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Elphinstone Kist   Stories for Bairns

Why the Sea is Saut (A Norwegian Folk Tale)     by: Wheeler, Les

Eence a lang, lang time ago in the days fan fowk hid mair time for een anither there wir twa brithers. Een wis verra weel aff, but the ither wis affa peer. Noo, ae Yeel the peer een hadna sae muckle’s a bit breid in the hoose, nae maet at aa, sae he gaed tae his brither’s hoose an speirt at him if he’d gie him something tae keep Yeel wi, in God’s name. It wisna the first time his brither had hin tae help him an he wisna aa that gled tae see his face, but he said, “If ye’ll dee fit I ask o ye, I’ll gie ye a hale side o bacon.”

The peer chiel said he’d dee onything an couldna thank his brither eneuch. “Weel, here’s yir side o bacon,” spak the weel-aff brither, “an noo gyang stracht tae Hell!”

“I’ve gaed ye my wird an I’ll stick by it,” said the ither. Sae aff he set, an walkit a hale day till jist at gloamin he cam tae a place far he saa a bricht licht.

“This micht be the place,” says he an gaed towards the hoose wi the licht. There he saa an aul, aul man, wi a lang fite beard fa wis hackin wid for the Yeel fire.

“Gweed day,” says the chiel wi the bacon.

“Same tae yersel. Far are ye gyan at this time o nicht?” spiert the aul man.

“Och, I’m gyan tae Hell, but I dinna ken the wye.”
“Weel, yir nae far wrang, for this is Hell,” said the aul man, “Fan ye get intae the hoose they’ll wint tae buy yir bacon, for maet is gie scarce in Hell, but dinna ye sell it unless ye get the hand-quern that stans ahin the door for it. Fan ye come oot, I’ll show ye fu tae hunnle the quern, for wi it ye can grind near onything.”

Sae the chiel wi the bacon chappit on the Deil’s door an fin he got inside aathing gaed jist as the aul man said. Aa the deils o the earth cam roon tryin tae buy the bacon; ilka een tryin tae ootbid the ither.

“Weel,” said the chiel, “by richt I should hud on tae the bacon for my Yeel denner but if I sellt it at aa I’ll only tak yon quern ahin the door.”

The Deil wadna hear o sic a thing an chaffed an threatent the chiel, but he wisna tae be shiftit an in the hinner eyn the Deil let him hae the quern. The chiel wint oot intae the yaird an the aul man showed him hoo tae hunnle the quern an fu tae get it tae wirk. Fan he’d learnt tae use it the chiel thankit the aul man an set aft hame jist as faist as he could, but still the knock struck twal afore he wis hame.

“Far hiv ye been?” speirt his aul deem, “I’ve bin sittin here for oors withooten sae muckle as twa sticks tae lay thegither aneth the Yeel brose.”

“Och, I couldna get back ony seener. I’ve hin siccan traivels, but noo ye’ll see fat’s fit, sae will ye.”

Sae he pit the quern on the table an bade it grind lichts, then a table-claith, then maet, then ale, an aa sorts o things till they’d got aathing a body wid wint for a gweed Yeel. He’d only tae say the wird an the quern churned oot jist fit he wintit. The aul deem blesst the Lord, an keepit speirin on aboot far he’d got the quern, but the chiel wid sae nithin.

“Dinna fash yersel. It’s a gweed quern an jist be thankfu wiv got it.”

Sae the quern gaed them eneuch tae keep them gyan till the Twalfth Day an on the third day he got aa his freens roon for a feast. Fan his rich brither seen aa that he’d gotten he wis fair wild, for he couldna thole tae see his brither wi onything.

“Twas jist on aul Yeel nicht fan he cam tae me because he’d nithin in the hoose; nae maet nor firin an noo he gies us a feast. Noo, far, in Hell’s name, did he get aa this?”
“Fae ahin the door,” said the chiel wi the quern an said nae mair, but he’d a wee lauch tae himsel. But later on fan he’d hin ower muckle ale he could keep his secret nae langer an got oot the quern.

