely knew whether to press on or to hide in some caves and rest. Suddenly, in the distance they saw a light amongst the trees. It came from a little cottage and they crept up to the window. The donkey placed his front hoofs on the window ledge. Anxious to see, the dog jumped on the donkey's back, the cat climbed onto the dog and the cockerel flew on top of the cat to watch what was going on inside.
Now, the cottage was the hideaway of a gang of bandits who were busily celebrating their latest robbery. The hungry donkey and his friends became excited when they saw the food on the table. Upset by the jittery crew on his back, the donkey stuck his head through the window and toppled his three companions on to the lamp. The light went out and the room rang with the braying of the donkey who had cut his nose on the glass, the barking of the dog and the snarling of the cat. The cockerel screeched along with the others.
Taken completely by surprise, the terrified bandits fled screaming: "The Devil! The Devil!" And their abandoned meal ended up in the four friends' stomachs.
Later, however, just as the donkey and his companions were dropping off to sleep, one of the bandits crept back to the now quiet house and went in to find out what had taken place. He opened the door, and with his pistol in his hand, he stepped trembling towards the fire. However, mistaking the glow of the cat's eyes for burning coals, he thrust a candle between them and instantly the furious cat sank its claws into the bandit's face. The man fell backwards on to the dog, dropping his gun, which went off, and the animal's sharp teeth sank into his leg. When the donkey saw the bandit's figure at the door, he gave a tremendous kick, sending the man flying right through the doorway. The cockerel greeted this feat with a grim crowing sound.
"Run!" screamed the bandit. "Run! A horrible witch in there scratched my face, a demon bit me on the leg and a monster beat me with a stick! And . . ." But the other bandits were no longer listening, for they had taken to their heels and fled.
And so the donkey, the dog, the cat and the cockerel took over the house
without any trouble and, with the booty left behind by the bandits, always had
food on the table, and lived happy and contented for many years.