The Bridge Story ID - Page 12

FAIRY TALES FROM BELGIUM AND

FLANDERS

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04

The Enchanted Windmill

Etiam aliquet et libero non

Ever so many ages ago, there were a couple of fairies, who had a very interesting family of fairy children, that lived entirely in the air. The father was named Heet and the mother named Koud.

If we were to translate these names out of Flemish, I suppose we might call them Heat and Cold. Curious names, were they not?

But then, if we knew all the names of the fairies, we should laugh at many of them, as heing very funny.

This fairy father and mother had many children, which, altogether, they called Wenda; that is, if we use the oldest form of the speech which the Flemings used. On our tongues, this becomes Winds. In different parts of the world, these wind-fairies were spoken of, according as their dispositions were rough or gentle, in their behavior; or, noisy or sweet in sound; or, as they were scorching or freezing; but all winds are born of Heat and Cold, but only four were very well known by their names.

But now it is time to tell about the enchanted windmill, that first began its career along with winds, among which Zephyrus was the best liked and most attractive. The other wind fairies, children of Heet and Koud, were not exactly envious of their handsome and popular brother, Zephyrus, or of Flora his wife; but they wanted to show that they also could do something for human beings, even if not able to give them such lovely things as flowers or fruit. So the three met together to see what could be done.

Now one of the wise men, among mortals, had said that three good things a man could do, and at least one of these he ought to do to have and name a child, or a flower, or a book.

When this was told to the other three wind fairies, Eurus, Boreas, and Auster, they were at first downcast. They had no children, and as for flowers, they were out of the question; for Zephyrus and Flora had all to do with these. As for writing books, that was not the business of fairies, but of men and women.

However, after long thought, they hit upon a plan, by which, working altogether, they might help human beings. If they could not have handsome children, they could at least save toil and trouble to others when grown up. With the help of the fairies, they could more quickly redeem swamps and morasses, changing them into lovely gardens and good grain fields, where flowers could grow and food be raised. They saw how hard men had to labor, in order to lift, pump, saw, hoist, grind, and polish. In draining the land, in cutting down trees, to make houses, and in grinding the grain, to make bread, men certainly needed help. They made up their minds that, while flowers were good, there were times, when bread and cake, cookies and crullers, puddings, and waffles, pot pie and potatoes might be better.

They summoned the elves of the mine and the forest to help them, and all together, they built a mill. It had long arms and sails outside, while within, were axles, wheels, windlass, ropes, pulleys, and grinding stones.

Set to other machinery, the mill could turn grain into flour for bread, and pump water out of a ditch, to make rich farm land, besides doing many other things.

The wind fairies were delighted with their success, and first, they made a present of the windmill to the Saracens, who employed it for hundreds of years.

But this is the way the first windmill was used. It was put on a raft, and floated on the water; so that men could pull it round to face the winds, as they blew. No one had then ever thought of putting it on land, or making a house of it.

By and bye, the crusaders from the Netherlands visited the Orient, and became acquainted with new seeds, flowers, fruits, and things they had never seen before, or at home. They watched with wonder the .