‘There ye are, that’s far aa ma wealth’s come fae,” an he made the quern grind oot aa kines o things. Fan his brither seen this he wis set on gettin it for himsel an efter a lot o coaxin he did get it, but he’d tae haun ower neer aa his siller tae get it. An forbye the chiel didna hae tae haun it ower till efter the hairst sae he’d plenty o time tae mak it grind oot aa the maet, drink an siller he’d need tae lest for years.

Fan the hairst cam roon the rich brither got the quern, but the chiel nivver tellt him hoo tae hannle it an the rich brither wis in sic a hurry tae get it he nivver stoppit tae speir.

It wis nicht fan the rich brither got the quern hame an in the mornin he tellt his wife tae gae oot an help wi the hairst an he wid bide at hame an get the denner ready. Sae fan denner time cam roon he pit the quern on the table an says, ”Grind herrins an broth an grind them gweed an quick.”

An the quern began tae grind, an on an on it wint till there wis herrin an broth aawye. Herrin an broth in pots an pans, an tubs, an pails an churns an on an on till the fleer wis clairtit. The mannie tried aathing, but couldna stop the quern an the herrins an broth wir that deep that the mannie near haun droont. He ran oot o the kitchie intae the parlour, but it seen fillt up tee. He jist managed tae open the sneck on the door an get oot afore the herrin an broth got him an he ran aff doon the cairt road wi the herrins an broth richt ahin him, roarin like a hurly-gush aa ower the ferm.

His wife wis at the hairst an thocht she’d better awa an see fit had happent tae the denner. The ferm-servants wint wi her an jist as they cam ower the brae fit should they meet but herrins an broth rinnin aawye an the maister jist in front o it rinnin for his verra life. He gaed rinnin stracht past them an roared oot,”Watch yir nae droont in the broth!”

Awa he wint as though the verra Deil himsel wis efter him an clattert intae his brither’s hoose an fair begged him tae tak back the quern.

“If it grinds for only anither oor the hale pairish will be owertaen by herrins an broth!”

But his brither widna tak it back till the ither gaed him anither three hunner merks. Sae the peer chiel got baith siller an the quern an it wisna lang afore he’d a ferm-toon an a hoose richt by the shore far better nor the een his brither bade in. He got the quern tae grind oot gowd an the lad covert the hoose in plates o gowd. Far ower the sea men could see the bricht lowe fae the hoose an landit on the shore tae see the gowden hoose an the winnerfu quern.

Ae day a skipper cam tae see the quern an speirt if it wid grind saut.

“Saut!” said the chiel,”This quern kin grind onythin at aa.”

“Weel,” said the skipper,”Fitiver ye wint for the quern I’ll gie ye. Jist name yir price.” The skipper, ye see, wis fair scunnert o sailin ower the sea bringin hame cargoes o saut. He priggit an priggit till in the eyn the chiel gave in, but the skipper hid tae haun ower an affa lot o siller tae get it.

Fanivver the skipper got the quern he wis aff like a scaldit cat an forgot tae speir aboot fu tae hunnle the quern tae get the richt result.He loupit aboord his ship an sailed awa. Fan he wis a fair bit oot tae sea he says tae the quern, “Grind saut! Grind saut! Grind saut gweed an quick!”

Weel, the quern began tae grind awa an the saut poored oot saut like waater fae a spoot. Seen the ship wis full an still the quern yarkit on. Saut, an mair saut, an the skipper couldna stop it. The wecht o saut seen sunk the ship an it sunk aa the wye tae the bottom o the sea.

An there lies the quern till this verra day. Somewye doon aneth the waves the quern grinds awa an the saut comes poorin oot. Noo, that’s foo the sea is saut an if ye dinna believe me jist ye gyang doon tae the shore an hae a taste o the sea-waater for yirsel.

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