The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a legend, documented by the Brothers Grimm (Der
Rattenfänger von Hameln, which translates to "The Ratcatcher of Hamelin"),
which tells of an unusual disaster that occurred in the town of Hamelin
(Hameln), Germany, 26 June 1284.
In 1284, the town of Hamelin was suffering from a rat infestation. One day, a
man claiming to be a rat-catcher approached the villagers with a solution.
They promised to pay him for the removal of the rats. The man accepted, and
thus played a musical pipe to lure the rats with a song into the Weser river,
where all of them drowned.
Despite his success, the people reneged on their promise and refused to pay
the rat-catcher. The man left the town angrily, but returned some time later, on
June 26th, seeking revenge.
While the inhabitants were in church, he played his pipe again, this time
attracting the children of Hamelin. One hundred and thirty boys and girls
followed him out of the town, where they were lured into a cave and never
seen again. Depending on the version, at most two children remained behind
(one of whom was lame and could not follow quickly enough) who informed
the villagers what had happened when they came out of the church.
Other versions (but not the traditional ones) claim that the Piper returned the
children after the villagers paid several times the original amount of gold.
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