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The real nature of the true Pied Piper of Hamelin was revealed by the final trick of the piper when the mayor refused to pay him what he was owed. Stealing children was far from his only crime, however, and what he intended to do with them later is not for the faint hearted. To understand this criminal mastermind you must go further back, to the plague of rats.
You see, the rats were not ordinary rats at all; they were trained rats, and Balthazar, the king of the rats, was as mean and nasty as the Piper himself. But the Piper underestimated the intelligence of Balthazar….
“You didn’t get the lame kid? I want the lame kid!” snarled the Piper. “He’s the major’s wife’s nephew and will bring the biggest ransom.”
“Boss, the boy couldn’t keep up with the others,” Balthazar squeaked. “We’ll get a good sum from the slavers. A kid with a bum leg ain’t gonna sell.”
Just then, another rat came in.
“Sorry boss, I gots bad news,” he said. “The kids have got away. They stomped the guards as soon as the hypnosis wore off and they’ve got out the mountain and down into the next valley.”
Balthazar stopped his ears to the rage of his master and slipped away unseen, following the tiny rat sized tunnels to where he emerged in the dark valley where a hoard of children waited.
“OK kids,” he said. “Beat it; make new lives for yourselves over here. Say you’re orphans and your orphanage burned down.”
Still in a posthypnotic haze, the children disappeared down the hill and dispersed all over the countryside. Balthazar turned to the boy with the crutches.
“OK, then, Hopalong,” he said. “Tell me about this rich uncle of yours and how we can sting him for more money than the Piper can dream of…”
(with apologies to Terry Pratchett.)