The Blue Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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WHY THE SEA IS SALT                        137
When he got in, everything happened just as the old man had said it would: all the people, great and small, came round him like ants on an ant-hill, and each tried to outbid the other for the ham.
'By rights my old woman and I ought to have it for our Christmas dinner, but, since you have set your hearts upon it, I must just give it up to you,' said the man. ' But, if I sell it, I will have the hand-mill which is standing there behind the door.'
At first they would not hear of this, and haggled and bar­gained with the man, but he stuck to what he had said, and the people were forced to give him the hand-mill. When the man came out again into the yard, he asked the old wood-cutter how he was
to stop the hand-mill, and when he had learnt that he thanked him and set off home with all the speed he could, but did not get there until after the clock had struck twelve on Christmas Eve.
' But where in the world have you been ? ' said the old woman. ' Here I have sat waiting hour after hour, and have not even two sticks to lay across each other under the Christmas porridge-pot.'
' Oh ! I could not come before ; I had something of importance to see about, and a long way to go, too ; but now you shall just see !' said the man, and then he set the hand-mill on the table, and bade it first grind light, then a table-cloth, and then meat, and beer, and
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