Face the (Pied Piper’s) Music

I find The Pied Piper a disturbing tale-the consequences are so dire and the blame so confused.  The following is my explanation.

 

“Blame it on the Rats”

Once, there was a small town where everyone argued.  They yelled, and they jabbed, and they jabbered until everyone was hoarse and no one had been heard.  Still, one could hardly blame them, some would say, for their town was infested with rats.  Big rats, small rats, fuzzy rats, stringy rats, each and every manner and description of rat had fallen upon them, and their numbers seemed trebled each night.  No wonder their tempers were short, each man said.  It’s a marvel we’re talking at all, it’s so depressing.  And we’ve nothing good to eat or to drink.  In their noise and their misery, not one villager had a kind thought to spare, but someone was listening, and took pity on them.

One bright morning a new sound was heard amongst the screeching, and the squabbling, and the squeaking of the rats.  A stranger had appeared.  He wore a bright coat of bright golds like the dawn and soft greens like the woods.  And his voice spoke warm and gently, “I shall kill your rats for you.”  The village grew quiet, the sharp tongues began to blunt, and the mayor could hear himself talk.

“How could you rid us of rats?”

“With the right blessing, any problem can be solved.”

“A priest!” ran the cry.  “He’s a priest!”  “A savior sent by his Holiness!”  “Or by God, Himself!”

“What price do you ask for the killing of rats?”  His hoarse voice reached even the farthest man.

“I ask for a tithe, one man’s foot wide, and just as equally deep.”

Now whispers went up, and the town’s ears opened wide, and the clinking of coins could be heard.  “It’s a tall price to pay, but if the rats go away, your feet of gold coins you shall have.”  The town’s folk held their breath.

A curt nod the man gave, and he turned away, bringing a wood flute to his lips.  Notes much softer, and tones far sweeter, than even the stranger’s words fell on their ears.  The wooden flute piped and the rats ran, as the piper walked for the lake.  With jaws hung open and hopes held high, the village watched as each rat followed after.  When the water was reached, the piper stepped on a boat, and floated away as he played.  The rats scrambled for him, each rat ear adored him, but none of them lived through the lake.

When every rat had drowned, that loud village made no sound.  From noises loud and rude and proud, now only the stranger was heard as he rowed his boat ashore.  He bowed to the mayor, he bowed to the town’s folk, and he held out his hands for his due.

“We won’t pay you,” the mayor’s rasp broke through the stillness.  “Only a heathen who consorts with devils and vermin could have worked that trick.  You’re no savior or blessing!”

“The rats are no more, and that is no blessing?” chided the piper.

“Blessings aren’t worked by heathens!  We need no pagan spells or lies!”  A new cry rose, a loud and ugly shout, and the village railed against the stranger.

Then the piper spoke with a new voice, as strong as their shouts and as hot as blazing fire, “Either I am a priest and shall be paid, or I’m a pagan who can do spells and tricks that you must fear.  Which shall you have?”

“HEATHEN!  HEATHEN!  TRICKSTER!” cried the people.

“So shall it be.”  The piper gave one curt nod and turned away, bringing the wood flute to his lips.  With luring notes and teasing tones, the piper walked for the woods.  As his tune flew through the air, each child’s feet flew through the streets, until all the youngsters were there.  As the piper met the trees, each child followed free, dancing quick to the call of the pipe.  And when the song ended, no matter where they wended, no child could ever be found, only green young trees and thick small ferns.  Only Liza, whose leg wouldn’t hold her, stayed firm and real upon her bed.

As for the village, it ended that day, in one great yelling crash to the ground.  “It’s a sign!” they half said, “Remember what he said!  He’s a pagan who came to claim us back!”

“That’s what we get for believing anyone a priest!  We must find the true church, and beg Christ.”

“We must return to the old ways!  The old gods wish to save us!  In the forest, our kids are just trees.”

“We’ve forgot loving Christ, and forsaken his church-we must find a true priest and be saved!”

“But we all saw Pan show our children the way, if we follow Pan might release them from leaves.”

“That lying priest took our kids back to earth as our punishment; only repentance can win them again!”

Soon, every person and family left, to find Pan or to seek Christ, and each of them after the children.  Each of them saw the same piper that day, but not one of their listeners knew it.

“The pagan way is the one true path, that wonderful god Pan came to prove it.”

“Christ’s holy church is the only safe way-that horrible false priest, well he proved it!”

Only Liza never mentioned the piper.  She said, “People belong together.  One day I shall prove it.”  Most would say she did, for when she was grown Liza returned to that town where she’d been born, and founded an orphanage there.  A new village grew and revived the old town, now surrounding her fort full of children.  And in that new town, they spoke warm and soft, always talking and working together.  As everyone helped to solve bickers or snags, they needed no one to their blame troubles upon, so no rats appeared to be blamed.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. sinistmer
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 10:00:07

    Good writing! I really enjoyed this one.

    Reply

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