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Why the Sea is Salt

A folktale from Karelia, retold by Rohini Chowdhury

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Long ago, there lived two brothers. The older brother was rich and successful, but mean and arrogant. The younger brother was very poor, but kind and generous.

One day the poor brother and his wife found that they had nothing to eat in their house. They had no money either, and nothing that they could sell. To make matters worse, the next day was a holiday, a day of celebration.

'Where are we going to get something to eat? Tomorrow is a holiday. How will we celebrate?' asked the poor brother's wife in tears.

The poor brother was in a fix. He did not know what to do.

'Go to your brother and ask for his help,' suggested the poor man's wife. 'He killed a cow yesterday - I saw him. Surely he will not grudge us a little meat for the holiday?'

The poor man sighed. He did not like to ask his brother for help, for he knew how mean and selfish his brother was. But the next day was a holiday, and he really could not think how else to get something to eat.

So the poor man put on his ragged cloak and walked to his rich brother's house.

'What do you want?' asked the rich brother as soon as he saw the poor man.

'Why do you come here?' cried the rich man's wife. 'Tomorrow is a holiday, and we are busy preparing the feast. Go away, we have no time for you!'

Why the Sea is Salt cont'd...  next page
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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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