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Story No. 959

Drinking the Sea dry

Book Name:

Aino Folk-Tales

Tradition: Japan, Aino

There was the Chief of the Mouth of the River and the Chief of the Upper Current of the River. The former was very vainglorious, and therefore wished to put the latter to shame, or to kill him by engaging him in the attempt to perform something impossible. So he sent for him, and said: "The sea may be a useful thing, in so far as it is the original home of the fish which come up the river. But it is very destructive in stormy weather, when it beats wildly upon the beach. Do you now drink it dry, so that there may be rivers and dry land only. If you cannot do so, then forfeit all your possessions." The other (greatly to the vainglorious man's surprise) said: "I accept the challenge."

So, on their going down together to the beach, the Chief of the Upper Current of the River took a cup, and scooped up a little of the sea-water with it, drank a few drops, and said: "In the sea-water itself there is no harm. It is some of the rivers flowing into it that are poisonous. Do you therefore first close the mouths of all the rivers both in Aino-land and in Japan, and prevent them from flowing into the sea, and then I will undertake to drink the sea dry." Hereupon the Chief of the Mouth of the River felt ashamed, acknowledged his error, and gave all his treasures to his rival.


Written down from memory. Told by Ishanashte, 18th November, 1886.


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