The RED Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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That is how he may be seen to this day, painted on a window of the cathedral of Hamel.
He stopped on the great market-place before the town hall, turned his back on the church and went on with his music, singing :
' Who lives shall see : This is he, The ratcatcher.'
The town council had just assembled to consider once more this plague of Egypt, from which no one could save the town.
The stranger sent word to the counsellors that, if they would make it worth his while, he would rid them of all their rats before night, down to the very last.
' Then he is a sorcerer ! ' cried the citizens with one voice ; ' we must beware of him.'
The Town Counsellor, who was considered clever, reassured them.
He said : ' Sorcerer or no, if this bagpiper speaks the truth, it was he who sent us this horrible vermin that he wants to rid us of to-day for money. Well, we must learn to catch the devil in his own snares. You leave it to me.'
' Leave it to the Town Counsellor,' said the citizens one to another.
And the stranger was brought before them.
' Before night,' said he, ' I shall have despatched all the rats in Hamel if you will but pay me a gros a head.'
' A gros a head!' cried the citizens,' but that will come to millions of rlorins!'
The Town Counsellor simply shrugged his shoulders and said to the stranger :
' A bargain ! To work ; the rats will be paid one gros a head as you ask.'
The bagpiper announced that he would operate that very evening when the moon rose. He added that the inhabitants should at that hour leave the streets free, and content themselves with looking out of their windows at what was passing, and that it would be a pleasant spectacle. When the people of Hamel heard of the bargain, they too exclaimed; ' A gros a head! but this will cost us a deal of money ! '
' Leave it to the Town Counsellor,' said the town council with a malicious ah-. And the good people of Hamel repeated with their counsellors,' Leave it to the Town Counsellor.'
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