How Seawater Turned Salty


There was a young boatman named A-Yi who lived in the village. He was good-natured and kind. Sometimes, his passengers paid him very little. But even if they did not pay him at all, A-Yi didn't mind.

One day, an old man got off A-Yi's boat without paying him. A-Yi didn't get upset and even told the old man, “Have a safe journey ahead!” After a while, the old man returned and told A-Yi, “You are a really kind lad, take this tiny stone grinder as payment for riding your boat. If you wish for anything, just tell the stone grinder: ‘Stone grinder! Stone grinder! East West South North, North East North – Appear!’ And the stone grinder will make it appear. If you wish it to stop, just say, ‘Stone grinder! Stone grinder! East West South North – Stop!’ And it will stop turning. Remember the magic words!” A-Yi looked at the tiny stone grinder and thought to himself, “This stone grinder is as small as my palm, could it really work magic?” Just as the old man promised, the stone grinder could make anything appear by magic. A-Yi used the stone grinder to make food and clothes, and gave them to the poor.

After A-Yi became rich, he hired a boatman called A-Ding to ferry people across the river for free. But A-Ding was a greedy man. When he learned the stone grinder's secret, he stole the stone grinder and jumped onto his boat. He rowed quickly towards the sea. Once A-Ding reached the sea, he could wait no longer. He took the stone grinder out and said eagerly, “Stone grinder! Stone grinder! East West South North, North East North – Make Salt!” Magically, the stone grinder started to spin and salt flowed out from it. A-Ding was overjoyed. Before long, the boat was so full of salt that A-Ding feared that the boat would sink. But sadly, he forgot the magic words to make the stone grinder stop. In the end, the boat sank into the sea with A-Ding and the stone grinder. Without the magic words, the stone grinder continued to make salt at the bottom of the ocean. From then on, seawater turned salty.