ONCE upon a time there was a master mariner who had the most unheard of good fortune in all that he undertook; none had such splendid cargoes, and none earned so much money as he did, for everything seemed to come to him. And it is quite certain that there were none who could risk taking the trips he did, for wherever he sailed he had fair winds, yes, it was even said that when he turned around his cap, the wind turned with it, to suit his wish.
Thus he sailed for many years with cargoes of lumber, and even went as far as China, and earned money like hay. But once he sailed the North Sea with all sails set, as though he had stolen ship and cargo. But the one who was after him sailed even more swiftly. And that was Sir Urian, the devil! With him the master mariner, as you may imagine, had made a bargain, and that very day and hour the contract expired, and the mariner had to be prepared, from moment to moment, to see him arrive to fetch him.
So he came up on deck, out of the cabin, and took a look at the weather. Then he called the ship's carpenter and several others, and told them to go down at once into the ship's hold, and bore two holes in the ship's bottom. Then they were to take the pumps from out their frames, and set them closely over the holes, so that the water would rise quite high in the pipes.
The men were surprised, and thought his orders passing strange, yet they did as he told them. They bored the holes, and set up the pumps closely over them, so that not even a drop of water could get at the cargo; yet the North Sea stood seven feet high in the pumps.
No more had they cast overboard their chips and litter than Sir Urian came along in a squall, and grabbed the master mariner by the collar. "Wait, old boy, the matter is not so terribly urgent!" said he, and began to defend himself, and pry loose the claws that held him with an awl. "Did you not bind yourself in your contract always to keep my ship tight and dry?" said the master mariner. "You are a nice article! Just take a look at the pumps! The water stands seven feet high in the pipes! Pump, devil, pump my ship dry, then you may take me to have and to hold as long as ever you wish!"
The devil was fool enough, and allowed himself to be hoaxed. He worked and sweat, and the perspiration ran down his cheeks in such streams that one might have run a mill with them, but he merely kept on pumping out of the North Sea into the North Sea. At last he had enough of it, and when he could pump no longer, he flew home to his grandmother to rest. He let the master mariner stay master mariner as long as he might choose, and if he has not died he is still sailing the seas at his own sweet will, and letting the wind blow according to how he turns his cap.
In the story of "The Skipper and Sir Urian" (Asbjörnsen, N.F.E., p. 33, No. 69. From the vicinity of Drontheim) we once more have the devil, "Old Eric," as the Norwegians call him, playing the part of the dupe, this time as the victim of a cunning old sea-dog.
Skipper and Sir Urian, The
Norwegian Fairy Book, The
Frederick A. Stokes Company
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