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Why the Sea is Salt

Published August 15, 2016
Countries: Norway
Age Levels: 7-8 and up

Once upon a time, there were two brothers. One was rich. The other was very poor. One Christmas Eve the poor brother and his wife had no food to eat. So the poor brother went to see his rich brother to ask for food.

“This is the last thing I will ever give you,” said the older brother. He threw a big ham to his younger brother. “Now you can go to the Devil with it.”

The younger brother told his wife, “My brother gave us a ham, but he said to go to the Devil with it.”

The man and his wife agreed that he needed to try to find the Devil. So off he went. He walked for hours until he saw an old man with a long white beard. “Old man, Can you tell me how to find the Devil?”

“I will for a bite of your ham,” said the man. Then the old mam said, “The Devil will be glad to see you. He loves ham. He will offer you gold and silver for the ham. But do not take it. Instead, ask for the mill that is behind his door. He will not want to give it to you. But do not give him the ham until he agrees.

When the poor man entered the Devil’s home he was surrounded by little demons. Each wanted the ham. But the man would not give it to them. Then the Devil came into the room. The Devil offered money, gold, silver and jewels for the ham.

“I will only give you the ham for the mill behind your door.”

The Devil did not want to give up the mill and said, “You don’t even know how to use it.”

“Then you must teach me,” said the poor man.

The Devil handed him the mill and showed him how to make the mill start grinding and told him how to stop it. The poor man thanked the Devil, gave him the ham and left.

"Where in the world have you been?" said his wife? I was worried sick when you did not come home.”

He told her how he had traded the ham for the mill. Let’s see what it does,” said the man. He set the hand-mill on the table. He told it to grind candles to light up the room and candles came out of the mill. He told it to grind out a table cloth. A table cloth appeared. And he put it on the table. Grind meat and bread and fruit and vegetables and something good to drink. The food and drink came out just like he had asked. They ate a wonderful Christmas Eve Dinner. The next day they invited all their friends to a great Christmas feast. No one in town went hungry.

Then for days the poor man used to the mill to make their lives better. He ground out lumber to build a new house. He ground out furniture to fill the house. He ground out fine clothes to wear. He ground out money that he took to the bank. The man and his wife became rich!

Then one day the man decided to invite his brother to dinner. The rich brother saw how rich his poor brother had become and was angry.   “How did you get rich so fast?” he asked.

The younger brother told him about the mill and how he traded the ham to get it. “You would not have the mill if I had not given you the ham,” said the rich older brother. “You need to let me use it at least for a day.” The older brother grabbed the mill and took it home. The younger brother let him take the mill since he and his wife had enough money to last for their lifetime.

The older brother wanted to make money fast. So he rowed his boat out to a large ship. He told the captain, “You have to sail across the sea to buy salt to sell fisherman who use it to salt their fish. That takes you months. You can use this mill to fill your ship with salt in a day. You can sell it for thousands of dollars. The skipper of the ship paid the older brother for the mill and sailed away before the brother could change his mind and take the mill back.

“Grind salt,” said the skipper of the ship. The mill began to grind salt. It ground more and more and more salt until the ship was nearly full. “Stop, mill,” said the skipper. But he had not learned to say the right words to make the mill stop. It kept on grinding. The ship became heavier and heavier until is sunk to the bottom of the sea taking the skipper and his crew with it.

Now the mill lies at the bottom of the sea.   It is still grinding salt and that is why the sea is salt.