Stories & Tales
The Magical Milling Machine

How did the water in the world's seas and oceans become salty? Here is the story that was told to children long ago in answer to this question: There once were two brothers who lived in a small mountain village high above the Mediterranean Sea. Karim, the younger of the two, was honest and strong. He was always generous with the little money he had and was loved by his fellow villagers. His brother Wahid was very rich and lived in a big house filled with treasures, but he was stingy and would not share his wealth with others even if they were in need.


One evening Karim came home after a hard day's work and found his wife upset and close to tears.


"The children are hungry for their dinner but there's no food in the cupboard and no money to buy something to prepare," she said to her husband.


Karim felt terrible. He had given away the money he had made working that day to an old beggar in the street. He thought hard and decided there was only one thing to do. He would have to go and ask his brother Wahid for help. He kisses his wife goodbye and promised to be back soon with food for the children.


As soon as Karim stepped into Wahid's house, he could smell the delicious aroma of food coming form the kitchen. He clutched at his hungry stomach and started telling his brother what had happened to him that day.
Wahid shook his head and said, "You wasted your own money and now you want me to help you out? I'll give you some food this time, but you better not come begging to me again."


Karim left feeling downhearted and humiliated. On his way home, he came across a bearded old man in the street. The old man's eyes twinkled kindly as he spoke.


"Hello young man. What have you got there?"


"Just some food," answered Karim. "Would you like some?"


"Thank you, but I'm not hungry right now." He patted Karim on the back and continued. "You're a very generous fellow and you shall be rewarded."

Suddenly a strange contraption appeared in the old man's hands.


"Here is a Magical Milling Machine," he said to Karim. You only have to clap your hands, give your order, and it will prepare any food your stomach desires. Then when you have had enough to eat, you simply clap your hands again and the machine will stop. Go on, take it."


He laughed merrily as he handed the Machine to Karim. Then he simply vanished.


When Karim got home, he put the Magical Mill on the kitchen table while the children sat around to watch. He clapped his hands and ordered a sumptuous dinner. Everyone jumped up and down with excitement as the table was gradually covered with steaming dishes of all kinds of fabulous foods.


From that day on Karim always invited the villagers to his home to eat, as well as any poor and hungry passer by.


One day Wahid came to Karim's house for dinner and was curious when he noticed his brother going into the kitchen with empty plates and then coming out again, the plates heaped high with food.


"Dear brother'" whispered Wahid in Karim's ear as he came passing by. "Only a few days ago you came to me begging for a meal. Have you suddenly come into a fortune?" He smiled sneakily and rubbed his hands together.


"Why, Wahid, you know that all good fortune comes from God," said Karim. "Sorry, but I'll have to get back to the guests now," and he walked away carrying plates laden with food.


Wahid was furious and became very determined to find out what was going on. He tiptoed into the kitchen when no one was looking and hid himself behind a large, leafy plant."


Soon Karim came back for more food. Wahid watched as his brother clapped his hands and commanded the Machine to make some more chicken soup. As soon as Karim turned away to get some soup plates from the cupboard, Wahid grabbed the Magical Machine and ran off with it, spilling soup as he ran.


Once in his own kitchen, Wahid rushed around looking for pots to put the ever-pouring chicken soup in. When there were no containers left in the house, he tried to order the Machine to stop. The soup poured onto the table and the kitchen floor. Soon it was flowing into every room of the house until Wahid was nearly drowning in chicken soup. He finally dog-paddled his way back to the table, picked up the Milling Machine and ran with it all the way back to Karim's house.


"Here's your Miserable Machine," he shouted, throwing the Mill to his brother. "I never want to see or hear of the terrible thing again. I never thought that a little greed would get me into so much trouble. If you don't stop the thing right away the whole village will drown in soup." He shook his head angrily and went home, his soaking clothes dripping soup all the way.


Meanwhile, Karim clapped his hands and the Machine immediately stopped its pouring.


Soon news of the Mill had spread far and wide. People came from all over just to look at it and taste the delicious meals it prepared.
One day a small man dressed in a strange multi-colored uniform came to see Karim.


"I am the Captain of a large ship," he said, "and have come a long way to speak to you about your Marvelous Machine. Tell me, can it make salt?"


"Yes, of course," answered Karim. "It can make any kind of food you want."


"Look," continued the Captain. "I've spent most of my life at my ship's helm, sailing form one country to the next searching for salt to trade in. Will you lend me your Machine so I can fill my ship with salt before I set sail? This will save me many long and arduous journeys."


Karim agreed to the Captain's request and so began to explain how the Magic Mill could be made to work. However, the Captain was so scared that Karim would change his mind about lending him the machine that he picked it up and ran out before Karim could finish his explanation.


"That man is going to regret being in such a hurry," thought Karim to himself.


As soon as the Captain got to his ship, he set sail, placed the Mill in his cabin, clapped his hands and ordered, "Make salt!"

The Mill started to churn out salt, spilling it onto the table and the floor of the cabin. The Captain looked on and smiled. This little contraption was going to solve all his problems. Soon the salt had filled the lower decks of the ship and started to pour out onto the upper deck. The captain, thinking that he now had enough salt to make his fortune several times over decided to stop the Machine. Like Wahid, he tried all the Magical words he could think of and still the Mill would not stop. He tried to order it to stop sternly, in his best Captain's voice, but it kept churning out salt. Finally, the Captain was so afraid that his ship would sink with the weight of the salt that he threw the Magic Mill into the sea, where it fell to the bottom and continued to mill salt, as it does even to this day.
This is why the waters of the sea and oceans are salty... or is it? Surely, the story of the Magical Milling Machine is only make believe?