Some of you may have heard the tale of the Pied Piper, commissioned to rid a village of its rats. When the unscrupulous town leaders refused to pay him for his services he exacted his revenge by stealing away all but a few of the village children, and as some tell, returned them only after he received a ransom that was twice more than his original contractual fee. He was never heard from again but there is more to his story…
Over the years, after Hamlin, the Piper made quite a fortune for himself, traveling from town to town. He gave up gathering rats, nasty, diseased creatures that they were, and focused his attention entirely on the children of a place. Parents, he discovered, would pay any amount of money for the return of a child. It was a quick and tidy transaction and children were gullible and easily led astray, no matter how severely their parents warned them to be cautious of strangers.
One day, after finalizing his last job, he met up with the purveyor of a brothel in a shady pub outside of town.
The old man who had been watching him walked over and settled himself on the stool next to him. “So yer that Piper aren’t ye? I’ve heard ’bout yer comin’s an’ goin’s fer years. Always thought ye were a legend, though.”
“Yes sir, I am he.” It was rare for the Piper to admit such a thing in public, but they were the only two in the place and he planned to leave town the next morning.
The old Mack raised an eyebrow and eyed the Piper from his head to his toes. “I’ve bin wond’rin’….when ye gather up yer herd of children, do ye e’er come upon a girl o’ 12 or more?”
“I suppose I do. They come in all shapes, sizes and ages; boys and girls. Why do you ask?”
“If yer int’rested I might have an offer fer ye. How much does one o’ yer brats bring ya…if I might be so bold as to ask?”
“Enough.” the Piper was getting leery. The old coot was asking far too many questions.
“Well, what if I told ye I could double whate’er ‘tis yer makin’? Would ye be int’rested?”
And so it was that the Piper entered a new venture. Just as the Mack had promised, young girls were a most lucrative commodity, bringing unlimited riches. He never had to pipe another day. Shiny things and promises of fame were all it took to lure them from safety.
To this day there are Pipers still, who peddle fair lassies to the highest bidder. Be sure to warn your daughters. All that glitters is not gold.
kat ~ 14 December 2016
For Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge based on the illustration by above by John Bauer.