The Bridge Story ID - Page 13

Vivamus porttitor blandit ultrices

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windmills, whirling their huge arms around and doing the work of thousands of men and horses Now there was a smart Fleming, Mynheer Molenaar, and crusader under Godfrey de Bouillon. When at home, he had been a miller on his lord's manor. After studying the workings of the windmill, he put its parts on a ship and brought it home.

Then he built a raft, and, putting his windmill together, followed the custom, of hauling it around, according as the wind might blow. He anchored it by the Scheldt river side. As everyone wanted to get his grain ground more cheaply, by wind, than by horse power, the Belgian miller soon had plenty of customers and quickly made money.

But one day, the river rose to a flood and swept the windmill down and out to the sea. Distracted by his loss, and with poverty staring him in the face, he tore his hair with rage, and mourned all day and late into the night. Toward morning, he fell into a heavy slumber.

In his dreams, a Belgian wind fairy, accompanied by a Kabouter, appeared to him. Surprised at seeing a radiant and silvery creature, as bright as a star, alongside of a short, stumpy fellow, who was holding a box full of hammers and chisels, he forgot his troubles, and laughed heartily, smiling a welcome to both.

"We are glad you seem happier," said the shining one, for we have long wanted to help you and are ready to serve; for we fairies of the Netherlands, aided by our good friends, the Kabouters, have an idea for an improved windmill, that can beat either the Saracens, or the Greeks; for we can do what they could not." Then they told how to make a mill that could turn its face to any wind that blew.

The Kabouter nodded, as if to say "yes," and made what was rather a funny sort of a grin.

But Molenaar smiled again at this project, which seemed so nearly the impossible, as to be absurd, or an enchantment.

Altogether, with the contrast of a starry maiden and a blacksmith dwarf, the miller laughed again and this time, so loud, that he awoke.

But, pondering what the bright fairy had said to him, he resolved to act. That very day, with his head swelling with a new idea, he called together blacksmiths, masons, bricklayers, carpenters, and machinists. He paid them high wages, and urged on the building of a windmill on the land; yes, like a house, and a windmill that was to serve many purposes.

"He's a fool, that fellow Molenaar, he is! The idea of making a dwelling and mill in one, and building it on land!" said one man who thought he knew all about windmills.

"Have the fairies cast a spell, on him?" asked another.

"The Wappers have certainly turned his brain," said a third.

"He's riding a Kludde horse, that's what he's doing," jeered a fourth.

Then, all together, they tapped their foreheads with their forefingers, and uttered what became a proverb:

"He has a mill in his head."

But Molenaar persevered. In less than a month, he had a comfortable brick house, three stories high, with a space like a cylinder, running down through the centre, and with stairways up to the floors above. On the first, or ground floor, was his flour mill, with grinding stones and bins. On the second, were four rooms for his family. On the third, were his parlor and linen closet; besides a playroom for the children. On the top were the wheels, axles, and sails; with a wide veranda, all the way around, by which the sails could be trimmed, reefed, or furled.

and sails; with a wide veranda, all the way around, by which the sails could be trimmed, reefed, or furled.

It was as good as a ship, and the children could take a walk all the way around the millhouse

.

For three days, the breezes blew steadily from the west. For eight hours a day, the stones revolved merrily, and the bins were filed with meal.

Then the wind changed and swung around to the north.

"Now we'll see what the old fellow will do with his mill-house," said envious

scoffers, as they passed by.

They had not noticed the contrivance, about which the fairies had told Molenaar. Around on the other side of the house, there was a windlass, with three long timbers reaching to the top. This, they had not seen before. It was a cap, or movable top.

A few turns of the windlass and the whole machinery, sails and all, faced the north wind. Soon the long arms, set with canvas, were

whirling around at full speed, and most merrily the grit stones were turning, and the meal filling the bin.

It would be too long a story to tell, how this new sort of a Netherlands windmill could saw wood, pump the water out of ponds, and swamps, hoist barrels, and load wagons, besides grinding grain. In a few generations, both sandy Flanders and swampy Holland were changed from heaths and mudholes to a vast area of lovely flowers, beautiful gardens, and fruitful farms. The wind fairies had been only waiting, for ages, to become the servants of man.