Sacred-Texts Legends & Sagas Index Previous Next
THIS is an interesting variant of a story known from Iceland to Finland.
There were two brothers, one rich and one poor. One Christmas the rich brother gave the other a ham, on condition that he should go to Pōrgu. On his way, he met an old man who told him that ham was a rarity there, but he must not sell it for money, but only for what was behind the door, which proved to be a wishing-mill. The rich brother bought it for a high price, and set it to grind herrings and milk-soup; but he was soon forced to give his brother another great sum to induce him to take it back, and to save him and his wife, and indeed the whole village, from being overwhelmed by the torrents of herrings and soup. Afterwards it was sold to a sea-captain, who set it to grind salt, and it ground on till the ship sank, and it now lies at the bottom of the sea, grinding salt for ever.*
* It will be remembered that the Sampo, the magic mill in the Kalevala, p. 71 ground salt as well as corn and money, and was ultimately broken to pieces and sunk in the sea. The Grôtta-Söngr in the Edda of Sæmund is better known; and many other variants might be cited. The story in the text much resembles that of “Silly Nicholas,” which I remember reading in one of Chambers’s publications many years ago.