Thanks to translator T.P.W.
A long long time ago there lived a miller near the castle in a little village called Stellichte just south of Bremen. The miller had a very faithful donkey that over the years carried the heavy sacks of flour in and out of the mill day in and day out.
As the years passed the donkey became old and frail and his strength declined so much that the daily work became harder and harder. One day the miller was talking to the local butcher and said "that old donkey is too weak to work but he's still eating all my good hay and straw this will have to end fast". The wise old donkey knew something was wrong so he decided to leave the miller and run away.
He met lots of people with heavy laden carts making their way over the old saltway and heading for Bremen. He thought for a while and decided that it was a good idea to go and live in Bremen, because if so many people with their laden carts were going there, it must be a really good place to live and life would once again be good to him. So this he decided to do. His travels took him for a short distance along a small stream where kingfishers and otters played but in the middle of a wood near the Königshof he found an old hunters dog lying on the ground groaning in pain. "What are you groaning for" he asked the dog, who replied "I am too old and get weaker every day and because I cant accompany my master every day to the hunt he wanted to send me to the dogs home, but I love my freedom and have decided to run away and find out what the world has to offer, but how can I earn my keep?" The donkey suggested that the dog accompany him to Bremen as lots of people live there and that they all love lots of bustle and noise and also suggested because they where old, they could amuse the people of Bremen by entertaining them as musicians. The donkey wanted to play the lute and the dog should bang the drum. The dog was pleased with this and agreed to join the donkey on his adventure. So off they went through fields and moors on their way to Bremen.
After wandering for a while they met a cat sitting at the side of the road near the "Krusen Hof" in Verdenermoor. The cat made a face as if it was raining cats and dogs. The donkey asked " whats happened to you old chum ?" and the cat replied "who can be happy when nobody wants you, the farmers wife has thrown me out of the house just because I am old and would rather sit beside the fire than run after mice all day and anyway she's now got a younger cat to do all the work". The donkey also suggested that the cat should accompany them to Bremen and become town musicians. The cat thought that this was good idea and decided to go with them.
The three of them hadn't gone far when they reached the "Lintler Krug" (a pub) next to the old water well sat a cock crowing for all he was worth, the donkey spoke to him and said "you are screeching as if its costing you life and limb, what is wrong old cock?" and the cock replied " you would screech as well if you knew what was on tomorrow. Just because its Sunday tomorrow and they are expecting guests for dinner, the lady of the house has told the cook to make a "Niedersachsen wedding soup" and I'm going to land up in the pot. So you see I have to crow as long as I can". The donkey said " I promise you old cock you have now found a better end than in the soup pot, you've got a good voice so join us and come to Bremen to become musicians". The cock agreed and so off they went on their merry way. They couldn't reach Bremen in one day so they stopped overnight in a small wood that today is the home of the adventure grounds (Waldspielplatz) in Kirchlinteln. The donkey and the dog lay under a large tree, the cat crawled up onto one of the branches of a big oak tree and the cock flew right to the top of a tree where he felt really safe.
Before the cock went to sleep he looked around from the top of the tree and thought he espied a light in the distance on a hill. The cock didn't know that this was the place the locals called "the lair" (Horst) and that wild robbers frequented it.
The cock not knowing this shouted to his friends below, "there must be a house nearby, I can see light shining from a window in the distance". The donkey decided that they should set off and find the house, as the place where they where wasn't at all cosy to stay for the night.
So off they went and the light got bigger and brighter the closer they got to the wild robbers house. The donkey went to the window and looked inside, "what do you see old grey one" asked the cock, "I see a wonderful laden table with drink and food and robbers sitting around it enjoying themselves" replied the donkey.
So the 4 friends thought for a while how they could outwit the robbers and drive them out of the house. The plan went like this, the donkey stood with his front legs on the windowsill and the dog jumped up on his back. The cat crawled up the donkey and onto the dogs back and last but not least the cock flew up onto the head of the cat. The sign was given and they all started to create what they thought was music. The donkey heehawed, the dog barked, the cat meowed and the cock crowed for all he was worth and then they all jumped through the window and into the room. The robbers had such a shock that they fled into the woods screaming and believing a ghost was upon them.
The four friends having banished the robbers from the house, sat at the table and ate with pleasure what the robbers had left behind them. After they had finished eating they all found a nice place to sleep. The donkey lay in front of the house on some straw, the dog lay behind the door, the cat lay in front of the nice warm fireplace and the cock sat up on the cock beam at the top of the house and so they all fell into a deep deep sleep. Just after midnight the robbers saw no more light in the house and the captain spoke to his men and said " we shouldn't have let ourselves be frightened into the woods" so he ordered one of his men to go into the house and find out what really was there. The robber entered the house and found it all still and quiet but as he lit a match to light the candle, the sparkling eyes of the cat shone, and it sprang at his face biting and scratching. The robber was so shocked that he ran to the door to get out, but there lay the dog and as the robber tried to leave, the dog bit him in the leg, he jumped with pain straight out of the door but ran into the donkey that gave him a good old kick with his hind legs and the cock that had been wakened by all the confusion shouted "cock a doodle do".
The robber ran back to the others as fast as his legs could carry him and reported "there is a horrible old witch in the house she hissed at me and scratched my face with her long fingernails, there's a man standing near the front door with a knife and he pricked my leg with it, and outside of the house is a black monster he has a big club and hit me with it, but up on the roof is a policeman shouting stop the thief, do, so I made sure I got away".
From then on the robbers were so frightened they didn't go back into the house and left forever. The 4 musicians however found it was so nice that they decided to stay and lived there happily for ever after.
So dear readers, if you have been to Kirchlinteln and to the "robbers lair" (Horst), you can still see today the foundations of the house of the 4 town musicians.
To this day the old road taken by the musicians has survived and is still used by many visitors attempting to do what the 4 wandering musicians did.
This story about the town musicians isn't over by a long chalk, the adventures in and around Kirchlinteln of the 4 friends will take more than just one story to finish!!