Why The Sea Is Salty

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there lived two brothers. One was poor but kind. The other was rich but cruel. When Christmas Eve came, the poor brother had nothing to eat, so he went to his brother to beg for food. “Oh, please give me something to eat for Christmas,” he begged. He had asked many times before and the rich brother was not happy about it. “If you do what I tell you to, you shall have a whole ham,” he replied. The poor brother immediately thanked him and promised he would do whatever he was asked. “Well, here is the ham, now you must go straight to Dead Man’s Hall,” said the rich brother, throwing the ham to him. “Well, I will do what I have promised,” said the poor man, and he took the ham and set off.

He went on and on throughout the day, and when night came, he found a place with bright lights. An old man with a long white beard was chopping yule logs. “Good-evening,” said the poor brother. “Good-evening to you. Where are you going at this late hour?” asked the old man. “I am going to Dead Man’s Hall, but I’m not sure if I’m going in the right direction,” answered the poor man. “Oh yes, you are right enough, for it is here,” the old man said. “When you go inside, they will want to buy the ham, for they don’t get much meat there, but you must not sell it unless you can trade it for the hand-mill which stands behind the door. When you come out again I will teach you how to stop the mill, which is useful for almost everything.”

So the poor man thanked the old man for his good advice and tapped on the door. When he went in, everything happened just like the old man said. All the people, great and small, came round him like dogs after a cat, and each tried to outbid the other for the ham.”By rights, my wife and I should have it for our Christmas dinner, but since you’ve set your hearts upon it I must give it to you,” said the man. “I will only exchange it for the hand-mill standing behind the door.” At first they would not hear of this, and tried to find a way out of giving him the mill. However, the poor man stuck to what he said like superglue. Eventually, they gave in. When the man got back to the yard, the old man told him how to stop and start the mill. The poor man ran home as fast as he could, but he did not get back until it was past midnight.

“Where on earth have you been?” asked his old wife. “I have sat here hour after hour waiting for you, and not two sticks to warm up our Christmas porridge pot,” said the old woman. “Oh, I could not have come before. I had something important to do,” said the man. “But now you shall see!” he said, and with that, he set the mill on the table to grind a lamp, then a table cloth, then meat, then beer and all the other things you would have for a Christmas Eve dinner. “Bless me” said the old women, as one thing after another appeared. She asked where he got it, but he would not say.

On the third day he invited friends round to a feast. When the rich brother saw the feast, he was angry and said to himself: On Christmas Eve he was so poor that he came to my house to beg for food, and now he gives a feast. Then he said aloud to his brother “Where on earth do you get your riches.” At first he would not answer. But later that evening when he had taken a drop too much, he could not stop himself from saying where he got the hand mill.

When he heard this, the rich brother insisted on having the mill, and after a great deal of persuasion he got it. But he had to pay three hundred crowns for it. He took it home and told it to grind milk pudding and herrings. The hand-mill began to grind milk pudding and herrings. First, all of the bowls and dishes were filled. Then the floor was covered. The rich brother tried to stop the hand-mill, but whichever way he tried to turn it, he couldn’t make it stop. He only just made it to the door. When the door was opened, the man dashed out, with the milk pudding and herrings coming right behind him.

He sped down the hill to his brother’s house and pleaded with his brother to take the hand-mill back. His brother agreed, but only if he was paid another three hundred crowns, which the rich brother had no choice but to do. Now the poor brother was very rich and lots of people came to see the mill.

After a very long time, a ship’s captain came, who wanted to see the mill. The sea was not salty in those days, and the captain made his money by shipping salt from one place to another, over the dangerous sea. He asked if the mill could make salt. Yes, was the reply. When the captain heard this, he wished with all his might to have the hand-mill. At first, the owner would not hear of it, but the captain begged and begged, so at last the man sold it to him, for many thousands of crowns.

When the  captain got the mill, he went aboard his ship. A little way out to sea, the captain asked the mill to grind salt, so the mill ground salt, but when he wanted it to stop it, he couldn’t. So the mill kept on grinding salt and the ship was sunk. The mill now lies at the bottom of the sea, still grinding salt even today, and that is why the sea is salty.

One thought on “Why The Sea Is Salty

  • 09/10/2016 at 11:03 pm
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    Wow i never knew this, this is a great story!!!!

    Reply

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