Sporting a magenta and lime blazer, Cliff Blazer gave his nightly weather report on the local news channel. The screen before which he stood displaced animated clouds dripping over the landmasses representing the closest three counties.
“Rain is in the forecast, folks, and a lots of it,” Cliff said. “It’s going to be raining cats and dogs, so don’t just bring your umbrellas, bring your treats, your toys, and your litter boxes.”
Cliff signed off, threw the broadcast back to the main anchors, and strode toward his office. A little bit of paperwork and he was done for the day.
His boss’s assistant poked his head through the doorway.
“Got another one for you, Cliff,” he said, and gestured to his left.
It wasn’t the rats that caught my imagination when I first heard the tale as a child. It wasn’t all the lost children. It wasn’t the man in the pied coat that haunted me.
It was the pipe.
And when I met James so many, many years later and we happened upon a discussion of the old folk tale, starting with all of the historical basis for the legend, we stopped for a moment, laughed, and then he said the words that echoed my own thoughts.
It wasn’t the rats that caught his imagination when he first heard the tale as a child. It wasn’t all the lost children. It wasn’t the man in the pied coat that haunted him.
It was the pipe.
Finden was a young man who wanted to go out into the world, to travel, find adventure, see spectacular sights, and meet all manner of people (especially lovely girls and heroic men). He worked at his father’s shop until he had saved up enough money to take his first trip beyond his province. Perhaps even beyond the borders of the kingdom. He told his father of his plans one day, and he respectfully declined his inheritance. His father accepted this, but he told Finden to wait a year before he set off. For there was another inheritance due to the firstborn upon reaching the nineteenth year.
Finden was insistent on leaving that very month. So his father took him aside and told him the secret of their family’s moderate yet certain success. His father showed him a pair of trousers. Continue reading