In the year 1284 CE, a remarkable and colorfully dressed young man came to the town of Hamelin in Lower Saxony, Germany. There are two documentations of this wanderer’s visit, the originals of which have since been lost. According to the contemporary Hamelin chronicle and a depiction in a stained glass window in a local church, this handsome stranger began to play his flute through the streets. Enchanted by the notes, 130 children from the town followed him into the woods, never to be seen again. In the hundreds of years since the supposedly real event occurred, the most significant addition to the story would be the reason for the mass kidnapping. After successfully ridding the town of a plague of rats using his musical pipe, the payment the piper was promised was withheld by the mayor and the town leaders. Furious at his being cheated, the magical visitor took their children as his payment. This later variation of the narrative we have all come to know as “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.” Today, we may think of this story as a children’s Fairly Tale. But as the Brothers Grimm had noted themselves, and who are partly responsible for making it known to the world, this is a legend and not a Fairy Tale. The difference is that legends are considered to be based on actual events, people, and places. In relation, it’s also said that there is a kernel of truth to every legend. If that is accurate, then the real Pied Piper event may be far more mysterious and tragic than we could have imagined, either as children or adults.
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